Posts Tagged ‘school choice’

2015: The year of parental choice in Tennessee?

2015: The year of parental choice in Tennessee?

The 2015 legislative session has potential to be a watershed year for school choice. The Tennessee Choice & Opportunity Scholarship Act (SB999-HB1049), which Beacon and others have worked tirelessly to advance for three years running, is making its way through key committees. The bill would give thousands of low-income children the opportunity to receive a better education by allowing the money we already spend on those children to follow them to the school of their parents’ choice. After passing the state Senate by a resounding 23-9 margin on Monday night, the bill will next be heard in the House Finance Subcommittee next week.

However, opportunity scholarships aren’t the only choice option lawmakers are considering this session. Two other important bills have also received considerable attention, and rightfully so. The first (SB27-HB138) would provide education savings accounts for special needs children. This is very similar to the opportunity scholarship proposal, but it recognizes that special needs children often benefit more from tutoring, therapy, and other educational options. With this proposal, parents of special needs children could have the money we spend on their child deposited into a bank account, allowing them to pay not only for private school tuition, but also those other important services. The bill is up next week in Senate Finance and House Government Operations.

Finally, a bill proposed by Gov. Haslam—who has been a forceful advocate for parental choice—is gaining steam. The bill (SB293-HB473) would allow children to enroll in an Achievement School District-run school if seats remain. The ASD takes over failing schools and seeks to turn them into high-performing charter schools. In some cases, there may be open slots in those schools, so why not invite children in need of better options to attend that school? This is a great bill that will complement other choice programs being considered. It’s up for two big votes in House Finance Subcommittee and Senate Finance next week.

Legislators have plenty of opportunities to expand quality educational options for Tennessee children this session. Let’s hope they answer the call.

-Justin Owen

April 2nd, 2015 | Beacon Blog, Recent News

Beacon Update and Statement on School Choice

Beacon Update and Statement on School Choice

Below is a brief statement from Beacon CEO Justin Owen.

Today, the House took a huge first step toward providing thousands of Tennessee children with the opportunity for a better education. The Education Subcommittee made it clear that families across Tennessee deserve parental choice, and we thank those representatives who stood with children by advancing the Tennessee Choice & Opportunity Scholarship Act.

Educational choice continues to be one the Beacon Center’s primary issues, and today’s vote is a very promising sign for the prospect of passing a school choice bill in Tennessee this year. We look forward to continuing to work with the legislature to make sure every child gets the education that they deserve.

March 3rd, 2015 | Beacon Blog, Recent News

The Beacon Center Awards Inaugural “Beacon Opportunity Scholarship”

The Beacon Center of Tennessee awarded the first ever Beacon Opportunity Scholarship to 8th grader Madison Ott of Knoxville. Madison was awarded the scholarship based on her essay explaining how school choice would help her realize her dreams by providing her with a quality education. The scholarship will provide Madison with a four-year education at a private high school of her family’s choice.

By offering this opportunity scholarship, Beacon has decided to lead by example in the fight for educational choice. Unfortunately, Beacon can only help one student while the Tennessee legislature has the opportunity to help thousands of children.

Beacon Center CEO Justin Owen explains, “Just like we’ve helped Madison obtain the education she deserves, I want to once again call on our state lawmakers to do the same for thousands of children across our state who are in need of a quality education. By passing the Tennessee Choice & Opportunity Scholarship Act, we can begin to fund children, not systems, and ensure that no Tennessee child falls through the cracks.”

February 27th, 2015 | Tennessee Stories