NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Gov. Bill Lee has announced he was calling for a special legislative session to address education challenges that have popped up amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Lee said on Tuesday that the GOP-dominant Legislature will convene at the Capitol on Jan. 19 to address a handful of legislative proposals, but he did not detail how long it will last.
Lee is asking lawmakers to take up five issues: learning, funding, accountability, literacy and teacher pay. More details will be released by the Department of Education.
Lt. Gov. Randy McNally has tweeted his support for the session:
I appreciate @GovBillLee calling this special session to draw our focus on the pressing needs of education in this state. @tnsenate will work w/ @TNHouseReps & the Admin to address these issues in an expeditious & efficient manner to the benefit of our students and our teachers.— Randy McNally (@ltgovmcnally) December 29, 2020
In a release, the state says that preliminary data projects an estimated 50% decrease in proficiency rates in 3rd grade reading and a projected 65% decrease in proficiency in math, exacerbating issues that existed prior to the pandemic, where only one third of Tennessee third graders were reading on grade level.
“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,” said Gov. Lee. “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.”