Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced his plan to expand the state’s current Education Savings Account (ESA) program to 20,000 students in 2024 with the goal of universal eligibility in 2025. The Education Freedom Scholarship Act would provide parents with $7,075 per student to spend on a wide range of educational expenses, including private school tuition.
Agudath Israel of America, a longtime supporter of school choice efforts in Tennessee and across the country, welcomes this proposal. Education savings accounts empower parents to make educational decisions that are in the best interest of their child – not limited by a family’s finances.
During the first year of the proposed program, 10,000 slots will be reserved for students whose families’ incomes are below 300% of the federal poverty level, students with disabilities, and those who are eligible for the existing Education Savings Accounts pilot program. In 2025 the program would expand to universal eligibility, with prioritization for low income and special needs students if there are more applicants than funding available.
Rabbi Yisroel Weiner, Head of School of the Margolin Hebrew Academy in Memphis, Tennessee appeared in a video played before the Governor made his announcement.
“I’ve been in education now for many, many years,” said Rabbi Weiner “No one, ourselves included, know the child as well as the parents do.”
“Agudath Israel is grateful to Governor Lee for putting students first,” said Rabbi Ari Weisenfeld, associate national director of state relations for Agudath Israel of America. “We look forward to working with lawmakers and community members to make this a reality for Tennessee parents.”