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Dem Chairman Turner: Republicans ‘Don’t Want Public Education to Exist’

Press Release from the House Democratic Caucus, May 19, 2011:

Bill would strip the ability of Tennessee teachers to effectively negotiate contracts

(Nashville) – The Tennessee House of Representatives passed an anti-teacher bill Wednesday that continues an effort to strip teachers of their ability to effectively negotiate for better classrooms for students and better working conditions for their profession.

“This bill is a dishonest effort to reach an agreement with the Senate that will destroy all rights of more than 52,000 Tennessee teachers to negotiate for better classrooms, wages and learning environments for Tennessee students,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner (D-Old Hickory). “This is an attack on Tennessee teachers; nothing less.”

The anti-teacher bill, which is expected to pass the full Republican-controlled legislature in another form, will decrease the rights of teachers to effectively negotiate a contract covering their salary, benefits, working conditions, school safety, class size, planning time, time to teach, length of the school day, scheduling and other priorities.

“This is a political game; the Republican majority is calling it a ‘reform,’” Turner said. “They simply don’t want public education to exist in this state at all. This is a vote to take away our teachers’ ability to better their careers, their family life and most importantly the learning environment of Tennessee students.”

The bill will now head back to the Senate and subsequently a conference committee with the House. The conference committee is expected to fully strip the rights of teachers to better their careers and the learning environment for Tennessee students.

Opponents of the bill argued that the brightest college students will simply choose professions other than teaching, or move out of Tennessee.

“We’re asking all citizens, especially our teachers, their families and their friends to call the state legislature and ask their House and Senate members to vote against the final form of this bill.”

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Press Releases

Parkinson Sworn In, First Bill Targets Synthetic Drugs

Press Release from Rep. Antonio “2 Shay” Parkinson; March 31, 2011:

Passes first piece of legislation; will curb drug abuse

(Nashville) — Antonio “2 Shay” Parkinson officially joined the Tennessee House of Representatives Thursday morning and afterward passed his first piece of legislation.

Parkinson (D-Memphis) filled the 98th House District seat vacated by the late Rep. Ulysses Jones, Jr. Parkinson won the Democratic primary several months ago but has now assumed the position on a permanent basis after winning the March 8 general election certification.

“I am honored to serve the people of District 98, Memphis, and the state of Tennessee,” Parkinson said. “I’m also glad to share this day with my mother. She and I have been homeless together. But, we have overcome the hard times. And, I stand here today as a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives.”

Parkinson received the oath of office in the House Chamber located on the second floor of the state Capitol in Nashville.

Parkinson passed a bill creating a Class A misdemeanor offense for the production, manufacture, distribution or possession of additional synthetic cannabinoids.

“This is an important bill that will stop our young people from going down the wrong road of drug abuse,” Parkinson said.

Parkinson has been appointed by the House Speaker to serve on the Children and Family Affairs and State and Local Government committees.