Tennessee - If you are wondering what it looks like when school privatizers are close to total victory, Tennessee is a prime example. Here, the forces that want to take public money and hand it over to private entities are on the verge of completing their conquest. Tennessee’s current legislative session features a range of attacks on public schools. Some of these would have immediate impacts, while others take a longer-term approach to fully privatizing K-12 education in the state. First, it is important to understand that groups backing privatization in the form of charter schools and vouchers are among the top spenders when it comes to lobbying state legislators. For example, the American Federation for Children—an organization founded and previously led by the family of Betsy DeVos, a school privatization advocate and former President Donald Trump’s Secretary of Education—spent $887,500.
Tennessee’s Rutherford County, which has been widely criticized for its juvenile justice system, has been jailing Black children at a disproportionately high rate, according to newly obtained data. And, in a departure from national trends, the county’s racial disparity is getting worse, not better. In an earlier story, ProPublica and Nashville Public Radio chronicled a case in Rutherford County in which 11 Black children were arrested for a crime that does not exist. Four of the children were booked into the county’s juvenile jail. Since publishing that story, the two news organizations have received reports from the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth. This data shows that while the county was locking up so many kids — often illegally — it was also jailing an exceptionally high percentage of Black children.
It’s hard to find good climate news these days–but there’s some out of Tennessee. A company that was set to build a hotly contested oil pipeline through Black neighborhoods in Memphis said on Friday that the project is off. “The stars aligned for this fight,” Ward Archer, founder of Protect Our Aquifer, a community group fighting the pipeline, told the Memphis Appeal of the decision. “Sometimes the good guys win and this is one of those times.” The 49-mile Byhalia Connection pipeline, if it had been completed, would have run through Tennessee and Mississippi to connect two existing pipelines, eventually transporting crude oil from Texas to Louisiana for export. A spokesperson for one of the partial owners of the project, Plains All American, said in a release that their decision to drop the Byhalia project was “due to lower U.S. oil production resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Black communities in Memphis, TN are leading a growing opposition campaign to the Byhalia Connection Pipeline, a proposed crude oil pipeline funded by the fossil fuel corporations Valero and Plains All American. Byhalia has yet to receive a crucial federal permit for the project, lacks local government approvals, and has not acquired all necessary easements for the pipeline route. Advocates argue that there is ample local authority to block the pipeline project. In an interview, Wyatt Price, a supervising land agent for Plains All American, said: “We took, basically, a point of least resistance” in reference to siting the project through Southwest Memphis, highlighting the concerns of locals who believe that they were targeted because of the racial and economic composition of the area.
Nashville, TN - A social justice group out of Knoxville, Tennessee made the trek to the State Capitol building on Tuesday, demanding that lawmakers take immediate action on issues like Medicare for all, and the fight for racial equality. This comes on the first day of the legislative session. Earlier Tuesday afternoon when the demonstration was still happening, the rally organizers said their groups wasn't as big as they had hoped it would be, partly because of what happened at the U.S. Capitol last week. But despite their small numbers, they say their message carried big importance. "What's that spell? Black Lives Matter! What's that spell? Black Lives Matter! What's that spell? Black Lives Matter!" demonstrators chanted.
A middle school educator in Knoxville, Tennessee recently came forward to speak with the World Socialist Web Site about the unsafe conditions at her school. Knox County currently has nearly 13,000 cases of COVID-19 and 92 deaths, making it the third most affected county in the state, behind Shelby (Memphis) and Davidson (Nashville) counties. With the abandonment of even the most rudimentary safety measures at schools and other workplaces, cases in Tennessee have continued to surge in recent months. October has been the state’s deadliest month of the pandemic, with over 700 succumbing to the virus.
Tennessee - In June, large crowds of Black Lives Matter protesters occupied the plaza in front of Tennessee's State Capitol, where inside, a 44-inch bust of the first Klu Klux Klan Grand Wizard, Nathan Bedford Forrest, has sat still in his bronze bearing for over 40 years. A line of state troopers stood silently on the other side of the encampment, making arrests and dragging protesters away. Those who remained chained themselves to the property, chanting and playing Kendrick Lamar through loudspeakers, annoying representatives inside the capitol, and making it clear—they were not leaving until the immortalizing bust of the KKK's first leader was removed or Governor Bill Lee would meet with them.
Tennessee protesters will face harsh penalties, including losing the right to vote, as punishment for participating in protests under a law enacted by the Tennessee GOP-dominant General Assembly. Right-wing Governor Bill Lee quietly signed off on the bill Thursday, AP reports. Under the new law, demonstrators who camp on state property can now be charged with a Class E felony, punishable by up to six years in prison, rather than a misdemeanor it was previously. Since George Floyd’s killing earlier this year, protesters have camped outside the Tennessee Capitol in Nashville, demanding a meeting with the governor to discuss racial inequality and police brutality. The protesters set up camp in War Memorial Plaza near the Capitol, naming it the “People’s Plaza” and “Ida B. Wells Plaza,” after the civil rights leader. They stayed there 24 hours a day for more than two months.
The Tennessee legislature passed a sweeping proposal on Wednesday that would increase penalties against some protesters who have camped outside the statehouse in Nashville for months demanding racial justice and an end to police brutality. State lawmakers in the majority-white Tennessee General Assembly passed the measure in a nearly party-line vote in both chambers. The bill, which is now headed to Republican Gov. Bill Lee’s desk, would punish those who illegally camp on state property — as protesters have outside the state Capitol for months — with a Class E felony rather than a misdemeanor. Class E felonies are punishable by up to six years in prison in Tennessee.
At least five GM workers were arrested on the picket line this morning in Spring Hill, Tennessee for attempting to block a car-hauling truck from leaving the plant with new GM vehicles, presumably built before the strike started. Eyewitness video posted to Facebook shows two pickets, one male and one female, being cuffed by police on the picket line, while several other workers stand in front of a stopped semi-truck at the entrance to GM’s Spring Hill Assembly plant near Nashville. The male was later identified to the WSWS Autoworker Newsletter as Tim Stannard, president of UAW Local 1853.
NASHVILLE — On Thursday September 5, 2019, an Immigration Customs and Enforcement agent approached three men in a white work van parked in the Food Lion located in Antioch, TN. The Food Lion parking lot is used as an informal rideshare parking. Neighbors have expressed fear and anxiety over the fact that ICE has escalated a civil matter into the use of deadly force. The MIX denounces terrorizing of community members, using lethal force against our neighbors, and calls on our local elected officials to end cooperation with ICE.
Despite mounting challenges from a state keen on welcoming white supremacists, antifascist activists are learning that deep organizing is the way they win. A wooden bridge guarded by two well-armed park rangers was all that separated us from more than 60 of the most infamous national and international white supremacists. It was the last weekend of June, and they had come to Montgomery Bell State Park in Burns, Tennessee for the National Solutions Conference, a gathering of “race realism” organizations from around the world.
For the third time in five years, auto workers will vote on whether to form a union at the country’s sole Volkswagen plant, located in Chattanooga, Tennessee. On Tuesday, the United Auto Workers (UAW) filed for an election to represent all 1,709 of the plant’s hourly employees, requesting that the election be held on April 29 and 30. The union’s first attempt in 2014 failed after a slim majority of workers voted no, following a barrage of threats by politicians and business-backed anti-union groups. In the second attempt, a group of 160 skilled-trades workers in the plant in 2015 voted to join UAW Local 42.
Weary of standardized testing and underfunded schools, and alarmed by the prospect of education vouchers and charter expansion in Tennessee, a group of teacher leaders have organized a new statewide coalition and say they are “ready to fight for the schools our students deserve.” The coalition, called TN Teachers United, launched last week after meeting with two teachers who helped organize statewide walkouts last year in Arizona and West Virginia.
In addition to these reforms to the TVA Act, the paper also proposes that the federal government authorize and appropriate money to the TVA so that it can subsidize the price of its carbon-free electricity in order to ensure that it is competitive with carbon-based energy sources. This would ensure that electricity ratepayers do not directly shoulder the costs of the proposed clean energy build out. The TVA, which was originally established during FDR’s New Deal, is the largest public power company in the country. In the last fiscal year, it produced and sold 160 billion kWh of electricity, which generated $11.2 billion of revenue and $1.1 billion of profit.