Could the school vouchers fund Muslim private schools? Yes. And does that make people upset?
The voucher bill, which is a high-priority initiative by Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration, includes Category I, II, and III private schools as beneficiaries of state dollars through the proposed program.
All SACS-accredited institutions qualify as Category III schools under current state law, and Pleasant View School, an Islamic school in Memphis, has already made application for accreditation and expects approval in June, Assistant Principal Calvin Shaw said.
A competing bill, House Bill 190, would expand Haslam’s voucher proposal statewide instead of limiting the program to the worst performing school districts.
The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro has previously expressed interest in chartering its own Islamic school as well.
Tracy, a member of the Senate Education Committee, expressed “considerable concern” with directing tax dollars to Islamic schools, but he said disallowing Category III schools would also disqualify private schools, such as Montgomery Bell Academy, Ensworth and Harpeth Hall, all of which qualify for the program through SACS accreditation as well.
Ketron, who sponsored anti-Shariah Law legislation in 2009, said the voucher bills have advanced too quickly in the legislature this year and more consideration is needed on the measure.
“This issue gives me pause in voting for the governor’s voucher proposal,” he said. “These issues warrant further assessment.”