Bradley County school board votes against vouchers

Bradley County school board votes against vouchers

December 10th, 2011 by Randall Higgins in News

Vicki Beaty of Bradley County, Tenn.

Vicki Beaty of Bradley County, Tenn.

Photo by Angie Herrington

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- The Bradley County Board of Education endorsed three resolutions Thursday submitted from the Tennessee School Boards Association.

Two of the resolutions -- supporting appointed school superintendents and maintaining school boards' ability to set their own academic calendars -- passed unanimously and with little comment.

The board also approved an association resolution opposing publicly funded vouchers for private schools.

Board member David Kelley asked to table that resolution for more information, but his motion died without a second. Kelley abstained from voting.

"We've only heard one side of this issue," Kelley said. "I don't know if I stand for it or against it. I think it would be better if we got some input from the community."

Vicki Beaty voted with five board members to approve the resolution, but she said the board needs more information when voting on any issue.

"I want, on every decision, for this board to have the information it needs to make an informed decision to help Bradley County schools and the kids we educate," she said.

Board Chairman Charlie Rose said his understanding is that, if a child chooses a voucher and goes to a private school, then the public money for that student also would go to the private school.

Board member Troy Weathers made an impassioned argument for keeping all public education money for public schools and not allowing it to go to private ones.

"I know we need more money and we cannot afford to give anybody any of the money we receive," Weathers said. "How can we afford to give any of our money to any private school, no matter what the argument may be?"

Board member Richard Baker said it's not about the money but about student performance, but his research did not support his hope that voucher systems bring better results.

"Philosophically I am for vouchers," he said.