Governor’s Refusal To Condemn Offensive Remarks Against Teachers Lands Him In Hot Water

Gov. Bill Lee is under fire for his refusal to rebut his friend and education advisor for his negative remarks against teachers.

By Erika Hanson | Published

National Teacher Unions Have Lost 200,000 Members

Bill Lee

Teachers are being targeted and lambasted more than ever. During a year where media outlets highlighted record sexual assault cases against students, ideologies were pushed in classrooms, and the continued failing academics in students’ grades were highlighted, teachers, in general, took the brunt of the blame for issues. At the same time, more Americans are standing up for the educators as a whole and taking to their defense. And now, Tennessee’s Governor, Bill Lee, is under fire for his failure to rebut negative remarks berating teachers, in general, made by one of his good friends. 

Lawmakers across party lines, activists, and the public, in general, are castigating the Republican Governor for his failure to condemn the negative remarks made by a charter school president recently, who was videotaped derailing against teachers to a crowd. After the footage went viral, Bill Lee addressed the comments to reporters without a word against the official, instead defending teachers and their hard work. Still, this wasn’t enough to some, who are calling on him to further vilify the comments to show that this rhetoric is not acceptable. 

The controversy stems back to a reception in which Gov. Bill Lee and his education advisor, Dr. Larry Arnn were in attendance. NewsChannel 5 revealed leaked footage from inside the closed-door event. Dr. Arnn was heard going on about how teachers are “trained in the dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges.” Additionally, he degraded teachers’ purpose saying “basically anybody can do it [the teacher’s job].” As the recording continued on during the event, Lee never remarked on Arnn’s comments, and later praised him during a Q & A.

According to reports from The Associated Press, Gov. Bill Lee later addressed the remarks from Dr. Arnn, downplaying them and suggesting that they were misconstrued. Specifically, Lee said the Hillsdale College President’s statement was more targeted at “activism from the left.” Additionally, he made sure to add in his praise for Tennesee teachers. The Press also adds that after reviewing the fool footage documenting the entire night, no mention of leftist activism was ever brought up.

From the moment this contentious footage was leaked to the public and circulated across social media people have been speaking out against Dr. Arnn’s comments, and Bill Lee’s refusal to address them. Even top Republican lawmakers in Tennessee have criticized the charter school president for speaking so illy against educators. State Republican Senate Speaker Randy McNally, was one of the politicians to speak up, calling Arnn’s hateful words “ill-conceived, unfortunate and untrue.” Republican House Speaker Cameron Sexton also criticized the act while condemning Dr. Arnn, saying he would “never agree with or support” him. He went on to add that the President insulted “generations of teachers” who have all had a major impact on the lives of students in the southern state. 

Bill Lee

Other opposers went further than both Republicans, calling for more action on part of the Governor. Some Democrats and education advocates want to see Bill Lee take further action, and condemn his friend for making those remarks against teachers. During a time when teachers are leaving the workforce at alarming rates, comments like these only serve to further push future educators away from the profession.