In Tennessee, a Pro-Schools, Progressive Activist Seeks to Join a Legislature Leaning Sharply Right

Nashville special election highlights key policy debates

Andy Spears
2 min readJun 22


Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Aftyn Behn is no stranger to confronting difficult political situations with direct action.

When the former Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives (Glen Casada) appointed an admitted sexual predator to a key leadership post rather than asking him to resign, Behn confronted the issue head-on, helping to organize opposition at the State House and quite literally calling Casada out.

The front page of Behn’s website even mentions her willingness to confront Casada:

It’s worth noting that in 2019, Aftyn was removed from the Tennessee Capitol gallery for protesting House Speaker Casada, who would later lose his leadership position and be indicted on charges of bribery.

Now, Behn is seeking to become a member of the General Assembly, running for an East Nashville-based House seat in a special election being held later this summer.

While the Tennessee General Assembly has demonstrated a willingness to go along with Gov. Bill Lee’s plans for dismantling public education and handing taxpayer dollars to private school operators, Behn has been solidly in the camp of public school advocates.

In her role as an organizer for Indivisible, Behn helped bring together advocates for public education in opposition to Lee’s planned voucher scheme.

Her campaign “issues” section features education under the heading “Kids Not Corporations.”

Here’s what she says about how she’ll approach education issues:

Image from Behn campaign website (

She even includes a note that she’ll seek the advice of long-time educator and current Democratic lawmaker from Knoxville…



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Andy Spears

Writer and policy advocate living in Nashville, TN —Public Policy Ph.D. — writes on education policy, consumer affairs, and more . . .