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Tennessee Republicans Threaten to Withhold School Funding in Districts Without In-Person Classes

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A potentially volatile situation is brewing in the Tennessee legislature, where Republicans are threatening to pull school funding for districts that do not offer in-person classes for at least 70 days for kindergarten through eighth grade. As the Tennessean notes, Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson and House Majority Leader William Lamberth have filed a bill that would enable the state’s education commissioner to withhold those funds.

Most of the school districts in Tennessee are open. This measure is essentially aimed at compelling Nashville and Memphis public schools to reopen ASAP.

“This is not a punitive thing,” Republican House Speaker Cameron Sexton told the Tennessean. “This is just us saying we think there needs to be an option to be in school. I think everybody can meet that goal of 70, so we don’t think it’s out of the ordinary for the whole state to be able to meet that standard.”

Unsurprisingly, this has not been a welcome development for the leaders of the affected districts. “Any proposal to take funding away from students and threaten the mass layoff of teachers in the 2021-22 school year is terrible public policy and does nothing to address any real learning challenges or gaps caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, nor does it do anything to create a safer working or learning environment by slowing or stopping the spread of the coronavirus,” Nashville Public Schools Director Adrienne Battle said in a statement to the Tennesseean.

Frustrations amongst Nashville parents reached a boiling point earlier this week when it was revealed that Nashville Public Schools chair Christiane Buggs enjoyed a vacation in St. Lucia and hosted an in-person election party at a bar in recent months.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has been adamant that schools should be open in America.

“Close the bars and keep the schools open,” Dr. Fauci said on ABC News in November. “You don’t have one size fits all, but as I said in the past, the default position should be to try as best as possible within reason to keep the children in school and to get them back to school. The best way to ensure the safety of the children in school is to get the community level of spread low.”

“If you look at the data, the spread among children and from children is not really very big at all — not like one would have suspected,” Dr. Fauci said.

Written by Ryan Glasspiegel

Ryan Glasspiegel grew up in Connecticut, graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison, and lives in Chicago. Before OutKick, he wrote for Sports Illustrated and The Big Lead. He enjoys expensive bourbon and cheap beer.

9 Comments

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  1. Anywhere you turn, it’s all about the teachers (NYC is a dumpster fire…but you knew that already). Teachers still collecting paychecks and the kids that need it most in Nashville and Memphis are just collateral damage. Must protect the teachers.

  2. 100% agree that the schools should have in person learning but I do not agree with this tactic. What if a liberal legislature wanted to withhold funds for school districts that were open in order to force them to go on-line. Schools should be locally controlled. The parents need to contact the school board and if necessary eventually vote them out.

  3. Shelby County (Memphis) schools is the largest in TENN (25th in US), Metro Nashville schools is 2nd largest (41st in US). Controlled by admins and teachers union. Parents can’t vote them out…how would they do that? State legislature doing the only thing possible to pressure those running/ruining the lives of parents and their children.

  4. I talked to a teacher friend of mine who is left of me but reasonable (she hasn’t Don Lemoned our friendship yet). An issue they are having here in CA is the sanitation of the classrooms between class. Apparently, here in my district, teachers are expected to take care of it themselves. She doesn’t want to do it because its not her job. Fine. Mostly, she is not allowed to do it because only janitorial staff are allowed to handle cleansing chemicals. This is policy before covid.

    I was going to get into the fact that evidence showed that the virus is not transferred through surface contact but decided to enjoy the rest our time watching football with our friends.

    Just thought that was an interesting take from the teachers perspective.

  5. Public Schools are not going to survive this remote learning crap.

    imagine the most vulnerable students in the country are in inner cities and don’t really do the remote learning thing. instead 2020 was a year to learn how to not learn anything.

    progress has been reversed in blue state schools systems run by teachers unions. the damage done to kids is ongoing. 2020 just created even more uneducated criminals. not sure the genie can be put back in the bottle.

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