Sen. Ferrell Haile, R-Gallatin, said of vouchers, "“This is a concept and an idea that I’m 100% for.” (Photo: John Partipilo)

Sumner lawmakers support private school vouchers

BY: - December 5, 2023

Sumner County’s delegation of state lawmakers is fully backing the governor’s plan to enact private school vouchers statewide, though at least one local school board member opposes the idea. “There’s much more pressing needs, to me, that our education tax dollars could be going toward besides providing scholarships for private school or homeschool,” Sumner County […]

The $27.1 million clash between education reform and public school advocates

BY: - November 30, 2023

Before state Rep. Bob Ramsey could react, outside money poured into his Republican primary, and mailboxes throughout his district were full of attack advertisements. Ramsey, whose state House seat is in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains in Maryville, Tenn., considered himself a moderate member of the state’s GOP caucus.  But, most consequential to his […]

Gov. Bill Lee, accompanied by Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, left, at his Tuesday press conference at which he announced a plan to let parents use public funds for private schools. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Gov pushes private school vouchers for all students statewide

BY: - November 28, 2023

Amid lackluster participation in the state’s private school voucher program, Gov. Bill Lee made a move Tuesday to begin offering private school vouchers for every student statewide, regardless of family income. Lee introduced his plan dubbed the Education Freedom Scholarship Act, which would set up a fund separate from the state’s K-12 funding formula to […]

Rep. Mark White, R-Memphis, is considering expanding a plan that would retain fourth graders from advancing based on reading test scores.(Photo: John Partipilo)

House Education chairman eyes fourth-grade “retention” law 

BY: - November 28, 2023

The ink is barely dry on revisions to the state’s third-grade reading and “retention” law, and a House education chairman is considering a similar strategy for fourth-graders, including a plan to advance if they continue to test poorly. Otherwise, some 6,000 to 12,000 students could be held back, educators say. Parents and lawmakers statewide raised […]

Timely donations to Gov. Lee spark rise of Tennessee charter operator with dubious ties

BY: - November 28, 2023

During the winter of 2021, Noble Education Initiative’s chances of opening a third charter school — this time, in Rutherford County — looked bleak. But in the weeks leading up to a crucial vote that would effectively decide the project’s fate, Gov. Bill Lee’s reelection campaign received $43,000 in donations from executives affiliated with Noble […]

Gov. Bill Lee, photographed at a recent budget planning session, is set to propose a plan to expand private school vouchers on Tuesday.(Photo: John Partipilo)

Lawmakers: Governor to push for statewide private school vouchers in 2024

BY: - November 21, 2023

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect comments from state Rep. Mark White, chairman of the House Education Administration Committee. Gov. Bill Lee is set to announce his support for a statewide Education Savings Account program next year, expanding from three large counties to every school district in the state, according to two […]

Sen. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, gestures to a colleague during a legislative hearing on Nov. 7, 2023. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Senate Education chair balks at rejecting federal funds

BY: - November 21, 2023

The Tennessee Senate’s Education Committee chairman opposes turning down at least $1.3 billion in federal education funds but says the state could seek some sort of waiver on federal school requirements. After a week of hearings before a committee designed to study the question, Sen. Jon Lundberg says he doesn’t believe the state should reject […]

(Photo: Getty Images)

84% of schools approved as part of Tennessee’s student voucher program are religiously affiliated

BY: - November 17, 2023

Tennessee’s school voucher program, allowing students to use public dollars to attend private schools, is rapidly increasing, according to data released by the Tennessee Department of Education during its budget hearing held earlier this week. The voucher program, which Gov. Bill Lee’s administration calls education savings accounts, approved 2,586 students to access up to $8,200 […]

Public education advocates at a meeting of a legislative subcommittee debating whether to reject nearly $2 billion in federal funds for public schools. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Tenn. hearings on federal school funding leave out parents and local advocacy groups

BY: - November 15, 2023

(This story was originally published by Chalkbeat. Sign up for their newsletters at A legislative panel exploring whether Tennessee should reject federal funding for its K-12 students isn’t allowing public testimony from Tennesseans about how federally funded programs are run or how they affect their children. And it’s not hearing from Tennessee-based advocacy groups […]

Schools ask if lawmakers can afford to replace federal education dollars, why not invest instead

BY: - November 8, 2023

Hawkins County Director of Schools Matt Hixson asked lawmakers to look into increasing state money put toward education instead of using potential surplus funds to replace existing federal funding.  “There may be avenues other than looking at just replacing federal funds as a whole,” Hixson said. “Maybe look at the rural or poor districts with […]

Dennis Prager attends Politicon in 2017 at the Pasadena Convention Center in Pasadena, Calif. He is the founder of PragerU, a conservative nonprofit that produces short videos on historical, economic and climate topics that have been incorporated into some public school lessons. Colin Young-Wolff/Invision via The Associated Press

Controversial PragerU videos gain educational foothold in a handful of states

BY: - November 3, 2023

In July, Florida became the first state to allow schools to incorporate instructional videos with a conservative viewpoint from vendor PragerU into their classroom materials. Oklahoma and Montana rapidly followed. New Hampshire in September approved the use of online PragerU videos to satisfy financial literacy requirements in public schools. PragerU and one state education board […]

Sen. Bo Watson, R-Chattanooga, warns abut the perils of turning down federal education funds. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Senate budget chair warns that federal education dollars would go to other states

BY: - October 25, 2023

The chairman of Tennessee’s Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee is issuing a warning that rejection of federal K-12 education funds would send Tennessee taxpayer money across the country. Sen. Bo Watson, a Hixson Republican, tells the Tennessee Lookout he is comfortable with making a thorough review of federal requirements attached to education funds, nearly […]