Amended bill would delay Tennessee school voucher plan for a year

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NASHVILLE, Tennessee — A proposal that seeks to create a school voucher program in Tennessee was amended Tuesday to delay the plan for a year, even though the measure's sponsor says it would hurt efforts to help children get a better education.

The amended legislation received a favorable vote in the House Government Operations Committee on Tuesday. The committee can only give a positive or negative recommendation.

The original legislation sponsored by Republican Rep. Bill Dunn of Knoxville is similar to a measure Republican Gov. Bill Haslam proposed last year that failed.

The so-called opportunity scholarship, which would give parents the option to move a child from a failing public school to a private school, sought to open eligibility to low-income students in districts that have a school in the bottom 5 percent.

Haslam's proposal was approved in the Senate last year, but the House version was unsuccessful because it sought to expand eligibility.

Dunn said after Tuesday's meeting that the amendment doesn't kill his proposal, but it "kills the chance for a child to get a year of better education."

"It would basically tell children you must stay in a failing school," he said. "It's going to harm children."

The companion to Dunn's bill passed the Senate on Monday.

Opponents of vouchers say the money should be used to improve public schools.

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