Education choice options advance in Tennessee

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Tennessee lawmakers on Wednesday approved school voucher legislation that would allow families in two counties and the state-run Achievement School District to use education savings accounts for private school tuition and other education-related expenses.

The program would give participating families debit cards worth up to $7,300 in state education money each year. For the first three years, the state would provide grants to the counties to offset the money leaving local school districts with those students.

The landmark legislation, which evolved from months of deliberation, received final approval after a 100-member committee resolved differences between the House and Senate versions of the measure. A last-minute 24-page amendment exempts home-school students from participating and mandates income verification requirements.

The program would be capped at 15,000 students.

Tennessee would join four other states that allow some sort of education savings accounts: Arizona, Florida, Mississippi and Nevada.

The voucher legislation is now headed to Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, who expected to sign it.

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