Governor Bill Lee failed to call on admitted sex offender and state Rep. David Byrd to step down from his leadership post on an education subcommittee following a meeting between Lee and one of Byrd’s accusers. However, Lee’s henchman, House Speaker Glen Casada, removed Byrd from his leadership post following Byrd’s vote in opposition to Lee’s school voucher scheme. Now, a group funded by Bill Lee is attacking Byrd with online ads.
The Tennessee Federation for Children, the Tennessee affiliate of Betsy DeVos’s American Federation for Children, is running ads accusing Byrd of refusing to stand with President Trump and Governor Lee on vouchers.
Before he was elected Governor, Lee gave thousands of dollars to the Tennessee Federation for Children and wrote pieces in favor of school vouchers. Once elected, he hired the former state director of TFC as his policy director.
The message is clear: If you oppose Bill Lee’s school privatization agenda, you’ll face the wrath of dark money political organizations funded by Lee. The attacks on Byrd come after another dark money group, Tennesseans for Student Success, spent money attacking House Education Republicans who stood in the way of Lee’s state charter authorizer. That plan is a way for Lee and his privatizing profiteers to circumvent local school boards and force charters where they aren’t wanted and don’t belong.
The next two to three weeks will be pivotal in the fight for Tennessee’s public schools.
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