Press Releases

TNHDC Opposes Huffman’s Proposed Salary Changes for Teachers

Press release from the Tennessee House Democratic Caucus; June 20, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – House Democrats joined together to speak out against a proposal by the Haslam administration to cut teacher pay in Tennessee.

“If we are ever going to raise Tennessee’s educational standards, we must make our state more attractive to highly qualified, professional teachers,” said Rep. Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville). “Instead, Commissioner Huffman and the corporate special interests bankrolling the so-called ‘education reform’ movement have set their sights once again on attacking our public school teachers.”

Commissioner Huffman will present his proposed changes to the minimum teacher salary schedule to the State Board of Education on Friday, June 21. The new proposal will reduce steps in salary increases from 21 to four and eliminate incentives for doctorate degrees and post-masters training.

“Our teachers are this state’s greatest resource,” said House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh. “Something this administration and self-proclaimed education reformers still fail to grasp is that putting teachers last will not put students first.”

“If this proposal goes forward, Governor Haslam will be breaking the state’s promise to thousands of teachers across the state,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner. “Teachers have invested their precious time and money into obtaining further education with the promise that they would be adequately compensated. Now, teachers are going to be left with thousands in debt and a broken promise from the state.”

View the proposed schedule for teachers HERE.

Press Releases

PET: Professional Development Makes Great Leaders of Good Teachers

Opinion by JC Bowman, Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee; June 12, 2012: 

Educators are leaders who should be valued and respected. In an era of transformational change across Tennessee, there is a well-timed debate over how we define achievement and success both in and out of school, as well as the proper role of federal, state and local policy. Nobody disputes that the path forward is the presence of quality teachers in Tennessee classrooms. However, quietly unnoticed is a startling fact: there are 3.2 million teachers in the United States according to the U.S. Department of Education. By 2020, it is estimated that 1.6 million will either retire or leave the profession. This pending impact will be felt across many Tennessee classrooms.

Of even more concern is that the data reveals 46% of public school educators leave the profession within their first five years. The attrition rate is highest among science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teachers, who can command higher salaries in the private sector. The book (and now movie) “Teachers Have It Easy” by Dave Eggers, Nínive Clements Calegari and Daniel Moulthrop has produced a compelling discourse that accumulates data to give readers a blunt and unforgiving portrait of American education which raises questions about the sustainability and desirability of the teaching profession in the 21st Century.

As an education association, Professional Educators of Tennessee understands that the debate over what essential preparation and skills individuals should possess before entering a public school classroom has largely been decided before educators join any professional organization. The additional skills that are necessary, and how they are acquired, can also be debated. Historically, the body of knowledge and skills needed to be an effective teacher has been too unstructured, unclear, and not backed up by the necessary research. That is changing across the state, as well as the nation.

That we are failing as a state and nation to encourage recruitment of the teachers we need is also concerning. For example, 90% of high-minority districts report difficulty attracting teachers prepared to teach math and science. Education organizations can fill a critical role in assisting school districts and teachers to come together and meet their different needs. This includes not only addressing students from assorted cultural backgrounds in the state, but also students with disabilities or with limited English proficiency. The war drums for compulsory unionism and collective bargaining are growing silent in the face of the urgent need to recruit, retain and support effective educators who can meet these difficult challenges.

The discussion over teacher quality and preparation often neglects to address the issue of professional development. Professional Development (PD) has traditionally been connected to, and included in, the initial attainment of permanent certification; for school improvement plans, especially to low performing schools; tying specific topic-professional development to funding (often math, science, and reading); and, improving results as related to teacher evaluation. Professional development opportunities provided on both the state and local level are where leadership begins to take root for most educators. Professional Development allows for educators to create a professional career continuum and lays a solid groundwork for the future of Tennessee classrooms.

By engaging in collaborative networks we are building the capacity for all educators to make a positive influence in the classroom, become leaders in their schools and school district. In 2012 education associations must take the lead in providing high quality, relevant professional learning for pre-service, and novice and career educators. Professional Educators of Tennessee provides Professional Development for all Tennessee educators, both members and non-members, so we can improve classroom instruction, strengthen leadership capacity, recharge our batteries and empower educators to be more effective leaders in Tennessee schools and communities.

Education Featured NewsTracker

TEA Opposes Haslam’s 2012 Education Reforms; GOP Lawmakers Moving Forward Nonetheless

Lawmakers say they’re hearing concerns about the governor’s plan to authorize more local control on class size and teacher pay, but they predict the outcry will not be as heated as last year’s.

“We’re going to work real hard to get some consensus. Everybody may not agree 100 percent, but I think we’re going to be doing some moving here before we do anything to make sure everybody’s kind of on board and is fairly happy with it,” said House Education Chairman Richard Montgomery, R-Sevierville. “If everyone is unhappy with it, we may have even done a pretty good job.”

Gov. Bill Haslam wants to give local school districts the discretion to disregard existing pay scales based on longevity or degree accumulation and instead set their own teacher salary plan. He also wants each district to have the power to set class size restrictions for itself.

“The change in anything is painful. It is. I understand that. We’re in the middle of some of those growing pains right now. The worst thing in the world to do would be let our foot off the pedal,” Haslam told civic and business leaders in Cookeville Monday.

Lawmakers last year raised the bar on how teachers reach tenure, built in grading scales to measure teacher performance and eliminated mandatory collective bargaining over teacher contracts.

Senate Education Chairwoman Dolores Gresham, R-Somerville, said members of her education committee haven’t dug through the governor’s new bills yet, but she’s heard some public criticism of the legislation centered on potential changes, in particular with respect to class sizes.

“Most teachers and parents are concerned about the classroom issue. They want effective teaching, and an effective teacher can just do more with fewer students,” said Senate Education Committee member Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga. “People see that more as a direct problem for results than the merit pay issue.”

The Tennessee Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union, says it’ll push back against the governor’s latest initiatives as vigorously as they did with last year’s GOP-sponsored reforms. In 2011, the TEA held protests and rallies that turned out teachers by the dozens to sometimes thousands.However, the legislation they were protesting passed, albeit without much Democrat support.

“I think it’s a huge political battle that’s shaping up,” said Jerry Winters, the TEA lobbyist. “It caught us off guard. I think it caught a lot of legislators off guard.”

Business and Economy Education Featured

SCORE to Score TN Teacher Evaluation Process

Citing several months of complaints from teachers about new state-mandated evaluations, Gov. Bill Haslam is calling in a third-party education advocate to sort out the new system.

The State Collaborative on Reforming Education has agreed to independently grade the state’s new evaluation process and report back by this summer with feedback and recommendations to be used going into the 2012-13 school year.

“Any time you implement something that’s this comprehensive, I think if you don’t consistently re-evaluate it, you’re not doing your job,” Haslam told reporters after a press conference announcing the partnership at the Capitol Building Wednesday.

“We knew this is going to be a huge rollout, and we knew there would be some people that didn’t necessarily take to it very well, and we knew that we would be evaluating the evaluations,” he said.

SCORE has been involved in several Tennessee education initiatives, including advocating for data-driven teacher evaluations. The nonprofit, bipartisan organization is run by Jamie Woodson, a former Republican senator from Knoxville who bowed out this year to become the group’s executive director. She took over for former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, also a Republican, who launched the organization in 2009.

School districts across the state began using the new annual evaluations this schools year, which include grading teachers based on a mix of student test scores and classroom evaluations and scoring them on a five-point scale. Previously, teachers were heavily evaluated in the three years prior to earning tenure, sporadically after that point.

“The implementation and execution of these reform efforts are truly where the rubber meets the road,” said Woodson, who said SCORE will facilitate roundtable discussions with teachers across the state in addition to soliciting feedback online. “Critical to our mission and to success of this effort is the opportunity for feedback and input from educators and community members throughout the state.”

Haslam said SCORE’s advocacy work for a teacher evaluation system is an asset, not a bias.

“It’s not a question of should we have (the teacher evaluation system). It’s a question of, is the one that we have working well, and I think that’s what we’ve tasked (SCORE) with,” Haslam told reporters.

House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh applauded the governor’s call to study the new evaluation, but said he should also put the system on pause.

“The Legislature rushed this evaluation process, and in many situations it has been to the detriment of Tennessee’s teachers and students,” wrote Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, in an emailed statement. “I hope that the governor and the Legislature agree that we need to delay the evaluations until a thorough bi-partisan review is complete.”

While SCORE picks through the evaluation process, Haslam said he wants the Legislature to avoid passing bills that would change the current process, saying any adjustments should go through the Board of Education.

Halams has also, in recent weeks, asked the Legislature to take a pass on legislation that would allow students to transfer to a public, charter or private school using vouchers while a task force — which includes Woodson — studies that concept.

Press Releases

Changes Sought to State’s Teacher Evaluation System

Press Release from the State of Tennessee , Oct 31, 2011:

Commissioner Huffman Proposes Timeline Flexibility for Evaluation System

NASHVILLE — Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman announced today he will ask the state board to modify the state’s new teacher evaluation system.

The adjustment allows principals to conduct two of the required observations in succession, and thereby hold only one pre- and post-conference meeting for the combined observation. This will streamline the process and give greater scheduling flexibility to both teachers and principals.

“We have said from the beginning that we will listen and respond to feedback from educators on this evaluation model, and that is exactly what we’re doing. This adjustment made sense, and, if approved, our evaluation system will be stronger because of it,” Huffman said.

Huffman said he anticipates making additional modifications to the evaluation system next summer after reviewing data from this year’s results.

The Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents recently approved a resolution supporting the state’s teacher evaluation model.

“As directors of schools, we recognize that TEAM is an effective way to improve instruction among all teachers,” said Keith Brewer, TOSS executive director. “We appreciate the commissioner’s proposal to allow our principals greater discretion and flexibility in how they implement this evaluation system.”

Huffman will present the proposed revision during a state board meeting Friday.

Board Chairman Fielding Rolston said he looked forward to discussing the proposal.

“I am glad to see the department is listening to teachers and principals regarding the implementation of this system, and making adjustments when appropriate,” Rolston said. “Our current system is much better than what we had before, and I know Commissioner Huffman is committed to continuous improvement.”

Press Releases

Transgender Political Coalition Rallies Behind Marrero, Richardson Bills

Release from the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition; Feb. 3, 2011:

Hate Crimes and Birth Certificate Bills Filed

The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC) is pleased to announce that both of our bills have been reintroduced in the 107th Tennessee General Assembly.

This week, SB 0313 by *Marrero (*HB 0187 by *Richardson) was filed, which would provide for amendment of birth certificate to reflect a change in gender. Currently, Tennessee is the only state in the nation with a law that totally bans such changes.

Also filed was SB 0314 by *Marrero (*HB 0188 by *Richardson), which adds as an advisory enhancement factor to sentencing that defendant intentionally chose victim of crime based on gender identity or expression. Passage of this bill will make it easier for state and local authorities to track and prosecute hate crimes against Transgender Tennesseans.

We would like to thank our chief sponsors on both bills, Senator Beverly Marrero, (D-Memphis) and Representative Jeanne Richardson (D-Memphis), for their continued support.

We urge Tennessee lawmakers to pass both of these vital pieces of legislation.

TTPC Targets Anti-LGBT Bills in State Legislature

Unfortunately, there are also several bills on file this year that can do a lot of harm to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Tennesseans:

*SB 0049 by *Campfield/HB 0229 by *Dunn is one such bill. Senator Campfield has been introducing this bill, which would ban the teaching of sexual diversity, for many years. It is anti education and a threat to intellectual freedom. TTPC has consistently opposed this bill in the past and will continue to do so in 2011.

SB0016 by Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro)/HB0007 by Debra Maggart (R-Hendersonville) & Cameron Sexton (R-Pikeville), would create a new Photo ID to vote, which could effectively disfranchise transgender voters. TTPC, along with several civil liberties and voting rights groups, have fought similar legislation in the past.

SB0113 by Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) and others/HB0130 by Debra Maggart & Glen Casada (R-College Grove) would abolishes teachers’ unions ability to negotiate terms and conditions of professional service with local boards of education. In 2008, the Metropolitan Nashville Education Association pushed to have sexual orientation and gender identity added to the non discrimination policy for Metro Nashville Public Schools. To date, Metro Nashville remains the only public school system in Tennessee which bans discrimination against LGBT students, staff, and faculty. We recognize the work of Nashville’s Teachers Union in working for non discrimination language and do not want to have others prevented from doing the same.

TTPC will remain vigilant in identifying any bills we consider harmful towards LGBT people and will fight against any and all of them.

If you do not know the name of your State Senator or Representative, you can Find Your Legislator by clicking here.

7th Annual Advancing Equality Day on the Hill

As part of this effort, we strongly urge everyone to join TTPC as we support the Tennessee Equality Project’s 7th Annual Advancing Equality Day on the Hill, on Tuesday, March 1. Join LGBT people and supporters from across the state in Nashville as we meet with state legislators and discuss issues of importance to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. More details about the event are below.

Wednesday, February 9, 7 pm EST

Lobbying 101

The Church of the Savior

934 N. Weisgarber Rd.

Knoxville, TN

TEP Knox County Committee

Thursday, February 10, 7 pm CST

Lobbying 101

Club Drink

23 Heritage Square


TEP Madison County Committee

Saturday, February 12, 4 pm EST

Lobbying 101

University of Tennessee Chattanooga Student Center, Lookout Mountain Room


TEP Hamilton/Bradley County Committee

Tennessee Equality Project has planned a number of events to enhance your lobbying day experience.

Monday, February 28

GLBT Candidate Training by Shawn Werner of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund

For everyone considering a run for elected office in their future.

TEP will offer a reception after the candidate training to welcome all AED participants. Exact times and locations shall be announced.

Tuesday, March 1, 8 to 9 am CST

Coffee and a light breakfast courtesy of the Vanderbilt Lambda Association.

The Rymer Gallery

233 Fifth Avenue North

Tuesday, March 1

7th Annual Advancing Equality Day on the Hill

Legislative Plaza and War Memorial Building


organized by Tennessee Equality Project

Metro Nashville Contract Accountability Non Discrimination Ordinance Deferred

As expected, BILL NO. BL2011-838, which would ban discrimination against all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees of contractors in Metro Nashville and Davidson County, was deferred on Second Reading until Tuesday, February 15 by voice vote.

The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC) wishes to thank the 22 members of the Metro Nashville Council who voted on January 18 to support the bill on First Reading.

Opponents of equality and fairness are working hard to defeat this latest effort to end discrimination. Those who believe in equality and fairness are also working hard to demonstrate support.

Every resident of Davidson County is represented by the five At-Large Members, who all voted Yes on Tuesday: Tim Garrett, Megan Barry, Charlie Tygard, Ronnie Steine, and Jerry Maynard, II. Please contact them and thank them for standing against discrimination, and ask them to continue supporting this important piece of legislation through the remaining votes.

If your District Councilmember voted Yes on January 18, please contact them and thank them as well for standing against discrimination, and ask them to continue supporting this important piece of legislation through the remaining votes. If you are not certain of the name of your District Councilmember, click on to find your district number.

Even if your Councilmember did not vote Yes, we still need you to contact them and express your support for ending discrimination in Metro Nashville contract work.

Then, please join us at the next Metro Council meeting on Tuesday, February 15, at 6:30 pm, for the Second Reading of the Ordinance. The Metro Council chamber is in the Metro Courthouse on the 2nd Floor.

Marisa Richmond


And Please Save These Other Dates!

March 13 to 15 (new dates!)

Congressional Lobby Days

Washington, DC

organized by the National Center for Transgender Equality

Saturday, July 23, 6:00 pm CDT

TTPC Summer Meeting


Contact TTPC for information.

The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC) is an organization designed to educate and advocate on behalf of transgender related legislation at the Federal, State and local levels. TTPC is dedicated to raising public awareness and building alliances with other organizations concerned with equal rights legislation.

Education News

Teacher Eval Committee Taking Up TVAAS Data

The group of educators and policymakers charged with revamping how the state grades its teachers will get a crash course Thursday on using student test data.

Under new laws passed in January that helped the state recently win about $500 million from the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top grant competition, more than half of a Tennessee teacher’s yearly evaluation will now rely on how students perform on tests.

The 15-member Teacher Evaluation Advisory Committee — a panel of educators, business experts and lawmakers assembled earlier this year to figure out what criteria should be included in job evaluations for teachers and principals — are scheduled for a round of schooling on the state’s student data system by the company that compiles and manages the information, the SAS Institute.

Per new state laws, 35 percent of a teacher’s evaluation will rely on how his or her students performed on the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System test, known as TVAAS, which measures student growth from year to year.

The board will have to decide what other kinds of tests will should make up the remaining 15 percent of test-based evaluations. Members will also have to choose what additional criteria will count toward the other 50 percent of the evaluation.

The new teacher evaluations will kick in for the 2011-2012 school year.

The SAS Institute currently houses Tennessee’s student growth data and churns out TVAAS reports and value-added scores for the state Education Report Card.

Dr. William Sanders, who developed the state’s TVAAS model, and Dr. June Rivers, both of the SAS Institute, will instruct members of the committee on the nature and breadth of the information available for analyzing student academic progress, said a Tennessee Department of Education spokeswoman.

Lawmakers decided to change the way teachers are evaluated at the urging of Gov. Phil Bredesen, who said those changes would help the state win RTTT, rewarding states that use innovative ways of improving education.

Of the 41 states that competed for a cut of $4.35 billion in grant money, Tennessee and Delaware were the only states to win the grant.

Press Releases

Bredesen Names ‘First to the Top’ Teacher Evaluation Advisory Committee

Press Release from the State of Tennessee, March 3, 2010:

NASHVILLE – Governor Phil Bredesen has appointed nine men and women to serve on the Teacher Evaluation Advisory Committee established by the recently enacted Tennessee First to the Top Act of 2010.

“I am grateful to the individuals willing to serve in this capacity to help move Tennessee public education forward in bold, new ways,” said Bredesen. “I am confident that with the level of experience each of these Tennesseans brings to the table, we can accomplish this goal for teachers and their students across the state.”

The 15-member committee will develop and recommend to the State Board of Education guidelines and criteria for the annual evaluation of teachers and principals, including a local-level evaluation grievance procedure. The committee consists of the Commissioner of Education as chair, the Executive Director of the State Board of Education, the Chairperson of the Education Committees of each house, a K-12 public school teacher appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, a K-12 public school teacher appointed by the Speaker of the Senate, and nine members appointed by the Governor. Appointments made by the Governor include three public school teachers, two public school principals, one director of a school district and three members representing other stakeholder interests.

The appointments announced by Bredesen today include:

Public School Teachers

Kenny Lou Heaton, Carter County School System

Patty T. Kiddy, McNairy County School System

Judy Stewart, Franklin County School System

Public School Principals

Jimmy Bailey, Jackson-Madison County School System

Jill Levine, Hamilton County School System

Director of a School District

Jesse Register, Metro-Nashville School System

Other Members

Mike Edwards, Knox County

Darrell S. Freeman, Sr., Davidson County

Tomeka R. Hart, Shelby County