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PRESS RELEASE: Heartland Institute Reacts to Tennessee Legislature Passing Education Savings Account Bill

April 26, 2019

“The Tennessee Senate made a statement with the passage of a second ESA program, declaring education access for all students is more important than state dictates and local monopolistic district control.” - Lennie Jarratt

The Tennessee Senate passed an education savings account (ESA) bill - H.B. 939 - by a vote of 20 to 13. This would create a second ESA program in the Volunteer State. The House previously passed the ESA bill earlier this week. This ESA program would provide low-income students in specified low-performing districts with access to state-funded education savings accounts. Differences between the House and Senate versions will be worked out in conference before the bill heads to Gov. Bill Lee.

The following statements from education experts at The Heartland Institute—a free-market think tank—may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Media Specialist Billy Aouste at and 312/377-4000.

“The Tennessee Senate made a statement with the passage of a second ESA program, declaring education access for all students is more important than state dictates and local monopolistic district control. ESAs would personalize education for students who need more educational options, and they would give many low-income students access to educational options that best fit their learning needs.”

Lennie Jarratt
State Government Relations Manager, Education Reform Specialist
The Heartland Institute

“To most people, ‘public education’ means assigning kids to a locally zoned school, regardless of the school’s academic performance or fit for the child. Education savings accounts redefine ‘public education,’ giving all kids of all socioeconomic backgrounds access to high-quality learning tools and supportive educational environments.

“Tennessee is already a member of an elite group of states offering ESA programs. With the passage of H.B. 939, the state has taken another positive step forward in allowing even more kids, especially those trapped in failing schools, to take advantage of ESAs. I bet parents in the Volunteer State will celebrate today knowing their children will finally receive the education they deserve.”

Arianna Wilkerson
State Government Relations Manager
The Heartland Institute

“Tennessee has taken a big step forward as a leader in education choice, becoming the first state in the country to adopt two education savings account programs. Once the legislation is signed into law, there will be more Tennessee children with access to a school that best suits their unique education needs.

“The school a child attends should not be determined solely by his or her ZIP code, and government schools should not hold a monopoly on education funding. The eventual goal of public education in the Volunteer State should be to enable all parents, no matter their income level, to choose which schools their children attend.”

Tim Benson
Policy Analyst
The Heartland Institute

“A child’s education should never be limited due to factors outside of a family’s control. No matter your income level, no matter your ZIP code, parents should be able to choose the best option for their children. H.B. 939 is a step in the right direction for education in the Volunteer State.”

George Jamerson
Director of Government Relations
The Heartland Institute

The Heartland Institute is a 35-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our website or call 312/377-4000.

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Lennie Jarratt is the former director of the Center for Education Opportunities at The Heartland Institute @LennieJarratt
Arianna Wilkerson worked in government relations at The Heartland Institute from 2017 - 2019.
Tim Benson joined The Heartland Institute in September 2015 as a policy analyst in the Government Relations Department. @HeartlandGR

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