Promoters of state legislation called the Teacher Bill of Rights say it’s time teachers got more respect.
The bill, sponsored by State Sen. Mark Green (R-Clarksville) in the Senate and State Rep. Jay Reedy (R-Erin) in the House, covers a wide range of issues of concern to educators, including student discipline and standardized testing. The bill goes before the Senate Education Committee next week.
The proposed legislation gives Tennessee public school teachers backing in reporting student misbehavior and defending themselves against physical harm. It also says teachers have the right to review all materials used by their students and that teachers should not be expected to spend personal money on supplies. It also calls for teachers to be evaluated only by those with the same subject matter expertise and says teachers should never be evaluated based on the performance of students they have never taught. In addition, the bill says teachers should not be relocated to another school based solely on test scores from state mandated assessments. The bill also calls for allowing teachers to act on their “own conscience,” giving them more room to use their professional judgment and discretion.
“Teachers have been under attack lately,” said teacher Kyle Mallory in an interview with The Tennessee Star. “This is a common-sense, nonpartisan bill.”
Mallory is a government and economics teacher at Stewart County High School in Dover and serves on the State Textbook and Instructional Materials Quality Commission. He says the principal and administration at his school are excellent, but through serving on the commission he has come to learn that many teachers around the state do not have it as good.
Mallory, who has fought back against instructional materials that he believes are biased in favor of Islam, said he especially appreciates the section of the bill that gives teachers more say in the materials they use with students.
Amy Flatt, who used to teach for Metro Nashville Public Schools, told The Star that during her time there, older teachers were unfairly pushed out the door in favor of younger ones. She also said there were problems with students hitting teachers and stealing and breaking their things. In extreme cases, teachers were threatened with rape and murder by parents, she said.
Even as teachers face these types of challenges, people think teachers can fix all the problems in society, placing an enormous burden on them, she said.
“This environment plus the long hours are running teachers out of the profession,” said Flatt, who hopes the Teacher Bill of Rights could help turn things around. “The issues being addressed are not issues everywhere in our state, but where they are, a remedy is desperately needed.”