TN Voucher Program Gets Green Light, Funding Denied – FOX13 News Memphis

WATCH: Tennessee school voucher program goes into effect but not all are on board WATCH: Tennessee school voucher program goes into effect but not all are on board

TENNESSEE — A win for Tennessee Governor Bill Lee after his voucher program was cleared to go ahead.

The program, called the Education Savings Account (ESA), would offer students in Memphis and Nashville the chance to attend private schools, but it’s how the voucher program is funded that has people talking. Previous allegations indicate that the program violates the Tennessee constitution because it is only offered in two cities in Tennessee.

According to some Memphis residents, public taxpayer money should not be used to fund the private school project, lest it threaten the public education system.

“I think it’s a hoax, if you’ve ever seen one,” said Keith Williams, executive director of the Memphis-Shelby County Education Association. “It defies logic that the state has a law that would only be appropriate for Shelby County and Davidson County.”

The ESA program was once blocked and deemed unconstitutional by some lawmakers, but on Wednesday a judge lifted the injunction.

“Hopefully it doesn’t turn into free-for-all for charter schools and vouchers, just to recruit kids based on money,” Williams said.

The voucher would allow families to use public taxpayers’ money to pay for private schools. Eligible families would receive up to approximately $7,000 towards tuition.

“You shouldn’t be able to take my dollars and send your child to a school when we already provide and pay taxes for a free and proper public education.”

Memphis resident Kyle Schroder grew up in an upbringing family; his father was superintendent. Schroder said parents are key to providing quality education to students.

“If we take the best kid out and they go to a private school, we’ll probably create an environment in our schools where we just have disadvantaged kids who don’t have peers to learn from,” Schroder said. “If you have parental involvement in the school, you can increase that school’s ability to teach children immediately.”

Memphis resident Melissa May said she was in favor of the vouchers and the program because it opens doors for students regardless of their economic background.

“I’m all about the voucher program. I’m talking about scholarships. Just because someone doesn’t live somewhere because they can’t, but they have a child who, maybe, is very gifted or very interested in school, if we can help them, so as a society I want us to do this because it’s only going to make this next generation that much better.

The state’s decision to launch the ESA program this upcoming school year has been criticized, as some consider the short time between the immediate rollout of the program and the start of school. For most districts, the academic year begins in less than a month; some fear there is little time to prepare.

ESA program resources are now available for families.

To learn more about program offerings and eligibility requirements, visit

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