MEMPHIS, Mo. — The results should surprise no one. Tennessee school students had significant learning loss at every grade level during the last school year. The depressing TCAP numbers show just 29% of students are doing well in English, and an even more depressing 26% are on track to master mathematics.
The reason for the dismal showing is obvious: virtual classes in most districts last year because of COVID-19 put students woefully behind, particularly in Shelby County Schools, that did not return to in person learning until March of this year.
Everyone agrees that children should be in the classroom, and districts are determined to make that happen this year. But school leaders are also committed to keeping students, faculty, and staff safe because the virus is still rampaging.
Which brings us to the mind boggling, sabre rattling comments from Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton. Monday he threatened to ask Governor Bill Lee to call a special legislative session to stop districts from requiring students to wear masks at school. And once again, we have no-nothing politicians pretending to be experts on a virus that continues to claim lives.
Masks should be a local decision. SCS already has mandated them when classes resume next week, and I hope the district sticks to it and calls Sexton’s bluff. Fighting the pandemic is bad enough. We should not be fighting grandstanding ignorance from politicians.
And that’s my point of view. I’m Otis Sanford.