Tennessee teacher shortages puts gubernatorial candidates at odds

Going into the 2022-23 school year, Tennessee was short 2,000 teachers.
Third grade classroom at Glen Iris
Third grade classroom at Glen Iris(Gillian Brooks)
Published: Aug. 9, 2022 at 6:04 PM CDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Tennessee school districts are facing a workforce shortage as the state is short nearly 2,000 educators.

In a speaking engagement in Knoxville, Tuesday Governor Bill Lee addressed how it impacts Tennessee school children.

“We’re a rapidly growing state we have kids coming here every day, and we have a need for the best teachers in the country,” said Governor Lee.

Lee said the state provided $1 billion in new money to fund Tennessee public schools.

”There are, in fact, incentives there, I won’t go into the details, but we are trying to attract and attain the best and brightest,” said Gov. Lee.

Lee boasted of the state’s Grow Your Own program which will provide education for people who want to become teachers at little to no cost, adding it is one of the country’s first and only federally approved apprenticeship programs.

In November, Gov. Lee is facing Dr. Jason Martin at the ballot box. Martin believes the way to get more teachers is to up their pay.

”We’ve underpaid our teachers and made their working environment threatening and toxic and threatened to fire them if they teach American history as it happened,” said Dr. Martin.

This is all coming as Gov. Lee is under fire for the remarks of his Education Advisor Dr. Larry Arnn insinuating Tennessee Educators are dumb.

”That was terrible and what’s even worse is Gov. Lee sat there silently while people in the crowd laughed and mocked our communities,” said Dr. Martin.

Gov. Lee never directly addressed the remarks but added Tuesday that Arnn’s remarks aren’t his.

”I can only speak to my comments, and my comments have been very supportive of those who accept the high calling to be teachers. I’m married to a teacher, and I know the challenges of that profession and the rewards of it,” said Gov. Lee.

Lee and Dr. Martin will face off in November.

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