Hamilton County teachers voice concerns about school vouchers

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HAMILTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WDEF) — Some teachers in Hamilton County say they are against Governor Bill Lee’s school voucher program.

The bill will be discussed on Tuesday in a legislative committee.

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In his state of the state address, Governor Bill Lee discussed school vouchers. He says his plan will cost about $125 million over the next 5 years. According to the proposal, parents of students in certain low-income school districts could receive more than $7,000 to pay for approved expenses.

“It is a bad, bad, bad, bad bill. What I am looking at in my words only, I feel like it is a bait and switch. They presented it as a plan that is going to be for our disadvantaged students that they can take this $7,300 and go to a private school,” said Jeanette Omarkhail, the president of the Hamilton County Education Association.

Omarkhail says when she looked into the bill further, she saw problems.



“A district that has one school that is ten percent disadvantaged then any student in that district can apply for this savings account or voucher as it truly is,” Omarkhail said.

In 2017, the Hamilton County School Board created a resolution to legislators saying they were against vouchers.

School board member Rhonda Thurman decided not to sign it.

“I have a really hard time telling parents, because this is parents’ money. It is their students, their children. I have a hard time telling them, explaining to them why they have to continue to leave their child in a school that has been failing for the past 30 years,” Thurman said.

Educators say it has not worked in other states.

“It is not going to help our students. Our County is doing some very innovative things that we need to let them do,” Omarkhail said.

Hamilton County teachers plan to go to Nashville on Tuesday to urge legislators to vote no on the bill.