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School Voucher Bill Stalls In House

Posted at 5:43 AM, Feb 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-11 14:05:48-05

The House sponsor of a proposal to create a school voucher program in Tennessee said he doesn't have the votes to pass the measure aimed at covering private school tuition for children attending some the state's worst public schools.

Republican state Representative Bill Dunn of Knoxville called off a scheduled floor vote on Thursday morning before taking up a series of proposed amendments.

"I'm disappointed," Dunn said. "I think we just wanted to help some kids. Umm, so I'm not going to go forward with it, but I do want to thank those who stuck with me."

Dunn had offered to limit the measure to apply to just the state's four largest counties, and had even been willing to have it apply only to just Shelby County.

"I feel sorry for the parents who have children in failing schools," he said. "All we were doing was trying to help them, and unfortunately for another year they're going to on the path to failure." 

Opponents had raised concerns of siphoning funding from public school systems to pay for the vouchers worth about $7,000 per student.
 
A teacher opposed to the bill said it's clear to him most people don't support school vouchers.
 
"Why are we about to spend money on an unproven experiment, and he said himself on the floor, it's been tried for four years," Larry Proffitt said. "Representative Dunn, I don't think the students, the parents and the teachers of Tennessee want to see that bill come to fruition."

The Senate overwhelmingly approved its version of the bill last year.