The Haynes Family and the Benefits of Parental Choice in Education


April 5, 2024 3:43PM

Jack and Melissa Haynes live in the Crieve Hall neighborhood of Davidson County, and in their house, there’s not a quiet moment with their two sons—ages 10 and 7—running around. 

When it was time to choose an elementary school for their boys, they toured several schools, including the one they are zoned for in their neighborhood. One thing to note about Jack and Melissa’s parenting style is that they try to limit media time as much as possible. They are raising their boys how many in my generation were raised—spending time outside and playing with real things they find out in the world. Thus, they were disheartened to find that many of the schools they toured, including their zoned public school, used more digital media than they were comfortable with at such a young age and provided the kids with very little outdoor time. 

After much deliberation and research, they concluded that a Montessori-style education would be the best fit for their boys. 

Even with great, full-time jobs in Nashville, Jack and Melissa have to make sacrifices to send their kids to Harpeth Montessori in Franklin. It took them a while to find the perfect school to meet their kids’ needs, so those are sacrifices that they are willing to make. But it’s no secret that paying a private school tuition is tough for one child, much less two. 

Parents across Tennessee are able to exercise school choice, but only if they have the financial means to do so. That could all change with the proposed Education Freedom Scholarship program.

For families like the Haynes, an Education Freedom Scholarship for their children, “would really open up our options and allow us to continue making this choice as the kids get older…  education is specifically what a portion of our tax dollars are supposed to be spent on; however, we get zero benefit from it because we chose a school that we feel is better for our children.” As it currently stands, thousands of working families like the Haynes have to sacrifice, getting charged twice through taxes and tuition, to get their children the education that best suits their unique needs.

According to Jack, school choice, specifically through the proposed Education Freedom Scholarship program, “gives the choice of education back to where it should be—with the parents. It allows us to be able to send our children to the school we feel is best for them. It’s a win-win situation. Not only will more parents be able to educate their kids where they want, it will also promote an expansion of more schooling options, which will only improve the quality of education overall.”

If my conversations over the last few years with parents, and specifically with Jack Haynes, have taught me anything, it’s this: nobody cares more about a child than his or her parents. Families are willing to make extraordinary sacrifices to ensure their children get the educational opportunities that best suit them. The future of Tennessee will ultimately rest in the hands of these children. Why deny their parents resources—which they already pay into education, albeit sometimes not the education they are using—to give their kids the best chance for success possible? Education Freedom Scholarships would be a win-win: a win for families and a win for Tennessee.