Articles & Blogs

Here are various articles explaining current ESA/Voucher issues:

From Knox TNToday
Frank Cagle’s series covers voucher issue thoroughly & accurately:

*Voucher lemmings may regret betraying voters     April 30, 2019

When the voucher bill stalled at 49 votes, House Speaker Glen Casada refused to record the votes and spent 40 minutes trying to get someone to switch to yes. During those 40 minutes a veteran legislator told me on the phone, “Now is somebody’s chance to get a four-lane highway.”

*Breaking: Voucher bill passes House, limping      April 23, 2019

“The Senate Finance Committee removed Hamilton and Knox counties from the Education Savings (vouchers) Accounts bill in order to get two Hamilton County senators to vote for it. It limped out of committee on a 6-5 vote.”

*Can GOP avoid voucher embarrassment?     April 23, 2019

“Longtime voucher opponent state Rep. Mathew Hill, R-Jonesborough, in exchange for his vote, offered an amendment in House Finance to take money away from the big school systems, including Knox County, and give rural school systems a grant. This was an effort to buy rural legislators’ support. As a fundamentalist Christian, Hill – I’m sure – is familiar with the story of Esau, who sold his birthright for a mess of pottage. He needs to read it again. But the amendment got enough votes to move the bill to the floor. What is jaw-dropping is that the amended bill was not opposed by Finance Committee member state Rep. Jason Zachary, a Republican who represents Southwest Knox County.”

*GOP voucher gamble won’t benefit state reps     April 16, 2019

“If Gov. Bill Lee’s debit-card voucher plan passes, it will be about three years before the feces hits the oscillating cooler. Coincidentally, that is when Lee will be running for a second term. Tennessee hasn’t had a one-term governor since Ray Blanton, in 1980, but that could change.” 

*Casada clips columnist with petty payback  April 9, 2019

“Evidently my column last week about the problems with the Education Savings Accounts angered House Speaker Glen Casada. The column got passed around down at the Capitol and Casada kicked me off the state textbook commission.”

“Legislators always have a choice: Vote like leadership tells you, or vote your district. Each legislator has to decide to follow the wishes of the voters in his or her district or knuckle under to threats from the leadership.”

“Smart conservative voters should remember their reaction in the past when it was explained that “it’s for the children.” Being “for the children” is the oldest dodge in politics.”

“…But improving vocational education in public schools isn’t getting much attention because it’s not on the agenda of the national network funded by the State Policy Network. SPN is a loose conglomeration of far-right groups seeking to privatize education and is funded primarily by the Koch brothers.”

*Just flush public education down the toilet, already     April 2, 2019

This money is not for very poor people. The average Knox County income is $52,102. The ceiling for getting a voucher/debit card is $66,950 for a family of four or $78,442 for a family of five. Virtually every family in Knox County would be eligible.

*A voucher by any other name smells as bad     March 5, 201

Supporters have been fairly successful in rebranding school vouchers as “education savings plans,” but it’s more of the same and in some ways worse.

*Casada ignores Johnson but creates struggle for voucher supporters

           Unfortunately, this one turned out to be less than accurate.

Gov. Bill Lee gave lip service to vouchers during the campaign, but his main issue was increasing and improving vocational education, stressing courses that help students find careers when they graduate. It is unlikely that an administration would have two major changes in education at the same time. If Lee pursues his ideas of improving career training it is likely that vouchers will not be one of his primary agenda items. Lee’s pick for education commissioner may provide a clue.



From The Tennessean:

School voucher program could total more than $330M by 2024 … analysis shows

The amount of money that could go toward Gov. Bill Lee’s controversial school voucher program could exceed $330 million by 2024, although not all of that would be new tax dollars, according to a new fiscal analysis.

Franklin teacher honored on day daughter stands against vouchers

Nancy Garrett believes in public education.

So much so that the Williamson County school board member missed out on the inaugural presentation of a scholarship named for her dad, longtime Franklin school teacher William H. Nelson, to speak out against voucher legislation at the state Capitol.


From ChalkBeat:

Lawmakers negotiating Tennessee vouchers include strong ties to private, home school

Six of the 10 Tennessee legislators negotiating the future of Gov. Bill Lee’s education voucher proposal have strong ties to private or home schools, while only one represents an entire urban public school district that’s likely to be affected.

Seven have never had a child attend public schools.


From the Times Free Press:

Lee’s school voucher bill could cost $335M over next five years

The House didn’t bother discussing this fiscal note.

The Senate discussed it at length, but decided not to worry about a cost that could be 1,200% more than budgeted. They were more concerned with following orders from outside billionaires and corporations than doing the right thing for Tennesseans.

From Pastors for Children:

Angela Project 2018: Charles Johnson

Charles Johnson, founder and executive director of Pastors for Children, talks about public education as a public trust on Vimeo.  Follow the organization on Twitter: @pastors4txkids