Nashville, TN

Advocacy Group Says TN Teachers Deserve Actions, Not Words from Gov. Lee

Advocate Andy

Southern Christian Coalition laments empty promises of new school funding plan

Before Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed his school funding plan - TISA - into law today, a group of pastors affiliated with the Southern Christian Coalition held a video press conference to call out the inadequacy of the formula. The group noted that this week is Teacher Appreciation Week and that Lee's actions on school funding fail to match his rhetoric and are not indicative of appreciating the work of educators.

Rev. Dr. Donna Whitney opened the event by calling for action that demonstrates the state actually appreciates teachers.

She said, "Teachers choose to get advanced degrees not to pad their pocketbooks or accumulate influence and power, but to make a difference in the lives of children. Not only are our children more likely to achieve professional and personal success with a quality education, but we also know that our communities are healthier and stronger when public schools are supported. Educated children become educated adults who contribute to and serve in their communities. Appreciating teachers with our words just isn't enough. We have to appreciate them with our actions.”

Whitney then highlighted the fact that Metro Nashville Public Schools will lose significant state funding under the TISA plan.

Here in Davidson County, this funding bill will cause Metro Nashville Public Schools to lose $40 million a year in state funding. I'll say that again, here in Davidson County this funding bill will cause Metro Nashville Public Schools to lose $40 million a year in state funding due to the inequitable formula devised by Governor Lee's administration. There are 5786 teachers in MNPS. So that means that each classroom would get about $7,000 less under the TISA formula. How's that for appreciating teachers? So, I'll say it again, quoting First John, ‘let us not love and appreciate in words and tongue but with actions and in truth.’

Rev. Aaron Marble, pastor of Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church in Nashville, called on Lee and lawmakers to take actions that demonstrate trust for teachers.

Today, along with my colleagues, I'm calling on our elected leaders and our governor, to look at what is going on, and ultimately trust our teachers. We call on you to support them, not just with words, not with empty pomp and circumstance, not with fanfare, but in the way you legislate that our state is governed. Prove that you trust teachers. Prove that you trust our librarians. Prove that you recognize their hard work. I look at the dozens of educators, both retired, and currently working, that attend Jefferson Street Church. I know the hard hours they put in, I know the love that they have for their students. I know the frustration they feel with limited resources, and limited support from our state legislators. I believe we need to trust the individuals who have been educated, trained, credentialed, licensed, and who get continuing education for the best outcomes of education for our children, not those who are motivated politically to do so.”

The Southern Christian Coalition has previously noted they believe the new funding plan is inadequate to meet the needs of all students across Tennessee.

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Andy Spears is a middle Tennessee writer and policy advocate. He reports on news around public policy issues - education, health care, consumer protection, and more.

Nashville, TN

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