Tennessee Supreme Court rules in favor of Gov. Bill Lee's school voucher program

Lee's education savings account program allows eligible students to go to private school using public funding

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The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled in favor of Gov. Bill Lee on Wednesday after it struck down a suit that alleged the governor's school voucher program was unconstitutional, according to the Tennessean. 

Lee's education savings account program allows eligible students to go to private school using public funding. The programs only apply to Shelby County and Metro Nashville districts, the report read.

The bill that authorized the voucher program in 2019 was just barely approved by the General Assembly. 

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee talks with reporters Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. Lee said Tuesday he's looking to include "meaningful" teacher pay raises in next year's budget despite facing financial crunches brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee talks with reporters Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. Lee said Tuesday he's looking to include "meaningful" teacher pay raises in next year's budget despite facing financial crunches brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

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"Every child deserves a high-quality education, and today’s Tennessee Supreme Court opinion on ESAs puts parents in Memphis and Nashville one step closer to finding the best educational fit for their children," Lee said, according to the outlet. 

The counties argued that the "home rule" section of the state constitution was being violated by the voucher program because it only applied to the respective counties. 

Bill Lee has said the sudden death of his first wife has shaped his business and outlook on life.

Bill Lee has said the sudden death of his first wife has shaped his business and outlook on life. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

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The ruling was 3-2 in favor of Lee and the majority opinion argued that the state constitution's "home rule" section did not apply to school districts. 

AUSTIN, TX - JUNE 08: Texas Governor Greg Abbott attends a press conference where he signed Senate Bills 2 and 3 at the Capitol on June 8, 2021, in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Montinique Monroe/Getty Images)

AUSTIN, TX - JUNE 08: Texas Governor Greg Abbott attends a press conference where he signed Senate Bills 2 and 3 at the Capitol on June 8, 2021, in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Montinique Monroe/Getty Images)

School vouchers have become a hot topic across the country, including in the state of Texas. Democrat Beto O'Rourke, who is challenging Gov. Greg Abbott, R-Texas., accused the sitting governor of wanting to "defund" public schools because he supported a voucher program. 

"Abbott is for defunding our public schools," O'Rourke tweeted following an appearance at a San Antonio campaign event, at which Abbott spoke about his "Parental Bill of Rights."

 "I'm for fully funding our kids’ classrooms and fully supporting parents, teachers, and students," O'Rourke continued. 

School voucher advocates argued in turn that the governor is smartly on the side of parental rights in education by prioritizing school choice.

"The reality is school choice is a rising tide that lifts all boats," National Director of Research at the American Federation for Children Corey DeAngelis told Fox News Digital. "School choice competition leads to better outcomes in public schools. School choice doesn't ‘defund’ public schools. If anything, public schools defund families. School choice initiatives just return the money to the rightful owners, or at least the intended beneficiaries of the funding (students and their families)."

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