JC Bowman Commentary: Thoughts on Bill Lee’s State of the State on Education

States are where policymaking magic happens because they can experiment with innovative policy ideas. Tennessee citizens are unsurpassed in courage, passion, determination, and kindness reflected in our diversity; that is actually why Tennessee is America at Its Best. As a state, we must set our agenda with relentless optimism and resolve toward our future. In education, we understand that there must be needed changes in school funding, including additional monies. Governor Lee’s proposal in the State of the State tonight needs much deeper review, study, and time. In Tennessee, we do not “pass the bill so people can find out what’s in it.”

The Tennessee Constitution requires the General Assembly to provide for the maintenance, support, and eligibility standards of a system of free public schools. There are many key policy levers needed to improve public education and many are interlinked. Teachers are the critical element in improving education. It’s not about more programs, more standards, or more tests. It’s about that relationship between an adult and a child. Students need an adult who believes in them and their ability to succeed in life. Moving education policy is a lot like the game Jenga. If you remove the wrong piece the structure collapses. This is especially true in education funding. Without skilled personnel, education cannot succeed.

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Commentary: ‘Woke’ Science Has No Place in Government Policymaking

“Science, at its core, is a social phenomenon.” This observation, from Alondra Nelson, the newly appointed deputy director of President Biden’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), certainly qualifies for a prominent place in the Pantheon of Inane Statements. The core of science, in fact, is the scientific method—posing and testing hypotheses; carefully gathering, examining, and generating experimental evidence; and finally, synthesizing all the available information into logical conclusions. 

Dr. Nelson’s assertion is inauspicious, but perhaps we should not be too surprised by a “squishy” statement from someone whose undergraduate degree was in sociology, while her doctorate is in “American Studies.” What, we wonder, qualifies her to be deputy director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy? And how does it comport with President Biden’s commitment to always rely on “science and truth.” We suspect it is an example of how lip service to science has invaded the domain of real science. 

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