Marsha Blackburn blames U.S. decrease in patriotism on school ‘indoctrination’ and more Tennessee political news

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., says children should be taught patriotic principles. (AP File Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., says Americans must "acknowledge a troubling reality" about the U.S. on this Independence Day.

"America is experiencing a crisis of confidence," the Brentwood Republican said in a release. "Only 38% of U.S. adults say that patriotism is important to them compared to 70% in 1998. A recently released poll found that only 39% of Americans were 'extremely proud' to be American -- the second-lowest number ever recorded. These trends should concern every American who cares about our country and its future."

The conservative lawmaker said the reason behind the decline is no mystery.

"In many schools, education has been replaced with indoctrination, and the teaching of critical race theory and radical gender ideology has become pervasive," Blackburn said. "Almost 6,000 public schools around the country prevent faculty and staff from notifying a child's parents without the child's permission if the student decides to change his or her gender."

She said instead of teaching civics the "traditional way," many schools now teach "action civics," which she went on to describe as "a woke alternative" that encourages students to engage in protests related to "certain left-wing causes."

"Given the state of our education system, it should be no surprise that a mere 25% of students achieve the 'proficient' standard on the National Assessment of Educational Progress civics assessment. There are countless reasons why America serves as a beacon of freedom to nations around the world, but you can trace them all back to our most fundamental values. It is more important than ever that we educate our youngsters with these patriotic principles."

The senator's comments were not received warmly by some on social media.

"I'm insulted by Blackburn's remarks," commented a former teacher named Janice Boswell. "She needs to spend time in the classroom to know what is taking place. I certainly never taught my students that it would be fine to attack and trash our country's Capitol. She should investigate the educational history of that group of people that pretend to be patriotic."

Hagerty on loans

A sharply divided Supreme Court last week effectively killed President Joe Biden's $400 billion plan to cancel or reduce federal student loan debts for millions of Americans. But the president said Friday that "this fight is not over," and he's blasting Republicans over the issue.

During a Chattanooga visit last week as part of his statewide economic tour, U.S. Sen. Bill Hagerty said taxpayers who didn't go to college shouldn't be asked to bail out those who did.

"I never dreamed that the other kids in my high school -- most of whom didn't go to college -- would be responsible for paying my bills to go to college," Hagerty told a legislative breakfast of the Hamilton County Farm Bureau. "But we have an administration now that wants to give away over $400 billion. It's just a cheap vote-buying effort. I think it's pretty blatant."

Hagerty said the widespread write-off of such debt not only boosts the government's red ink but also undermines personal responsibility and self-reliance.

Critics on social media questioned whether Hagerty was similarly critical of pandemic relief given to employers in the form of paycheck protection loans. As of April 1, the Small Business Administration estimates, the program has provided 11.46 million loans totaling $789.6 billion. Of that, $757.1 billion has been forgiven.

  photo  Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly, left, listens as U.S. Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., speaks during a tour of the new EPB quantum lab on Thursday. Hagerty takes issue with student debt forgiveness.

Budgeting process

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, one of the key subcommittee chairs or "cardinals" on the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, said he expects a better budget-making process this year after the agreement reached in the spring to raise the federal debt limit.

The legislation adopted to raise the federal debt limit created budget cutback provisions for federal agencies if a new federal budget is not adopted by the end of the year.

"This highlights the need for appropriations to move forward," the Ooltewah Republican told the Chattanooga Times Free Press in an interview last week.

Fleischmann chairs the House Energy and Water Subcommittee and his panel's 2024 spending plan was adopted last month by the full House Appropriations Committee as one of five such major spending areas.

The committee vote was along strict partisan lines in the GOP-controlled panel and the measure could still face more challenges in the full House and in the Democratically controlled Senate.

"I think it's a much better process," Fleischmann said.

Fleischmann made his first presentation last month before the full Appropriations Committee. A number of Republicans as well as Democrats congratulated the relatively new cardinal.

Contact Dave Flessner at or 423-757-6340.

Contact Andy Sher at or 615-285-9480.

  photo  Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Ooltewah, spoke at the Center for Sports Medicine and Orthopedics' grand opening for a new surgery center on Thursday. Fleischmann sees a better budget process ahead.