vouchers

The governor says the state should have a thorough discussion about school vouchers, publicly-funded scholarships that can be used to attend private schools. A state panel appointed by Haslam to make recommendations on a voucher program is grappling over questions of eligibility and timing.

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Haslam expects a lot of wrangling over the next few months on vouchers, pre-K and higher ed. Much of the debate will likely occur within his own party.

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Op-Ed from Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey; August 6, 2012:  Our Republican majority in the state legislature have reached many of our goals these past two years. I’m very proud of our accomplishments. But there is still much left to do. One example is education reform. Some might find this surprising. After all, Tennessee won […]

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House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner predicts education to be a source of much debate next legislative session and for his party to face another year of uphill fights.

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Press release from the Tennessee Senate Democratic Caucus; June 7, 2012:  NASHVILLE – Senate Democratic leaders thanked Governor Bill Haslam Thursday for refusing to tie his proposal for increased Pre-Kindergarten funding to the introduction of government giveaways to private academies through school vouchers. “I applaud the Governor’s refusal to play politics with the Pre-K program,” […]

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Gov. Bill Haslam says he put the brakes on a proposal to further open up school choice in Tennessee because the concept of vouchers has “too many unanswered questions” and the timing was off. The plan to allow students to use taxpayer-funded vouchers like scholarships to attend the public, charter or private school of their […]

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Voucher measure could be DOA in the House. GOP caucus chairwoman and Education Committee chairman say 2012 session is time for observation and contemplation, not more reform action.

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House Speaker Beth Harwell said lawmakers should act with care on any school voucher bill. She said the new teacher evaluation process coupled with a voucher system would send ‘a mixed message’ to teachers. Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey wants to see “at least a pilot project for school choice.”

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The governor said Monday the new teacher evaluation system will require some getting used to but emphasized that the evaluations were “at the heart” of the state’s successful Race to the Top application. Haslam said he’s as yet unprepared to take a position on a bill to make way for vouchers in the state’s largest school systems.

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Some lawmakers are hinting they may push more education reforms in 2012, but others contend the Legislature should instead focus on following through on the new laws they passed a few months ago.

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Republicans have picked up some education bills and dropped others like hot potatoes. Some of those lawmakers have splintered off and opposed prime education reform bills, thickening the political plot as the legislation inches closer to passage.

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The “Equal Opportunity Scholarship Act,” which already passed the Senate, is in now limbo until next year. Sponsors say they want to spend the interim educating skeptics on how the system would work and benefit low-income and at-risk Tennessee students.

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