Rep. Dunn not impressed with anti-voucher resolutions

The Knox County School Board has passed a resolution opposing school vouchers, but Knox County state Rep. Bill Dunn, longtime voucher backer, is not impressed.

Further from the News Sentinel:

“I don’t blame the school board for looking out for the system, but I think it’s more important to look out for the student,” Dunn said Tuesday afternoon. “This whole debate comes down to people who are trying to protect the system, and all I’m trying to do is protect the student and give them a future.”

…The Knox County school board voted 8-1 Tuesday evening to pass a resolution opposing any legislation that creates a state voucher system, calling such programs an “inefficient use of taxpayer money” that forces the residents to “support two school systems: one public and one private.” Mike McMillan was the lone board member to oppose the resolution.

Oak Ridge Schools passed a similar if more strongly worded resolution in late November.

Dunn said the bill largely was crafted by Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration and that the governor had requested he sponsor it in recent years. Dunn said he had meetings scheduled this week to discuss moving the bill forward this year after it was tabled during the last session when it appeared there weren’t enough votes to pass it.

The bill specifically is aimed at giving scholarships to students in the state’s lowest-performing schools, where test scores fall in the bottom 5 percent. In Knox County, that’s four schools: Green Magnet Math and Science Academy, Lonsdale Elementary, Sarah Moore Greene Magnet Technology Academy and Vine Middle School.

“If you don’t want voucher, get your schools out of the bottom five percent,” Dunn said. “It’s in (the school board’s) hands to improve the schools. There’s Greene (where) 92 percent of children there are not proficient in reading. Ninety-two percent. And the school board wants to say ‘nope, you have to stay.’ “

…Just as the voucher bill has been a perennial proposal in the General Assembly in recent years, so, too, have been the school board resolutions opposing them. The last voucher resolution in Knox County came up in March 2015 and passed on an  8-1 vote.


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