Big Victories for Educational Choice Supporters Define Tennessee Legislative Races

Nov 07, 2012, 12:03 ET from American Federation for Children

Bipartisan wins set the stage for significant expansion of educational options in Volunteer State

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Nov. 7, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Federation for Children—the nation's voice for educational choice—today praised last night's victorious legislative candidates in Tennessee, who now make up a strong educational choice majority that is poised to enact significant education reform legislation aimed at benefiting Tennessee's families.

Last night's school choice winners comprise a bipartisan coalition of members from across the state, including Rep. John Ragan (R) and Rep. Tim Wirgau (R), as well as Dr. Steve Dickerson (R), who won a state senate seat. All were strongly supported by the Tennessee Federation for Children PAC, an affiliated organization of the American Federation for Children. The Tennessee Federation for Children PAC invested heavily in independent expenditures in those races, ultimately emerging victorious in 15 of the 18 general election races in which it was involved.

Those winners join John DeBerry (D) of Memphis and Rep. Tony Shipley (R) of Kingsport among the many victorious candidates who were also supported by the Tennessee Federation for Children PAC during the primary season.

"The futures of children across Tennessee are now brighter as a result of last night's electoral victories," said Kevin P. Chavous, senior advisor to the American Federation for Children. "The voters want more educational options in their state, and these legislators are committed to making those choices a reality for families all across the state."

Earlier this year, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam appointed a task force to evaluate a potential voucher program in the state. Among the task force's members was Sen. Brian Kelsey (R), who has previously sponsored voucher legislation and is a strong supporter of educational choice.

The prospect of a voucher program in Tennessee comes as states all across the country are enacting comprehensive education reform, including bold school choice programs that benefit children from low-income families.

"We've already seen how high-quality, highly accountable school voucher programs and expanded charter school options can transform the lives of children in states all over America, and it's time the children of Tennessee got the opportunity to benefit from those reforms too," Chavous said.

There are currently 32 publicly funded private school programs in 16 states and Washington, D.C., five of which were created in 2012.

SOURCE American Federation for Children