Tennessee’s Golden Tickets for Education


Tennessee is gearing up for a potential showdown over school vouchers in the coming legislative session.  After a 2011 bill creating a school voucher program failed to move through the state legislature, Governor Haslam convened a panel of education experts from both public and private schools to evaluate school voucher programs and put forth recommendations for future policy implementation.

School vouchers are a program used in several states that permits students in underperforming schools to use public funds to attend private schools or higher performing schools outside of their zoned schools [1].  The idea is that such a program will enable students from disadvantaged backgrounds to obtain a high quality education and not be limited by their zip code.

When Governor Haslam’s panel presented their findings, it was evident that they agreed on very little.  This panel did agree that any voucher program should be geared to low-income students and included a stipulation that private schools be held accountable via standardized testing if they choose to participate [2].  However, evidencing how controversial any voucher program will be, the panel left many subjects undecided.  They were unable to come to a consensus on how much money should accompany these students and whether or not a program should be limited to students coming from failing schools [3].  These areas will need to be decided if any voucher program is to be created, as they are instrumental details.

 While vouchers are an extremely contentious subject, it seems ridiculous that a panel would be unable to put forth helpful recommendations.  Such a qualified panel would be the most able to make a policy recommendation on this issue, and they failed the people of Tennessee by not addressing the hardest parts of the proposal.  The panel did show innovation in its suggestion that private schools receiving voucher money administer standardized exams, a proposition that would add accountability to any voucher program [4].  However, that innovation is not enough to make up for the lack of serious decisions.

Ultimately, school vouchers remain a contentious and complex issue.  Democrats tend to oppose these programs, as they divert public funding to private recipients, while Republicans believe that this enables the free market to work.  Underperforming schools lose their students and thus funding while high-performing schools are rewarded (and sometimes burdened) with more students and funding.  This contention is made obvious with the national attention being directed at Tennessee’s debate.  Significant national money poured into local political election this year to candidates supporting opportunity scholarships (the glamorized term for school vouchers).  This includes Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst group, which distributed over $400,000 through her PAC, and the American Federation of Children, which gave nearly $300,000 [5].

School vouchers are not going away anytime soon.  Governor Haslam and the Legislature will have to make the hard decisions about whether to and how to implement any plan.  Unfortunately, they lack the guidance that the panel was supposed to provide, but perhaps that’s simply because there are no easy, clear answers in education policy.


[1] http://www.tennessean.com/article/20121107/NEWS04/311070101/TN-lawmakers-vying-over-funding-charter-schools-vouchers?odyssey=mod%7Cnewswell%7Ctext%7CFRONTPAGE%7Cs

[2] http://www.vcstar.com/news/2012/nov/13/group-finalizes-school-voucher-recommendations/

[3] http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/nov/13/haslam-panel-wraps-school-voucher-work/?breakingnews

[4] http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/charterschoice/2012/11/post_14.html

[5] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/08/education-pacs-show-muscl_n_2091858.html

 [Image: http://cdn01.dailycaller.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/School-choice-now-voucher-sign.jpg]

About author

Ryan Higgins

Ryan is a senior from St. Louis, Missouri. Growing up with a grandfather who loved discussing politics, Ryan took an interest in politics from an early age. After working on several campaigns, he is now studying Public Policy with an emphasis in Education Policy, and spent last summer interning with Saint Louis Public Schools as a Policy Intern. Aside from politics, Ryan is involved in Vandy 4 Vision, is a campus tour guide, and volunteers regularly at the Dismas House of Nashville.

  • Mandy#1

    April 24, 2019

    I’m finding them for my sister. I’m looking for the most recipes with pictures and the ages of baby for the recipes. Blogs are typically where I would certainly anticipate to locate them.

  • Arlyne#2

    April 20, 2019

    I am brand-new to website design as I have no prior experience and also know little HTML. I simply wish to know what the best software is to acquire to design blogs. I have actually downloaded and install CS5 Style Costs with Dreamweaver and also Photoshop, however I understand this is a little innovative for me and also pricey!!!. Does anyone have ideas of software program or methods to develop blogs as well as websites easily and cost-effective?. THANKS!.

  • Tractor Workshop Manuals#3

    April 18, 2019

    Great looking web site. Precisely what theme are you presently making use of?

  • John Deere Repair Manuals#4

    April 16, 2019

    Dead written content material , Really enjoyed reading through .

  • Hosea#5

    April 13, 2019

    Can my blog sites be seen by others even if I do not buy a domain name?

  • John Deere Technical Manuals#6

    April 10, 2019

    Appreciating the persistence you put into your blog and in depth information you provide. It’s awesome to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same out of date rehashed information. Excellent read! I’ve saved your site and I’m including your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  • Arnold#7

    April 10, 2019

    Is this possible? I am following two Blogspot accounts using my Twitter account. But when I look at my Twitter news feed, I never see updates from either of these Blogspots (and they have been updated). Is there a setting I need to change, or is this not even possible to do?.

  • have a peek at this website#8

    April 8, 2019

    How can i allow anyone to write on my Blogspot blog?

  • John Deere Service Manuals#9

    April 8, 2019

    Can I simply say that of a relief to seek out a person that in fact knows what theyre talking about on the web. You actually know how to bring an issue to light to make it important. Lots more people must check out this and see why side of the story. I cant think youre less popular simply because you certainly develop the gift.

  • Tractor Workshop Manuals#10

    April 6, 2019

    It’s in point of fact a nice and helpful piece of info. I’m glad that you simply shared this useful info with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

  • check this link right here now#11

    April 3, 2019

    I simply want to say I’m newbie to blogging and actually savored this web page. Probably I’m going to bookmark your blog post . You certainly come with impressive stories. Many thanks for sharing with us your blog site.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *