Friday, January 10, 2014

Haslam Hints at Renewal of “Limited” Voucher Program, Still Leery of Kelsey Plan

From Memphis Flyer, January 9th, 2014:

“We’re going to make our recommendation next week. As you know, we favored a more limited approach to school vouchers. I still think that’s the right one, because it’s focused on those lowest performing schools which are actually..., a lot of which are our responsibility now in the Achievement School District and others.

“So in something like this we think it makes sense to take a more measured approach as you look at vouchers, and let’s see the impact. There’s a lot of concern as to the effect it has on an existing school system, and how much difference does it make for the student. As the physician, operating on ourselves first, we think, makes lot of sense.”

The governor was asked about a more extensive (and expensive)voucher program proposed last year by state Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown), who has said he will offer it again this year. At the end of last year’s session, Haslam asked his legislative sponsor, state Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, to pull the more moderate gubernatorial pilot program rather than submit it to the changes desired by Kelsey.

“You know, we obviously last year felt much more comfortable with our position. We want to come up with something that’s the best idea. Last year, we didn’t hear another approach that we thought made sense, given everything else we have going on in education.” (link)
My Comment: I am pleased to see that the Governor is again going to propose a school voucher program.  While I am an advocate of school choice including charter schools, magnet schools, and vouchers, I think the Governor's more cautious,  implementable approach is preferable to a massive implementation of a voucher program all at once. I think we should implement the Governor's limited plan and if it is promising and has good results, then we should expand it.

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