Governor Bill Lee's School Choice Initiative: Understanding the Proposed Program

Jan 29, 2024 at 02:37 pm by Chandelar Williams

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee's proposed statewide school choice program is set to offer taxpayer-funded grants to 20,000 students for attending private schools, with eligibility expanding to all students by 2025. Notably, there won't be any testing or accountability requirements for participating students.

Initially, eligibility is tied to income, with half of the slots reserved for students from families with incomes not exceeding 300% of the federal poverty level. The remaining slots will be open to all on a first-come, first-serve basis. Homeschoolers are excluded unless they are enrolled in an umbrella school, as per the bill draft.


The program's costs for the first year are estimated at around $141.5 million, with administrative costs yet to be finalized. Scholarship funds can cover various educational expenses, including tuition, textbooks, tutoring, and technology, and they won't be taxed as income. Importantly, there's no set limit on the number of vouchers the state will distribute, indicating a potential for expansion beyond the initial 20,000 scholarships.

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