Before too long, teachers throughout all of Tennessee might have to start taking bias training, either the same as or possibly like what Williamson County teachers already go through.
That depends on whether a bill in the Tennessee General Assembly gets any traction and is signed into law.
State Rep. Harold Love, D-Nashville, sponsors the proposed legislation in the state house while State Sen. Raumesh Akbari, D-Memphis, sponsors a companion bill in the state senate.
“Beginning with the 2019-2020 school year, this bill requires that all school personnel receive implicit bias in-service training that encourages school personnel to explore and discover their own implicit biases in order to deliver more equitable education to all students,” according to a summary of the bill, as described on the Tennessee General Assembly’s website.
“This bill requires the department of education to develop a model evidence-based, bias-reducing in-service training program for school personnel that may be used by LEAs to provide the required training. An LEA may use the program developed by the department or the LEA may develop its own program. If an LEA develops its own program, the commissioner of education must approve the program before its implementation.”
The bill also requires that all students admitted to a teaching preparation course in the 2019-2020 academic year and academic years thereafter, and who desire a license to teach, pass a course of implicit bias training, according to the bill’s summary.
According to the language of the bill:
• “implicit biases are learned stereotypes that are automatic, unintentional, universal, and can influence behavior”
• “implicit bias training can help expose a person to the person’s unintentional biases”
• “implicit bias training for teachers in this state can assist our teachers to recognize and reverse these unintentional and universal biases in the classroom”
According to the Tennessee General Assembly’s website as of Wednesday night, the House bill is awaiting a hearing in the Education Administration Subcommittee, while the Senate version was referred to the Senate Education Committee.