To get this bill through, legislators had whittled it down to only include students with certain specific disabilities. There are only 18,000 children in TN that would be eligible. The state estimates that only 1-2% of eligible students will even use these vouchers.
This is passing a law to create a program for only 180-360 children.
This program will require an expensive, dedicated NEW department and staff at the Tennessee Department of Education to manage it.
Nobody can name a single decent private school that will accept these students for the voucher amount.
The only SPED services in rural areas typically reside within the public school system. Rural students taking advantage of vouchers may have to drive long distances to replace what their district provides.
SPED law allows the state to pay for outside services if the child's needs are not being met at the school level. So why do we need vouchers when parents can already pursue added services outside the public school system if needed?
If the state is truly worried about the oversight of public school spending, then why try to oversee individual voucher spending? What happens if voucher money is misused? Those children are still entitled to a free education in their district's public school, even if their voucher funds are gone.
It is important to know that this is how vouchers got their foot in the door in other states, too. "Similar programs in both Florida and Arizona started small and expanded - Florida's now costs more than $150 million annually. And the Florida program has been plagued with fraud and abuse," wrote Andy Spears, an expert on education issues in TN.
Don't be fooled, this is a bill to say that Tennessee has vouchers.