Haslam: Vouchers Not Necessarily a Done Deal

Gov. Bill Haslam, who assigned a task force to develop a school voucher program for Tennessee, says that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll push for passage of the resulting recommendation in the General Assembly next year, according to TNReport.
The governor said the state needs to have a serious discussion about a school vouchers program, but said he’s still undecided whether he’ll throw his full support behind a proposal due to him later this fall. A Haslam-appointed task force stopped short of firming up details of a proposed plan Wednesday.
“A lot of it depends on what it looks like. Let’s get the very best form, see what it looks like for Tennessee, then we as an administration will decide where we’ll be on that,” Haslam told reporters after a Nashville economic development announcement.
The state task force is still torn on key aspects of a proposal to use taxpayer money to pay for students to attend the private, parochial, charter or non-zoned public school of their choice. Major sticking points range from when the system would kick in to which students could cash in.
“You can get the policy right but still screw things up on the ground,” said Chris Barbic, a task force member and superintendent of the state’s Achievement School District, an arm of the state Department of Education charged with turning around failing schools.
Barbic, who founded a successful charter school in Texas before joining the Haslam administration in 2011, said he knows the state is juggling a handful of education reforms right now but said there’s no use in waiting to come up with a voucher plan.
“Parents get to figure out where they buy bread and toothpaste, and we’re going to limit their options on where they send their kids to school?” he said. “I have a hard time with that.”
The Republican-led General Assembly is anxious for the recommendations of the task force after the governor put off the issue of offering “opportunity scholarships” this year in favor of more study about what a voucher program would look like in Tennessee. Speakers of both chambers say they, too, expect vouchers to be a key issue in the 2013 legislative session.

One thought on “Haslam: Vouchers Not Necessarily a Done Deal

  1. Eric Holcombe

    “I have a hard time with that.”
    Well that’s because we don’t fund bread and toothpaste purchases via threat of tax liens on our neighbor’s real property like we do “free” public schooling. If you used your neighbor’s money to buy “free” bread and toothpaste, they would be monopolized too.
    Private business should beware the vouchers and their attached strings.

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