Nashville, TN – Metro Nashville Public Schools’ (MNPS) teachers across Nashville have organized a “Day of Action” that includes rallies and a march on Thursday, May 16th. Led by a coalition of Sick MNPS Teachers and Nashville Red4Ed, the action will coincide with the first presentation of the MNPS budget to Metro Council. The current Board of Education budget requests the funding both groups believe is necessary to provide Nashville’s students the education they deserve. This includes 10% raises for all employees, in addition to cost of living adjustments, increased paid days for paraprofessionals, raises for bus drivers, and increased funding for social and emotional support for students. The proposed MNPS budget also supports students by increasing funding for textbooks and pre-K. The budget put forth by Nashville Mayor David Briley currently only has funding for raises of 3% for metro employees.
“Our wages have been basically frozen for a decade,” says Red4Ed organizer and MNPS middle school teacher Jayne Riand. “In some cases they have actually gone backwards. Adding 3% to what the city was giving us in 2008 is not really fixing the problem. Teachers, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, we’re all really struggling to be there for the kids and still be able to pay our bills.”
Both groups see the lack of funding as responsible for the almost 700 classroom teacher vacancies currently in MNPS and agree that a high turn-over rate for teachers harms student achievement, especially the 72% of Nashville students who live in poverty.
Last week, Sick MNPS Teachers tweeted, “We are sick of the vacancy crisis. We are sick of losing great teachers. We are sick of not making public education a priority in Nashville. Now we are here, advocating for ourselves and our students.” The group then staged a number of sick-outs that totaled over 1400 absences.
Both groups and their supporters are also calling on city law-makers to increase revenues through a property tax rate adjustment to fund the MNPS budget and ensure other public entities have what they need.
The Day of Action to Fund MNPS will include noontime rallies around the city, a march from the pedestrian bridge at Cumberland Park to Public Square at 2:30, and a rally at Public Square from 3:00-4:00. Finally, supporters will fill the Metro Council chambers when school officials present the budget at 4:30. Supporters are asked to wear red on that day.
More information about the event can be found on Facebook at Nashville Red4Ed Community Page, SickTeachers on Instagram and Facebook, and @sickteachers on Twitter.