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Tennessee voucher bills

In 2017, the state legislature debated the topic of school vouchers for the seventh straight year. A bill sponsored by Rep. Harry Brooks, R-Knoxville, and Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, slowly made its way to the House Finance Ways and Means Subcommittee before being moved to the 2018 legislative calendar. As stated in The Tennessean, the 2017 bill targeted only Shelby County Schools by creating a pilot program that would be monitored by the Tennessee General Assembly for several years.

State-funded vouchers, no matter the scope, allow parents to use taxpayer money to send their children to private schools. Tennessee already has one voucher bill in place — the Individualed Education Act for special education students (see below).

Individualized Education Account Program

The Individualized Education Act, adopted by the Tennessee General Assembly in 2015 (Public Chapter 431), creates the Individualized Education Account Program and related accounts (IEAs) for eligible students with disabilities to use for educational purposes. The program provides options for parents and students to choose the education opportunities that best meet their unique needs through access to public education funds. As January 18, 2017, the only Memphis-area IEA participant was Madonna Learning Center.

For more information or to find out if you qualify, visit the TN Department of Education website.

Note: A child must have attended a Tennessee public school for at least two semesters preceding the semester in which the student receives an IEA or be enrolling in a Tennessee school for the first time.