Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed Metro Nashville Public School Board member from District Six, Fran Bush, in-studio, who highlighted Tuesday night’s parental school board meeting as teachers’ unions seem more concerned about political mask mandates than addressing the decline in student performance and the need to recover learning loss incurred by the pandemic.
Leahy: Let us welcome to our microphones in studio, my favorite member of the Metro Nashville Public School Board, that voice of common sense in a sea of left-wing lunacy, and our very good friend, Fran Bush. Good morning, Fran.
Bush: Good morning, everyone. Thanks for having me.
Leahy: I am astonished at what good humor you are in this morning. You stayed up. There was another meeting of the group on which you are the only voice of common sense on the Metro Nashville Public School Board. Last night – it was until midnight correct?
Bush: We voted on our mask mandate last Thursday.
Leahy: And there were eight lunatics who voted, despite the science, which says no proven efficacy of stopping the transmission of COVID-19 by cloth masks. Eight lunatics, your colleagues, they’re all lunatics, by the way, Fran on the Metro Nashville School Board voted for it.
Bush: It’s so unfortunate.
Leahy: And then there was one shining voice of reason and common sense. That, Fran, would be you. You voted against it.
Bush: I voted against it. I listen to the parents and I listen to science. I am not a medical doctor.
Leahy: And you don’t play one when you come into the studio on the radio.
Bush: Exactly. I am very transparent in my stance that parents should have a choice. It is not my job as a school board member to make those kinds of decisions when it comes to medical choices for your children.
It’s not my job. Every family dynamic is different. I have always said that parents need to advise their doctors, go and get that advice if that was an option, and if their children need to be in masks.
I have received so many phone calls, emails about children that have compromised medical situations from parents of Metro Nashville Public School kids. And I have literally cried on some of those calls just because I felt like I was helpless and I could not do anything about it.
It’s very frustrating because we don’t know their situation. And, yes, COVID is real. I will not say that safety is not a priority. But what I’m saying is that it has to be about choice.
Leahy: Yeah. Yeah. Fran, last night, you had another school board meeting. What terrible policy were they trying to implement last night?
Bush: Well, last night was public participation. Last Thursday, we did not give the community or the public an opportunity to speak.
Leahy: – To your left-wing lunatic colleagues. Your authoritarian left-wing lunatic colleagues who voted eight to one to impose the mask mandates did it without asking the parents for their input.
Leahy: So after they did that …
Bush: After they did that, then fast forward. Last night was public participation. It allowed from both sides if they oppose or they are for the mask mandate. And, of course, our wonderful Mayor Cooper …
Leahy: So Mayor Cooper showed up.
Bush: No, he didn’t. He did not show up.
Leahy: But because it wasn’t important enough for him to show up.
Bush: No. Not to explain to the parents in this city why he decided to put a mask mandate on our metro building.
Leahy: On your metro buildings. Wouldn’t explain it.
Bush: Dr. Battle had come together and formed some type of agreement so that she can get her way with this mask mandate. So she needs him to be able to enforce a mandate on metro buildings so that it could be confirmed.
Leahy: So tell us about the evening. How did it begin? How many people were there? What did you hear? Where did it happen?
Bush: It happened at the school board. We always had public participation at the school board. And we started at about 5:00 pm.
Leahy: Where is that located, by the way, physically?
Bush: It is on Bransford Avenue, near the fairgrounds. And you had both sides. You had those who were against the masks and those were for the masks. We had teachers come out and speak about how they are for the masks.
Leahy: Are all the teachers for the masks?
Bush: Keep in mind, we have the teachers’ union.
Leahy: So the teachers’ union wants a mask.
Bush: What I’ve seen is that it’s always driven by the teachers’ union as far as some of these decisions that are being made. And to me, that’s kind of a force behind some of the decisions that are made.
Leahy: So the teachers’ unions, the political allies of the Democratic Party, are basically running the school system in some regards.
Bush: It’s unfortunate because this is not about – what I’ve learned with the teachers’ union, it’s about protecting the teachers, not really the students.
Yes, they do serve our students. But the union mostly makes these types of abrupt decisions because they don’t like it or they want something different, and despite what parents want, and this is the problem that we’re having.
The problem that we’re having is that parents are not empowered anymore. They feel that they don’t have a voice.
And that’s the problem, the reason why we have such a combative division among families is that they just feel like that ever since last year when they made the decision, remember, they made the decision and gave parents options to go virtual or go in person.
And that never happened. So we never can stick to a plan. And I think it’s become very frustrating for parents. And it’s really embarrassing for the city to have our education system be so divided.
Leahy: And let’s be honest. Not only is it divided, but it also performs terribly by any measurement of reading, writing, and arithmetic.
Bush: Yes. We are in such a crisis mode right now just to help mitigate these learning losses of our children. And we have a long way to go instead of us focusing on a mask mandate.
And I’ve heard this from teachers that are not a part of the union, or if they are, they are standing up and saying we’re worried about the wrong thing.
We have a problem here. We are in a resuscitation mode of getting these children back on track. Instead of focusing on the right thing, we’re focusing all on this political mask mandate.
Leahy: Your meeting began at 5:00 pm you say?
Leahy: When did you have dinner if you started at 5:00 pm and you ended it close to midnight? People were probably hungry and irritable by the end of that meeting.
Bush: By the end of the night, you just kind of have to pick and choose what you are going to eat.
Leahy: Was it about six and a half hours or so?
Bush: Yes. These meetings can get really long.
Leahy: Bless you, Fran Bush, (Bush chuckles) for doing this. Because I’m trying to think how long – I can do a radio show for three hours. But that’s basically, I’d be talking with friends.
I think I couldn’t last about five minutes maybe at one of those meetings. I would be just, like, get me out of here. Totally, get me out of here. How do you do that?
Bush: Yes. It’s very frustrating to see your colleagues, as you said over and over again, it’s all about common sense knowledge. And common sense is not common sense anymore, right?
Leahy: They don’t have any common sense.
Bush: None. And the problem that I have seen is that we’re allowing our one employee to get away with everything.
Leahy: The director of schools.
Bush: Dr. Adrienne Battle. Whatever she says, that’s what they go with. Their goal is just to protect and make sure that she leads the way she wants to lead. And it’s not always in the right direction.
Leahy: So this is me talking, not you. It’s almost always in exactly the wrong direction because the school performance of kids is going down, down, down, down. Indoctrination, going up, up, up, up.
The craziness and silliness of budgets are out of control. It’s a mess now. So how many parents showed up and what sort of opportunities did they have to talk?
Bush: They get three minutes to talk. And I would say in the room, we probably had – we had about 48 people signed up for the public participation.
Leahy: 48 people wanted to talk. How many were in the audience?
Bush: It was about, I would say, 70 people in the audience.
Leahy: So not that many.
Bush: Not that many.
Leahy: Let’s just say 50 people signed up to talk. Three minutes each. That’s 115 minutes.
Bush: Right. Almost two hours.
Leahy: That’s a long time.
Bush: It goes by pretty fast because people have three minutes. And everybody’s trying to put so much into three minutes. So people are getting their points. Some go over time, but it kind of got a little contentious.
Leahy: Oh, it got a little contentious? Tell me what sticks in your mind as the most contentious element of this meeting last night.
Bush: Get a little contentious. Well, you have those that were very upset about their children being in a mask. So you had people that came maskless and eventually, Christiane Buggs, the chair said, oh, Mayor Cooper has this mask mandate on our metro buildings, and this is a metro building.
So in order for you to continue to speak, we’re going to stop this meeting, and you’re going to have to put on the mask to speak, or you have to leave. So security comes.
Leahy: Now, this is getting interesting. Okay, so this stupid rule that our mayor puts: you’ve got to have a mask. And you can’t speak unless you have a mask. Correct?
Leahy: And so some people who didn’t have masks took exception to this, right?
Bush: They were very frustrated and angry.
Leahy: And did the security come in and cart them out?
Bush: Yes, there was some outburst as they were leaving a room. Those who wanted to speak eventually put the mask on. But, of course, the voices were heard about that. It’s just so frustrating to see how ridiculous this is.
Leahy: The lunacy.
Bush: Yes. This is just too messy. It’s too ridiculous.
Leahy: Fran, when we come back, we’ll talk more about your voice of common sense in the land of lunacy in the Metro Nashville Public School boards.
Listen to the full second hour here:
– – –
Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Fran Bush” by Fran Bush Facebook. Background Photo “MNPS” by Metro Nashville Public Schools.