Conservative Group Authors Xenophobic Bill in Tennessee To Limit Foreign Teachers

A conservative group in Tennessee is pushing the state legislature to pass a xenophobic bill that would place limits on the number of foreigners that the state’s charter schools can hire, in a thinly veiled attack on the Muslim community.

The Putting Tennessee First Act says that the state’s chartering authority may not approve schools where more than 3.5 percent of their staff is made up of immigrants, even if they are legal residents of the United States.

The Tennessean has more:

The Tennessee Eagle Forum, which drafted the bill, is affiliated with the Eagle Forum, a national organization that wants to reduce the number of visas available to foreign-born workers and opposes the use of textbooks that it sees as favorable to Islam.

The Eagle Forum is a national group run by anti-Equal Rights Amendment activist Phyllis Schlafly, who has called feminism the most “destructive force in our society today.” The state group has tried — and failed — to pass discriminatory laws in the past. Last year, they authored the Material Support to Designated Entities Act, which would have labeled some Muslims terrorists if they were found to be practicing Sharia Law in the state. The bill failed after civil rights groups loudly objected.


Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Kentron is a sponsor of the bill, and he has thus far denied that religion played any part in his decision to support the bill. But another Republican, Sen. Jim Summerville, told the Tennessean that he believes the bill’s supporters are concerned with Islamist groups infiltrating charter schools.

Some of the most vocal opposition to the bill is coming from other Republicans in Tennessee. Sen. Stacey Campfield said that he has no problem with foreigners teaching in schools if they’re here legally. And others have said that the limitations on whom schools can hire will hurt students.