TN ED REPORT: Public Money, Private Schools – Tennessee’s Gov. Bill Lee

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee is an unapologetic champion of school privatization. While the Tennessee Supreme Court has delayed implementation of the voucher scheme Lee succeeded in passing in 2019, Lee has put on a full court press of other measures in order to bring privatization to the Volunteer State.

The latest effort comes by way of Lee attempting to “reform” the state’s school funding formula, known as the BEP. The move includes 18 subcommittees designed to make recommendations for revising the formula – even though Lee has indicated he has no plans to actually increasing funding for schools.

On that note, the Tennessee Education Association suggests Lee’s efforts are missing the mark:

Tennessee ranks 46th in the nation for what we invest per student. It is irresponsible and harmful to Tennessee children to continue the pattern of insufficient state investment in our schools, especially at a time when Tennessee has the largest revenue surpluses in state history. We can and must do better for our students.

Any review of the BEP funding formula must include more than recommendations on how to change the formula. Until the state makes a significant increase in public education funding to address many challenges plaguing our schools, updating a formula will not get us where we need to be to provide the high-quality public education Tennessee children deserve.”

Nashville education blogger TC Weber notes that the BEP is often studied, but never actually improved:

Hamilton County Schools Interim Superintendent Nakia Towns puts it succinctly when pointing out that without a commitment from the governor and the legislature to put more money into funding education, “this whole conversation is without any real teeth.”

There is no need for further study, but Bill Lee insists on acting in a manner not dissimilar to my children’s behavior. If you don’t like what Mom says, go try to engage Dad. If that doesn’t work, try asking the question with different wording. Likely to work out as well for him as it does for them.

J.C. Bowman, executive director of Professional Educators of Tennessee embraces Lee’s promise of including more voices, but with a caveat,

“If we want different outcomes, we need different voices in the room. I hope there is an honest attempt to let people truly express their opinions, and that the outcome is not already decided,” he said. “This cannot be an exercise in futility. We need to address some giant issues.”


Lee has tipped his hand a bit by suggesting the new formula will be “student-centered” – that money will follow kids. This is exactly the type of rhetoric used by voucher advocates who suggest we should fund “students not systems.” Student-centered funding is also an approach pushed by privatization advocates over at ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council).

If Lee were serious about improving public schools, his major announcement around the BEP would have included his commitment to a way to make up for the $1.7 billion shortfall in Tennessee’s current school funding.


Photo by Celyn Kang on Unsplash

Meanwhile, a Pro-Privatization PAC Ramps Up

Just as Gov. Lee is moving forward with his funding formula privatization scheme, a political action committee allied with Lee’s interests is ramping up activity. Team Kid PAC is now on the scene and sure to be a player in the 2022 elections.

Team Kid PAC is the political arm of Tennesseans for Student Success – a supposedly pro-schools nonprofit that is heavily involved in legislative and political advocacy with an aim toward school privatization. Plus, the group has close ties to the payday lending industry.

Finally, the Teacher Shortage Crisis is Here

I mean, we don’t actually want a teacher shortage crisis. But, for those who have been warning about it for some time, the moment may finally be here. Policy makers are actually making some noise about a crisis years in the making. One that was entirely predictable.

Few are suggesting one key solution: Raise teacher pay substantially. Yes, adjusting responsibilities and providing a more welcoming work environment are also important. But, it is long past time to pay teachers significantly more. Tennessee has a $2 billion surplus from the recently-concluded fiscal year. We could fully close the teacher wage gap (a raise of about 20% for most teachers) and still have plenty of cash left over without raising taxes one dime.

Subscribe to the TN Education Report HERE

OPINION: To Calm Things Down In America, Make People’s Lives Better (Pass The People’s Budget)

“We’re as divided as we’ve been in my lifetime” is something you hear from people on both sides of the political spectrum these days.

We can’t all agree on much, but one thing there seems to be a consensus on is that the level of vitriol in America is as high as it has been in generations. Nearly a third of us expect another Civil War soon.

The Insurrection on January 6th was very clearly a manifestation of the division. We can’t even have school board meetings anymore without being at each other’s throats.

Most of us want the divisiveness to end. So how do we calm things down?

There’s no easy answer to that. There won’t be a silver bullet (especially as long as Fox News is on the air), but what if part of the answer is showing people the government can work FOR THEM again, rather than just for corporations and the wealthy?

It’s hard to ignore that as the animosity in America is as high as it has been in a century, inequality is also at Gilded Age levels. Inequality is tied to so many issues in our country – a lack of health care, poor education, crime, gun violence, even abortion. It stands to reason that when people have less, they have less to lose, they’re more likely to be angry, and they become more likely to express their anger in ways that are detrimental to society.

So here’s a crazy thought: To make people less angry, make their lives better.

Guarantee them time off when they’re sick or have a child, like the rest of the world does.

Cover child care costs earlier and start teaching their kids with Universal Pre-K earlier to lessen the financial burden on their families.

Create good paying jobs by investing in our clean energy future, and infrastructure.

Invest what it takes to make sure everywhere in America is connected to broadband, so young Americans can stay in rural areas when they graduate high school and start businesses there and revitalize those communities rather than leaving the first chance they get.

Expand Medicare to cover Hearing and Vision so people don’t forego the glasses and hearing aids they need, and expand Medicaid to the states that haven’t like here in Tennessee where we’re #1 in Medical bankruptcies and we lose $1.7 Billion every year we don’t, so folks can see a doctor when they get sick rather than a bankruptcy attorney. (Or even better cover everyone through Medicare for All or something like it)

Invest in HBCU’s, and housing to put a roof over people’s heads, and worker’s rights… and do it all without raising taxes on anyone but those who can afford it – the ones making over $400,000 per year.

These aren’t pipe dreams. These are literally the things in the budget that Biden and the Democrats are fighting to pass while Republicans and a few “moderates” like Manchin & Sinema (who sure look like extremists to me) stand in the way.

These are programs that will have tangible impacts on the lives of Americans.

Many of the angriest among us view government as the problem because they’ve been told it is by a steady drumbeat of conservative talking heads, but the truth is government can be a big part of the solution, and can help make their lives better. Making people’s lives better and addressing the gross inequality we have allowed to overtake our society thanks to a government captured by corporate interests may be the only real path to calming things down in this country… assuming there still is one.

Pass the people’s budget.

Justin Kanew is the Founder of the Tennessee Holler



As TN GOP legislators (especially Janice Bowling) peddle blatant vaccine disinfo to resist OSHA rules, saying it doesn’t work/isn’t a vaccine, etc…  Democrats Johnson, Campbell, Stewart push back.
Dangerous nonsense from elected officials.

INTERVIEW: ASHLEY PEREIRA (survivor of “Alabama pastor who raped teen gets probation” story)

ASHLEY PEREIRA was raped by ex-Jason Greathouse in Alabama at 14, and her parents pushed her to marry him. They are now divorced. He just was let off with no jail time. They both now live in Tennessee (him in HENDERSONVILLE) and she’s forced to share custody of their child with him, while he doesn’t pay any child support.


OP-ED: “To Stop The Violence, Make People In The Community Feel Valued”

TN Congressional Candidate Nathaniel Doss on How to Help Stop the Violence in Tennessee

Recently the community was challenged to tell our elected officials what assistance we would like from them. This is an intricate question that requires us to also pull back the layers to a historically uncomfortable position. None of the violence we are seeing is new. None of the outrage from the community is new. Most recently we saw a heinous crime committed against seven women at a celebration for our community. This act of violence left me shaken to my core not only because of the personal attachment to one of the victims but because, as a man, I was taught my main responsibility was to protect the matriarch of the family.

I felt that I had personally failed those women; like WE failed them.

Changing a culture is never easy, especially one living with generational PTSD. We have suffered from eras of trauma. Due to the constant trauma that we have begun associating with the “Black experience” we have become desensitized to the social negative reinforcements that control society. These constructs are the checks put in place to discourage crime. When an individual feels as if they have nothing to lose, there are really no limits to their depravity.

When a group of people recognizes that imprisonment is routine and commonplace, it becomes an expected outcome. When, as a people, we have seen horrors firsthand and not just heard about them in stories, those horrors are as easily dealt as they are received.

We must make our people understand that they have value to our community.

We must get our young people to understand that not only is their life important but who they will be in our community in the future is important as well.

We must cultivate and grow empathy again despite the horrors we have seen.

That lack of empathy was what made shooting into a crowd of women and children at a peaceful event, a reasonable action for a traumatized mind. Empathy and love must be taught as early and with as much emphasis as potty training, colors, and shapes.

Conversely, we speak of culture change, and it is admittedly a dire need; however how can we begin to change a culture of a group of people with unmet basic needs? How shall you preach to a man that is hungry? How can you hope to correct a child who does not have a safe place to rest?

Until those basic needs are met, we cannot hope to make any change. We MUST address the needs first.

We have to tap those resources that are available to meet those needs and we must start early. Exposure to a different possible outcome is key. What if instead of watching numerous relatives and friends be incarcerated, it was more common to see numerous friends and family graduate? We must normalize success and growth. We must celebrate and incentivize it, if necessary.

Actions that will begin the change are true community policing, access to nutrition, and home ownership for people employed in our community. We have community policing some may say, and we do to an extent. Let’s intensify our efforts at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga and Chattanooga State Community College so we can recruit members of the community. In Chattanooga we had an era that was successful with this, no matter the reason it ceased. It needs to be reinstated with a deliberate and focused effort.

As someone stated at the meeting Dr. Mackey organized, we also need social workers to work directly with our Chattanooga Police department. That means increasing their budget to employ said social workers that would work shoulder to shoulder with our police department protecting our city 24 hours a day. Allowing our police to focus their efforts more on the ilk that plagues our community.

I read today, “Teach a man to fish after you give him a fish. Learning anything on a hungry stomach is less likely to be retained.” I couldn’t agree more, we have children going to school hungry and coming home to hunger. In many areas of Chattanooga where minorities reside there is a lack of suitable access to nutrition. A hungry child will not concentrate in school or behave in the community. Their main concern is rectifying that hunger if only for today. I believe we must partner with businesses, and social development departments at all three municipalities: City, County, and State, in order to ensure that we do not have a health crisis and that grocery stores are accessible in every community.

As I have been walking around this summer introducing myself and listening to the community, I listened as many were fearful of their community losing its identity. Many spoke of not wanting the perceived crime that comes with “affordable housing’’ i.e. apartment complexes. I sympathize with their fears and understand because I live within their community and have seen violence on my own street. We need to partner with developers, the city, the county, and community associations so we can best add homeownership to our underserved communities without changing the dynamics of that community.

We must educate our neighbors; affordable housing no longer looks like their homes. It will not have the same spacing in between homes and may not remotely resemble their homes in appearance. What it will do is bring hard working people that want to break generational cycles; people that want to add value to a community because they have a direct interest in doing so.

We must make home ownership accessible and a reality for those that may not have seen this as a possibility. This may mean creative lending and alternative credit scoring. There may be fear of perceived risk, but the payout is more than worth it. What better way to ensure a thriving community and thus a swift investment return? Ownership in any form creates pride and stewardship.

You take care of what is yours; that goes for houses, communities, and people no matter your socio-economic class.

We must challenge ourselves to partner with unions, business partners, our educational institutions to provide and help prepare workers for more careers and not just dead-end employment. Meaningful employment, safety, ready access to nutrition, flourishing schools, and homeownership will be impactful when adding Pride, thus changing the culture. Our community has worked hard to improve the starting pay with City employment and attract employers such as Volkswagen, Amazon, and many others.

Productivity is directly affected by stable homes and the provision of basic needs. It’s all a cycle of growth. We all have an impact to make, some know right away and others as they grow into their calling. The Black community has managed to struggle through all these years, but it is like a doctor concentrating on the symptoms and not the cause. It is past time to cure the disease that is eating away at our community. 

Nate Doss is running for congress as a Democrat in Tennessee’s 3rd District. LEARN MORE.


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At a SPECIAL SESSION TODAY “Tennessee lawmakers will gather for a special session focused on $900 MILLION in incentives for a FORD ELECTRIC CAR PLANT”—while they call Biden a “socialist” for investing in clean energy at the federal level? The hypocrisy is astounding welcome to the 21st century, Republicans! 🤔 #LeesGreenNewDeal

Investing in our future and creating jobs is exactly what Biden and the Dems are trying to do with the People’s budget, which Republicans are trying to paint as the end of the world while doing something similar here at home.

Keep in mind 🔥🌍 the IMF recently told us the “Fossil fuel industry gets subsidies of $11 MILLION PER MINUTE, Trillions ‘adding fuel to the fire’ of the climate crisis” We subsidize our own demise, propping up an industry that then pays our politicians to lie to us.

And as it turns out, MANCHIN IS HURTING HIS OWN PEOPLE THE MOST, as we now know 🌍 “WEST VIRGINIA IS MORE EXPOSED TO FLOODS THAN ANYWHERE IN 🇺🇸” as Senator Manchin thwarts Democrats’ push to reduce warming.

Also, TN’s disasters cost the most this year.

All this is why BERNIE Sanders dropped an OP-ED IN MANCHIN’S BACKYARD touting the overwhelming popularity of Biden’s budget… And naturally, Manchin was triggered by it.

Frankly, Biden should be doing this also

It’s time to pass this budget and show the American people it matters who governs. As Lee & The TN GOP are showing here at home, they don’t actually oppose doing these things when it helps them politically.

We’ll continue to highlight the hypocrisy. Thank you as always for subscribing to the holler. If you’re not yet, please consider chipping in – the monthly support truly keeps us going. No monthly amount is too small.

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“MEDICAL NAZISM”?: As expected, Senator Frank Niceley & pro-COVID TN GOP legislators will try to pass a BIG GOVERNMENT law PROHIBITING PRIVATE employers from requiring vaccines (which Griffey calls “Nazism”, yet the state does it to kids in schools🤔)

VACCINE MANDATES WORKING: “Vaccine mandates stoked fears of labor shortages. But hospitals say they’re working.” 😷

How it started How it’s going – (Not actual Nashville resident) BEN SHAPIRO edition) 😷 🤔

NIGHTMARE — Ex-pastor raped a 14yo, impregnated her… won’t do jail time, she has to share custody. (Both in TN) – Her parents had pushed her to marry him (they divorced). They both live in Tennessee. Jason Greathouse. In HENDERSONVILLE. We’ll talk to her LIVE ON THE HOLLER tomorrow at noon.

UNDERFUNDED SCHOOLS: Kids are leaving public schools at a high rate. That’s a feature not a bug for Republicans. We have billions in surplus, yet we’re 46th in per pupil funding. Fully fund our schools, Governor Lee.

TN ED REPORT: The teacher shortage crisis is here… it is long past time to pay teachers significantly more. TN has a $2 billion surplus…” (PSA: For Lee & the TN GOP and their attack on public schools, the shortage is a feature not a bug.)

LEE’S COVERT NEW VOUCHER PUSH🔥Rep. Gloria Johnson on Lee’s (ALEC-led, low key voucher) approach to *revising* the BEP: “He wants to give the appearance he’s listening to everyone on this… Why do we need 18 committees to tell us we’re 45th in funding in 🇺🇸 for education?”🗣🎯

UPDATE: Rutherford County Judge Donna Davenport is no longer an adjunct professor at MTSU after the NATIONAL report that she oversaw illegal mass jailing of (mostly black) kids in Rutherford County. Good hollerin’, y’all.

COLIN POWELL DIES OF COVID: Ex-Secretary of State and Joint Chiefs Chairman COLIN POWELL has died from COVID complications at 84 😷

IMPORTANT As Republicans inevitably use Powell’s death to denigrate vaccines…

BUTTIGIEG SCHOOLS TUCKER: 🔥🗣🎯 “I won’t apologize to Tucker Carlson or anyone else for taking care of my premature infant twins… it’s important work we should all be able to do… we’re the only developed country that still doesn’t guarantee paid family leave…” 🇺🇸

AOC SCHOOLS BURCHETT: 🔥AOC dismantles Rep. Tim Burchett’s ignorant gaslighting talking points… ouch! 👇🏽 Republicans canceled extra unemployment early, it didn’t work, but they just continue to blame it for people not working anyway🤔

TRUMP DOJ OFFICIAL FACING DISBARMENT: “Former assistant attorney general and high-ranking Justice Dept official Jeffrey Clark is facing disbarment and criminal charges for assisting Trump in his attempts to subvert the 2020 presidential election.”

GOP FUNDRAISING EMAIL: “YOU’RE A TRAITOR” – Actual pro-Trump NRCC message calls Republicans “traitors” & “deserters” to get them to donate.. the anti-democracy hostility at an 11. Extremely telling about where they’re at as a group right now.  😳

LITTLE OAKS RACISM: After backlash, LITTLE OAKS ACADEMY in Knoxville defends themselves/sort of apologizes after a black teacher was “racially harassed” by a trainee— then left “feeling worthless” after being told to go back to class. The comments are not having it.

NASHVILLE HAS RACISM TOO: NEWSWEEK picks up the story of JOSH BLACK being accused by a woman of breaking into her car in his own NASHVILLE building… she said he “fit the description” — a black dude in a pink anti-racism hoodie. The building said the actual guy was white. 🤨

GRAINGER COUNTY: “MAGA-loving religious sect that worships with AR-15s has purchased a 130-acre property in eastern Tennessee to serve as a “training center” and holy ground for its devoted, gun-toting followers…” 😵‍💫😳

ROME, GEORGIA: “Black students at COOSA HIGH SCHOOL were suspended for planning a protest after another group of students came to school waving a Confederate flag and were filmed hurling racial slurs.” 😳

TERRIFYING SITUATION IN HAITI: “As many as 17 Christian missionaries from the United States and their family members, including women and children, kidnapped in Haiti…”

🔥 FLORIDA MOM to angry parents of kids who break mask rules on purpose😷: “Where were you when we were sending black boys home for their *distracting* hairstyles? — You know what I never caught from a saggy pair of pants or an exposed shoulder? A FUCKING COMMUNICABLE DISEASE.”

SOCIALIZED RISK, PRIVATiZED GAINS: COVID drug developed with $35 MILLION in federal funds at Emory may be able to halve the risk of hospitalization & death… so naturally, MERCK wants to charge a 46x MARKUP… Socialized risk, privatized reward… aka CAPITALISM!

ICYMI — the embarrassing scene at the UT game Lane Kiffin hit with a golf ball and “brown liquid”, which according to him wasn’t moonshine because “they wouldn’t waste that on me…” – game delayed. Embarrassing for our state.

Ok who made this 😳😩🎯

GLEIB BUSTS CHARLIE KIRK ON ABORTION… Chef’s kiss💋 perfection… watch and share…


In Times Square… “paid for by Republicans for Voting Rights”

Today’s CARTOON OF THE DAY is an Evergreen classic… #PassThePeoplesBudget

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Rep. Jason Zachary of Knoxville stirred up anti-mask outrage that led to threats to blockade schools—then after SCHOOLS CLOSED he tried to strike a more reasonable tone.

TOO LATE, Jason. This isn’t leadership.

RUTHERFORD COUNTY TEACHER: “I’m scared I’m going to walk away from a field I genuinely love.”


“Teachers will do what we have always done. We will make it work!” 

This was a quote from my last teacher blog post at the end of teaching in my first pandemic school year. While we are still experiencing the effects, this post has nothing to do with the actual nature of the pandemic on my teaching experience.

I am absolutely tired, y’all!

I am tired of just making it. I am tired of breaking my back to get it done. I am tired of the endless nights of worrying how I will complete my tasks. I am tired of smiling and shukin’ and jivin’ with other adults when there is not a single thing humorous occurring within this educational institution of which I am employed.

Imagine being so excited to receive a gift. You know that feeling of anticipation and giddiness that you experience while sitting with your eyes closed waiting for it to be placed in the palm of your hands?

That was me waiting for the beginning of the school year. I couldn’t barely sleep the night leading up to the first day to get back. I had made contact with my parents in mid June, set up my teacher webpage, made my rosters and started preparing first week “get to know you” activities. Two months in, and my students and their parents met my level of excitement. Working with them has been amazing. Such great support and open communication. It has been wonderful.

But, what I also found out two months in, was that the anticipation of the gift was all I had.

The actual gift of the school year wasn’t wrapped in pretty packaging or neatly put together. The gift that was placed within my hands was wrapped with barbed wire paper, taped tackily together with pieces of controlling micromanagement, held poorly together with a large and abrasive bow of disrespect and disregard for teacher individuality, and lastly slapped on with a crooked label of mistrust of teacher intelligence.

To know me, is to know that my teaching passion is as wide as the ocean is deep and as high as the endless sky above. I care about students. I do extra for them. I push them. I motivate them. I will dance and sing for them to learn. I will attend their sporting and after school events. I will hug them when they’re scared. I will tend to them when they are hurt. I tie dirty shoelaces. I go above and beyond for them because I think it’s important and school should be a place of magic and fun while kids learn.

The current demands being placed on me are zapping the last bit of energy I have and making it so difficult to go that extra mile. I hear the phrase “you can’t give from an empty cup.” Well my cup has a million pinholes and the water is trickling out at such an alarming rate that I can’t fill it quick enough to quench my thirst.

I’m scared I’m going to walk away from a field that I genuinely love. I’m scared I’m going to  dread when the alarm goes off and I have to go to work. I’m scared that my negative attitude is going to be noticed and impact my students. I’m scared that I won’t be a good teammate because of the frustration I feel.

I recently called the board of education to see what my “contractual obligations” were just to be aware. I found that our “contract” is basically terms of service dates and most of the day to day and expectations of teachers are generally at building administrator discretion.

Here in lies my issue…

Each building administrator chooses the guidelines and expectations of their building and then as teachers talk from school to school within a district we see how our experiences are often drastically different. While there are always positives and negatives, I personally feel that I am on a slippery slope to the negative neighborhood right now.

I don’t know where many of the expectations that we are being asked to meet are coming from, and I understand that we all have a job to do, but what I do know is that these expectations often feel unreasonable and leave me and my peers in a state of confusion as we try to implement them.

I constantly have to juggle doing what I think is a best within my classroom and meeting a bullet point on an unrealistic checklist. I often go with my gut and trust myself to do what I know works.

It is truly so much that people outside the education field don’t know about our profession, but when those of us in the profession try to speak out we are ridiculed and told our job isn’t that hard and if we don’t like it then we should quit.

Well let me tell you it is hard as hell!

It’s hard seeing your coworkers in tears because they are struggling to meet a goal, it’s hard to be a teacher mentor when you are trying to navigate a school year yourself, it’s hard to ask for help when others look like they have it together so you think something is wrong with you instead, it’s hard to sit up all night to make a lesson plan that you won’t even use because you don’t need it, it’s hard to want to go the extra mile and be creative when you have a guide to follow and can barely deviate from it without explicit evidence as to why you are doing so, it’s hard to listen to people tell you that they are there to help you, but they rarely do anything to help. It’s hard to care so much, but you can’t do anything to make it better. It’s hard to listen to people who have never worked with children make the rules.

I’m exhausted from just pushing through the hard stuff.

The teammates I have this year are basically rockstars. We all contribute doing what we can to create successful learning opportunities within our classes. We share, collaborate, and communicate effectively during school and even after hours. We go hard for our students, help each other out and sometimes it feels like we are damned if we do or damned if we don’t from outside spectators. They don’t see our day to day or how we work our butts off. It’s all about what we aren’t doing and that is damaging to our spirit!

When you feel like your creativity is being blocked  every step of the way and you’re being restricted to follow a certain plan, you find yourself with an internal struggle. You ask yourself, do I do what I know doesn’t work or do I do what is best for kids that will get them to grow? My passion has been and will always be for my students and making their learning experience amazing any way that I can.

I can no longer stand for being questioned at every turn, asked to implement trivial tasks, or just go with the flow when it’s detrimental to keeping my mental peace and protecting my joyful spirit.

My job is to teach kids and I will continue to do that to my best ability. However, that may now mean that I get reprimanded for speaking out, get labeled abrasive, or that I am not a team player, but I will always go against the grain in my profession when I know that what I am doing is right.

I can’t “just make it” anymore because that’s not good enough for me or my students. If it’s just to meet an institutions absurd often impossible requirements, I will question it. If I know you aren’t answering my questions I will question you. If you are wasting my time, I will remind you I have important things to do and that you need to get to the point, respectfully.

I will show up on time and leave on time. I will work hard in my room with my students and go hard for my teammates. I won’t break myself for the sake of unrealistic, emotionally taxing, and unattainable expectations handed down to me to be implemented without rhyme or reason.

As far as this topsy turvy educational system goes, I will do what I have always done. I will continue to make it work, but within reason and with respect to my peace of mind.

I’ve learned that teaching is a wonderful, enriching part of my life that I genuinely have passion for, but this educational system will not ruin my life. I’m setting boundaries and sticking to them. I value myself too much to second guess my abilities by a system that I feel truly doesn’t value me.

Jessica Trice

Rutherford County Teacher 

INTERVIEW: REP. GLORIA JOHNSON On the anti-mask backlash closing schools

REP. GLORIA JOHNSON joins us to discuss the threats to block schools and the overall Anti-Mask backlash that got Knox Schools closed today.


OPINION: Pay Attention When Women of Color Disappear Too, Not Just the Gabby Petitos

by Ali Pensky

It is necessary to hold space and grieve for Gabby Petito while also recognizing that if Petito was Black, Latina, Asian, or Indigenous, the disappearance would not have garnered nearly as much attention.

Petito does not deserve any more collective advocacy, resources, and outrage than the thousands of other missing women in the United States.

Many people see a friend, a sister, an aunt, a mother, a grandmother, themselves, or a combination of these — in Petito. The story of a missing woman likely abused by her romantic partner is more relatable than it should be.

But why has this missing woman gone viral?

Gwen Ifill, who was a Black American journalist, author and newscaster, coined the term “Missing White Woman Syndrome” to bring attention to the media’s tendency to give extensive coverage to white, upper-middle class missing women — and little coverage to women of color, who go missing at much higher rates than white women. This dangerous practice creates the idea of “worthy” and “unworthy” victims.

The single mother, the sex worker, the woman who runs away, the nurse, the woman with an addiction, the houseless woman, the school teacher, the unemployed woman, and the woman who stays with her abuser for years, all deserve for their cases to be addressed with urgency. They are all worthy victims.

Mary Johnson, a Native American woman from the Tulalip reservation in Marysville, Washington, was reported missing on December 9th, 2020. Late last week, around the same time that Petito’s case began making headlines, the FBI put out a reward for whoever can help find the person or persons involved with Johnson’s disappearance. Though Johnson has been missing for almost a year longer than Petito, and her case has a reward tied to it, she is far less known than Petito.

The fact that Johnson’s case has made headlines and has a $10,000 reward attached to it is unusual, as the issue of missing Indigenous women has been pushed aside and underfunded by the government and media for years. Law enforcement’s lack of action gets blamed on legal complications such as jurisdiction. State and federal data regarding missing Native American women is not comprehensive, which is why The Sovereign Bodies Institute started doing their own research.

Black women also disappear at higher rates than white women, and often they are categorized as runaways, shifting the blame onto the missing woman as an individual, rather than making her safety a priority for law enforcement. The “Black and Missing Foundation” reports that “nearly forty percent of reported missing persons are persons of color, yet Black people make up only thirteen percent of the population.”

The FBI, major news outlets, youtubers, twitter users, and tik tok users alike have contributed to turning women like Gabby Petito into the “worthy” victim. Petito is a worthy victim, and so are the endless amount of women who don’t make the headlines, or whose cases are not even filed.

Ali Pensky is a resident of Knoxville, and a sophomore in college at Appalachian State University.