Last night, the Tennessee legislature capped a historic year by passing a budget that demonstrates a commitment to educational choice and addresses the urgent educational needs of children coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic.

These big wins were significant priorities of TennesseeCAN. The TennesseeCAN team spent countless hours crafting bill language, lobbying legislators and engaging grassroots supporters to ensure these victories would be achieved.

For educational choice, this included $24 million for charter school facilities, an increase of $18 million to help fund high-quality public options for Tennessee students. It also included $29 million for the Education Savings Account (ESA) program which puts Tennessee in a position to transform the future of education by giving families the opportunity to customize an educational program that works best for their individual children.

The Tennessee legislature also addressed priorities that will continue its emphasis on addressing Covid-19 learning loss, including $141 million for learning recovery programs such as summer camps and after-school tutoring and $2 million to provide high-quality, grade-aligned books and resources over the summer for 88,000 rising first graders in the state. 

This comes after the January special session where the Tennessee legislature and Governor Bill Lee led the nation in addressing the Covid-19 learning loss crisis by funding programs to provide summer school and high-dosage tutoring for students in need, while also maintaining a commitment to collecting valuable information about student learning so that teachers and parents know precisely where their students are academically. Many states are now working to catch up to Tennessee and model their Covid-19 response after the Volunteer State.

The budget now advances to Governor Bill Lee’s desk for his signature.

Victor J. Evans is the Executive Director of TennesseeCAN


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