Friday, October 14, 2011

Volunteers Next Up To Give Parents School Choice

The heavy lifting in state legislatures around the country has largely slowed, but that doesn't mean that the successes of "The Year of School Choice" are over just yet.

We told you earlier this week about the potential school choice expansion in Pennsylvania, and there are still prospects for New Jersey to pass the Opportunity Scholarship Act in the Garden State. But now, Tennessee has its sights set on giving vouchers to low-income kids to attend private schools.

The early talk of a program is taking place largely in Memphis, the state's lowest-performing large school district.  There, 30 percent of students fail to graduate, a fact that has caused State Senator Brian Kelsey to act. He has introduced a bill that would give $5,400 scholarships to students in the means-tested program, a boon for students in a city where private school graduation rates drastically outpace those of kids in public schools.

In an interview with a local Memphis television station, Henry Littleton, an administrator at one of the schools that stands to benefit, Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School, summed up why the cause of school choice is so important in the Memphis community and around the country:
There are families that can afford to send their kids to private school, and then there are families who can afford to move to neighborhoods where there are better schools. The only group that never had a choice was the less affluent in the city.
If the program were to be enacted, it could potentially benefit a large portion of Memphis City Schools students. Families on free and reduced lunch would be eligible under the current provisions in the bill, which means, stunningly, that 87 percent of public school students would quality.

In touting the program, Kelsey cited the the success of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program in the nation's capital.

Watch a local Fox report on the exciting new plan, and be sure to check back to School Choice Now! for updates on the legislation throughout the fall.

- American Federation for Children | Alliance for School Choice, MAG

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