TN lawmakers debate over teachers’ rights

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Tennessee lawmakers debated a bill that would create a list of rights for teachers on the same day a Douglass High school student was expelled after a fight with a teacher.

The 17-year-old student was issued a juvenile summons Tuesday after the fight.

State lawmakers also got into a heated debate on Tuesday about the violence in schools.

The bill was meant to protect teacher in their own classrooms.

During a hearing in the education administration and planning committee, fiery words from Memphis Representative John DeBerry explains why he believes it must become a law

"All of us know that we have the most spiritually illiterate, historically illiterate, untrained, unraised, untaught, ill-mannerable generation in the history of this nation," DeBerry said.

Stern comments from DeBerry are shining light on a growing problem he says exists public schools.

"We hunker down in the status quo – and that's what we have consistently done, which is why we are not moving the needle and dealing with the fact we have teachers under siege in their classroom," DeBerry said.

Just this week, Memphis police confirmed an English teacher at Douglas High got into a physical fight with a student.

The girl was expelled and issued to Juvenile Court for a summons, but the teacher was taken to Regional Medical Center.

DeBerry advocated for House Bill 0174, better known as the Teachers Bill of Rights.

It would give teachers, principals and school personnel the ability to protect themselves against students.

He says it's a change that is needed at this time.

"The fact of the matter is that one of these rules doesn't apply anymore for some reason," DeBerry said. "I have watched the evolution of our students stop as we tell ourselves certain things happen and the status quo is like this."

The bill now moves forward to another committee before a final vote.

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