More African Americans Push For School Voucher Program

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(Memphis) School vouchers are back on the agenda in Nashville.

Vouchers will allow parents to get scholarships from the state for their children to attend private, charter or any school they want.

The bill was pulled last year before it went up for a vote. It’s back and there’s some new support behind it.

“I’ve had so many parents here, parents in front of my house in tears because they’re trying to move their children from a school,” said TN State Rep. John DeBerry, Memphis.

DeBerry has been pushing for a school voucher program for years. This year several African-American groups are joining him in the push.

“The more people find out about it, the more excited they become about it,” said DeBerry.

“If you’re assigned to a school by your zip code and you don’t have money to move to better neighborhood that’s going to have a higher tax base which is going to have a better traditional public school or if you don’t have the money to put your child in a private school you’re trapped,” said Michael Benjamin, American Federation for Children.

Benjamin is in Memphis this week working to get more people interested in the voucher program.

He says similar programs are working in a lot of states, like Florida where 60,000 low-income children are attending private or charter schools using public money.

“The cradle for civil rights issues is Memphis and many in the civil rights fight even friends of mine that marched with Martin Luther King on the bridge of Selma say this is the civil rights of its kind today,” said Benjamin.

There are several voucher bills on the table. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam wants one that would serve only low-income Tennesseans while some lawmakers would like to expand it to include more children.

The Southern Christian Leadership Council, which is a group founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, plans a trip to Nashville next week to support the school voucher program.

They want to let lawmakers know it is time to pass such a bill

The SCLC is sponsoring a bus convoy to Nashville to show support for the Choice Voucher Program and it won’t cost you anything.

If you’d like to go, arrive at the Southland Mall, Tuesday at 5:30 a.m. People begin boarding the buses at 6 a.m. and leave shortly after.

The rally will begin at noon at the state capitol.

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