Open Letter to Bill Lee: Our teachers and all Tennesseans need your leadership. Where is it?

Aug 14, 2020 at 10:30 am by DeAnnaO

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee

Dear Gov. Lee,

I am writing out of concern for the people and prosperity of Tennessee as we continue to navigate through this pandemic.

As a public educator, I am keenly aware of significant challenges for maintaining the safety and health of students, educators, and communities. We want to be back in the classroom, but our need for safety is primary. Because of this, I implore you to engage in efforts for all entities to err on the side of caution.

All 95 counties are now reporting unacceptable rates of transmission. Public health officials have handed us the metrics that are indicated for safe re-opening. If we do not heed their advisement, we are asking for and approaching preventable disaster.

Tennessee needs appropriate measures in place to do whatever it takes to make successful online learning for students and teachers a reality across the state.

- Students need resources and an appropriate education.

- School systems, administrators, teachers, and support staff need to be empowered to make this happen.

- Working families and local governments need the finances and structural scaffolding which will enable the provision of critical supports.

How will continued allocations and distribution of the CARES Act money and the $20 million from the Rethink K-12 Education grant be effectuated? (targets "access to the technology and services to advance learning remotely") Have we now lost our $60 million of P-EBT monies that could be feeding folks? Will we continue to add to our Rainy Day fund as hundreds of thousands of families bear the weight of this lack of compassion and effective allocation?

With our current approach, the only people who have choices are people who already have choices. Choices must be made accessible for those 260,000 unemployed Tennesseans, 100,000 who have lost their health insurance, small business owners who stand to potentially lose everything, parents who have no choice other than to place their child into an unsafe and unsteady situation...

Schools and systems are doing the best they can do given the parameters of this situation. Schools are not the one-stop-fix-all center for social ills and maladies. Many of our leaders are insulated from the effects and impact that these challenges are having upon the working people of Tennessee. If we are truly a pro-life state, we must align our priorities with our verbalizations.

Please take action to properly allocate the resources and respect that Tennesseans deserve and need.

Educators aren't looking for hero status, but merely a safe environment within which to do what we are called to do—what we do best — educate students. Working families aren't looking for a hand out, they need help. Community leaders aren't looking for bailouts, they need funding supports and effective plans for allocation.

As my grandmother used to say—it's time to pull together. And we can pull together. Despite the various narratives reverberating around our state and nation, the overarching themes of scientists around the world point strongly to the need for continued masking, distancing, and containing of the novel Coronavirus to prevent needless death, suffering, and economic devastation. We cannot improve the economy until we contain the virus.

Let's create solutions for our state and our communities to get this under control.

Unprecedented times call for unprecedented leadership and vision. Tennesseans want to support you in being a leader with that vision.

Thank you for considering this perspective and for investing in safe, effective, lasting solutions.

DeAnna D. Osborne, Murfreesboro 37130

Sections: Voices

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