Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the formation of a task force to make recommendations on what an opportunity scholarship initiative might look like in Tennessee based on the best available research.
The committee will be tasked with looking at how a program would fit into Tennessee's overall education reform strategy and that seeks to provide meaningful education options to disadvantaged students.
"I support school choice options and believe that opportunity scholarships could be an impactful tool in Tennessee," Haslam said. "We should offer alternatives to low-income students and their parents who may feel stuck in failing schools. Charter schools have been a significant part of that process, and it is appropriate to explore additional opportunities.
"There is still work to be done, however, in identifying what an opportunity scholarship program should look like here, and I think those discussions need to happen before legislation is pursued any further in this session. First and foremost, any new program must complement our ongoing efforts to reform education," Haslam continued.
Members of the Governor's Task Force on Opportunity Scholarships for Tennessee include:
Kevin, Huffman, Commissioner of Education
Chris Barbic, Achievement School District Superintendent
Gary Nixon, Executive Director of the State Board of Education
Ron Zimmer, Associate Professor of Public Policy and Education at Vanderbilt University
Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown), Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey's (R-Blountville) designee
Rep. Richard Montgomery (R-Sevierville), House Speaker Beth Harwell's (R-Nashville) designee
Jamie Woodson, president & CEO of the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE)
A representative from the Coalition of Large School Systems (CLASS)
A representative from the independent school community
The committee will engage a variety of stakeholders including parents, education professionals and business leaders throughout the process and will be charged with presenting recommendations to the governor in the fall of 2012.