NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Gov. Bill Lee’s voucher-style proposal has restored the option of paying for homeschooling.
A Senate panel advanced the Republican’s key school choice initiative Wednesday. The legislation, expected to cost $125 million over five years, has House and Senate committee stops remaining.
The Senate version would double the cap on the education savings accounts to 30,000 students, instead of 15,000.
The Senate panel kept a provision requiring families to provide a birth certificate, a driver’s license or some sort of government documentation for their children participating in the voucher-style plan. That requirement has drawn legality concerns because states can’t deny free public education because of immigration status.
Under Lee’s proposal, parents below the federal poverty level with students in certain low-performing school districts could receive up to $7,300 in state funds.
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The ACLU of Tennessee issued the following statement about the bill passing the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday.
“We are very troubled by the committee’s decision to advance this costly bill, which violates the fundamental principle of religious freedom by funding religious education with taxpayer funds.
This anti-public education legislation creates a costly government spending program that diverts desperately needed resources away from the public school system, which accepts all students. Private voucher schools are not required to adequately serve students with disabilities or low-income students, and this bill would also discriminate against students from undocumented families.
We urge lawmakers to focus on improving education in public schools for Tennessee children by voting down this legislation.”