NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – It’s yet another first, during a time of many, for Amanda Kail President of the Metro Nashville Education Association. “I have disagreed with school board members for years. I have never had to block one so she would stop attacking me and other teachers.”
Kail referring to a post that started a war of words on her personal Facebook page between teachers and Metro Nashville Public School Board Member, Fran Bush. “I just wanted to remind people that people, not buildings, are what’s most important,” said Kail.
The original post read: Stop it. Stop saying your priority is to “reopen schools”. Start saying it’s to make sure students and school employees are safe period.
Kail said the post was in response to Governor Bill Lee, and other elected officials, renewed calls for in-person learning.
Bush, an outspoken supporter for in-person learning, responded with a comment that reads: “Enough of your bull! We are going to reopen in person soon. Either you want to teach or quit your day job with MNPS, I am sick of your tactics and your agenda. Our kids deserve better than this and they will not be held as pawns to your demands. Girl bye.”
“It’s unacceptable,” Kail says. “Teachers have enough to put up with. We don’t need a board member going out there and threatening and bullying teachers.”
Teachers, Kail says, who were expressing safety concerns. “To say if you don’t like it you should quit. You’re just having a pity party. In Rutherford they’ve lost what, four teachers at this point to COVID. You can’t belittle that stuff.”
Bush believes backing in-person learning in best for students. “We are headed down a long tunnel, with no light at the end if we don’t do something now. We have to get these students back on track, emotionally, physically, [and] academically.”
Calls for safety seemingly overshadowed because, Bush feels, the opinions of those in the online chat don’t reflect the majority. “I’m not going to say all these teachers are in this union. They’re not. A majority of our teachers want to get back into the classroom. To see what I saw in the posts, it was very upsetting.”
Bush referring to the back and forth that lasted for hours online.
“Are you asking teachers, who don’t support in-person learning, to quit?” asks News 2’s Alex Denis. “Like with any job,” Bush responds, “if you start to get disgruntled that’s not the environment that an employer wants to see. I worry about the kids.”
It’s time to learn to live with COVID Bush continues. “If we were in Phase 1 or 2, that’s different. But this city is open for business. The science has said schools are not super spreaders. It’s time for us to start finding a way to work with it and stop complaining about it.”
Bush’s tough approach sparked another school board member, Rachael Elrod, to interject.
Her post reads: “As a MNPS Board Member and the Vice Chair of the board, any harassment, threats, or taunting of our teachers or staff by board members is unacceptable. Thank you to all MNPS teachers and staff for your continued dedication to our students and families, especially since March. I am grateful for your work and deeply appreciate you.”
“Do you believe you were harassing, threatening and taunting teachers?” Denis asks.
“No. Absolutely not.”
“Do you stand by what you said?” Denis continues.
“It’s never intended to cause any controversy. As adults, we’re going to agree to disagree and sometimes it may not come out perfect. The students need help, and they need the support. They don’t have a voice and parents feel like they don’t have the power anymore to be parents.”
That doesn’t sit well with Kail. “[Bush] asked teachers on social media, several times, where they worked. She made hints that if they want to continuing working, that they should come to her side.
Disagreement is a part of a healthy democracy. That’s a different conversation than to go onto social media to tell teachers if they don’t like it, they should quit. That’s not productive at all.”
For those reasons, Kail submitted a complaint to the MNPS School District Ethics Committee.
Bush plans to discuss ways to get students safely back into the classroom at Tuesday’s School Board meeting.