NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TN Tribune) – The Tennessee Educators of Color Alliance, joined by 350 plus teachers, parents and education leaders across the state, wrote a letter today urging Governor Bill Lee to veto HB580/SB623.
The bill places limits on teaching about racism in Tennessee public schools. “Tennessee students deserve opportunities for open and honest conversation. Teachers may be discouraged to engage in such discussion now, if they fear one misstep may result in losing funding for their school,” said Dr. Diarese George, executive director for the Tennessee Educators of Color Alliance.
“All students benefit from the positioning of history as a dialogue with different perspectives rather than the mere memorization of facts. More importantly, this is an indictment on marginalized students and students of color that may be deprived of the opportunities to engage with curricula and conversations that allow them access to their history.”
In the letter, advocates urge Gov. Lee to allow teachers to lead their classrooms through important historical lessons and honest social discussion without fear of repercussions. They also expressed concern with the impact the legislation would have on countless Tennessee students who have lived experiences, identities and cultural histories that are rendered invisible under the new legislation.
Educators statewide signed the letter from urban, suburban, and rural school districts from all three grand division including Franklin, Bradley, Jackson-Madison, Shelby, Clarksville-Montgomery, Hamilton, Knox, Williamson, Rutherford, Haywood, Sumner, Blount, Wilson, Oak Ridge, Cheatham, and Metro-Nashville. Professionally, signees included nonprofit executives, community advocates, principals, librarians, coaches, directors, counselors, teacher educators, and teachers from elementary, middle and high schools.