NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee’s highest court has ruled that Republican Gov. Bill Lee’s school voucher program does not violate the state’s constitution.
The Tennessee Supreme Court’s ruled 3-2 Wednesday on the issue. Its decision overturns several lower court rulings that had previously determined the program violated the Tennessee Constitution’s “home rule.” That rule says the Legislature can’t pass measures singling out individual counties without local support.
Under the law, the voucher program would apply only to Nashville and Shelby County, which includes Memphis, the areas with the lowest performing schools, and regions with Democratic political strongholds who opposed the measure.
Memphis-Shelby County Schools released a statement Thursday on the ruling:
The Tennessee Supreme Court ruling is an alarming ASSAULT on public education. It’s an ASSAULT on the authority of local taxpayers and governing bodies whose resources are allocated to historically underfunded public institutions. It’s an ASSAULT on our community.
The voucher program will divert funds away from only two of the 147 school districts in Tennessee, both responsible for educating students with the greatest needs.
The recent ruling is an unfortunate roadblock on the path toward progress and makes serving students in the state’s largest urban district even more challenging.
As champions for equity, Memphis-Shelby County Schools will persist in our mission to serve children and provide our students with high-quality options for their education regardless of socio-economic status.