Attacks on Memphis, Nashville distract from school funding crisis, teacher shortages, Democrats say

Tennessee Senate Democrats
2 min readJan 19, 2021

NASHVILLE—Democratic leaders in the General Assembly are calling for shared focus on Tennessee’s school funding crisis and teacher shortage.

Left to right: Sen. Jeff Yarbro, Senate minority leader; Sen. Raumesh Akbari, Senate Democratic caucus chairwoman; Rep. Karen Camper, House minority leader; Rep. Vincent Dixie, House Democratic Caucus chairman

Democratic leadership from the House and Senate issued a joint statement after Gov. Bill Lee accused school districts that have implemented online learning of harming students. Notably, Shelby County Schools, which serves students in Memphis, and Metro Nashville Public Schools moved to remote learning during the height of the pandemic.

The joint statement from House and Senate Democratic leadership is included below:

We are disappointed in Gov. Lee’s confrontational tone toward schools districts that chose virtual learning over in-person classes. More than 8,000 Tennesseans have died from the coronavirus, including school faculty, and every district has had to make tough calls when balancing student learning with health and safety.

Still our hope is that lawmakers of both parties can work together to invest in students. Tennessee is 46th in the nation for student funding and nearly every district is grappling with teacher shortages. These are shortcomings that send harmful ripple effects through all of our schools.

Instead we are hearing about efforts to illegally rob student funding from schools in Memphis and Nashville when the legislature should be working to address the broken funding mechanism that hurts us all.

To be clear: Our caucuses will work with anyone to invest in student learning and retain great teachers but we will also strongly oppose any legislation that punishes families and districts because their great need attracted federal grant funding.

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Tennessee Senate Democrats

Fighting for everyday people in the Tennessee General Assembly