More than 1,400 Metro Nashville Public Schools teachers and school staff scoffed at receiving a 3 percent pay raise and called out sick Friday, WKRN said.
A total of 1,093 teachers and over 400 staff members from at least 18 schools called out. McGavock High School was one of the hardest hit, with 125 of 141 teachers staying home, WKRN said. Metro Nashville Public Schools denied all the absences were due to the strike.
Mayor David Briley proposed a 3 percent raise during his State of Metro speech Tuesday, WKRN said. Teachers had demanded a 10 percent increase.
The proposed city budget is $2.33 billion, a 4.55 percent increase over the current year, Nashville Public Radio said. Briley is calling for $101.5 million in new spending, with most going to Metro Schools ($28.2 million), salaries ($23.3 million) and debt service ($44.1 million).
Mayoral candidate Carol Swain said in a press release she stands with the 1,400-plus teachers.
“MNPS’s sickout is another glaring symptom of a broken system,” Swain said. “As Nashville’s next mayor, I would work with teachers, parents, school board members and other stakeholders to identify and creatively address the broken system where teachers and low-wage employees have become afterthoughts. ”
“Mayor Briley should have cut spending and prioritized a 6-10% raise for all Metro employees,” Swain said. “As mayor, I will do everything in my power to ensure that Metro employees are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve. No employee should work in fear or suffer financial instability because of misplaced priorities.”
Some McGavock students also supported their absent teachers.
Some pleaded for the raises, NewsChannel 5 reported. One high school student said, “I wish that they would just allocate the funds to give our teachers the raises they deserve.”
Last month, The Tennessee Star reported on efforts by Tennessee Education Report, an activist group blog, to encourage strikes.
Andy Spears is the head of the Tennessee Education Report.
“Teachers in West Virginia, Arizona, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Los Angeles have experienced some level of success in recent strikes. Teachers in Virginia were on strike today. These strikes have earned the support of parents and community members and have yielded tangible results both in terms of new investments in schools and increased political power for teachers,” Spears wrote in a January article titled, “When are teacher strikes coming to Tennessee?”
The encouragement came despite the fact that teacher strikes are illegal in Tennessee per Tennessee Code Annotated 49-5-606.
In response to allegations that the sick out was illegal, Swain told The Star, “I suspect the teachers will be back in their classrooms on Monday. This strikes me as a form of speech rather than an illegal strike.”
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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.
Photo “David Briley” by David Briley. Background Photo “Andrew Jackson Elementary School” by Andrew Jackson Elementary School.