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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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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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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Americans Are Ending the Lockdown, Despite Orders from Elected Officials

by Chris White   Americans are venturing out more to fast food restaurants, gas stations and public places even as health experts and government officials demand extending economic lockdowns, location data show. People are back to visiting gas stations and fast food restaurants at pre-COVID-19 levels, according to location data…

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3D Printing Presents Possible Solution to Personal Protective Equipment Shortage

Mayo Clinic announced last week that it is exploring the possibility of 3D printing face masks and other personal protective equipment items to employ in the national fight against COVID-19.

The famous clinic said its 3D Anatomic Modeling Laboratories across the country as well as its Division of Engineering are working together to “reverse-engineer, 3D-print and machine solutions for patient care.”

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Coders Building Database Need Health Care Workers to Report Coronavirus Testing Sites So They Can Provide Data to Officials Battling Disease

A coalition of computer coders and medical experts is looking for volunteers — including from the Volunteer State — to help provide better information on COVID-19 coronavirus testing sites.

TechCrunch reported on the one-week-old Coders Against Covid project, which is building a database of testing sites. The team of about 15 developers includes Andrew Kemendo of KesselRun, an Air Force software developer, and Dr. Jorge A. Caballero, a clinical instructor of Anesthesia at Stanford University. The goal is to inform officials tracking the disease and to better distribute the tests where they are needed.

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Biden Dominates Super Tuesday States, Upsets Sanders in Minnesota

Former Vice President Joe Biden defeated Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) Tuesday night in Minnesota’s Democratic primary, a shocking upset in what was a tough night for the Vermont socialist.

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‘Democrats Are Attacking Freedom,’ Rep. Mark Green Says of Democrats’ Impeachment Efforts

U.S. Rep. Dr. Mark Green (R-TN-07) has a lot to say about Democrats’ efforts to impeach President Donald Trump, which he says is an effort to reverse “the will of the people.”

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Commentary: Senators Blackburn and Hawley Want to Move Washington Out of Washington

What do you suppose the Alliance for American Advertising has in common with the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, the American Society of Civil Engineers, or American Apparel and Footwear? Apart from beginning with the letter “A,” they are among the nearly 3,500 trades or firms that have dedicated lobbying operations in Washington, D.C.

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Minneapolis’ Frey and St. Paul’s Carter Among the 235 Mayors Demanding U.S. Senate Return to Washington to Enact Gun Control

More than 200 mayors from across the country sent a letter to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), urging them to immediately call the Senate back to Washington, D.C. to take action on gun control legislation.

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Mark Green Files Legislation to Allow Taxpayers to Designate Funds on IRS Form to a Border Wall Trust Fund to Build a Wall

  U.S. Rep. Dr. Mark Green (R-TN-07) announced he introduced legislation Thursday that would replace the Presidential Election Campaign Fund checkbox on the IRS 1040 with a Border Wall Trust Fund checkbox to allow taxpayers to designate their tax money toward building a southern border wall. “Taxpayer dollars should never…

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Supreme Court Strikes Down Tennessee Liquor Law

  The Supreme Court ruled against a Tennessee law that requires people to live in the state for two years before acquiring a retail license to sell alcohol. The court’s 7-2 decision ruled that Tennessee’s law had violated the Constitution’s Commerce Clause, which gives Congress the power “to regulate Commerce with…

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Report: 44 Percent of Twin Cities Residents Considered ‘Post-Christian’

  A new study released this month found that the Northeast region of America is the most “post-Christian” area of the country. The study, conducted by Barna research, is part of an ongoing survey of Americans based on a random sample of 21,378 adults conducted over a ten-year period. To…

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US Records 71 New Measles Cases Last Week as Outbreak Spreads

Reuters   The United States recorded 71 new measles cases last week, a 13 percent increase as the country faces its second-worst outbreak of the disease in almost two decades, federal health officials said on Monday. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it had recorded 626 cases…

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Tennessee Man Allegedly Pulled Gun On Sam’s Club Customer For Wearing MAGA Hat

by Andrew Kerr   A Tennessee man faces a charge of first-degree wanton endangerment after allegedly pulling a gun on a Sam’s Club customer in Kentucky for wearing a Make America Great Again hat. James Phillips, 57 (pictured above), told police he made an obscene gesture with his finger towards…

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Dr. Carol M. Swain Commentary: Shouting your Abortion is a Desperate Cry for Help

by Dr. Carol M. Swain   Last month marked the 46th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, two landmark Supreme Court decisions that legalized abortion in all 50 states. Since the legalization of abortion, more than 60 million unborn babies have been aborted. One of those babies was mine. More than 40 years ago, I made…

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David Fowler Commentary: Is this the Beginning of the End for Public Schools?

by David Fowler   Have public schools run their course? Just asking that question will irritate a lot of people, Christians included. But I think we have to ask the question, given an announcement last week by the Nashville Chamber of Commerce relative to what it wants from public education.…

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Marsha Blackburn Says Voters Sent Her To DC To Secure The Border

by Nick Givas   Republican Sen.-elect Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee said voters sent her to Washington to help secure the U.S. southern border, on “America’s Newsroom” Wednesday. “Let me tell you something. There is an acronym for the word team. My mom used it with me growing up. Together everyone…

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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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