Last week, Nashville Mayor, David Briley, announced a $28.2 million increase in funding for education, including a generous 3% pay increase for metro teachers. His announcement was met with anger and disappointment by many teachers expecting a 10% raise. The anger intensified even further when teachers learned that the budget also included $4 million for desperately needed new tennis balls for every classroom chair throughout the city. Over 1,900 teachers called out sick on May 3 and May 6 in protest.
One teacher, Becky T. Graves, who asked to remain anonymous, said, "I'm sorry. If I have to choose between feeding my family or new Dunlop tennis balls, I choose my kids." Many other teachers shared Graves opinion, also citing student loans and the rising cost of living as reasons they would prefer a pay increase over new balls.
A spokesperson from the Mayor's office said, "We are really disappointed that the teachers of this great city would put their own financial needs over the needs of our children. Sure, we could invest that money in a living wage for our teachers, but at what price? These new tennis balls will not only make our classrooms safer but will also reduce student anxiety caused by the unnecessary noise of chairs scraping floors. I think that's worth a few missed meals, but evidently our teachers have different priorities."
Along with the upgraded tennis balls, the Mayor's budget recommends $2 million for new ergonomic cafeteria trays and biodegradable urinal cakes in the boy's bathrooms.