Chattanooga, TN

Lee Signs Law Expanding School Vouchers to Chattanooga

Advocate Andy

Education Savings Accounts will now be available in Memphis, Nashville, and Chattanooga for 2023-24 school year

Gov. Bill Lee today signed a law expanding the state's school voucher program, known as Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) to Chattanooga. The program, now in its first year, is already available in Memphis and Nashville.

Students in these districts may receive a voucher in an amount equivalent to the state-generated funding provided to their home district for the student. Under the state's new school funding formula (TISA), each student generates a specific dollar amount based on a range of factors. The vouchers should range from about $8,000 to around $15,000 depending on where a student lives, family income, and a series of other factors included in the TISA calculation.

In announcing the program's expansion, Lee said:

"I'm proud to sign legislation to expand TN’s Education Savings Account program to Hamilton County. Now, families across Memphis, Nashville & Chattanooga have the opportunity to pick the best school for their child."

When Lee opened the program for the 2022-23 school year, he called the need for school choice in the state "urgent" and said the plan would give parents in Memphis and Nashville more options.

Lee backed a measure that would also have expanded the program to Knoxville this year, but the state Senate did not support that move.

A public education advocacy group in Chattanooga known as The Unity Group expressed opposition to the program's expansion.

In a statement, the group cited academic research showing vouchers as ineffective in improving student outcomes.

“Research shows that school vouchers have not been effective at improving student achievement or closing the achievement gap, with the most credible research finding little or no difference in voucher and public school students’ performance."

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Andy Spears is a middle Tennessee writer and policy advocate. He reports on news around public policy issues - education, health care, consumer protection, and more.

Nashville, TN

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