TN governor responds to criticism of third-grade retention law

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Parents and guardians are still in shock after the release of TCAP results showing thousands of people are due to send their students to summer school or tutoring next year.

“My son is on counseling right now,” said Knox County Schools parent Shelly Walker. “We went to the root because he’s having nightmares about failing third year.”

Walker says his son is emotionally and physically drained and, frankly, won’t send him to summer school.

“As a parent, I just feel like it fails in the public school system,” she said. “So I spent my weekend, last weekend, applying to all the private schools in Knoxville and trying to figure out which ones I might still be able to enroll him in as a fourth grader.”

His plan echoes that of many parents frustrated with the state’s third-grade retention law. But heads of state seem to think it’s working.

“I think we see how it works in the future,” Gov. Bill Lee (R-Tennessee) said. “I’m comfortable with where he is.”

It’s a pervasive sentiment among top Republicans.

“There could be some tweaks, but as far as the general direction of the law, I’m happy with it,” Lt. Gov. Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) said.

Lee says he is a grandparent of young children and understands the challenges and the importance of ensuring students are ready to move forward.

“We have tutoring, we have summer programs, we have new tests to make sure these third graders can, in fact, read and are ready to go before they move on to fourth grade,” he said. -he declares. “We shouldn’t push them forward if they can’t be successful in the future.”

Lee and other leading Republicans have always said that kids need to be able to read to get ahead.

“We have to make sure that the children can read. One of the worst things we can do is push a kid into school who can’t read,” Lee said. “It’s almost a certainty for their future failure.”

But parents see lawmakers making decisions without including teachers and administrators — the people on the ground. Moreover, they say that their children can read, and a test does not define it.

“Maybe they don’t care. I don’t know,” Walker said. “It seems like they don’t care because they’re sitting behind these desks forming these laws for these kids that they don’t know anything about based on this test alone.”

Walker and other parents have argued that anxiety over this law has led to disastrous results.

“He’s collapsed into a ball, crying just because he’s upset about what he has to go through next week. As a parent, we don’t know when he picks up, we don’t know what’s going on, his teachers don’t know what’s going on,” Walker said. “I don’t know his test scores, we don’t know what he missed on the test. Like none of that. None of that is shared with us.


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