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Tennessee Supreme Court hears arguments in fight over school voucher law

Educational Savings Accounts would let low income students go to school of choice.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The future of Tennessee's controversial school voucher plan is sitting in the hands of the Tennessee Supreme Court.

This morning supreme court justices heard oral arguments on the Educational Savings Account debate.

E-S-A's, commonly known as vouchers would allow low-income students in Shelby and Davidson Counties to go to schools of their choice.

Shelby County and Nashville say the law it unconstitutional.

 "I've always tried to seek better educational opportunities for him, " said Valerie Wright, parent.

Wright is talking about her son Kristian. Right now he is a 10th grader at Memphis Business Academy, but if the Tennessee Supreme Court rules Educational Savings Account law is constitutional, Wright would like to send her son to St. Georges, a private school.

"It has a lot more opportunities for him  for his career path. They have an excellent theatre program, so he is an actor and model," said Wright.

The ESA law gives parents in low income areas with low performing schools about $7,000 a year to use for tuition and supplies at a school of their choice. 

Shelby County and Nashville filed a lawsuit to stop it. During Thursdays oral arguments, the entities lawyer said the state created an educational program that only applies to two counties without local approval. 

"The act clearly exceeded the general assembly's authority under the home rule amendment," said Bob Cooper, plaintiffs' lawyer. Cooper also said ESA's would be a financial burden on the school systems.

RELATED: School choice supporters hope TN Supreme Court upholds Educational Savings Account law

RELATED: City leaders explain TN Education Savings Account qualifications to parents

The lawyer representing Tennessee said the ESA law  is not only legal but needed.

"At its core, this case is about enhancing education for low income children in the states lowest performing schools. It's about offering those children the same chance and opportunity that more privilege students have to pursue an education that best meets their needs," said Andree Blumstein, TN lawyer.

"They are not being considerate of low income families. I'm a single mom so me affording a school like St. Georges out of pocket is basically impossible," said Wright.

Wright is hopeful the Tennessee  Supreme Court will rule the ESA law is constitutional. She says her son getting a high quality education depends on it. 

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