Public education serves many vital purposes in our country: it improves communities, reduces inequalities, forges common experiences, and strengthens our democracy. Yet, public schools often face inadequate funding, poorly resourced communities, shortages of teachers, and the legacies of racism and segregation in America – diverting already scarce resources away from the public education system will not solve those problems but exacerbate them. 

SB 0503/HB 1183 would divert up to $141.5 million in taxpayer funds to implement an unfair and discriminatory statewide private school voucher program. This diversion of public funds to private schools violates the fundamental principle of religious freedom by funding religious education with taxpayer funds.  

Additionally, private schools participating in the voucher program are not obligated to comply with the academic, accountability, and governance standards that apply to public schools. And unlike public schools, they can discriminate against students on the basis of religion, LGBTQ+ status, and other characteristics, as well as refusing to provide the necessary services to students with disabilities. 

Tell your legislator to oppose and vote NO on this costly government spending program that diverts desperately needed resources away from the public school system to fund the education of a few students at private schools.  

Take Action

Additionally, this bill has anti-immigrant provisions that would either exclude undocumented students and students whose parents are undocumented from applying for the voucher program or require an applicant to submit their social security number, if one is not provided, they will be reported to ICE or the IRS – despite the fact that federal laws prohibit discrimination based on national origin in public education. The United States Supreme Court has long recognized that undocumented students have a constitutional right to access public education and that requiring students or parents to provide information about their immigration status is unconstitutional. 

We need to improve our public schools for ALL children. By taking resources away from public schools and discriminating against certain families, legislators are sending a clear message that they are giving up on public schools and turning their backs on some of Tennessee’s most vulnerable children. 

Tell your legislator to oppose and vote NO on SB 0503/HB 1183.


Representative William Lamberth, Senator Jack Johnson



Bill number