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What will education in Tennessee look like under Bill Lee? Here’s what we know


November 8, 2018
Jennifer Pignolet
Memphis Commercial Appeal

With the¬†election of Bill Lee to the governor’s officeTuesday night, Tennessee will likely see a continuation of a majority of his predecessor’s priorities in education.

Some areas remain a mystery, including the future of the state’s program for taking schools away from their home districts and turning them over to charter networks to improve.

Ideas that Lee endorsed heavily, like vouchers for students to use public dollars to attend private schools, will require a legislature that’s on the same page as the governor. Whether he will have enough support for such initiatives remains to be seen.

Lee had the backing of Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dorsey Hopson, the leader of the state’s largest school district. But Hopson’s district, along with Metro Nashville Public Schools, is also suing the state to put more money into schools. Whether Lee’s election will mean more funding is unknown, although education advocates are hopeful.

“I don’t think we slide backwards,” Mendell Grinter, executive director of Memphis-based Campaign for School Equity, said. “I think we still keep the same aggressive push on education.”

Much will also depend on Lee’s choice of education commissioner. Lee, a businessman, has little experience in the education arena.