The Tennessee Conservative [By Kelly M. Jackson] –
Yesterday, Tennessee’s Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn announced that she would be stepping down from her post that she was appointed to four years ago.
During her tenure, she managed the department through the COVID-19 pandemic, which depending on who you ask, was either one of her greatest achievements, or an unmitigated disaster.
One of the more controversial programs Schwinn attempted to implement was statewide “well-being checks” on all of Tennessee’s kids from birth through 12th grade.
Parents across the state expressed their distaste with the idea that a social worker would invade their home and ask questions that they didn’t feel the state had any business asking. The program was shelved due to the massive pushback, and was never brought up again.
Also under her tenure, the state implemented new reading curriculum called Wit & Wisdom, which grassroots groups objected to due to some of the age-inappropriate themes, as well as having a fair amount of Critical Race Theory (CRT). Some of the themes in Wit & Wisdom included suicide ideation, adultery, miscarriage, and child sexual abuse.
The curriculum, which never passed state standards despite being reviewed by 2 separate committees, eventually found its way into Tennessee classrooms due to a waiver granted by the Tennessee State Department of Education. Incidentally, the curriculum it replaced had passed all state standards.
The news of Schwinn’s resignation was welcome to many on both sides of the aisle, who for their own very different reasons were not satisfied with Schwinn’s performance as Education Commissioner for the state.
However, the new appointee is cut from nearly identical cloth according to her past work experience.
According to Lizzette Gonzalez Reynolds’ LinkedIn profile, she hails from Texas, a state where both she and Schwinn worked for George W Bush when he was governor.
Schwinn followed Reynolds into the exact same position just after Reynolds left it in 2016. Reynolds is now working for Jeb Bush’s Education policy think tank in Florida called ExcelinEd. The think tank’s board members include some of the wealthiest and most noteworthy establishment Republicans. Names like Eric Cantor, Former Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, local philanthropist Janet Ayers, and former Governor Bill Haslam’s sister-in-law, Dee Bagwell Haslam to name just a few.
Detractors on the other side of the aisle don’t lay all the blame for the number of failures that played out during Schwinn’s tenure completely at her feet, they save a good helping of it for Governor Lee as well. A sentiment shared again, by those on the right who would usually have a different opinion on an issue like education.
Reynolds begins her tenure on July 1st, 2023.
As always, we will continue to follow this story and monitor all progress.
About the Author: Kelly Jackson is a recent escapee from corporate America, and a California refugee to Tennessee. Christ follower, Wife and Mom of three amazing teenagers. She has a BA in Comm from Point Loma Nazarene University, and has a background in law enforcement and human resources. Since the summer of 2020, she has spent any and all free time in the trenches with local grassroots orgs, including Mom’s for Liberty Williamson County and Tennessee Stands as a core member. Outspoken advocate for parents rights, medical freedom, and individual liberty. Kelly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.