TREND Winter 2017/2018 - Page 34

P rofessional S tandards Teachers’ Code of Ethics A fresh look at Tennessee’s Teacher Code of Ethics is long overdue. The current Tennessee legislation, T.C.A. 49-5-1003 and T.C.A. 49-5-1004, ddresses educators’ obligations to students and the education profession. Although well intended, these two brief statutes may not go far enough in the area of ethics training and accountability. On the heels of the report issued by the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury’s Office of Research and Education Accountability (OREA) detailing numerous challenges in protecting students from predatory educators, there was a section dealing specifically with ethics. It is clear that training can help alleviate numerous issues. It is also likely Lawmakers will propose a broader, more comprehensive Professional Code of Ethics. The benefits of the Professional Code of ethics are numerous. Insurance risks and costs go down, good behavior examples for our children go up, and, rather than relying on intuition and guesswork, the Code provides substantive standards, guidelines and enforcement. Training could easily be provided by the state, LEA, or teacher associations. We expect professional ethics to be an ongoing issue during legislative session, as well as through the upcoming election cycle. Educators’ Bill of Rights We were honored to support the “Teachers’ Bill of Rights” legislation last year, and respectfully 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. The Bill of Rights was intended as a solid foundation on which to build, establishing a set of basic rights for teachers. This session, we would like to see the addition of language that addresses the sometimes subjective nature of teacher evaluations, wihch have so much bearing on an educator’s career future. We plan to support an amendment by Rep. Jay Reedy (one of the original bill sponsors) to require that only trained evaluators perform the evaluations. Read more about the passage of the Teachers’ Bill of Rights in the Spring 2017 issue of TREND.