Governor talks about keeping “best and brightest” teachers in Tennessee classrooms

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Governor Bill Lee this week pledged new support to help keep what he called “the best and brightest” teachers in Tennessee schools.

“We ought to have some of the best public schools in America,” Governor Lee told a standing room only crowd at the influential downtown Nashville Rotary Club where he has been a member.

His words come after a successful push earlier this year for vouchers which will affect only a few thousand of Tennessee’s nearly million K-12 students. 

His voucher plan called Education Savings Accounts or ESAs provides students at underperforming schools in Nashville and Memphis around $7300 dollars yearly in public education money for a private school.

The governor now says there will be a focus on helping teachers.

“Make big plans for, which we are doing, to attract the best and brightest teachers, to support those teachers in a meaningful way so that we are better than other states in how we support our teachers,” the governor told the Rotary Club.

Good teachers leaving smaller rural schools for better-paying jobs in larger districts–or leaving education all together–has long been a Tennessee problem, but the governor on Monday made a pledge about public education.

“As governor, I want you to know that is going to be a major priority of mine and a focus both financially and from a policy standpoint,” Lee told the Rotary Club which invites governors at least once a year for a speech.

The governor added that Tennessee “ought not to be ranked 38th in the country” when it comes to K-12 education, but added the state can have some of the best public schools in America with what he called “a lot of work.”

How these broad strokes are boiled down into an agenda or policy will be an issue to watch in next month’s budget hearings from the governor before the legislative session begins in January.

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