Gov. Lee responds to colleague’s teacher comments

Published: Jul. 1, 2022 at 3:35 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 6, 2022 at 4:13 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Governor Bill Lee spoke out Wednesday following reports of negative comments that were made about public school teachers.

Governor Lee was reportedly at a reception in Cool Springs hosted by Hillsdale College President Dr. Larry Arnn. Governor Lee is working to bring “classical charter schools” to Tennessee and wants to create a partnership with Hillsdale to expand civics and the K-12 education approach.

During their meeting, Dr. Arnn reportedly said that “teachers are trained in the dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges in the country.”

In response to these comments, Governor Lee said on Radio Station SuperTalk 99 with Matt Murphy that the statement was made regarding a national conversation about teaching, not Tennessee teachers specifically. He then went on to blame the ‘left-wing agenda’ that he said exists in the public school system and that people who oppose the education laws passed in the state took the comment out of context.

“There is a recognition, there is an agenda, by many in this country a left-wing agenda frankly that creeps its way into our public school system, at the detriment of our teachers which was mainly, broadly what that conversation was about,” Governor Lee said. “That’s why we in our state passed a law prohibiting Critical Race Theory. That’s why we in our state passed a law that allowed parents to have access to what their kids have access to in a library so that the folks that are opposed to the laws that we passed it does creep its way into, and that was the broad subject of the conversation.”

The Tennessee Democratic Party said in an official statement last week that they feel that the Governor did not take the necessary measures to defend the teachers of Tennessee and has not done anything since the event to condemn the reported comments made by Dr. Arnn.

“This is a new low for the Governor and proves to us once again that he needs to be replaced in November. He has repeatedly abandoned our teachers and is attempting to dismantle our educational system,” said Hendrell Remus, TNDP Chair.

The Williamson County Democratic Party added that they stand in solidarity with public school teachers across Tennessee, especially those in Williamson County.

“We will not stay silent when our public school teachers have had two of the hardest years in recent history during the Covid pandemic,” Dr. Jenn Foley, Chair of the Williamson County Democratic Party. “They have risked their lives to teach our children, and we must boldly stand up and support them now and every day. I have three kids in our wonderful public schools, and I know firsthand how hard they work for our families. We cannot allow our leadership to decimate our public schools.”

“Families move to Williamson County because of the great quality of life and the excellent public education we provide our children,” Courtenay Rogers, Vice Chair of Williamson County Democratic Party. “Our schools are one of the main reasons businesses choose to relocate to our community as well, and we need to be focused on increasing funding and improving teacher salaries and benefits, not calling our teachers dumb.”

The Governor added that he and his administration had invested billions of dollars into the state’s education program and will continue to advocate for Tennessee educators as long as he is Governor.

“I will put our teachers up against anyone in the country when it comes to their performance and their value, and that was not what was up for debate that night, and that is not what is up for debate today,” Governor Lee said. “Teaching is a calling; I’ve said it is not a profession; it’s a calling. Our Tennessee teachers are called, and they have sacrificed greatly with tremendous results.”

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