In the previous three blogs I discussed how God led me back to my hometown in northwest Tennessee to start a Christian school, Biblical reasons for doing so, and I began the discussion about the financing of a Christian school. In this fourth and final blog in this series I would like to discuss Educational Savings Accounts (ESA’s) in Tennessee and how they would help every K-12 student in our state.
How do most Americans feel about educational choice? It appears that there is a great disconnect between government-run school administrators, federal and state teachers’ unions, and the average American citizen. Americans favor educational choice by large margins. Here are two surveys that that support this:
On April 25, 2019, Educational Savings Account (ESA) legislation was passed on the Senate floor by a 20-13 vote. The House version of the bill recently passed by a 50-48 vote. Tennesseans should understand that big bucks were spent to oppose this legislation. Government-run school leaders and representatives from the teacher’s unions have always been successful in defeating school choice legislation. Finally, state Representatives and Senators have demonstrated courage to support what most citizens in Tennessee have supported for years – PARENTAL CHOICE IN EDUCATION!
This specific legislation will not affect the citizens in Weakley County right away. However, if academic improvement in K-12 education in Shelby and Davidson counties can be proven as a result of ESA’s, Tennesseans can expect ESA legislation to be expanded to include other counties, and perhaps the whole state.
How can ESA’s help students who attend government-run schools? Let me share a hypothetical example. Let’s examine a rural county with 5,000 K-12 students. If there were currently 200 homeschooled and 200 in a Christian school, then the federal and state governments would be sending tax collected dollars for 4,600 students enrolled in public schools back to that rural county. The local taxes collected for education would remain the same. The taxes collected by the state and federal government for those 400 students who are homeschooled or in a private Christian school, currently remain in state and federal resources.
Let’s imagine that ESA legislation passes for every county in TN. Let’s also imagine that 600 more students exercise their choice and now 500 are homeschooled and 500 are in a Christian school. That would leave 4,000 enrolled in public schools. Would that affect the county’s educational budget? They would not need new buildings for a while. They would not need as many teachers. They would have to trim their budgets. They might even conduct a survey and ask those families why they did not choose the public school. The results of that survey might be the best thing that ever happened to public schools. They might ask the question, “what can we do that might cause families to choose public education?” The more students who withdrew from public schools, the greater the likelihood that this question would be asked.
How would ESA legislation help families who choose another option than public schools? The answer to that question is obvious. The government-run monopoly would be broken, and competition would benefit every student. Every family would truly have the choice to give the education they feel is best for their children.