By Max Hrenda
As Gov. Bill Haslam’s voucher proposal moves forward, local officials are weighing in on its potential impact.
In brief, the governor’s plan would be to award vouchers for private schools to students who have an annual household income of less than $42,646, and who attend a public school that is ranked among Tennessee’s bottom 5 percent.
Although none of Elizabethton City or Carter County schools rank that low, local educators are still concerned with the precedents that could be set if the governor’s plan goes through.
Elizabethton City Schools Superintendent Ed Alexander openly disapproves of any voucher system.
“I’m totally, absolutely against that,” Alexander said. “It would show a lack of confidence in the current school systems. I certainly hope they feel like the trust they put in us is solid.”
In addition to the potential lack of confidence that may one day come from a voucher system, Alexander said he believes private schools are incapable of providing some crucial benefits to students.
“It’s my opinion, having been in this for 37 years, that public education is the glue that holds society together,” Alexander said. “We feed them, and make sure they’re inoculated. We do everything as a support system for our children.”
Carter County Board of Education member Jerry McMahan said he was opposed to vouchers primarily because of financial reasons.