Tag Archives: Lewis

Vouchers a Hot Topic in Legislative Races

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam says he expects the question of using taxpayer dollars to fund private school vouchers will be a major issue in the General Assembly come January, reports Andy Sher.
But the horses already are out of the barn in several Southeast Tennessee legislative races where a full-fledged debate over vouchers is under way.
Some Republicans argue vouchers are necessary to advance school-choice initiatives already under way with public charter schools.
Democrats counter that any redirection of funding undermines support of public education, which they say is already too little.
Republican Rep. Richard Floyd, whose District 27 includes Red Bank and Signal Mountain, fully supports vouchers.
“Anything that we can do to give these kids a better shot at getting a better education we need to try,” Floyd said. “It may not work. If it doesn’t, we can come back and reinvent the wheel.”
Frank Eaton, Floyd’s Democratic opponent, has serious reservations about vouchers.
“I don’t think they’re in general a great idea,” Eaton said. “If our public schools were properly funded, we wouldn’t be faced with so many failing schools. We need to focus on making sure there’s a good public school available for every child.”
…House District 30, Rep. Vince Dean, R-East Ridge, said the state “should explore some ways to include some vouchers and hopefully do so without making a large impact on the school systems.”
It would be “far better to have a pilot project than to go statewide with it right off the bat,” said Dean. State officials could use a pilot program to evaluate vouchers’ effectiveness.
His Democratic opponent, Sandy Smith, a retired Hamilton County teacher, said a voucher program is “taking more money away from public education.”
…Fault lines on vouchers often cut along partisan lines. But a number of Republicans in rural areas are lukewarm on the issue.
In the seven-county Senate District 16 contest, which includes Marion, Sequatchie and Coffee counties, Democrat Jim Lewis, of Kimball, is staunchly anti-voucher. Vouchers and any number of education initiatives passed or proposed by the Republican-led General Assembly amount to “outright theft from public schools,” he said.
“We haven’t funded public schools adequately in the first place, and if your design is to destroy public schools, then you find a way to suck more money out of them,” said Lewis, a former state senator.
Republican Janice Bowling, his opponent, is a former teacher who home-schooled one of her children for several years. Vouchers and other education initiatives often spring from “perfectly noble ideas and hopes,” she said, but end up as “kind of knee-jerk, ‘we’ll do this and this to fix it,'” responses, Bowling said.
“I haven’t had the opportunity [to look into vouchers] to see what the unintended consequences might be or what the benefits would be. I can see both sides.”

House District 52: Stewart vs. Libertarian Lewis

State Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, will face independent candidate and outspoken libertarian Daniel Lewis in a newly drawn 52nd District seat in the state House in the November general election, reports the Tennessean.
For 10 years, the 52nd District took up most of East Nashville and then went southwest through Lipscomb University. The new district, redrawn by this year’s Republican-led state legislature, now goes from select parts of East Nashville to Antioch, the Nashville airport and parts of Percy Priest Lake.
The new district led Stewart to reach out to many new constituents who have never voted for him.
“I’m getting out there and meeting people in my new district,” he said. “I’ve had a great time going out and talking with people.”
Lewis, 52, is not officially running with a state-recognized Libertarian Party. This election is not his first as an independent. Lewis has previously run for the U.S. Senate in 2008 and for several state House seats.

Tennessean’s Dwight Lewis Retiring

Editorial Page Editor Dwight Lewis, whose newspaper career has ranged from exposing problems in Tennessee’s correctional system to becoming an influential voice for children in underserved communities, will retire this week after 40 years at The Tennessean.
From the newspaper’s report on his departure:
The Knoxville native, 63, began his career as a part-time campus correspondent for The Tennessean, covering Fisk University and his alma mater, Tennessee State, then moved into general assignment reporting. He went on to cover state politics, reporting on the scandal-ridden administration of Gov. Ray Blanton, and worked a stint as the newspaper’s correspondent in Washington.
He reported on key issues of the day, such as public-housing conditions, but he also, after repeated tries, got to interview the
state’s most famous inmate at the time, James Earl Ray. The exchange lasted for more than a decade, and Lewis had one of the last interviews with Martin Luther King Jr.’s killer before his death in 1998.
“As a reporter, Dwight was driven to cover areas of community life ignored by other journalists — which led him, for instance, to a series of meaningful reports on the state Department of Correction and conditions at state prisons,” John Seigenthaler, chairman emeritus of The Tennessean who was editor and publisher when Lewis was hired, said last week.
“As an editorialist and columnist, he was driven to explore and comment on issues of community controversy, always exhibiting compassion for the problems of the poor and the powerless.”

Dwight’s own farewell column is HERE.