Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush visited Nashville this week to promote school-choice reforms like vouchers and charter schools, and talk about how education impacts the economy. Recent polling by the Middle Tennessee State University Survey Group suggests there’s more public support than opposition to granting tax-funded vouchers to parents so they can afford to send their kids to private schools. However, there’s a divide in the Republican-controlled Legislature between those who want to limit voucher eligibility to children in the worst-performing schools and those who’d like to see the state launch a more robust system that affects a wider swath of Tennessee families.
In an address he delivered before lawmakers and business leaders at a posh hotel across from the state Capitol, Bush suggested his experiences in politics thus far have taught him that pushing ambitious policies results in a more fulfilling sense of accomplishment later on than taking a cautious approach. However, he somewhat sidestepped an opportunity to give a policy perspective on what path lawmakers should take in Tennessee with respect to the school vouchers issue. Gov. Bill Haslam favors the more modest approach. Bush instead simply deferred to Haslam’s political instincts on the issue.