Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Haslam should Volunteer his Support on the Voucher Program

In Tennessee, parents, students, and school choice advocates are gearing up for a push to enact a voucher program to give Volunteer State families real educational options.  And Tennessee is ripe for overhauling its educational system and implementing parental choice.  According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, only 26 percent of fourth graders and 30 percent of Tennessee eighth graders are proficient in reading.  In addition, Tennessee has the highest number of adults without a high school diploma and a 7.9 percent unemployment rate.

State Senator Brian Kelsey introduced voucher legislation in 2011 that would give scholarships up to $5,400.  The legislation passed the Senate, but failed to pass in the House.  And last year Governor Haslam set up a task force to study the benefits of vouchers in Tennessee. 

School choice champions from Senator Kelsey to Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey are ready to enact an accountable voucher program.  But it looks like the Governor may not be ready to put his muscle behind the program.  According to Nashville Public Radio, Governor Haslam is saying the bill could face some political observation.

But if the Governor gave his strong support for the legislation, vouchers could help thousands of students escape persistently failing schools.  Across the nation, we’ve seen that these programs work from academic scores to high graduation rates.

Haslam wants to see a return on investment.  Enact vouchers and watch more students graduate from high school.  That’s the return on investment.

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

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