One Democratic leader in the Tennessee House is questioning the need for a special session to address education topics.
State Representative Vincent Dixie (D-Nashville), chairman of the Democratic House Caucus, is skeptical, Fox 17 News reported.
“We have an ongoing cause to fix the learning loss accountability teacher pay. The things the governor is calling for in a special session is what we do in a regular session. If you’re going to call a special session is how do we protect Tennesseans? How do we make their lives better? Are we going to issue a mask mandate?”
Governor Bill Lee on Tuesday called for the Tennessee General Assembly to convene for a special legislative session on January 19 to address “urgent issues facing Tennessee students and schools in the 2021-22 school year,” according to a a story by The Tennessee Star.
Lee said on his Facebook page Tuesday that the special session will address learning loss, funding, accountability, literacy, and teacher pay.
Lee said preliminary data projects an estimated 50 percent decrease in proficiency rates in 3rd grade reading and a projected 65 percent decrease in proficiency in math. This exacerbates issues that existed prior to the pandemic, where only one-third of Tennessee third graders were reading on grade level.
Some have questioned the Lee administration’s numbers, which were announced in September.
The numbers are based on a report released in April, only a couple of weeks after Tennessee schools closed over fears of the coronavirus, WMC reported. The data was from NWEA, a research firm, which did a national sampling in 2017-2018.
State Representative Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis) called that misleading.
“I think it’s a justification to force students back into the classrooms,” Parkinson said. “Not one time did they request data, actual data, from the superintendents or from the school districts to justify the numbers or the claims that they were making.”