Tennessee governor says hundreds of parents interested in state’s education savings account program

Zion Christian Academy in Columbia, Tennessee, is one of more than 520 private schools in the state serving more than 100,000 students. The academy allows middle school students to experience a challenging curriculum that focuses on language arts, literature, mathematics, science, history and the bible to prepare them for high school college prep programs.

Editor’s note: This article appeared last week on Tennessee’s wate.com.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee says over 42 independent schools across the state are committed to making seats available immediately for students enrolled in the state’s education savings account program, and around 600 families have already started the application process.

Tuesday, Lee met with school leaders he said are interested in helping parents find the best educational fit for their children.

“We’ve only been at this a week,” Lee said. “We have about 600 applications of families that have a desire, an intent of interest, an application of interest. So, there are hundreds of families and dozens of schools, and that’s very encouraging to me.”

Last week, a Davidson County Chancellor lifted an injunction allowing the governor’s office to move forward with the pilot program. The controversial program would allow parents in Memphis and Nashville to enroll in the ESA to allow their children to attend private schools in those counties using public funds.

The plan proposed by Lee and enacted in 2019 would cost an estimated $125 million over five years and allow 5,000 students in certain low-income school districts to receive up to $7,300 to pay for approved expenses.

“We certainly hope there are no more delays. There has been a two-year delay, but it’s made its way through the court system all the way to the Tennessee Supreme Court, and they found it to be constitutional and appropriate,” Lee said. “We feel very confident it will go forward.”

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