Tennessee school voucher bill passes Senate

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Legislation that would give parents the option to move a child from a failing public school to a private school has passed the Senate.

The proposal sponsored by Republican Sen. Todd Gardenhire of Chattanooga was approved 24-8 Monday. The companion bill is awaiting a vote in the House Government Operations Committee.

The legislation is similar to a measure Republican Gov. Bill Haslam proposed last year that failed.

Under Gardenhire’s proposal, eligibility would be opened 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 to the bottom 10 percent of schools.

Opponents of vouchers say the money should stay with public schools and improve them.