Paving the Way for True Education Reform in Memphis

March 30, 2010 3:40PM

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Center for Policy Research released a policy brief today encouraging the enactment of a parental choice scholarship program to benefit low-income families in Memphis. Senator Brian Kelsey (R – Germantown) has filed a bill that would provide students at three failing schools in Memphis with scholarships to attend a private school, a charter school, or another public school. The bill is currently before the Senate Education Committee. If passed into law, hundreds of children in Memphis would benefit from the pilot program. The brief, titled Paving the Way for True Education Reform in Memphis, examines how similar programs in other states have provided unmatched educational opportunities for those most in need. For example, students participating in the nation’s first parental choice scholarship program in Milwaukee are 18 percent more likely to graduate high school than their public school counterparts. “Parental choice scholarships would allow low-income parents and students to overcome the geographic discrimination of being trapped in failing schools,” said Justin Owen, TCPR’s director of policy and co-author of the report. The brief also recounts numerous studies showing that the public schools subject to competition by the programs also improve. Not a single study has ever been published that shows the programs posing a negative impact on public schools. Further, parental choice scholarship programs have saved millions of dollars for taxpayers. According to the Freidman Foundation for Educational Choice, these programs saved more than $440 million for states and local school districts between 1990 and 2006. “Not only would the pilot program give these parents the opportunity to take control of their children’s future, but Memphis public schools and taxpayers will benefit as well. It’s a win-win-win situation,” noted Owen. The brief can be viewed in its entirety at:


The Tennessee Center for Policy Research is an independent, nonprofit and nonpartisan research organization committed to achieving a freer, more prosperous Tennessee through the ideas of liberty.