Tennessee Voucher Bill Sponsor Wants to Increase Student Eligibility

Feb 28, 2013

The state Senator shepherding Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam’s school voucher bill through the legislature says it doesn’t go nearly far enough. He says he will offer an amendment making many more students eligible to have their private school tuition paid with public money.

With proposed restrictions limiting vouchers to poor students attending struggling schools, Senator Brian Kelsey says just 3.5 percent of Tennessee students would qualify. And only a fraction of those would take the offer.

“After we do all this heavy lifting to work on this bill this year, if we end up with only two-thousandths of one percent of students being helped by it, I will be sorely disappointed,” said Sen. Kelsey.

Kelsey has yet to outline his amendment and says he will discuss it with the governor, who earlier this week said he likes his voucher bill the way it is.

An executive from the voucher program in Florida testified to the Senate Education Committee last night, encouraging members to expand the current proposal. Florida now has more than 50,000 children who go to private schools with vouchers. In the first year, the state had just a few dozen participants.

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