“Please don’t hurt my children:” SCS Superintendent releases statement urging lawmakers to vote against defunding schools

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County Superintendent Joris Ray released a passionate message Friday morning urging state lawmakers to vote against defunding schools.

Ray said in a press release he is urging state leaders to vote against defunding public education in response to a recent proposal during the state legislative session in Nashville.

Ray posted a tweet Thursday morning, emphasizing a need to reopen schools safely. He said returning to school should be a goal rather than a fixed target.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has pushed for schools to return to in-person learning as soon as possible.

RELATED: Feud between Gov. Lee & SCS Superintendent over returning to in-person learning continues

Here is a full transcript of Ray’s video:

Today, I issued this message for our state leaders and lawmakers who are right now drafting bills that could possibly DEFUND public education. These decisions affect every one of us, in addition to the tens of thousands of families we serve, so I felt it was extremely important to share this message with all of you.

Please don’t hurt my children.

State leaders, as you deliberate in Nashville and discuss the future of Shelby County students and educators in your meetings, know that my nearly 110,000 children have seen far too many loved ones die from COVID-19.

More coronavirus deaths have been recorded in Shelby County than any other county in Tennessee.

My children have known a day when more than 1,000 of their neighbors have tested positive for COVID-19. There are not many other counties in Tennessee where that has happened. My children have social and emotional needs and have experienced personal trauma, the likes of which many decision-makers will never know.

As you’re making decisions on behalf of students in Shelby County, please don’t hurt my children. I don’t think it is intentional, but the decisions of grown-ups show children their true colors. Because when you advocate for in-person learning against the decision of a duly-elected school board, you abridge the very essence of local control and run the risk of hurting my children. When you make decisions without visiting or talking or listening, you run the risk of hurting my children.

School is in session and has been in session since August. Our students are engaged in synchronous, LIVE lessons every day. So when you call for getting “back to school,” you denigrate the incredible HEART work of teachers across my District - and across the state - who have moved heaven and Earth to teach virtually to keep from hurting children.

This work is personal to me and my School Board, now, more than ever.

Please don’t hurt my children.

We are stronger together. Coronavirus will not defeat us. We are 901!


Dr. Joris M. Ray,