TN School Voucher Program Wins Court Approval To Proceed
Image Credit: School Choice Week / Facebook
The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –
A three-judge panel ruled last week that Tennessee’s school voucher program is good to proceed without any further court intervention.
Although the program passed the state legislature back in 2019, it has been entangled in court battles ever since. The program will allow families in Shelby County and Nashville area schools to use publicly-funded vouchers to help cover the cost of private school tuition and fees.
The three-judge “super chancery” court was created last year to hear the case which they say does not require any judicial decision.
“This controversy is merely a disagreement of public policy and inappropriate for judicial decision,” wrote the majority.
Davidson County Chancellor Anne Martin, who served as the panel’s chief judge, dissented partially from the other two panel members, Judges Tammy M. Harrington and Valerie L. Smith.
After the Tennessee Supreme Court lifted an injunction on the program this summer, the state was able to move forward with the initiative.
School districts argued that they would be harmed by the program because of a loss of public funding, but the panel ruled that argument was unfounded because the program is set up to be funded by the state for the first three years of the pilot program, and not local school districts.
According to the state, the program will give students in low-performing schools an opportunity to attend a private school in hopes of gaining a better education.
However, school districts continue to claim that the program will be counterproductive because taking funding away from already underperforming schools will only leave them in worse shape than they are currently in. They also argue that districts who performed even worse than Nashville or Memphis are not being targeted by the program.
“We are unpersuaded,” the majority wrote last week. “As County Plaintiffs themselves state, their money ‘is the heart and soul of the ESA Act’ and, thus, this dispute. Any disparate treatment between County Plaintiffs and the other counties of this state must come down to a disparate treatment in funding. But the loss of money has already been remedied by the ESA Act itself.”
Martin dissented partially, saying that the equal protection claim should continue.
Tennessee’s attorney general celebrated the decision on social media.
“The Court’s decision secures access to additional educational opportunities for thousands of children in Shelby and Davidson Counties,” wrote Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti’s office.
About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career. Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others. He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History. Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com
One thought on “TN School Voucher Program Wins Court Approval To Proceed”
This quote is particularly telling, “ However, school districts continue to claim that the program will be counterproductive because taking funding away from already underperforming schools will only leave them in worse shape than they are currently in. ”
So schools are underperforming yet they think they should still be rewarded with funds. This has always been a major issue for public schools. It’s amazing to me that homeschoolers can provide a quality education to their kids on a shoestring budget, but public schools can’t get by with thousands of dollars spent on each student. Our education system needs a complete overhaul, and privatization of most of it would be the best solution IF we really care about the kids.