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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

TODAY’S HOLLER: LEE & THE TN GOP EMBRACE A GREEN NEW DEAL 🌍 RACISM IN NASHVILLE & KNOXVILLE 😡 & Much More

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THE GREEN NEW DEAL COMES TO TENNESSEE

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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TODAY’S HOLLER:
“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…

AND MARSHA GETS BUSTED TOO…

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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INTERVIEW: JB SMILEY JR., CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR

We’re joined LIVE by JB Smiley Jr., a Memphis councilman running for governor of Tennessee as a Democrat.

Watch the FULL INTERVIEW below. CLIP HERE. Listen to the PODCAST HERE.

ED REPORT: THE PRIVATIZATION PUSH (Disruption Agenda Exposed)

Subscribe to “The Education Report” by Andy Spears HERE

Jennifer Berkshire writes in The New Republic about the unraveling of the charter school coalition. She notes that while progressives have previously expressed support for charters, that support is waning. Meanwhile, those on the right are moving rapidly toward their actual goal: full privatization of public schools.

Yet today the charter school movement itself is perhaps more vulnerable than it has ever been. Unlikely allies in the best of times, its coalition of suppo

rters—which has included progressives, free-market Republicans, and civil rights advocates, and which has been handsomely funded by deep-pocketed donors and Silicon Valley moguls—is unraveling.

David Menefee-Libey, a professor of politics at Pomona College, likened the original political coalition that came together to back charter schools to a treaty. “You see this bipartisan embrace of a market-based approach to schooling, but both sides also had to give something up,” he said. For Democrats, that meant weakening the party’s support for teachers’ unions—a key constituency—and retreating on demands for school integration. Republicans, meanwhile, accepted charter schools as a watered-down alternative to private school vouchers.

Berkshire references West Virginia as a clear example of the rapid movement from charters to private school vouchers:

Starting in 2022, West Virginia parents who withdraw their children from public schools will receive their child’s state share of public education funding—approximately $4,600 in 2021—to spend on virtually any educational cost: private school tuition, online education programs, homeschooling, tutors, even out-of-state boarding schools.

Take Me Home, Mountain Vouchers
Lawmakers in West Virginia and Kentucky last week passed legislation that would create school voucher programs in those states. Both states saw teacher strikes in recent years over school funding and teacher pension issues. Now, policymakers there are planning to divert public dollars to fund unaccountable private schools…

The bottom line: Privatizers want privatization. Period. No half-measures here. A recent story out of Tennessee further bears this out. It seems the ed reform groups who have been driving “disruption” in public education in the state for years are now lamenting the outcomes of all that disruption.

Groups like Tennesseans for Student Success are joined by other privatization apologists such as Bill Frist’s ed reform group known as SCORE in an ongoing and seemingly never-ending push for BOLD! REFORM! NOW! It’s odd because one might think that with all the bold reform of the last decade, we’d finally have achieved some element of “success.” Instead, we must keep reforming because our students are still “behind” and there’s all this “learning loss.”

Meanwhile, a shortage of educators and education support professionals is creating all sorts of interesting situations in schools. Here’s one example out of Baltimore:

Baltimore City Public Schools is offering to pay several hundred parents to transport their own children to school this month.

The payment for September would be a $250 stipend, according to a reimbursement form obtained by WBFF News in Baltimore.

And, the school funding fight rages on in Tennessee:

The State of Tennessee now has a court date to face allegations of inadequate school funding. The lawsuit, originally filed by school systems in Nashville and Memphis, has been joined by Tennessee School Systems for Equity, a group representing smaller systems around the state. The suit alleges that as it currently stands, the state’s school funding formula (BEP) does not provide sufficient funding for the operation of schools.

SETTING A BAD EXAMPLE: GOV. LEE’S FAILURE TO LEAD COMES AT GREAT COST

SETTING A BAD EXAMPLE:

GOV. LEE’S FAILURE TO LEAD COMES AT GREAT COST

At Governor Lee’s press conferences, in the presence of statewide media and TV cameras, he presents himself as someone who personally believes masks work. It’s not that he shares the opinion of anti-mask extremists who think masks are tyranny, he assures us – it’s just that he believes people in Tennessee should have the final say over whether or not their kids wear masks to school.

Clearly he has done the polling and decided that middle ground is the safest place for him to live.

Not firmly on either side. One foot in each camp. Tell the pro-mask parents they’re right about the efficacy of masks, while telling the anti-mask parents they’re right about “freedom” and all that.

His opt out executive order was the legislative manifestation of this wishy-washiness – not a “mask mandate ban” by name, but one in spirit. It allowed the anti-maskers to feel like they had won, while allowing Lee to pretend he hadn’t actually banned mask mandates – even though he had (as a judge in Memphis seems to have figured out).

But underneath it all, Lee’s attempt to present himself as a personal believer in masks doesn’t pass the smell test. He may have spent state money on a “mask up” ad campaign… his Health Department may have “recommended” them… but if Lee really thinks they work, why isn’t he wearing one?

Why with cases skyrocketing and hospitalizations at all time highs was he just recently pictured with kids, inside a school, maskless? And why did he POST IT ON SOCIAL MEDIA, as if to say it was the right way to behave? Why even bother pretending to think masks are the right thing to do if he’s not going to lead by example?

The truth is, Lee is either an anti-masker at heart, or a coward.

If he truly believes wearing masks are the right thing to do, he should be doing it. But doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do is not in Lee’s DNA.

Leadership is simply not in his bag of tricks.

Lee has shown us time and again he will always say the most politically convenient thing in the moment. He will always follow the way he thinks the polling goes.

But leaders aren’t supposed to follow the way the wind is blowing. Leaders are supposed to lead.

And because our state doesn’t have a leader, but instead has a man in charge who is first and foremost worried about pandering to extremists, 27 school districts are closed, at least 8 teachers are dead, our hospitals are pleading for help, and we have the worst outbreak in the country (one of the worst in the world)

We are paying a heavy price for Lee’s failure to lead.

Setting a bad example comes at great cost.

Justin Kanew is the founder of the Tennessee Holler

TODAY’S HOLLER: LEE’S MASK MANDATE BAN BLOCKED

LEE’S OPT OUT ORDER BLOCKED


U.S. District Judge Sheryl Lipman just issued a temporary restraining order sought by the parents of 2 kids with health problems who argue Lee’s opt out order endangers students with health conditions.

The Temporary Restraining Order remains in effect until Sept. 17. Yet again, Lee doesn’t pass laws, he passes lawsuits.

Meanwhile Governor Lee continues to do nothing to help teachers and students feel safe in our schools. TENNESSEAN EDITORIAL BOARD just called out Gov. Lee for being “reactive”, which is generous since he isn’t really reacting at all, and said he should rescind his mask mandate opt out order. ??

TEACHERS DYING don’t even seem to be moving him. In CHEATHAM COUNTY It seems yet another teacher died tragically of COVID, ? and SCIENCE HILL in Johnson City lost one also. Far too many Tennessee educators have been lost to this disease, while far too little is done.

Governor Lee has not mentioned them.

KNOX TEACHER just came on the Holler to issue a plea TO LEE & OTHER LEADERS: “PLEASE HELP… every failure to take action affects the entire state, not just those in public education.” ?

Please keep speaking out. We’ll keep hollering the truth and trying to do our part. We’re able to do what we do because of your support, so if you’re not yet please consider chipping in – the monthly support truly keeps us going. No monthly amount is too small.

The Holler

BUYING OR SELLING A HOME IN MIDDLE TENNESSEE? HOLLER AT REALTOR ELISA PARKER!

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TODAY’S HOLLER
HOSPITALS FULL OF REGRETFUL UNVACCINATED:  Truck Driver who listens to conservative radio: “I didn’t think I was at any risk.” Elderly Woman: “Guess I should’ve taken that vaccine.” As Tennessee hospitals set new records, the most critical are almost all unvaccinated. ICUs are filled with regretful patients.
1 IN 5000: “How small are the chances of the average vaccinated American contracting Covid? Probably about one in 5,000 per day, and even lower for people who take precautions or live in a highly vaccinated community.” ? #GetVaccinatedNow
A GRAPHIC from Williamson Medical Center showing how clear it is everyone should #GetVaccinatedNow.

SPONSORING THE WAR ON WOMEN: AT&T, NBC Universal, CVS Health and more are the biggest donors to the Republican politicians behind the Texas abortion bill/war on women… Yet they remain silent.

FLORIDA DOC WON’T TREAT THE UNVACCINATED ANYMORE: “This is where it draws the line in the sand for me.” – Dr. Linda Marraccini in FLORIDA is telling patients she won’t treat the UNVACCINATED in her office anymore.

BREAKING RECORDS: “Tennessee continues to set RECORD COVID-19 HOSPITALIZATION NUMBERS… 3,597 now hospitalized across the state…. 1020 in ICUs… 699 on ventilators… 74 of those hospitalized are children…” ?

LABOR DAY HYPOCRITES: Governor Lee had ZERO workers or worker reps on your COVID economic recovery group. He helped keep Volkswagen from unionizing. Republicans (Lee, Blackburn, Hagerty, etc) posting nice things about workers on Labor Day but fighting against unions, who started the holiday and gave us weekends, overtime, child labor laws, etc…  should have all the seats. ? ?

LABOR DAY REMINDER: Unions and the middle class go hand in hand, and politicians who don’t support unions don’t really support workers. (Again: Anti-union Governor Lee had ZERO worker reps or workers on his COVID “economic recovery group”)

? TN AFL CIO CHIEF BILLY DYCUS: “The only effective answer to organized greed is organized labor…“Right to Work” laws originated during Jim Crow and strip workers from having a voice… it means LESS freedom for workers, NOT MORE.” #LaborDay #UnionStrong

GOP JESUS – THE MOVIE: ”Rabbi, surely you can heal me!” — “Yes… but who would pay for it?” ? #GOPJesus helps us understand many of our Republican friends much better… especially our TN GOP delegation. 

IVERMECTIN CALLS: “The Tennessee Poison Center has seen a dramatic increase in calls for people experiencing issues after taking (horse de-wormer) IVERMECTIN for COVID-19” ?

Nice recap of how Governor Lee has *handled* COVID, with TN having the worst outbreak in the country – from the Williamson Young Dems. ?

RENKL: “We need to take health and public safety out of the hands of Republicans because this is not a game” – ? Margaret Renkl on how Governor Lee and Republican leadership throughout the South are exacerbating climate/COVID disasters… and costing lives.

WILLIAMSON COUNTY Moms for Liberty making it clear with this absurd post about American Girl dolls they have no clue what Critical Race Theory actually is, and proving all they care about is making sure our society stops fighting racism??(PSA: Nobody is “color blind”. That’s a lie they tell themselves. The point isn’t to not see color, it’s to see all everyone’s uniqueness and differences and love each other for it.)

? ?MEMPHIS MAGIC: “It’s important to get vaccinated… not only for yourself, but for those around you.” The great MAGIC JOHNSON gives SHELBY COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT JORIS RAY an assist to tout the vaccine. (90%+ of those hospitalized are unvaccinated) ?

“HOST BODY”: Florida’s former GOP Speaker of the House repeatedly calls a pregnant woman a “host body” ☹️ But sure, let’s keep letting these guys dictate women’s reproductive rights?

HOLLERIN’ ON TAMRON HALL: “At the end of the day, if we’re wrong about the efficacy of masks- sorry, you had to wear a mask. But if you’re wrong, someone dies or our kids get sick.” Yesterday the Holler’s Justin Kanew joined THE TAMRON HALL SHOW to discuss the chaotic Williamson Board meeting.

TAMRON HALL DISMANTLES ROD LUNN: Who threatened the dad in Williamson County… the guy humiliated himself further. Obvious limelight chaser. He’s a party to lawsuits against masks where he claims to have asthma, yet oddly never mentions it.

? ??‍♀️

? ?❤️? The kids are alright

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LEE: “NO PLANS TO CHANGE STRATEGY”

REPORTER: “Hospitals preparing to run out of resources…. 11 school districts closed… US Ed Dept launched a civil rights investigation… any plans to take back your (mask mandate ban)?”

GOVERNOR LEE: “We have no plans to change our strategy.”
Welp.

MUZZLEGATE: DR. MICHELLE FISCUS DEFENDS HERSELF

Tennessee has made the national news more than our share lately. One of the most recent instances was the political firing of Dr. Michelle Fiscus over the Health Department’s outreach to teens for the COVID-19 vaccine. We won’t go into all the details here, but the bottom line is she shared a summary of existing case law with vaccine providers which stated that teens over 14 were able to get vaccinated without a parent’s permission.

Republicans didn’t like that (even though it’s STILL state policy). They made a big stink over it, and the marketing to teens – only one problem: Fiscus had not been responsible for that marketing. Governor Lee’s office had. Lee’s office had also blessed the summary Fiscus shared. But Republican legislators were out for blood, and the sword fell on Dr. Fiscus.

She was fired, although neither Health Dept. Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey or Governor Lee would say why at the time. Lee pointed to Piercey, saying it was her decision, although he claimed not to even have asked her why she made it.

On her way out Dr. Fiscus pulled no punches. She gave interviews about the mess that was going on inside the health department, even sharing details about a no-bid contract given to a Utah company with zero COVID testing experience that was clearly awarded for political reasons by Governor Lee, a contract which fell apart – costing Tennessee taxpayer $6 million for literally nothing and slowing down an already horrific COVID-19 response.

It was no surprise then that there were people who wanted Dr. Fiscus to stop talking. Reports even surfaced of Dr. Fiscus receiving a dog muzzle in the mail – to which she responded that it would take more than that to keep her from talking.

The muzzle was a minor detail in a much bigger national story about a Governor firing a top vaccine expert to appease anti-vaccine extremists (appeasing extremists appears to be Lee’s specialty). Fiscus asked for an investigation into what she perceived as a threat, and now weeks later a story has come out from the new Nashville arm of Axios, run by Nate Rau (formerly of the Tennessee Lookout) and Adam Tamburin, saying that an investigation by the state concluded Fiscus had “sent the muzzle to herself”. (the story has been updated to reflect that the investigation did not conclude that, only that she “bought the muzzle” – meaning a card in Dr. Fiscus’ name was used)

Dr. Fiscus responded, saying she did not send it to herself, pointing out that she was the one who asked for the investigation, and that the 2nd Amazon account was created using a burner phone in Washington state, where she has not been.

The Fiscus family has openly shared the state’s findings, and says they have asked for an unredacted version of the report. Dr. Fiscus also released a follow up statement, and did an interview with Channel 5 where she pointed out that the state had her credit card on file and could easily have set her up if they so desired.

It seems clear 1 of 2 things happened here: Either Dr. Fiscus lied, sent herself a muzzle to garner sympathy, and asked for an investigation thinking she would never get caught by something as simple as a subpoena to Amazon… or someone at the state intentionally sent her the muzzle with her own card so that it would come out and look like she did that to discredit all the other things she has said about Governor Lee’s administration and health department.

Dr. Fiscus says those who already think she did this won’t listen to her side of the story anyway, which is likely true.

To believe the latter version you’d have to believe this administration was also capable of handing out military promotions to get private school vouchers passed… or that other close Republican pals of Lee were under FBI investigation for campaign finance issues… or that they had handed out no-bid contracts like candy throughout the pandemic to the tune of around $500 MILLION… had people peeing on a fellow Republican’s chair… framed civil rights activists and had them charged with 14 different counts… or felonized protestors for wanting equality and justice… had a trooper lie about a megaphone color to get a leading activist imprisoned

Bottom line: You can disbelieve Dr. Fiscus, but if you think Tennessee Republicans are above framing a doctor who was taking a sledgehammer to their credibility using nothing but the truth, to discredit her in the eyes of the state, and the country… you simply haven’t been paying attention.

?REV. LAWSON CALLS OUT GOV. LEE

?Rev. Lawson: “GOVERNOR LEE, YOU HAVE A HOLE DOWN THE MIDDLE OF YOUR SOUL.”

Rev. Lawson, who led the lunch counter sit-ins, called out Governor Lee at the John Lewis Way celebration for his immoral decision-making — challenging Lee to lead with heart & humanity instead.

 

DR. LEWIS: “Knee-Jerk Reactions Will Harm Tennessee’s Children”

“Knee-Jerk Reactions Will Harm Tennessee’s Children”

An Op-Ed from Dr. Terri Lewis of Tennessee

In recent days, the contingent of state legislative anti-vaxxers successfully browbeat the Tennessee Department of Health into cancelling childhood vaccine outreach programs – not just for COVID19, but for all routine childhood immunization programs.

On face, it appears that the TN Dept of Health, responsible for public health in 89 of Tennessee’s 95 counties excluding major metropolitan areas where local agencies wield more authority, will no longer conduct public outreach for any preventable childhood communicable disease.

‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ seems to be the new public health strategy.

Tennessee lags behind the nation in all measures of disease prevention through vaccination. As of July 13, the number of fully vaccinated Tennesseans for COVID settled at 2,599,234 or 38.06% of the population. Overall, Tennessee ranks 33rd among the 50 states with a childhood vaccination rate of 79.9% against a population of 6,944,260. Tennessee currently meets HP2030 targets for 2 out of 3 vaccination-related measures for 24-month old children.

But there are significant gaps.

Many of Tennessee’s children have not completed the entire series of vaccines for preventable illnesses in the last decade. Minority children are less likely to be fully immunized. Some parents refused any and all routine immunizations.

Progress toward meeting vaccination rates for children up to the age of 24 months is located on theTNDOH website [1].

As concerning is the announcement by Dr. Tim Jones, Chief Medical Officer, that henceforth, no vaccination efforts will be conducted for routine childhood vaccines, with the HPV vaccine particularly singled out.

No outreach includes “pre-planning” for flu shots events at schools and back to school vaccines, and by inference, routine immunizations for infants, toddlers, teens and college students. Responsibility for back to school vaccines will become the responsibility of the Tennessee Dept of Education, not the TNDOH.

The elements of a successful outreach effort are well documented.

First, parental and community education and messaging around the safety, efficacy, and importance of childhood immunization is essential to ensure that children receive the full complement of preventive vaccines. With the gap in health insurance coverage for children this is an important function of the TNDOH at the county level across the state.

Second, there must be ready access to immunizations at every opportunity. The percent of children without health insurance increased from 5.2% in 2018 to 5.7% in 2019, with Hispanic children most represented in the childhood insurance coverage gap [2]. By fall of 2020, 9% of Tennessee children were uninsured, more than twice the level at the same time in 2019, according to the Vanderbilt Center for Child Health Policy[3]. Brief periods of being uninsured can have long-term effects on the health of children and their achievement in school… children who lose their insurance miss important immunizations and go months with major unaddressed problems…” [J. Zickafoose, MD, MS, Monroe Carrell Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt]. Children who fall into the coverage gap are least likely to receive preventive care.

Third, reliable and readily accessible immunization records that provide a non-duplicated reflection of on-time immunizations are important for ensuring an accurate personal history for personal health management. This responsibility lies with health providers, not the Tennessee Department of Education. Lack of health coverage will magnify the negative impact of the childhood coverage gap where the health system fails to conduct routine outreach.

Finally, preventable childhood diseases are on the rise with the reduction in vaccination rates. Uninsured children are particularly vulnerable. When compared with privately insured children, uninsured children have more health disadvantages including need for medical or dental care; greater severity of illness, more hospitalizations and higher mortality rates; more vaccine-preventable disease; and higher rates of chronic illness such as asthma and diabetes [4].

The announced actions that resulted decisions to termination vaccine program leadership and cease immunization program outreach will have harmful effects resulting in tangible, measurable harms to Tennessee’s children and youth.

I strongly encourage the re-examination of these knee-jerk reactions to pressures exercised from certain sectors of the population.

[1] https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/health/documents/cedep-weeklyreports/2020-24-Month-Old-Survey.pdf

[2] https://www.aappublications.org/news/2020/12/01/researchupdate120120

[3] https://www.vumc.org/health-policy/tennessee-poll-uninsured-kids-covid19-2020

[4] https://www.americashealthrankings.org/explore/health-of-women-and-children/measure/Uninsured_children/state/TN

Dr. Terri Lewis

Silver Point, TN

Global Immunization Action Network Team

https://www.giant-int.org/

 

 

 

@TheTNHoller