Tennessee Education Commissioner Advocates for Vouchers Despite Previous Criticism

Education Commissioner Lizzette Reynolds recently appeared before the Tennessee Senate Education Committee to discuss the Department of Education’s budget for the upcoming school year. During the hearing, Reynolds addressed the issue of private school vouchers, also known as Education Freedom Scholarships, which have been a topic of contention.

Reynolds previously expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of vouchers, stating that “vouchers are nothing to write home about” in terms of test scores. This comment garnered criticism from Democratic lawmakers, some of whom called for her resignation, citing concerns about her qualifications.

Despite her earlier reservations, Reynolds now stands behind the proposed voucher program, emphasizing the demand for alternatives to public education. The Education Freedom Scholarships would provide financial assistance for public school students to attend private schools, with Governor Bill Lee proposing vouchers of $7,000 for 20,000 students.

Reynolds highlighted the personal significance of the voucher program, noting that her own family had needed alternative educational options. She reported that the Tennessee Department of Education had already received 1,200 applications for vouchers for the next school year, indicating a significant demand for the program.

The budget for the Education Freedom Scholarships, totaling $144 million, passed unanimously in the Senate Education Committee and will now move to the Senate Finance Committee for further consideration.

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Following the hearing, attempts by WSMV4 to interview Reynolds were unsuccessful, as she had to attend another meeting. Despite the criticism and controversy surrounding the voucher program, Reynolds remains committed to addressing the educational needs of Tennessee students through alternative options such as private school vouchers.

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