The Tennessee Alliance for Equity in Education on Thursday sent a letter to state education commissioner Penny Schwinn asking for more guidance and clarity regarding COVID-19 protocols and the processes related to temporary virtual school waivers.
The collective's letter references the 25-plus districts that have closed across the state and the fact that “children represent nearly 40% of all positive [COVID-19] cases” throughout Tennessee. It also expresses concern for students who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, including students of color, English language learners, students with disabilities and those who are economically disadvantaged.
The letter was signed by more than 40 partners of the Tennessee Alliance for Equity in Education, representing organizations from Nashville and throughout the state. Both organizations and individuals can continue to endorse the letter through the alliance’s website.
Nashville’s District 8 school board representative Gini Pupo-Walker helped lead this effort as the Tennessee state director of The Education Trust, a national nonprofit that advocates for equity in education. The Education Trust in Tennessee organizes the Tennessee Alliance for Equity in Education.
Pupo-Walker says commissioner Schwinn has already responded with feedback and questions. “She basically said that some of our requests are not under her purview, and that she feels the current guidance is aligned with what we are requesting.” Pupo-Walker tells the Scene. “We are working on some follow-up questions." You can read the full letter below.