(Memphis) There is a push to show Memphis parents all their choices when it comes to educating their children.
One choice is a private school education for some families who might not be able to afford it.
The first blow in the debate over school vouchers started with radio ads.
The Tennessee legislature is likely to take up the issue when it reconvenes of allowing qualifying families to trade in these vouchers for a private school education.
The commercials advertise the choices Tennessee parents now have when it comes to educating their children.
Beacon Center of Tennessee, headquartered in Nashville, is helping pay for the advertising campaign.
“We started running radio ads in Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville last week. They started running the day after Christmas and that particular ad will run for about a month,” said Justin Owen, Beacon Center of Tennessee, CEO.
The radio ad features two Memphis mothers also shown on the www.choosemetennessee website.
They already send their children to private school through a scholarship.
In the ad one mother says, “The opportunity to choose my son's school has made all the difference in the world. He loves his teacher and he loves going. “
Another mother adds, “Our private school experience has been a blessing. We are fortunate to have a choice.”
Those mothers get scholarship money from a small local non-profit.
Beacon Center wants to see the state of Tennessee offer similar vouchers so low-income families all across the state can send their children to private school if they choose.
“Our current educational model is one size fits all and your zip code determines where you can send your kids to school not their unique needs and talents,” said Owen.
Some groups see vouchers as an attack on public education and its funding dollars but the people at the Beacon Center say the opposite is true.
“It makes public schools better just like competition works in other areas. It also works in education,” said Owen.
The group that represents Tennessee teachers, TEA, believes sending tax money to private schools isn’t fair because it causes a decline in the quality of education those left behind in public schools receive.
They’ll likely be persuading lawmakers to challenge the voucher proposal.