Magazine article Church & State

Tenn. Clergy Ramp Up to Spearhead Big Push for Vouchers

Magazine article Church & State

Tenn. Clergy Ramp Up to Spearhead Big Push for Vouchers

Article excerpt

Christian clergy in Tennessee are pushing for the state to create a new voucher program that would benefit private schools.

Members of the group, which consists primarily of black churches, have been going door-to-door to collect signatures in support of creating a voucher program that they say would benefit low-income students. Critics assert that the primary beneficiaries would be sectarian schools.

WREG-TV, the CBS affiliate in Memphis, reported recently that members of the group claimed the vouchers are necessary to rescue kids from supposedly failing schools in Shelby County.

"The Titanic sank, but not everybody drowned," Dr. Kenneth Whalum of the New Olivet Baptist Church, said. "For every school choice example that we have that's a lifeboat for another child to escape a sinking titanic."

Whalum, who has unsuccessfully run for mayor of Memphis, is a controversial figure in town. In 2009, a lesbian couple who visited his church was driven out by members who allegedly called them devil worshippers.

Voucher plans have failed in the Tennessee legislature in previous years.

In other news about vouchers:

* Wisconsin lawmakers are looking to expand the state's already extensive "school choice" program.

The Wisconsin State Journal said that legislators are almost certain to grow the scheme in 2015, so the only real question that remains is: will schools that receive voucher students be held accountable for actually educating those students and spending their money appropriately? …

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