If you’ve been following us for any amount of time hopefully you have some context on this, but just in case, here’s a quick rundown of how we got to this point…
Governor Lee made public school-harming private school vouchers his #1 priority coming into office.
Not fixing our public schools, which get an “F” for funding. Not fixing health care, which has us at #1 in Medical bankruptcies & rural hospital closures per capita, which could easily be addressed by expanding medicaid and accepting the $1 BILLION of OUR OWN TAX DOLLARS earmarked for us every year.
Lee wants to see MILLIONS of public school funds steered to private (often religious/Christian) schools. To get it passed, he had the help of Trump Secretary of Education Betsy Devos, who is on record saying her agenda is to “Advance God’s Kingdom” by raiding the public school war chest in America, and disgraced former speaker Glen Casada, who held the tie vote open for 35 minutes until he finally coerced Rep. Jason Zachary of Knoxville into flipping his vote and selling out Tennessee’s public schools.
To be clear, NONE of the rural reps wanted vouchers for their own districts. They only wanted to impose them on Nashville and Memphis and their more diverse student bodies… even though many admitted they wouldn’t want that done to their districts.
The rollout was equally problematic. The Tennessee Dept. of Education handed out an expensive no-bid contract for more than the amount that was allocated to the program, and Lee intentionally sped up the rollout an extra year for no apparent reason other than impatience. Many Republican representatives began to regret their votes for the bill, including TN GOP House Caucus leader Jeremy Faison.
There were also rumors of an FBI investigation, the offering of military promotions, the list goes on… which brings us to last night, when the program was finally declared “unconstitutional” by a court after Shelby & Davidson counties sued.
Another L for Lee.
It isn’t over. There will be challenges. But Lee’s losing streak in the courts continues, a natural extension of a radical right agenda in a GOP supermajority state where the only backstop the constitution has is the judicial branch. Thankfully, for now, it seems to be holding up.
HERE WERE SOME REACTIONS:
Great news. Let’s hope this is the beginning of the end for this failed policy. https://t.co/h7Sg5uakvH
— Mike Stewart (@RepMikeStewart) May 5, 2020
Vouchers = bad policy, bad politics, bad budgeting, and now bad law.
Hopefully, we can now re-direct the voucher funding to something constitutional that the state actually needs. https://t.co/z8dNuK5DSK
— Jeff Yarbro (@yarbro) May 5, 2020
— Senator Brenda Gilmore (@SenatorGilmore) May 5, 2020
This gem sums up the whole voucher charade. It’s simply a scheme to funnel 💰 away from public schools by Lee and Schwinn.
— Amber Rountree (@Dr_Rountree) May 5, 2020
Of course, not everyone is thrilled. Senator Brian Kelsey makes it clear there will be appeals.
While Metro may have won the first round on ESAs, there are two rounds left to help our schools, parents, and students. Thankfully, Chancellor Martin is allowing us to appeal her order right away, and we will do so all the way to the state Supreme Court! @MariahTimms
— Brian Kelsey (@BrianKelsey) May 5, 2020