On Friday’s Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am – the team discussed how Williamson County Schools failed to follow Tennessee State law by submitting a calendar for the academic year instead of the legally required in-service plan to the Tennessee Department of Education for approval of the controversial “white privilege” in-service training delivered to the system’s teachers this year.
A local teacher named Ruth called in and explained the difference between a lesson plan and a school calendar and also offered some detailed information on the topic:
Gill: Let’s go to Ruth. Ruth wanted to talk a little bit about the distinction between a plan and what the state of Tennessee and Williamson county and others are doing in terms of their in-service training calendar. Ruth welcome to the Tennessee Star Report.
Ruth: Good morning. Hi. I am a teacher and anybody in education knows that there is a massive difference between a school calendar and a plan. As teachers, we’re required to have lesson plans. And I can’t just write down I’m going to teach math today. I have to have…
Gill: Or that today is Monday. Or Friday. Yeah, that’s not a lesson plan.
Ruth: That is not a lesson plan. So, that’s is just silly. Because we all know we have to write detailed descriptions, and we are required to do in that class.
Gill: And then don’t you have to do it also Ruth, isn’t it also in order to get credit for your lesson plan and the planning process thats part of your compensation, part of your retention. You not only have to submit the detailed plan and have it approved, you have to teach to that plan or you also get punished.
Ruth: Absolutely. I mean, there is, you know you may not approve a plan you may vary a little bit. They do have to stick to the plan. There are certain things you have to accomplish, period.
Gill: But if you’re teaching college advanced placement English you can’t just decide you’re going to show the Animal House movie and various college movies that’s going to comply with your college advanced placement. You’ve got to teach to the plan that you’re going to put forward.
Ruth: Well you can. (Gill and Leahy chuckle)
Gill: The Animal House probably cost lest to film and produce than this Williamson County video.
Ruth: Well that is for sure. And besides that, the students could of put it together easier (Gill laughs) with no money.
Leahy: Hey Ruth. So let me ask you this. If you were to become a superintendent of schools, having taught for so long, and then you were preparing your, as part of your duties, you were preparing your in-service training plan. Which the law, chapter 49, section 6-3004, subparagraph c of the Tennessee code annotated says you must produce a plan of in-service training, have it approved by the school board and then submit it to the Department of Education where the commissioner must approve it. If you read that, and that’s part of your job, knowing you’ve been in education for so long would you prepare a calendar or would you prepare a plan? And what would that plan entail?
Ruth: Well a plan except if I was trying to hide something then I would just write something. Here you go.
Gill: And the state approves it and you say well we got it approve. Because they didn’t even just submit the in-service calendar. They just submitted here is the calendar for the year that included when spring break is, when holiday breaks were. There wasn’t even an in-service plan. It was just a calendar of the school year.
Ruth: Right. And I have a calendar of my school year and it has nothing to do with my lesson plan. Nothing.
Gill: And yet The Tennessean accepting that somehow this follows the protocol of what you should submit and what gets approved and then “all is well,” because they submitted the school calendar as their plan.
Ruth: No. And I sure hope that people really pay attention and you know think that this isn’t just no big deal. I hope they realize that it is a big deal. You know, this is your children that this is going on and being taught to. So, I hope we’re being careful about it.
Gill: Ruth, when teachers are told during the in-service training this is what’s important. That, part and parcel to that is you better think this is important because this is how we determine whether we keep you, promote you, give you pay raises. I mean there really is this insidious intimidation in teacher in-service, I believe. Because it’s pretty much telling you toe the line on this stuff because this is what we think is important too. Is that accurate?
Ruth: Well, no doubt about it, no doubt about it. You are an employee and they’re your boss. So, you know, there you go.
Leahy: So what’s the experience like on this in-service training I mean. When you go in, you’ve had multiple days of in-service training I would assume?
Leahy: And so when you go into that it’s very important you must attend. If you knew that the in-service training plan presented to you by your school system had not been approved according to state law. As a teacher, what would you think of that in-service training?
Ruth: Well, I definitely would say something for sure. I mean we have a right to say something. If it’s not approved then you don’t have a right to have me sit there and have to listen to it. And you have to go to in-service. It is not optional. Not optional at all!
Gill: Yeah it’s required by the state. Here’s my point Ruth. If it wasn’t approved properly if there wasn’t a plan submitted, if they didn’t follow the plan then what they’ve done as in-service is not an approved in-service frankly the State of Tennessee ought to be demanding that every school system that did not submit an adequate plan or teach to that plan has to re-do it. And if that means they’ve got to spend another six hundred thousand dollars or whatever it is they are spending they’ve got to do it all over again to comply with what the law requires to meet the in-service standards. And they’re going to have to come up with, do they fire three bureaucrats or whatever to create the funding to do their in-service over again because they didn’t do it lawfully the first time.
Ruth: Right. Well as a teacher I’d hate to say I’d like to sit through in-service again but you’re right. You’re absolutely right.
Gill: I mean if you found a student that cheated on the test and you’re going to give him a do-over you don’t just give him a do-over and say ok I’m going to pass you with out taking the test again. I’m sorry, you didn’t take the test. You cheated on the test. We’re going to give you a do-over but you’ll have to take the test again.
Ruth: Right. Right. Absolutely.
Gill: And again I’d hate to burden teachers across the state with having to go through more drivel pretending to be in-service training but that’s on the State of Tennessee. that’s on these school districts. And the school board members ought to be answering to teachers. Why are we having to go subject ourselves to this a second time because you all didn’t do your job. And we’re going to remember next election day when these school board members are up that you made us sit through another five days of unnecessary in-service because you didn’t do your jobs.
Ruth: Right. Absolutely. I hope people think about it and remember. I really do. We have the power. We can elect these people or we cannot elect them.
Gill: And if teachers feel the pain of having to be subjected to another five days of worthless in-service training because the school board and school superintendents didn’t do their jobs, that might motivate them. If they just blindly go along maybe it won’t. Politicians respond to pain and the only pain they feel is at the polls.
Listen to the full segment here:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 am to the Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Background Photo “Teacher Teaching” by Ilmicrofono Oggiono. CC BY 2.0.