Live from Music Row Friday 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 Metro Nashville’s City Council Member-at-Large Steve Glover to the newsmakers line to discuss the State of the Metro Address and his dismay for the Mayor Cooper’s decision to raise salaries of teachers only.
Leahy: We are joined now on the line by our very good friend, Metro Council Member-at-Large, Steve Glover. Good morning, Steve.
Glover: Good morning, Sir. How are you?
Leahy: Well, I’m about to find out what you thought of Mayor John Cooper’s State of Metro address yesterday.
Glover: You’re about to. A lot of people are about to. (Chuckles) I think the fire department, I thought that was a great move. 40 new suppression. 20 new EMTs and OEM. And it was good. I think that 40 new police officers were about half what it should have been. Maybe only 40 percent of what it should have been. I want to be very clear about this, Michael.
If you’re going to give teachers that massive raise that you gave them and you don’t do it for everybody else in Metro, that’s wrong in a million different ways. Because if people think over the last year that Metro National Public Schools have done a good job of educating children, they’re wrong. Now that’s going to make a lot of people mad.
And if it does, I don’t care because it’s wrong. Our teachers work hard. I’m not upset about our teachers. I’m upset about the administration because they singled out the teachers and gave them a massive raise. Our police, fire, and all our other employees in Metro got a two percent cost of living adjustment.
Leahy: And how much was the raise for the teachers?
Glover: $6,900. and something on average is the way I read it. I haven’t seen the actual budget yet to be able to understand exactly where we landed with everything. I don’t have a beef with giving a raise to teachers or others. You can’t name one group and then literally annihilate the other group and pretend like you did a good job.
That’s one thing I get really sick of. I get really sick of the administrations in Nashville pretending like they’re doing this great thing. And I get really sick of when they say Nashville for everyone. No, it’s not obviously a Nashville for everyone.
Leahy: And now this particular thing, the plan to make Nashville teachers the state’s highest-paid is interesting because I’ve looked at the numbers in terms of the performance on standardized tests of kids in Nashville and there are like 142 school districts, they call them local education administration agencies I guess.
There are 142 or so of them. And Metro Nashville schools are either at the bottom or next to the bottom at 140 or 142 in virtually every rating in terms of math proficiency and reading proficiency. So why such a big raise for teachers?
Glover: That’s the point. Again, I want to emphasize this is not directed at teachers. They’ve done what they could do over the last year. The administration has kept them out of the classroom. I have a lot of friends that are teachers. They are just as upset about the fact they couldn’t be in the classroom because they know that our children have been let down over the last year. And we as Nashvillians, if we think it’s been okay to do what we’ve done to our children, we are sadly mistaken because it is not okay. I don’t know how we make this ground up, frankly.
Leahy: The other thing about this to me, Steve, this looks like a pure political play for the support of the teachers’ unions by Mayor Cooper.
Glover: Yep. MENP doesn’t like me and I don’t really care for them. I don’t really care if they like me. I’ll tell you what I do like. I like my grandchildren. In fact, I love my grandchildren and I don’t like the fact that my grandson wasn’t able to go to kindergarten this past year because somebody on Branford Avenue made bad decisions.
Leahy: Here’s the story from wsmv.com. It’s about three paragraphs. Let me read it and get your reaction. Under Mayor Cooper’s plan, the average Metro teacher salary will jump by $6,924 annually. Educators with eight to 15 years of experience will receive a $10,880 increase.
The proposed $81 million Mark Nashville’s largest operating ‘investment’ in education. And then the director of Schools, Dr. Adrian Battle said the following ‘throughout my career at Metro schools, I’ve never seen such a strong commitment and support from a Mayor for our public schools and the teaching profession.’ Now, to me, this doesn’t look like support for public schools. This looks like support for the Teachers Union.
Glover: That’s exactly what it is. And that’s one reason I’m saying, look, teachers, don’t be mad at me. I’m not upset with you. I think you’ve been placed in bad positions, just like our children have been placed in bad positions over the last year. Our police, our fire, and our first responders, you want to talk about stressing out the workforce over the last 12 months.
I’m not going to pick one against the other. Our police officers, our firefighters, our EMTs, OEM, and the Water Department. We can go down to public works. Because I defined first responders to everybody who needs to get out on the front line when we have something bad that happens in Nashville. They got slapped in the face yesterday when the Mayor had the audacity to do this with the school board that has done a lousy job, by the way, of pretending like they’re leading and then does it to our first responders with a two percent cost of living.
Added firefighters. Absolutely. We’ve needed that forever. It’s still not enough. Pretending like we added police officers. He said we’re going to put 40 new officers in order to staff the Southeast precinct. They need a minimum of 66 officers for a new precinct.
Leahy: Good point.
Glover: Here’s my thing. And I said it last night late on my Facebook page. If we don’t wake up and if we don’t start demanding and we don’t start getting upset about this stuff, then we deserve whatever’s going to happen to us in Nashville. At what point do we wake up and say we’ve had it! Enough is enough. We’ll pay our taxes but in return, if you’re going to do an investment, do a real investment.
Leahy: Yeah, exactly. Not a payoff to the Teachers Union, which is what this looks like to me.
Listen to the full first hour here:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.