MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION: If private schools don't go toe-to-toe with tax payer accountability, just like public schools; then, how will taxpayers ever know if vouchers are working? Or is that the point?
Date: February 5, 2016 at 5:18:34 PM CST
Subject: Please Support Amendment #10 to Voucher Legislation
Dear Members of the Middle Tennessee Delegation:
On Monday evening, you are scheduled to hear HB 1049/SB 999 (school vouchers) on the House Floor. The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce opposes this legislation due to its lack of true accountability by not requiring participating private schools to administer state mandated assessments. This discrepancy will not provide a transparent, consistent analysis of the program for the taxpayers.
The Chamber has typically supported school choice options, but there has been true accountability. With charter schools, students are given the same state mandated assessments. With online virtual schools, students are given the same state mandated assessments. The choice of a voucher should include this requirements as well. Louisiana and Indiana require the administration of state exams in their voucher programs. While critics claim that such a requirement will deter schools and students from participating, last year 30,000 students participated in the program in Indiana.
Representative Charles Sargent has filed Amendment #10 to HB 1049 which would require participating schools to administer state assessments. This amendment as well as the bill itself will both be items on the Chamber's Annual Scorecard this year. The Chamber urges you to support this amendment [#10] which will ensure accountability for this new taxpayer funded program. Thank you for your service to this State, and please let me know if you have any questions.
Vice President, State Policy Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce
Oh, and if someone gets the wise idea of limiting vouchers to Memphis or Nashville. They should read this article from 2012 where Federal District Court Judge Samuel "Hardy" Mays struck down the municipal schools law as being unconstitutional since it applied to only Shelby County.