Clarksville Won’t Arm Teachers

Nobody wants Bill Lee’s school “safety” plan

Another school district is making clear it’s not interested in Gov. Bill Lee’s school safety plan of allowing unidentified teachers with certain training to carry guns while on duty at school.

From the Instagram feed of State House candidate Allie Phillips

School systems want resources for their teachers, but Lee and his allies weren’t having that.


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Not Interested

School districts taking a pass on arming teachers

In the realm of “solutions no one asked for,” the Tennessee General Assembly and Gov. Bill Lee are learning a lesson.

While legislative leaders and the Governor refuse to actually address gun violence in schools, the policymakers have created a new law on the subject.

This one would place more guns in schools.

Unsurprisingly, this has not been eagerly received by school districts.

Even some of the rural districts the law was created to help also announced it’s not in their best interest to allow teachers to carry guns.

I bet the school systems would much prefer funding for teacher compensation and resources for students.

But policymakers aren’t into that.

calculator and notepad placed over stack of usa dollars
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on


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Sumner Says “No” to Arming Teachers

School districts speak out on law that would allow teachers to carry concealed firearms

Almost as soon as the General Assembly passed legislation that would allow teachers to carry guns at school if they meet certain requirements, a number of school districts began saying they would not be participating.

Sumner County’s Director of Schools released a statement and video explaining why his district will not be arming teachers.

“Our teachers and principals carry tremendous responsibilities in teaching and supporting our students in the classroom. Our teachers and principals already play a critical role in school safety by ensuring that our safety procedures are followed in our school buildings daily. We do not want to add one more task or responsibility to them.”

Other districts also indicated they will not be participating in arming teachers.

Photo from TN Holler noting opposition in Nashville, Memphis

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Lawmakers approve measure that would allow teachers to carry guns at school

The Tennessee General Assembly has sent Gov. Bill Lee a bill that would allow teachers who complete certain training to carry concealed firearms on school campuses.

WSMV reports:

A bill that would allow teachers to carry a concealed gun on campus and school property has been passed by the Tennessee General Assembly.

It passed on the Senate floor on Tuesday with 26 votes for and five votes against and was held on the House desk until it took up a vote later in the day. HB1202 passed by a 68-28 vote, with 2 representatives deciding not to vote. The Senate version of the bill was passed by a 26-5 vote on April 9.

The move was met with swift, negative reaction:

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TN Senate Approves Legislation Allowing Teachers to Carry Guns

Moves state one step closer to armed teachers in classrooms

The Tennessee State Senate approved by a vote of 26-5 legislation that would allow some teachers to carry guns in schools.

WSMV in Nashville has more:

A bill that would allow teachers to carry a concealed gun on campus and school property is moving through the Tennessee General Assembly.

It passed on the Senate floor on Tuesday with 26 votes for and five votes against. On Thursday, it was held on the House’s desk.

If passed, this bill would allow school staff members to carry a concealed gun upon completing training, background checks and a psychological evaluation. Substitute teachers or part-time employees cannot participate.

It’s not yet clear whether the House will move the legislation forward. Should the House pass the legislation, it would go to Gov. Lee for his signature.

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Lee Open to Arming Teachers

Gov. Bill Lee indicated this week that he’s open to legislation that would arm Tennessee teachers in the wake of the most recent school shooting in Uvalde, TX.

Lee made the remarks in an interview with Chalkbeat.

Q: After the 2018 mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, several Tennessee lawmakers proposed letting some teachers carry guns at school. The bills generally stalled, but there’s talk again of turning some teachers into armed security guards. Would you support such legislation?

A: I have said before that I would be in favor of a strategy that includes training and vetting and a very strategic and appropriate plan for (arming teachers). There are a lot of details that have to be right for that to be considered. But if lawmakers brought it forth, I would certainly consider it.

In related news, a group of pastors this week delivered a letter to Lee’s office calling for action to curb gun violence.

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Bill Lee Skips TOSS

Every year, the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents (TOSS) holds a conference in Gatlinburg. The event is an opportunity for the state’s education leaders to come together, receive training, and learn from each other. Historically, during gubernatorial election years, the event has also featured the major party candidates for Governor outlining their education views and taking questions.

Not this year. Democratic candidate Karl Dean did attend the conference and gave a presentation on his agenda for public education in Tennessee.

However, Republican candidate Bill Lee did not attend. It’s true that Bill Lee has some education policy views that might not be welcomed by professional educators, but he certainly should take advantage of the opportunity to explain his vision in front of a nonpartisan group of state education leaders.

Back in 2016, Bill Lee wrote on op-ed supporting that year’s version of an education voucher scheme — one of many that have failed in the legislature in recent years. He’s also expressed support for legislation that would prevent school boards from actively lobbying against vouchers. During this year’s campaign, Lee has also indicated he would support a “voucher-like” program to use public funds to pay for private school tuition.

Lee’s support for vouchers is problematic not just because it represents a shift in taxpayer dollars away from public schools but also because recent evidence suggests vouchers don’t get results:

Recent evidence tells us that’s not the case. In fact, studies of voucher programs in D.C., Louisiana, Indiana, and Ohio indicate students lose ground academically when accepting a voucher and attending a private school.

Writers Mary Dynarski and Austin Nichols say this about the studies:

Four recent rigorous studies—in the District of Columbia, Louisiana, Indiana, and Ohio—used different research designs and reached the same result: on average, students that use vouchers to attend private schools do less well on tests than similar students that do not attend private schools. The Louisiana and Indiana studies offer some hints that negative effects may diminish over time. Whether effects ever will become positive is unclear.

Lee has also expressed support for arming teachers, the Tennessean reports:

With school safety at the forefront of a national debate, Williamson County businessman Bill Lee said Monday he supports arming some teachers as a “cost-effective” way to increase security.


It seems likely the state’s school system leaders would like further information on Lee’s plans for schools, but Lee was unwilling to attend their annual gathering and provide that information.

Why won’t Bill Lee talk directly to those most likely to be impacted by his policies — or seek input from school system leaders on how a voucher scheme or armed teachers would work in practice? Moreover, why wouldn’t Bill Lee want educators to be able to clearly compare his views to those of Karl Dean’s?

If Bill Lee believes he’s the best candidate on education, he should be willing to stand in front of educators and make that case.


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Legislators Advance Bill No One Wants

Today, legislators in a House subcommittee advanced a bill (HB2208) that would allow school districts to create policy allowing teachers to carry guns in schools.

Here’s what’s interesting: No one wants this bill but the lawmakers who voted for it. Governor Haslam has indicated he’s opposed. Law enforcement representatives spoke against it. The state’s largest association of teachers issued a statement opposing the bill. It’s not even clear there’s an agency willing to conduct the necessary training.

The bill is scheduled to be heard in the full House committee and in a Senate Committee next week.

Here’s the Tennessee Education Association email to members on the bill:

TEA is against a bill before the legislature to allow arming designated teachers across Tennessee. We’ve stopped similar proposals in Tennessee before. Laws in other states where teachers can carry guns in schools if they choose are dangerous to students and faculty alike.

Tennessee state law currently allows distressed rural counties that can’t afford SROs to designate teachers to act as security, if they undergo POST (police officer) training, if the local board votes for it, the director designates, and the teacher volunteers. The state doesn’t provide SRO funding.

HB2208 before the General Assembly opens this option to ALL systems. This is wrong.

TEA is working to increase funding for SROs, and other law enforcement resources to provide protection for our schools. Again, safety is not arming teachers. Safety is effective professional security.

Anything less, we will fight to stop.


  • Contact your legislator: say no to arming teachers, yes to SRO funding.
  • Have your school board pass a resolution saying they won’t arm teachers.
  • Support efforts to increase law enforcement security in our schools.

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