Letter From the Editor 

From mop sinks to Shariah Law, the Tennessee General Assembly has it covered.

It was reported by AP this week that a couple of our intrepid guardians of public morality in the Tennessee General Assembly had raised questions about some new sinks in the capitol building. A state senator and a state representative expressed concerns that utility sinks installed on bathroom floors were meant to allow Muslims to wash their feet before praying. We can't have that, of course.

Turns out that the sinks were put on the floor to better allow custodians, presumably Christian, to rinse their mops and not, thankfully, evidence of Sharia Law creeping into our legislative bathrooms.

You can't make this stuff up.

Unfortunately, these same bozos are now in charge of everything in Tennessee, including public education, where they are planning more mischief. Aided and abetted by private education and conservative "think tank" lobbyists, GOP legislators are pushing to expand a new voucher program proposed by Governor Bill Haslam.

Haslam's bill would make 5,000 vouchers available to low-income children who attend low-performing public schools. The number would increase to 20,000 by 2016. Private schools could accept the voucher students but could not charge those students more than what the voucher pays. But this just gets the camel's nose into the tent. (No Sharia pun intended.)

What these legislators and their lobbyist pals really want is to funnel massive amounts of tax-payer dollars into private education. They want to expand the voucher program by making subsidies for private school tuition available to families with much higher incomes. They want to allow private schools to charge students an additional 10 percent beyond what the voucher pays and allow parents of those students to pay the difference between the voucher amount and the school's tuition.

This amounts to the public subsidizing people who want to send their kids to private schools, whether it's Jim Bob's Jesus Academy, Willie Herenton's charter schools, or Hutchison.

It's a huge financial boondoggle and probably unconstitutional. (Similar measures have been successfully challenged on constitutional grounds in other states.) But with a GOP "super-majority" that's unchallengeable by the few remaining Democrats in Nashville, this latest version of privatizing our tax money and sending it to "nonprofit" organizations is probably headed for passage.

I just wonder how they will react when somebody decides to use a voucher to send their kid to Muhammad's Sharia Prep.

Bruce VanWyngarden
brucev@memphisflyer.com

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