TREND Spring 2017 - Page 17

Education Policy excellent pieces of legislation, HB0441 (Rep. Eddie Smith) and HB0457 (Rep. Mary Littleton), were introduced this session which should sufficiently cover this issue. Another issue that surfaced, but was not included in this legislation, was that teachers are concerned with numerous evaluation issues and would like to ensure that they are evaluated only by trained evaluators. Teachers do not mind being evaluated for their own performance. The state may wish to consider allowing local education agencies to use at least one alternative growth model that has been approved by the board of education for evaluation of teachers in non-tested grades and subjects. The department of education must work to develop alternative student growth models for grade levels and subjects that do not have growth models. These are huge steps in addressing these concerns, and cannot be ignored in the future. Teachers being coerced into political activities did not make the list, but is frequently cited. Also, many non-union teachers have asked for the right to have payroll dues deductions, like their union counterparts. This was supposedly addressed through Professional Employees Collaborative Conferencing Act, but implementation has been inadequate, and it does address LEAs who are not engaged in Collaboratice Conferencing. By promulgating a policy that establishes an arbitrary minimum membership threshold in order to receive this benefit, it is likely LEA’s are acting arbitrarily and capriciously. Failure to provided payroll deduction to ALL teachers likely violates pertinent sections of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution. At some point, the Tennessee General Assembly must bring clarity to the issue of payroll deduction. Working alongside Representative Jay Reedy and Senator Mark Green on this legislation, we incorporated direct teacher input in this process. We conferred with the Tennessee Department of Education, Tennessee School Boards Association, and the State Collaborative on Reforming Education, all of whom added their opinion. We carefully worked to avoid any language that may be litigious. We also conversed with the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents General Counsel Chuck Cagle on this issue. Mr. Cagle indicated that he did not see anything currently being proposed that would be a cause of action if the legislation passed. That being said, needless lawsuits are filed daily across the state. I believe HB1196 (Representative Tim Rudd), which creates liability protections for educational entities and employees, would also add additional protection. No legislation is perfect, but The Teachers’ Bill of Rights (SB0014/HB0174) is a foundation for building upon, and moves us forward in identifying the rights of Tennessee Educators. Respecting the authority of teachers is essential for fostering the best learning environment for Tennessee’s students, and securing an educators professional growth and freedom in our classrooms. Educators are willing to hold themselves to the highest standard of professional conduct, but we should reasonably expect society to respect those men and women who teach our children. We are honored to support this legislation. We espectfully asked legislators to support this needed legislation for the teachers in their districts and across the state. The Tennessee General Assembly has sent a positive message that respecting the authority of teachers is essential to creating an environment conducive to learning, effective instruction in the classroom, and proper administration of our local public schools. Read the full text of final bill as amended: SB0014 / HB0174 Teachers’ Bill of Rights