JC Bowman: Recently Appointed Tennessee Commissioner of Education Lizzette Gonzalez Reynolds to Bring a New Perspective

May 10, 2023

Live from Music Row, Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed JC Bowman of Professional Educators of Tennessee in studio to discuss the unique perspective that the new Commissioner of Education Lizzette Gonzalez Reynolds will bring to Tennessee.

Leahy: We are delighted to welcome to our microphones Mr. JC Bowman, the founder and president of Professional Educators of Tennessee, the alternative to the teachers union here in Tennessee. Good morning, JC.

Bowman: Hey, good morning, Michael! How are you doing today?

Leahy: I want to thank you for something because I think in the education space, in Tennessee, I don’t think there’s anyone more connected to people who are the players in education in the state of Tennessee than you, as far as I can tell. And everybody talks to you. Everybody likes you. Not everybody likes The Tennessee Star, I’m sorry to say. I know it’s a shock. I know you’re shocked by that.

Bowman: Completely baffled by that.

Leahy: But we reached out to former State Representative Bill Dunn. We’ve had this program on the air for over four years, and we have yet to have any representative from the Tennessee Department of Education come on the program.

We’ve asked, and no response. But you introduced me. I know Bill Dunn. We’ve interviewed him from time to time when he was in the Tennessee House of Representatives. He’s from Knoxville, a good guy. And he’s been working at the Tennessee Department of Education for some time.

And you re-introduced us and I said, Bill, can you come on in and, talk on air about what’s going on in the Tennessee Department of Education? Thanks to you, JC. He’s coming in next Tuesday, from 7:00 a.m. to 7:30 a.m.

Bowman: That is awesome. I’ll make sure to tune in. Let me say something about Bill Dunn. Bill and I don’t always agree. Bill and I fought head and shoulders, and I think he’ll share this with you. We fought on a bill. In fact, interestingly, the union is losing its payroll deduction this year.

Leahy: I’m so sad to hear that. I figure you are. But Bill and I actually had a bill that tried to craft it that said if you provided payroll deduction to the union, you also had to provide it to the Professional Educators or other organizations.

Leahy: Like yours.

Bowman: Like mine. Bill was against that for a long time. And he and I argued about it, but we were always cordial about it. Hey, look, we disagree, but we go on. Subsequently, he ended up championing the bill. We pass it through the House.

It blew through the House, like 83 to 17 or something or 83 to 16 or whatever the number was, and we go to the Senate, and the TEA killed the bill with all their little buddies there that they have in the Senate at the time that the supposed Republicans that come out at the end and take that gravy train TEA money that they get.

Leahy: The gravy train Tennessee Education Association money.

Bowman: And so they killed it even though they had always voted for it. And the union reaped what they sewed. The bottom line, it would’ve been in the thing that payroll deduction would’ve been a guarantee for any group that came along that represented professional employees. TEA killed that bill. And then I actually talked to the other union lobbyist and told them, I said, and he looked at it, and he goes, we screwed up.

Leahy: I’m glad they did because now they’re, they, it’s not mandatory. So let’s talk a little bit. There are some changes coming in the Department of Education. Penny Schwinn resigned. We did not shed a tear for her departure.

(Laughs) But she’s being replaced by, and I’m calling her an educational tourist because I don’t think she has spent much time in Tennessee, but want to give her a chance. Because her name is Lizzette Gonzalez Reynolds, she’ll start on July the first.

And one of the reasons we have Bill Dunn coming in on Tuesday is we want to develop that relationship so Ms. Reynolds will come on the program, and we can ask her some questions.

One of the things that I do like about her background, even though she’s never been a teacher in a classroom right, and has no experience doing anything in Tennessee, she’s from Texas, is that she’s a big champion of educational choice and ESA vouchers and charter schools as well.

Bowman: And she grew up in the poorest part of Texas. She’s from that part of Texas, where it’s a largely Hispanic area. Very poor, very poverty-driven. And so I think she’s going to bring a unique perspective on your behalf. She’s really going to be able to argue that for poor families.

Leahy: Yes. We’ll talk about the voucher program when we get back. It’s been less than modest so far.

Bowman: Oh, very less.

Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Reporwith Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “JC Bowman” by JC Bowman.
Photo “Lizzette Gonzalez Reynolds” by PIE Network.