Compromised school voucher bill could cost Tennessee millions, educator says

SHELBY CO., Tenn. — State leaders in Nashville approved a compromised school voucher specifically for the two largest school districts in Tennessee.

Some educators said the compromise will eventually put the future of Shelby County and Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools in jeopardy.

In 2021, more than 5,000 students from Shelby County Schools and Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools will receive vouchers to attend non-traditional public schools.

Memphis educator Eric Dunn spent the day in Nashville following the voucher vote.

“It’s really going to affect us and hurt the teachers and students in rural areas,” Dunn said.

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On Wednesday, state leaders approved a compromised educational voucher bill aimed at public school students in Memphis and Nashville.

“Notice it says it is going to draw 5,000 students away from Shelby County Schools,” Dunn said.

By 2024 more than 15,000 students will be in the program from each school district, costing the state $335 million.

“What happens is it boosts places like Germantown and Collierville, it boosts their enrollment up,” Dunn said.

“It really doesn’t benefit Shelby County. It’s not a compromise. Any time two parties are not at the table legally there is nothing we can compromise,” Dunn said.

The voucher bill is meant to take students from low-performing schools and allow them to go to better schools.

“At this point what we are going to have to do within Shelby County Schools is fight to keep our students. Five thousand students being taken away is a lot of students,” Dunn said.