Fox13 News: Some local parents and private schools defend Tennessee’s controversial school voucher program

This article first appeared February 25, 2020 on

Two Memphis parents and two private schools filed a motion challenging a recent lawsuit filed against the state over the program.

The lawsuit filed by Nashville and Shelby County governments claim the voucher program is unconstitutional and they want to block the program from starting this August.

The new motion from the Memphis parents and schools challenges those claims.

Officials at Greater Praise Christian Academy told FOX13 they’ve heard the community concerns about the program.

They said they still support the vouchers because they believe the program supports students.

Kay Johnson is the Executive Director at Greater Praise Christian Academy.

“It’s not only a fight for one individual or for the parents of this school. I feel like it’s a fight for the community,” she said.

Johnson said that’s one of the reasons why her family’s private school supports the Education Savings Account Program, better known as school vouchers.

It diverts tax dollars to private education and gives eligible families $7500 in state education money.

Johnson’s school, along with Sensational Enlightenment Academy Independent School and two Memphis families are working with attorneys from the Liberty Justice Center to join the legal fight over the program.

FOX13 asked Johnson what she says to critics who might say they wouldn’t want tax dollars going private religious schools?

“When I hear the argument that says this money belongs to the public school, I say the money belongs to the child. And when the child or the parent has made the choice to be educated in this matter, people choose schools looking for a specific thing – whether it’s safe. I think it supersedes this idea of religion,” Johnson said.

In the motion to dismiss the lawsuit against the state, attorneys with the Liberty Justice Center argue the legislature has authority over education, including “the right to test innovative and creative solutions to improve student achievement through a pilot program.”

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