Mattresses Full of Cash

On the heels of the Department of Revenue’s announcement today that the state has once again exceeded monthly revenue projections, the Tennessee Education Association (TEA) released a statement accusing Gov. Bill Lee of stuffing mattresses full of cash rather than spending money on K-12 education.

Here’s the statement from TEA:

“Today’s announcement on state revenues from the Department of Finance and Administration further validates TEA’s criticism of Gov. Bill Lee’s budget amendment released earlier this week. 

The state has racked up $1.42 billion in surplus year-to-date. The money is there to make a significant increase to K-12 funding. Gov. Lee is choosing to stuff mattresses full of cash instead of investing in Tennessee students. 

We can and must do better by our students, educators and public schools. It’s time for state leaders to choose to get Tennessee out of the bottom five for state investment per student.”

TEA’s statement comes in the same week Lee released a budget amendment with little new money for public schools. Earlier in the week, the Tennessee Public Education Coalition (TPEC) called on Lee to improve his budget amendment by directing more funds to public schools.

Tennessee’s coffers are awash in excess revenue, and our schools’ needs are immense. Tennessee’s surplus for the current fiscal year, with over five months to go, is over $1.3 billion, with lawmakers expected to have at least $3.1 billion in excess revenue to budget in the current cycle. Tennessee also has $7.5 billion in cash reserves. Our children need excellent schools, and our teachers need adequate pay. Public schools need more resources- social workers, school nurses, counselors, and adequate support staff. With tax revenues exceeding state expenses by more than $2 billion per year and more than $7 billion cash reserves, there is no longer any excuse for failing to invest in our children.

Photo by Haley Owens on Unsplash

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EdCo to Host “Antiracist Classroom” Event

April 24 at 11:30 AM (CT) The Educators’ Cooperative (EdCo) will  host a virtual conversation titled “Antiracist Teaching, Learning, and Leading from the Classroom:  Addressing the legacies of segregation and white supremacy in our schools, and adjusting our lenses with  Critical Race Theory in education.” The teachers of EdCo are dedicated to facilitating this essential antiracist  work cross-sector, for the benefit of all students. Registration for the event, which is offered to educators at  no cost, is now open at educatorscooperative.org. Non-educators may purchase a ticket for $75.  

The event will feature three expert panelists: 

Dr. Gloria Ladson Billings is a Teacher, Author, Professor, and Researcher whose work is fundamental in  the application of Critical Race Theory in education; she coined the terminology “Culturally Relevant  Pedagogy.” Her books include The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children and  Crossing Over to Canaan: The Journey of New Teachers in Diverse Classrooms.  

Dr. Roni Ellington, Assistant Professor in Mathematics Education at Morgan State University, founded  the Transforming STEM Network to promote diversity and inclusion in STEM education. She is the  principal investigator on a National Science Foundation grant focused on incorporating culturally  responsive teaching into university mathematics classrooms.  

Ashford Hughes is the Executive Officer for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for Metro Nashville Public  Schools, where he designs and implements initiatives that address academic and social-emotional  learning needs of the district’s diverse populations. He is Co-chairman of the Nashville My Brother’s  Keeper Network – a coalition that works to improve life outcomes for boys and young men of color  through internal agency policy review, education, and employment opportunities.  

EdCo Executive Director Greg O’Loughlin is “excited about this unique opportunity for teachers to learn  together from a leading scholar in the field and the researchers and community leaders who do the  work every day.” The no-cost tickets for educators are provided through the generosity of The  Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. 

“Wholesome”

House Speaker Cameron Sexton appointed an anti-Muslim activist who promoted and participated in the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol to the State Textbook Commission. Now, Laurie Cardoza-Moore has taken to the Tennessean to defend her reputation and advocate for what she terms “wholesome” values in Tennessee schools.

Here’s some of what Moore has to say:

I pray for a day, when parents in the Volunteer State can send their children to school with the knowledge that they are receiving a wholesome, accurate and unbiased American education.

Surely, some of that unbiased education will include a condemnation of those who promoted and participated in an uprising against our national government on January 6th, 2021? What will an accurate, unbiased textbook say about this?

Moore also pats herself on the back for her work with a nonprofit she founded and runs called Proclaiming Justice to the Nations.

Here’s more on that:

Moore’s group – Proclaiming Justice to the Nations (PJTN) raised just over $1 million (in 2017).

What’d she do with the cash?

Well, she paid herself $130,000. Then, she paid her husband’s business $67,000. There was a business “office expense” for occupancy at just over $49,000. She runs PJTN from her home, so that means she’s paying her mortgage with the cash. That’s $200,000 in payments to Moore and her husband, and another 50,000 a year to cover their mortgage. Then, there’s another $26,000 paid to Moore as an “occupancy expense.” Oh, and there’s $41,000 on “meals and entertainment.” Finally, her two kids received a total of around $2000 from the organization for “contract labor” that year.

In her article, Moore claims:

The appointment has drawn the wrath of those who want to maintain the status quo. They are doing their utmost to distort my legacy and rewrite my past.

This statement reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by Harry Truman:

It seems Ms. Moore simply can’t handle the truth.

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Gibson Named TEA Executive Director

The Tennessee Education Association (TEA) has named Terrance Gibson its new Executive Director.

Here’s the press release:

The Tennessee Education Association has named Terrance J. Gibson as its new executive director effective immediately. Gibson has been serving as interim-executive director since March of 2020.

“Terrance has spent his entire career in service to Tennessee students and educators,” said TEA President Beth Brown. “The TEA Board of Directors and I are confident he will be a dedicated and effective leader as TEA continues our fight for the students, educators and public schools of Tennessee.”

Gibson, a Memphis native, has worked for TEA for more than 20 years supporting thousands of teachers, school administrators, education support professionals, and students. He has worked at all levels of the association from a student campus president, to coordinating instructional and professional development models, to more recently serving as Assistant Executive Director. Prior to his work with the association, Gibson was a classroom teacher in Metro Nashville Public Schools.

“My commitment to the success of the Tennessee Education Association has been unwavering for more than two decades and will continue as I take on the role of executive director,” said TEA Executive Director Terrance Gibson. “I am proud of the hard work our members and leaders are doing during unique and unprecedented times. Through collaboration with the TEA Board and staff, we will continue to work in the best interest of our members and students. I am committed to ensuring that TEA is on a path toward protecting and advocating for students, the teaching profession, and our members. We will promote, advocate and lead the profession!”

In addition to his work in public education, Gibson has worked with non-profit organizations such as 100 Black Men, and holds professional memberships in Phi Delta Kappa, National Staff Association for the Improvement of Instruction (NSAII), ASCD, Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), The Legacy Education Foundation (501c3) and the National Education Association. He also belongs to Alpha Kappa Mu Honor Society, Golden Key Honor Society, and is a life member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated.

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A Special Response

In response to legislation passed during Gov. Bill Lee’s not so special session on education, the Germantown Board of Education is making a request for immediate corrective action. That is, the Board wants the legislature to remedy harms (unintended?) caused by the bills the Lee Administration pushed.

Regarding the TCAP/TNReady testing legislation, the Board has the following response:

Regarding the ill-advised third grade retention bill, the Board says:

Here’s the deal: These pieces of legislation are bad news for districts and for the students they serve. Had Gov. Lee consulted actual school board members or educators, he would know this. He did not. He routinely ignores the concerns of teachers and the needs of students in order to serve an agenda dictated by an overwhelming urge to privatize. That at least one school district is speaking up is important. I would expect more will do the same.

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Giving Tuesday 2020

As the publisher of Tennessee Education Report, I’m thankful for all the support this blog has received since it started back in January of 2013.

By the numbers, there have been more than 1500 stories posted here, there are nearly 9000 followers on Twitter, and nearly 1300 Facebook followers.

Yes, this is a #GivingTuesday post, but I’m also going to update you on some new developments coming in 2021.

So, first, if you want to go ahead and get the giving out of the way, you can support TNEdReport with a monthly pledge here or make a one-time donation here. Even $5 right now goes a long way toward making this work sustainable.

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What’s Next?

Starting in 2021, Tennessee Education Report will be adding a Job Board — so, if you have an education job you’d like to see filled, email me: andy@tnedreport.com

I’m also reaching out to get more writers — so, if you have a story idea to pitch or a column you’d like to see reach a wide audience in Tennessee and beyond, get in touch: andy@tnedreport.com

It’s also likely that a podcast will be added as a regular feature of this blog. It’s important to breakdown education happenings in our state in various formats – got someone I should interview? Email me!

Tennessee Education Report has been relentless in coverage of issues like the TNReady (annual) debacle, the voucher scheming at the General Assembly, the antics of our various Commissioners of Education, and the current COVID-19 pandemic. This level of intensity of coverage will continue. In fact, the aim is to cover more issues in greater depth with more writers and in new formats.

Just when you thought TNEdReport was the best thing ever, it’s getting better!

Thank you for your support – without it, this blog would have gone away years ago.

Your monthly or one-time donation today keeps it going!

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Hundreds of Waivers

Chalkbeat is tracking requests from school districts to waive various state mandates for the upcoming school year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here’s more:

Wanting flexibility for a school year of uncertainty, more than half of Tennessee districts have asked for one-year waivers to state mandates ranging from duty-free lunch periods for teachers to new physical education requirements for students.

Hundreds of waiver requests have already been submitted by 79 school systems to the Tennessee Department of Education. More are expected in the coming months as schools reopen during the coronavirus pandemic.

The first round of requests will be considered on Friday by the state Board of Education. That vote will offer an early glimpse of how far Tennessee will go to help schools navigate COVID-19 at the expense of statewide policies aimed at improving the quality of public education.

It seems worth noting that of the requests on the agenda Friday, only one includes TNReady testing. The recommendation of State Board of Education staff is to deny that request. Some districts, like Williamson County, have appealed directly to Gov. Bill Lee for relief on the testing front.

Here’s the rest of the Chalkbeat story>

https://tn.chalkbeat.org/2020/7/21/21333088/tennessee-school-systems-seek-hundreds-of-waivers-from-state-mandates-amid-covid

Here’s a breakdown of requests and State Board staff recommendations:

https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/stateboardofeducation/documents/2020-sbe-meetings/july-24%2c-2020-sbe-meeting/7-24-20%20IV%20M%20COVID-19%20Additional%20LEA%20Waivers%20Attachment%20Public.pdf