As Tennessee lawmakers consider voucher bills again this year, it seems alternative facts are ruling the day. That is to say, facts simply don’t matter and are routinely dismissed in the name of achieving a goal that will most certainly be devastating for Tennessee schools and for students.
Here are some thoughts from Tennessee Education Report:
If Tennessee’s voucher program follows the example of Indiana, it could be devastating:
Nearly 15,000 students who never attended public school suddenly receiving vouchers would mean a state cost of $98 million. That’s $98 million in new money. Of course, those funds would either be new money (which is not currently contemplated) or would take from the state’s BEP allocations in the districts where the students receive the vouchers.
Let’s look at Davidson County as an example. If three percent of the student population there took vouchers, and half of those were students who had never attended a public school, the loss to the district would be a minimum of $8.4 million.
This means local governments would be stuck picking up the tab to support private schools. The alternative would be a dedicated state fund to support the voucher school district. That’s a total cost of around $200 million, half of that new money.
Should taxpayers be asked to invest $100 million in a program that gets negative results? Studies in Indiana, Ohio, and Louisiana all indicate that vouchers have a negative impact on student academic outcomes.
Despite the comparison to Indiana, Tennessee lawmakers decided to plow forward:
Let’s examine that a little more closely. DeBerry is acknowledging that public schools will lose money under the plan he supports. He’s willing to take money from a school system that finally appears to be turning around in order to help what he describes as a small group of students. Oh, and the evidence says the vouchers won’t actually help those students and may well harm them.
Facts matter. And, the fact is: Vouchers don’t work. They harm kids. They are wrong for Tennessee.
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