Tennessee governor calls for special session focused on education

Tennessee governor calls for special session focused on education

Gov. Bill Lee called Tuesday for a special legislative session next month to focus on escalating challenges with Tennessee education during the pandemic.
The Republican governor wants the newly elected 112th General Assembly to convene on Jan. 19 to look specifically at education before taking up other business during its regular session.
He’ll ask the legislature to address state testing challenges next spring during the pandemic, as well as funding for teacher pay and schools for the following academic year. Also on the agenda will be initiatives to address learning loss and a comprehensive literacy package to improve students’ reading proficiency.
“We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused immense disruption for Tennessee’s students, educators, and districts, and the challenges they face must be addressed urgently,” Lee said in a statement. “Even before the virus hit, and despite years of improvement, too many of our state’s students were still unable to read on grade level. I’m calling on the legislature to join us in addressing these serious issues so we can equip our hardworking educators and districts with the resources and supports they need to set our students on the path to success.”
Legislative leaders said they support the special session.
“Tennessee has made tremendous improvements in education over the last decade. The virus has begun to put all of that at risk,” said Lt. Gov. Randy McNally. “It is of paramount importance that we take steps to reverse the learning loss that has taken place and prevent any further erosion of our progress.”
House Speaker Cameron Sexton said a statewide response is necessary to blunt the pandemic’s impact on education. “Our goal is to make sure students are learning in the classroom, teachers have the resources they need, and our students have additional assistance in their educational journeys to improve their chances of success,” Sexton said.
Tennessee’s last special session was in August after the governor called legislators back to Nashville for a week. They passed protections to businesses from lawsuits arising from the coronavirus and new penalties for protesters camped on state property to demand racial justice.
This developing story will be updated.

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