Gov. Lee’s ESA bill advances on day Secretary DeVos tours Nashville charter school

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Governor Bill Lee’s signature education savings account or ESA voucher bill passed another Tennessee House committee Monday. 

By a simple voice vote instead of recording each member individually, the House Government Operations Committee sent the bill on to the House Finance Committee with a “positive recommendation.” 

It came just a few hours after U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos joined the governor at a Nashville charter school. 

The two mingled Monday with students in two different classes at the middle school charter LEAD Cameron. 

“I actually reached out to the governor to see if I could come and join him for a conversation today about how we meet the needs of all students,” Sec. DeVos told reporters afterward. 

While the Secretary said she invited herself, it was clearly an opportunity for the governor to highlight his ideas that students should have a choice between public, private or a charter school education. 

Secretary DeVos was in full agreement.  

“I happen to be a proponent of states really taking the lead in almost all of education,” said DeVos.  

During his turn with reporters, the governor accented the replacement funds for public schools as part of his educational savings account or ESA plan. 

“Those public schools–whenever a child leaves them for the ESA program, that funding, that fill-in funding, will go back to strengthen that public school,” said the governor. 

The governor’s ESA plan allows for students in a district with three failing schools to be eligible for up to $7300 dollars yearly to use as they see fit–but most of the money is expected to be used for private school admission.  

Less than a dozen protesters held signs and shouted, “fully fund our public schools” as Secretary DeVos and Governor Lee got into vehicles to leave the charter school.  

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