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Teachers protest against Tennessee voucher bill

Posted at 3:12 PM, Apr 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-09 20:17:06-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee school teachers rallied on Capitol Hill against Gov. Bill Lee's voucher-style proposal to expand the amount of taxpayer dollars that can be used to pay for private schools and other expenses.

Roughly 50 teachers, parents and other education advocates participated in a demonstration Tuesday, where they voiced concerns about Lee's of education savings account plan. Many of the teachers wore sunglasses to show that they feared retribution if identified in the small crowd.

The protest comes just days after almost 200 participants held a similar demonstration at a GOP event that Lee attended in Knoxville.

Under Lee's proposal, parents of students in certain low-performing school districts could receive up to $7,300 in state funds, but they would need to have incomes below the federal poverty level.

"I think most people will be satisfied where they are," said the bill's sponsor, state representative Bill Dunn from Knoxville. "But for that child that leaves, and changes their life forever, it changes their trajectory, it's going to make all the difference."

Teachers say the public school system is struggling, and educators are leaving their jobs as raises aren't happening.

They're saying more funding would fix many of the issues they face, but it doesn't look like those funds will come through.

"The standards are high for teaching. I think that's wonderful. So, fully fund us so we can do our job and we can do the right thing. I'm all about that," said said Jennifer Sauer. "I don't know any teacher who wouldn't do the hard work to make it fully functional. But how can you do that when you're not paid enough and the kids don't have enough supplies? You just can't do it. It's a failing system and we need to put funding into our schools."

The sponsor of the bill says this will free up more money for schools because they will be reimbursed for the students that leave without having to teach the students.