Commentary: Teacher Codes of Conduct Offer Alternative to Critical Race Theory Bans

The firing of Matthew Hawn, a high school teacher in Sullivan County, Tennessee, recently made national news and seemed to confirm fears that newly-enacted state bans on critical race theory (CRT) would have a chilling effect on teacher speech. Hawn, a 16-year veteran tenured teacher and baseball coach, had assigned students in his contemporary issues class Ta-Nehisi Coates’s essay, “The First White President,” and a spoken word poem from Kyla Jenée Lacey called “White Privilege.” One headline declared, “A Tennessee teacher taught a Ta-Nehisi Coates essay and a poem about white privilege. He was fired for it.” A Georgetown professor tweeted, “This really seems extreme and a harbinger of what is to come.”

But contrary to news coverage and social media chatter, Hawn wasn’t fired for violating the state’s newly passed CRT ban. Really, he was dismissed for failing to adhere to the Tennessee “Teacher Code of Ethics,” a seldom-invoked but sensible state requirement for teachers to provide students access to varying points of view on controversial topics. Not only did Hawn fail to follow this code when he assigned the contentious poem and Coates’ essay from The Atlantic, which contains claims such as, “With one immediate exception, Trump’s predecessors made their way to high office through the passive power of whiteness,” he also later asserted that “there is no credible source for a differing point of view.” (Hawn recently denied making such a claim, though he declined to explain why the district attributed this statement to him.)

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CNBC Ranks Virginia Number One State for Business in 2021

Virginia won first place in CNBC’s ranking of top states for business in 2021, a repeat performance from 2019, the last time the ranking was issued. On Tuesday, Governor Ralph Northam stopped in the Port of Virginia for a CNBC broadcast and a press conference.

“Virginia continues to be the best place to do business because of our world-class education institutions, talented workforce, and shared commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion,” Northam said in a press release.

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High Court Hears Arguments on Tennessee’s School-Choice Program

ORNL Traveling Science Fair at the TN 4th Annual Tennessee STEM Innovation Summit and STEMx Event, Nashville, TN

Tennessee’s highest court heard arguments on a disputed school choice program.

Tennessee’s Education Savings Accounts (ESA) pilot program, approved by the state Legislature in 2019, would provide state-funded scholarships of about $7,100 to low-income students in Nashville and Memphis – home to the state’s two lowest-performing school districts. Students would be able to use the funds to attend nonpublic schools of their choice.

A district court ruled the program unconstitutional when the two counties sued the state to stop the program. The state Court of Appeals upheld that ruling, and the state Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

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Gov. Lee’s Signature Makes Tennessee a Second Amendment Sanctuary

Guy shooting hand gun at gun range

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill Wednesday that makes the state a Second Amendment sanctuary.

Senate Bill 1335 prevents any “law, treaty, executive order, rule, or regulation of the United States government” that violates the Tennessee Constitution or the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution from being enforced in the state.

That violation would have to be determined by either the Tennessee or U.S. Supreme Court. The stipulation was added during debate of the bill in the Tennessee House, and the Senate concurred.

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Tennessee Becomes Second State to Ban Trans Hormone Treatments Before Puberty

child running with trans flag

Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed legislation Tuesday that bans hormone treatment for prepubescent minors.

SB0126 goes into effect immediately, making Tennessee the second state to ban trans procedures for minors, NBC reported. The Arkansas state legislature overrode Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s veto of a bill banning transgender surgeries and procedures for minors in April.

Arkansas’ “Save Adolescents From Experimentation Act,” otherwise known as the SAFE Act, prohibits physicians from performing gender transition procedures, such as puberty blockers or “top” and “bottom” surgeries, on minors before puberty. Transgender surgeries include vaginoplasty, phalloplasty, breast implants, and facial surgeries.

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FBI Raids Locations Tied to Former Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada, Plus Additional Lawmakers and Staff

The FBI on Friday reportedly raided locations tied to former Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada (R-Franklin) and Republican allies over allegations of possible public corruption.

Current Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) issued a statement about the raid that took place at the Cordell Hull Building in Nashville.

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Tennessee Senate Considers Bill to Allow First Responders to Live Outside the Jurisdictions They Serve

State Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) on Wednesday filed SB 29 which would allow first responders to live where they choose, the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus said in a statement.

Kelsey posted on the caucus’ Facebook page, “This is a public safety bill. It will enable us to hire more police officers, which will help us fight our rising crime rates.”

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U.S. Representative Mark Green Repeats Intent to Object to Electoral College Results

Not long before the tallying of and objections to the Electoral College results were disrupted by the violent protest at the Capitol, U.S. Representative Mark Green (R-TN-07) had repeated his intention to contest the election results.

Green on Wednesday announced his intention to object to the slates of electors in “certain states.”

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Tennessee Will Support Texas in U.S. Supreme Court Election Lawsuit Against Four Other States, Attorney General Announces

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery announced Wednesday that he will support an Amicus Brief supporting the Texas election lawsuit before the U.S. Supreme Court. As The Tennessee Star reported Tuesday, Texas officials filed a lawsuit directly to the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the election results in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Georgia. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton argues that officials in those four states changed election rules without legislative consent, thus violating the U.S. Constitution.

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Federal Prompts for Gov. Bill Lee to Issue Statewide Mask Mandate Begs Question of Who Is Behind the Idea

Tennessee is ranked fourth in the nation for COVID deaths per 100,000 people, WUOT reports, citing the White House Coronavirus Task Force’s red zone report, which calls for Gov. Bill Lee to implement a statewide mask mandate.

The controversial report is from earlier this month. The task force issues frequent red zone reports.

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Supreme Court Declines to Hear Tennessee’s Challenge to Federal Refugee Resettlement Program

The U.S. Supreme Court said this week it will not hear Tennessee’s challenge of the federal refugee resettlement program, which claimed it violated the 10th Amendment.

Tennessee’s Republican-led government had asked for the review, The Associated Press reported. The court filed its denial earlier, letting a lower court ruling stand.

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Fox 17 Reports Nashville Bars and Restaurants Account for Less Than One-Half of One Percent of Virus Cases

Dennis Ferrier of Fox News 17 continues his reporting on Nashville Mayor John Cooper’s overreach in closing restaurants and bars, which account for only a fraction of coronavirus cases even as that industry continues to suffer.

Ferrier has been digging into the story for some time to gain the actual number of cases.

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Fox 17 Reports Nashville Bars and Restaurants Account for Less Than One-Half of One Percent of Virus Cases

Dennis Ferrier of Fox News 17 continues his reporting on Nashville Mayor John Cooper’s overreach in closing restaurants and bars, which account for only a fraction of coronavirus cases even as that industry continues to suffer.

Ferrier has been digging into the story for some time to gain the actual number of cases.

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Shelby County Says Woman Dead for Six Months Contracted COVID-19, Needs to Isolate

When is a COVID-19 patient not a COVID-19 patient? When the person has been dead for six months, as has reportedly happened in Memphis.

Media reports have carried the story, including coverage here by KVUE.

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Kanye West Might Appear on Tennessee Presidential Ballot

Rapper Kanye West wants Tennessee officials to place him on the ballot for the 2020 presidential election.

An unidentified person representing West arrived at the Tennessee Division of Elections office Friday. That person picked up a petition that would allow West to run in the Volunteer State, said Tennessee Secretary of State spokeswoman Julia Bruck.

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The Tennessee Star’s Neil McCabe Interviewed by Politico for Story on Nation’s Division

Neil McCabe, the national correspondent for The Tennessee Star and Star News network, was interviewed by Politico last week for a front-page story on the nation’s division.

The article focused on Seattle’s Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, called CHAZ for short, which Politico described as a “microcosm of the culture wars.” The CHAZ was established by protesters earlier this month after law enforcement officers withdrew from the scene.

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Ads for Children’s Book on 19th Amendment Written by Sen. Blackburn and Her Daughter Banned by Instagram

Instagram reportedly believes a children’s book written by U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and her daughter, about the history of the 19th Amendment, may “influence the outcome of an election,” so the tech giant has banned advertising for it.

The Federalist reported on the book’s ban.

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Make Halloween Spooky Again with a Visit to These Real-Life Haunts

As we come to the end of summer and begin the season of winter, one hundred and seventy-nine million Americans will celebrate the season with urban legends, scary bonfire stories, and armies of children carrying candy up and down the streets of in what was once referred to as Samhain,…

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Controversies Surround Thompson’s Station Development As November Election Approaches

Thompson’s Station is one of the fastest growing towns in the counties surrounding Nashville, but it is also home to many backdoor deals and shady developments committed at the hands of its Mayor and Aldermen. Mayor Corey Napier, who took office on the Board of Mayor and Alderman in 2008…

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Bredesen Refuses to Release Tax Returns, Offers No Comment on Whether He Personally Benefits from Solar Investment Tax Credit

Phil Bredesen

Former Tennessee governor Phil Bredesen could soon become one of the wealthiest members of Congress, but the 74-year-old candidate has declined to release his income tax returns. Bredesen did recently file financial disclosures, which all candidates are required to do, revealing that he had an income of between $3.3 million…

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JC Bowman Commentary: A Few More Thoughts on Testing in Tennessee…

students in class

All stakeholders want to get testing right.  However, the emphasis on testing misses the bigger issue:  student academic growth measured by flawed testing.  Then the results being used in educator evaluations.  This is certainly more problematic to educators than the actual tests themselves. 

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JC Bowman Commentary: Testing is Open for Debate

Professional Educators of Tennessee raised the issue on Testing, with a hard-hitting editorial called the Trouble with Testing. Professional Educators of Tennessee did NOT support the use of that data on teacher evaluations, nor did they sign a support letter on the original grant submission., which the Tennessee Education Association did.

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One Reported Case of Measles in Tennessee ‘Acquired from Outside U.S.’ in Midst of Nationwide Outbreak

"Measles" by Dave Haygarth

There’s a reported nationwide outbreak of measles. Even though Tennessee is one of the affected areas, in fact, only one person in the Volunteer State got it, according to the Tennessee Department of Health. “These cases are not part of one outbreak,” said Bill Christian, department spokesman, in an emailed…

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DesJarlais: New Federal Defense Act Will Help Tennessee

Scott DesJarlais

U.S. Congressman Scott DesJarlais said he has inserted measures into the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act that will give more aid to Middle Tennessee’s Aerospace and Defense Technology Corridor. According to the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, Tennessee’s aerospace cluster includes 52 companies, including the Arnold Engineering Development…

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Think Tank: Tax Incentives Hurt Small Business Owners in Tennessee

small business

Tennessee’s economy would thrive even without local and state governments dishing out tax incentives to already wealthy corporations. What’s more, these tax incentives penalize Tennessee’s small business owners. This from the spokesman for the Nashville-based free market think tank The Beacon Center of Tennessee. “Simply put, corporate handouts benefit rich…

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Trump Tax Cuts At Risk: Democrats Conspire to Repeal While Record Low Unemployment Surges

Steve Gill

Tennessee Star Political Editor Steve Gill discussed on Monday’s edition of The Gill Report – broadcast on Knoxville’s 92.3 FM WETR – how Democrats are conspiring to repeal the Trump tax cuts while record low unemployment among Hispanic and African-Americans surge and the federal government rakes in a record amount of…

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We’re Not in Kansas Anymore: ‘Drag Queen Readings’ No Longer in Far Off Places, Now in Tennessee

Steve Gill

In the audio below, conservative political commentator and Tennessee Star Political Editor Steve Gill of The Gill Report, broadcast live on WETR 92.3 FM in Knoxville discussed his concern regarding the new trend to expose our young children with ‘drag queen readings’ and how it has slithered it’s way into…

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JC Bowman Commentary: Time to Separate PACS from Lobbying

dealmakers

Professional Educators of Tennessee will continue to lobby for public education.  However, we will never endorse political parties or candidates as an organization on behalf of our members.  We also do not have a PAC, nor do we plan to ever start one.  It would harm our effectiveness.  We must advance public education without the divisive tribalism of partisan politics, and we will only get involved in education related issues.

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Commentary: Tennessee’s ObamaCare Fiasco Shows the Perils of Short Term Plans

Obamacare

By Peter Moorman   On August 1, the departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Treasury released a final ruling on the expanded use of STLDI plans (Short Term, Limited Duration Insurance). Prior to this ruling, short-term insurance plans lasted a maximum of three months before individuals had…

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Taxpayer-Funded Program Didn’t End Homelessness in Tennessee

homelessness

Five years ago, Nashville officials launched an initiative to end homelessness as we know it. The program, part of the “How’s Nashville” campaign, promised homelessness would end before 2017. Seeing as how we’re more than halfway done with 2018 it’s time to assess — did the program do what Nashville…

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Mark Skoda Commentary: Diane Black for Governor

Mark Skoda

Over the years, I have observed Diane Black support pro-life issues, our 2nd Amendment gun rights and more recently, President Trump.  Her conservative bona fides are clear reasons for this endorsement.  Her experience and tenacity in the face of vocal opposition are what we need in Tennessee’s next gubernatorial term.…

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Republican Gubernatorial Candidates Hold Final Get Out the Vote Rallies

Bill Lee, Diane Black, Randy Boyd

The Republican gubernatorial candidates are making whirlwind, last-minute tours of the state in the closing days of the primary election to get out the votes. Randy Boyd said in a press release, “Too much is at stake and too many people are depending on us. On Primary night, we will…

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GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Randy Boyd’s Foundation Hands Out $1 Million For 37 Tennessee Community Pooch Parks in Days Preceding Election

Randy Boyd

Isn’t free money to support man’s best friend a good thing? What if the money is coming from a gubernatorial candidate just before the election? Republican candidate Randy Boyd’s foundation is handing out cash. The Randy Boyd Foundation presented the city of Jackson with the grand prize check of $100,000…

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Trevecca’s Shining Star: Dr. Suzann Harris

Professional Educators of Tennessee recognized Dr. Suzann “Suzie” Barker Harris with one of our prestigious “Friend of the Educator” Award.  She is a shining star for Trevecca and a model for people of faith who is worthy of distinction to all educators. 

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Three People Are Dying Each Day From Opioids In Tennessee

Bill Haslam

by Steve Birr   A new report reveals the deteriorating national opioid epidemic is hitting Tennessee particularly hard, killing three people across the state each day. Republican Gov. Bill Haslam created the Tennessee Commission on Pain and Addiction Medicine Education Jan. 24 to investigate the addiction crisis and develop new standards for…

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Things That Make You Go Hmm: Independent Polling Firm Puts Lee in the Lead While Tied to Campaign Consultants

Steve Gill

On Tuesday’s Gill Report, broadcast live on WETR 92.3 FM in Knoxville, conservative pundit and Tennessee Star Political Editor Steve Gill baffled at a recent independent poll that stated Bill Lee was leading Tennessee’s GOP primary race. The question remains to be answered of whether or not Lee knew the…

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Charlotte, North Carolina Embraces the 2020 Republican Convention, Nashville Passes

Donald Trump

Charlotte, North Carolina has been selected as the location for the 2020 Republican National Convention. Nashville was under consideration as a potential location, but local government entities apparently did not pursue the bid with much interest. Charlotte, in contrast, let the Republican National Committee know it wanted the financial benefits…

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Early Voting Republicans Trending to Set Records Across the State

Steve Gill

On Wednesday’s Gill Report – broadcast live on WETR 92.3 FM in Knoxville – Tennessee Star Political Editor Steve Gill discussed the early voting trends and the possibility of a new early voting record that could be set across the state of Tennessee. Gill said, “As voters have headed to the…

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$87 Million Government-Run Pre-Kindergarten in Tennessee Failing Kids, Report Says

Teacher and Kids

A report examining findings from a randomized controlled trial of Tennessee’s $87 million voluntary prekindergarten program for low-income children casts doubt on its effectiveness. Indeed, the report’s authors say the data show adverse effects on math and science achievements.

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Conservative Chattanooga Editorial Page Endorses Bill Lee in Republican Gubernatorial Primary

The conservative Free Press editorial page of The Chattanooga Times Free Press endorsed Bill Lee in the Republican gubernatorial race on Friday, the first day of early voting. Clint Cooper, the Free Press page editor, said Tennessee Republicans have an “embarrassment of riches” in their primary, with four of six…

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Tennessee Loses Money Spending $17,500 Per Job to Lure 1,000 AllianceBernstein Employees to Nashville from New York City

Tennessee Capital building

A $17.5 million tax incentive from the state of Tennessee to lure 1,000 jobs to Nashville–$17,500 per job—came at the expense of taxpayers to lure well-paid corporate executives when they already were drawn to the state’s other features like a favorable tax structure, experts say. The Tennessee Department of Economic…

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Tennessee House Delegation Unanimously Opposes Ryan Immigration Bill

TN Congressional Delegation

Tennessee’s U.S. House delegation voted unanimously against House Speaker Paul’s Ryan’s immigration bill Wednesday, including both Democrat members, with Rep. Diane Black not voting. The bill went down in defeat by a wide margin, 121-301, despite President Trump’s subdued support. A sprawling, compromise GOP immigration bill that would have provided a…

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Mark Green Picks Up Another Endorsement For Congress, This Time From Williamson Business PAC

Mark Green

The Williamson Business PAC on Thursday announced its support of Dr. Mark Green for U.S. Congress to replace Marsha Blackburn. The PAC conducted interviews with all the candidates running for the vacant 7th District congressional seat, and its board concluded that State Sen. Green is the best choice, according to…

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Diane Black is Only Gubernatorial Candidate Willing to Change Attorney General Selection Process, Victor Ashe Says

Diane Black Would Veto in-state tuition benefits for illegal immigrant students

Victor Ashe noted in his weekly column that Diane Black is the only gubernatorial candidate who supports bringing more transparency to the attorney general selection process. The Black campaign touted Ashe’s column in a press release. The former Knoxville mayor wrote in the Knoxville News-Sentinel that Democratic candidates Craig Fitzhugh…

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Mike Huckabee Endorses Randy Boyd For Tennessee Governor

Mike Hukabee

Conservative former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has endorsed Republican candidate Randy Boyd for governor of Tennessee. Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, made the announcement in a television ad Friday, the Boyd campaign announced. “Huckabee, a notable voice for the conservative movement, is throwing his support behind Randy as a…

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Complaint Targets Bill Lee’s Business, Campaign Advertising

Bill Lee

The Tennessean reported Friday that a complaint alleges that gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee is using a tax-sheltered trust to illegally donate money to his own campaign. The complaint, filed by Joe Darke of Dover, Tennessee, also alleges that the Republican candidate has accepted illegal contributions from some individuals and businesses…

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