Book Ban Backers Banished

Sumner County voters reject slate of school board candidates focused on banning books, firing director of schools

In the Republican primary last night, voters in Sumner County soundly rejected a slate of candidates focused on banning books in school libraries.

The Sumner County Constitutional Republicans (SCCR) fielded a slate of candidates in the GOP primary for School Board. All SCCR-backed candidates lost their races in a clean sweep for candidates supportive of investment in public schools.

The Tennessee Holler notes the defeat of the SCCR candidates

Among the group of SCCR candidates, there had been discussion of removing books from school libraries and mention of an effort to fire Director of Schools Scott Langford if the group gained a majority.

Instead, in a voter turnout that exceeded the county’s typical average turnout, Sumner Countians rejected SCCR in every district.


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On the Harms of School Vouchers

Fact-Based Learning Under Fire

Tennessee teachers challenge “divisive concepts” law, say it harms students

The Tennessee Education Association (TEA) joined five public school educators in filing a lawsuit challenging the state’s prohibited concepts law. The TEA says the law is unconstitutionally vague and that its enforcement could harm students.

More from NewsBreak:

According to [TEA President] Tanya Coats, the law will be harmful to Tennessee students:

“Tennessee students will fall behind their peers in other states if this law stays on the books. We are already seeing school leaders make changes to instruction and school activities due to the risk of losing state funding, facing unfair repercussions or threats to their professional standing. TEA is committed to fighting for public school educators’ right to do their job and Tennessee children’s right to a fact-based, well-rounded public education,” Coats said.


TEA President Tanya Coats

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

A Decade of Education News

The first education news story published at Tennessee Education Report went live 10 years ago.

Since that time, there have been hundreds of stories.

Issues like TNReady’s online testing failure, teacher compensation, the aggressive advance of charter schools, the failures of the Achievement School District – and so many more have been covered here.

Since 2019, the drive to privatize Tennessee’s public schools has grown more intense.

We now have a voucher program in Memphis and Nashville and Gov. Lee and his legislative allies are seeking to expand it.

Hillsdale College has their sites set on opening as many as 50 charter schools in the state – and has five applications (Madison, Maury, Montgomery, Robertson, Rutherford) active right now.

We have a new school funding formula – TISA – and this is the first year it will impact districts.

Oh, and there’s a new third grade retention law that will be impacting students and schools this year.

Tennessee Education Report has covered it all.

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Your continued support – $10 for 10 years – will keep this publication going strong into a second decade.

Consider a donation today – and be sure to share this publication with anyone who may be interested in Tennessee education news.

Reading Scores Show Promise as 3rd Grade Retention Law Takes Effect

Nashville education blogger TC Weber takes a look at a recent Comptroller’s report on literacy in the state and finds some reason for encouragement. There’s a bit of confusion, too, in terms of whether or not the growth reflected in the results shared will translate into better overall reading scores.

The issue is particularly salient this year, as a new law takes effect requiring retention for any third grader who fails to meet state benchmarks in reading.

Here’s more from Weber on the Comptroller’s report:

A recently released report from the Tennessee Comptroller’s office shows that Tennessee K-3 students are making positive, albeit slight, growth in acquiring reading skills. Those conclusions were drawn from state-mandated K-3 universal reading screeners (URS), which all school districts are required to administer as part of legislation passed in 2021 during a Special Session of the General Assembly on education.

Based on graphs included in the Comptrollers report, third-grade students saw the most movement, with students starting at 43 percent in the Fall of 2021, growing to 45 percent in the Winter, and then achieving a Spring 2022 score of 46 percent.

Photo by Emily on

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

Wanna Drive the Bus?

In addition to facing challenges in finding and keeping teachers, school districts across Tennessee are struggling to find support staff. One middle Tennessee district still needs 40 bus drivers.

Here’s a post from the Sumner County Schools Facebook page highlighting the high number of bus driver vacancies:

We currently have 40 openings for bus drivers. We appreciate parent’s patience and understanding as our Transportation Department continues to make every effort to maximize the speed and efficiency of every bus route. If you are interested in a career as a bus driver with Sumner County Schools, please click the link below:

That seems like a lot of openings.

What’s going on in your district? Are there enough bus drivers and other support staff?

Let me know by email!

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport


The War on Knowledge

Are Policymakers Getting the Point?

Your support – $5 or more – makes publishing education news possible.


Since Tennessee Education Report started, I have written and published more than 1500 articles on education politics in Tennessee.

That’s about 150 articles a year, every year since 2013.

It’s reflective of a commitment to covering the issues that impact Tennessee schools.

Maintaining a website means committing time and resources. Over the years, I’ve been lucky to have support from many of the readers of this publication.

I appreciate you – your financial support gives me the opportunity to share education news on a regular basis.

Yes – this is a post making a direct ask for your support – and when I say every $5 or $10 helps, I mean it – and I appreciate it.

Recently, I’ve been writing a lot about Gov. Bill Lee and Hillsdale:

It’s a story about a Governor with a steadfast commitment to directing public money to private schools. Even before he was a candidate, he was supporting Betsy DeVos and her privatization scheme.

Your help makes covering these issues possible.

Of course, there are also issues like the ongoing TNReady challenges. For years, Tennessee’s state testing system has been a disaster. And for years, TNEdReport has been providing coverage.

This year, as in years past, there are some exciting races for local school boards. This is the first year we’re having partisan school board races, and it’s been a bit of an adventure.

From testing to vouchers to elections to teacher pay and more – Tennessee Education Report is there.

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Your continued support is greatly appreciated!

Thomas Galler/Unsplash

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport


Those rabble rousers over at the Tennessee Association of School Librarians (TASL) are out with a statement condemning the “gross overreach” of an amendment to HB2666 that would give the State Textbook Commission authority over books in school libraries. That is, the bill would require all books in school libraries to be on an “approved” list provided by the Textbook Commission.

Here’s the TASL statement on the bill, scheduled for a vote tomorrow (4/27/2022):

In response to the proposed measure, a group of concerned parents and public school advocates is organizing a protest at the Capitol:

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

Your support – $5 or more – makes publishing education news possible.

Moms for McCarthyism Coming to Sumner County

The Tennessee affiliate of a national dark money group focused on rooting out supposed indoctrination and banning seahorse porn is on the move. Moms for Liberty, currently quite active in Williamson County, is organizing now in Sumner County.

Here’s a meeting notice from them:

Note that the primary goal of the meeting is “taking back our schools.” It’s not clear exactly how far back the group wants to go. It was not too long ago (2012) that Sumner County Schools didn’t even open due to a County Commission that refused to fund the school system. Yes, that’s right. Sumner County Schools was closed for two weeks in 2012 due to a budget impasse between the School Board and County Commission. Maybe these “moms” want to go back to those days?

Probably, though, attendees at the meeting on October 24th will hear a lot about Critical Race Theory and about a curriculum known as “Wit and Wisdom.”

Here’s more on those topics:

Reuters reports that the fight in Williamson County is part of a broader, national movement:

The clash in Franklin, a Nashville suburb of 83,000 people, is part of a larger culture war over race and education that’s roiling other U.S. communities, and which has gained traction as a political force nationwide.

It has split parents and spooked some educators. Tennessee is pursuing plans to strip teaching licenses from instructors and cut state funding to schools that persistently teach taboo material.

CNN reports on the hunt for curriculum deemed objectionable by activists in the McCarthy Mom group based on their Williamson County antics:

The chapter has grabbed headlines for belligerent protests at school board meetings. They have attacked a high school LGBTQ pride float — one tweet wondered if students passing out pride literature were doing “recruitment.” And another meeting featured a tirade by a Moms For Liberty member against a children’s book about the lives of seahorses, which she said was too sexual.

So, the kind of school board meetings that grab national attention and become the subject of late night comedy TV could be coming soon to Sumner County. Plus, teachers could be brought up on charges and books and other materials could be banned.

Photo by Fred Kearney on Unsplash

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

Your support – $5 or more – makes publishing education news possible.

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

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

Your support – $5 or more – makes publishing education news possible.