Tennessee House Passes Teacher Tenure Reform Bill

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NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam released the following statement after the Tennessee House of Representatives passed tenure reform bill SB 1528/HB 2012, 65-32. The amended bill will now go back to the Senate for concurrence.

The legislation changes a teacher’s probationary period before becoming eligible for tenure from three to five years as well as links tenure status to performance evaluations, among other changes.

“I want to thank those in the House and Senate who have supported tenure reform, especially those legislators who helped lead the effort.

"As a state we have to treat teaching like the honorable and important profession it is and make Tennessee a place where great educators feel rewarded and appreciated for their efforts.

“Nothing makes as much of a difference in a child's education as the teacher at the front of the classroom, and this tenure proposal is an important next step following last year’s bipartisan effort that led to the First to the Top legislation and the Race to the Top award. We have many great teachers in Tennessee, and we can have even more.

"If our goal in education is to grow the number of college graduates and provide a better educated work force for employers looking to relocate or expand in Tennessee, then our effort begins with making sure every child in every classroom learns from a great teacher.”

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March 24, 2011 at 12:46pm
If a teacher doesn't have it at three years of experience, two more isn't going to make much difference. Disappointed!!
March 24, 2011 at 2:29pm
I agree deerfield. Teachers should be evaluated each year and tenure thrown out the window.
March 24, 2011 at 5:17pm
I have NEVER heard such prattle about teachers and the perspective presented here in Tennessee...

I am very glad I do not teach anymore....

I know there are two sides to everything but I'd sure like to hear something nice please...

It's like teachers are these reviled evil slothful people who take advantage and don't do the job. Should I hear of others suggesting an interest in this profession I will aggressively encourage them towards another career choice.

Parents should consider home schooling only. I think the bar is waaaay too high for expectations on instructors... Take care of your children yourself and have the state simply give you tests to determine your worth... Then if you fail it is on you as a parent.

Expectations seem to run very high and the compensation too low.

Please be aware that I do not oppose the teacher tenure reform. I am just tired of the unreasonable interpretations of this noble profession.

Teach your own kids and the problem is solved.
March 24, 2011 at 9:19pm
Thanks so much, Jeff, for sticking up for good teachers! Here lately, I've been hesitant to say out louse that I'm a teacher with the negative stigma associated with the profession. I'm also not against tenure reform; if a teacher is performing well, it will show through different measures, not just TCAP tests. Parents should understand that although extremely high expectations have been put in place for teachers, but eventually those high educational expectations will trickle down to increased involvement of parents. There's many teachers in Tennessee, and I'm sure most have been at some point in his/her career been accused of being too hard, too easy, not understanding, mean, boring, lazy, etc. Well, we can't all be fired, can we? If so, people better be brushing up on those academic skills because there's going to be a home schooling epidemic! Yes, it's true that there are teachers who don't perform his/her job adequately. It's just very sad that ALL teachers have been put in that category lately. Hopefully, the new tenure laws will increase academic success and not discourage hardworking people from pursuing a rewarding profession.

March 24, 2011 at 9:25pm
Teachers do deserve praise for the jobs they do, but tenure seems to make it very difficult to get rid of the "bad apples". Why have it at all?
March 25, 2011 at 6:17am
while I was reading what Scrabble had to say, It was sad to see that they stated her or him being a teacher, and cannot spell the word LOUD,I find it disappointing that some teachers cannnot spell words correctly.
Plese be more negative on your spelling.
March 25, 2011 at 6:24am
You are absolutely correct! Even in Cannon County there are problems with certain teachers that have had many complaints over the last 20 years and no action has ever been taken. Why? Tenure! I've even heard comments from people in surrounding counties asking why this person is allowed to continue to teach. When parents from other counties are concerned, what does that tell you?
March 25, 2011 at 7:36am
Really, redbird? Do you really think scrabble misspelled loud, or could it have been a typographical error? I'm assuming you probably think teachers should be beyond making an error. This is a great example of how teachers feel- scrutinized for everything they do. Grade your own comment....always capitalize the first word in a sentence. Don't capitalize "it" in the middle of a sentence. Yes, your entire comment is a run-on sentence. What's with the wording of your last sentence? Be more negative? I think you might want to use the word "conscientious". Be more conscientious of your spelling.
March 25, 2011 at 8:23am
No Flames, everything written in these comments are as the way we type them, it was no mistake. Do you think that the people at the newspaper office is going to rewrite every comment that comes along? And, I do have the utmost respect for all teachers, I am with them everyday. And yes, they are all human, I just think that spelling is very important. Since texting has come about, just ask any teacher about how they feel about the misuse of spelling words.
March 25, 2011 at 8:52am
Wow. I didn't say the newspaper changed the spelling. I meant that maybe as scrabble was typing he/she made a typo. Or they could have had "louse" on the brain (since teacher do have to check for those little bugs) and accidentally typed that word instead of "loud". What I am saying is that I am 99% sure scrabble knows how to spell "loud".
March 25, 2011 at 8:57am
No, I didn't mean to say louse in my comment! Although I do find it ironic being that one of the tasks teachers do at school sometimes is search heads for those pesky little critters! We do many jobs in addition to teach spelling. I guess I do need to work on my keyboarding skills though. Thank you, redbird, for being so positive toward teachers that you so obviously have the utmost respect for. You proved my point exactly!
March 25, 2011 at 11:36am
The whole debate has gone the way of rot and degradation from the original concept I was attempting to present. Stop splitting hairs over a misspell...

Keep on task please...

I do appreciate the comments and I have some hope that not everyone wants to toss the teaching profession to the junk heap.

I find it interesting that the criticism is focused on the very thing I am concerned about... The inaccuracies that teachers are not serious or skilled enough for the job...

Teachers are not the problem in my opinion.
March 25, 2011 at 5:40pm
Teachers are very special people. There are very few of my teachers that are still around today. I can still remember very well my "first grade" teacher. She took the time to help me with my spelling and reading after class everyday. I can still remember her smile and sparkling brown eyes. Her name was Mrs. Winfree in Dekalb county. I think that is why I want spelling to be perfect. I didn't mean any disrespect to any teacher or to Scrabble. Believe me I would not want to be a teacher now days. I really think our teachers are surpreme and think here in Cannon County we have the best around anywhere.
March 25, 2011 at 5:49pm
Redbird,interesting that you criticized scrabble's spelling and stated how important spelling is to you when you mispelled "please" in the first post and "supreme" in your last post.
March 25, 2011 at 6:37pm
I agree Jeff. Do you think teachers who work in low-income schools (below average test scores oftentimes) will be scrutinized more closely in the future based on students' scores? The new evaluation process is partially tied to scores, but it's hard to imagine how it will work fairly for all teachers. If so, I'm concerned many of the best teachers will be hesitant to even consider working at the disadvantaged schools that need them most. Do you agree?
March 26, 2011 at 8:11am
The majority of the people I talk to now that aren't teachers say there is no way they would be a teacher, or you couldn't pay them enough to be a teacher. How sad! So many people want to say how they admire teachers, but when push comes to shove most don't support them.
March 26, 2011 at 11:19am
Teachers are going the way of two classes based on income. If you are a teacher in a rural setting or low economical area you will suffer. If you are in a high income area you get the very best. All the best supplies, proper classroom size, thorough independent educational plans for each student... Good extra-curricular activities... Quality is entirely based on income...

This is the truth of the matter...

Just like the medical profession... The humanitarian perspective of the selfless doctor or teacher rarely generates dependable income. Those individuals are the ones who work for NGO's and other areas of desperation...

That is why I find it ironic that teaching has been so reviled of late. Take away reasonable opportunities for lower income area instructors is the same as saying it's more important that the teacher that lives next to a guy who works at a fast food joint be paid equally the same. The equality of pay influences the equality of the education that fast food worker's children will get... You've just downgraded the education of your own children...

It's not about an arrogant haughty instructor who thinks he's better than the fast food worker... It's all about what is needed in order to effectively teach his children.

How can teachers be effective and respected and do the job well if those who need them for their children's future are told to do the job with little pay and no incentives?

Unless you are working as an instructor for a major university your security and income as a teacher are nominal and will continue to be so as programs for unions and collective bargaining take away reasonable rights for fair employment...

The "No Child Left Behind' program is a farce as it is not a fair method. To effectively teach you need the resources... Resources cost money. Idealistically, the program has good intention but punishes already poor educational systems further by the unrealistic goals set. How do they do this? By increasing the loss of funding should you not meet criteria... This effectively chokes a school out of existence... This widens the gap between those poorly funded schools and those that have good resources...

We are generating classes in our America we did not have before...

I could go on and on...

My solution is to quit this profession and work independent so I avoid the frustration.

I will work at the fast food joint instead. It pays the same, with the same benefits as our newly formed paradigm for future instructors employment...

My neighbors will be happy and satisfied with the knowledge that that damn teacher he hates who works with his kids is at least not getting paid more than he is!

No one will call me bad names or tell me I am leeching off of them and taking their hard earned money...

I do make a mean sandwich and your children will be that much less educated...

Everybody wins!
March 26, 2011 at 1:22pm
Every job I know of involves some sort of performance standards. Teachers should not feel as though they are being picked on because the public expects certain levels of proficiency.

The same applies with tenure. Most people don't have it. If it is determined that at teacher with 10 or 20 years in the profession is no longer meeting the necessary standards, why should they be immune from dismissal?

It does appear as though the people of Cannon County respect teachers and treat them fairly. The average teacher salary in Cannon County in 2009 was $41,341. The median household income that year was $37,650.
March 26, 2011 at 2:29pm
Yes, Kevin, I agree performance standards are important...especially for educators. But.....

Imagine that YOUR job performance is based on the number of newspapers which are sold in a year in Cannon County. Okay. That sounds fair. Of course, you work hard writing articles and whatever else your job demands, so there shouldn't be a problem. Right? Now
imagine that the citizens of Cannon County simply don't buy newspapers. People don't have money to buy them, they aren't interested, have no time to read, or don't care about the news. However, you are still expected to sell the same number of newspapers. What worries you most is that you're not going to get good reviews from your employer anymore which could affect your job stability. And all of this is out of your control...you do your job well! People just don't buy newspapers! That would cause you to consider searching for a job that pays as well and is less stressful. I totally agree that teachers be accountable, but it's very worrisome that our performance is based on something that is partially out of our control even when we do our very best. And respect is not solely based on what teachers earn. It's also based on attitude. We're not in this for the money. Many of us pay years on student loans and at the same time buy countless items for our classroom and needy students. Sadly, the public perception regarding teachers lately is extremely negative, and if you can't see that, you aren't buying your newspapers! :)

March 26, 2011 at 2:55pm
I am not speaking negatively to quality control of performance standards nor am I attending to the teachers in Cannon county... I have no objection to limits and protections established to prevent poor instructors from being removed. I was responding more broadly in an appeal for fairness on the topic of the profession. I seemed to have been provided with satisfactory answers...
March 26, 2011 at 3:08pm
scrabble, do you envision a time when teachers are not needed? I can't, but I can foresee a time when newspaper do not exist.

Now, as to the public's perception of teachers, if it is as negative as you believe, there has to be a reason or reasons. It would also stand to reason that teachers have done things, or not done things, which helped to create that perception. Not that they are totally to blame because, as you say, there are some things out of their control — much like whether people buy papers, or don't.
March 26, 2011 at 4:04pm
Teachers are not reviled. That is just a smokescreen for the real issue. The real issue is whether they should have tenure.

This is a typical deflective response from someone who doesn't want to address the real issue. Attack and demonize your opponent since you really have no compelling argument. Standard union strategy 101.
March 26, 2011 at 4:07pm
I agree that the newspaper will be a thing of the past one day, but there will always be news outlets via the web. Your job isn't is jeopardy due to this possibility. (Cannon Courier's premium access starts April 1st!) :)

Teachers will always be needed as long as there are children to educate. Sadly, there may not be many people who are willing tolerate what goes with the profession.

As for the negative perception...there are a few teachers who have neglected to do the job properly, but the whole lump is paying the price. There are sorry doctors, lawyers, garbage collectors, hairdressers...you'll see this in every known profession, but that doesn't necessarily mean that ALL are terrible at what they do. It just seems that for the whole, teachers are portrayed in a negative manner these days. It's really sad and disheartening. It's a good thing I love what I do! And for the record, I DO believe there should be a way to terminate ineffective teachers. (I had one or two of them myself.) If a teacher works in a low-performing school, does that immediately make him/her ineffective? I don't think so. It's going to be difficult to measure the quality of a teacher because not all students & schools are the same.
March 26, 2011 at 5:01pm
My comments aren't a smokescreen at all. Also, I don't consider anyone making comments my "opponent" nor do I attack anyone...I simply used an analogy to compare Kevin's profession with that of a teacher. Again, I'm TOTALLY fine with the new laws regarding tenure because there needs to be an avenue to elimate ineffective teachers from our schools. The real issue for many teachers, myself included, is being labeled an "ineffective teacher" when we work with students who, for one reason or another, don't have good test scores. Some kids are constantly struggling academically (even though they honestly try), others don't care, some miss too many days because they were sick, and some haven't slept the night before taking the test. If that isn't something to consider before booting out a teacher, I don't know what is! Also, it's much easier to have glowing test scores when one works in a school located in an upscale neighborhood or a county that has many resources. Cannon County doesn't have all the resources that other districts have, but we have many great teachers. I don't believe ALL teachers are reviled, but there has been a lot of discussion lately that has left a negative public perception, in my opinion.
March 26, 2011 at 6:21pm
scrabble, do you believe you have it better, or worse, off than the teachers who taught you, and, going back a step further, those who taught your parents?
March 26, 2011 at 8:08pm
I am a teacher. As a teacher I am not opposed to lengthening the time needed to attain tenure. I am not opposed to a discussion on doing away with tenure completely. BUT the reason Tennessee teachers are upset is NOT about lengthening time to attain tenure. It is about attaching tenure to our evaluations, and this is why....

When Tennessee became the winner of the Race to the Top money from the federal government, teachers agreed with the state officials that our evaluation system needs to be updated. Tennessee chose to pilot different systems (I think there are three) throughout the state. Cannon County volunteered to pilot one of the new ideas.
The new law states that our tenure will be tied to our evaluations. That is a fine idea, BUT the state has not even chosen which method it will use. NOW, in the law that was just passes says a teacher not receiving "4s" and "5s" should not receive tenure or have it revolked. BUT our administrators were trained that good, solid teaching should receive a "3". If the teacher is doing everything s/he is suppose to do, they should get a "3". So, if I am doing everything exactly like I should, I will lose my job!!?!?!?!

The Tennessee teachers are complaining that the state needs to establish a fair evaluation system before they pass a law regarding said evaluation system!

Our evaluation will also be tied to our students' test scores. You may think this is perfectly fair, BUT imagine this senerio...Last semester I had two students in Lion Academy. I NEVER saw them. They were NEVER in my classroom. I NEVER taught them, yet MY name is on their tests!! Their scores will be attached to MY evaluation!! This really happened to me last semester. Is this fair??

This has not been very well-reported by the media. The media just seems to want to make it look like teachers are trying to protect tenure, which is not exactly true.

Thanks to our Cannon Courier for providing an outlet for allowing the truth to be told, and for allowing our opinions to be aired!

March 26, 2011 at 8:23pm
Valid concerns choateo. If you would like to express them in the form of a guest column, I will be happy to run it.
March 26, 2011 at 9:10pm
Yes choateo! :)
March 26, 2011 at 10:21pm
For the record, the average teacher salary of $41,341 in 2009 included all teachers and central office personnel (including the director). The majority of teachers make much less!
April 03, 2011 at 9:05pm
Wouldn't it be great if every occupation , from U.S President to groundskeeper at the park was evaluated.I would volunteer to chair that committe. Bill
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