Commentary: Education at the Speed of Light


Legislators are like the swallows of Capistrano. They appear around the same time each year.

And often times they move so quickly through the process they do not get to take the time to digest the issues.  For those readers who like audience participation, we could really use your help to sway legislators on some key legislation for educators.  So feel free to email or call policymakers and let them know you support these great pieces of legislation. It’s easy as 1, 2, 3. 

Here are the three education issues we could use your immediate support with:

  1. House Bill 111/Senate Bill 661 (Certification) This legislation removes the prohibition on the commissioner’s ability to waive regulatory or statutory requirements related to licensure of employees upon application by an LEA.   Numerous teachers lose their license to teach because a district does not file timely paperwork. There is no appeals process. This addresses the issue. (Rep. Joe Pitts and Sen. Jim Tracy)
  2. House Bill 174/Senate Bill 14 (The Teacher Bill of Rights): 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. Key principles teachers identified: Being treated with civility and respect; have his or her professional judgment and discretion respected; report any errant, offensive, or abusive content or behavior of students to school officials or appropriate agencies; provide students with a classroom and school in which the educators, students, the property of the educator and students, and peers will be safe; and, defend themselves and their students from physical violence or physical harm. These all seem like common sense proposals. 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. (Rep. Jay Reedy and Sen. Mark Green)
  3. House Bill 356/Senate Bill 404 (Equal Rights for Teachers Bill): The current law is unclear as to whether payroll deductions must be offered equally.  And districts have little guidance or on-going training on this issue. This legislation clarifies it and makes it explicit that all 80,000 educators should have the right to have payroll deductions for the organization of their choice.  The union has opposed this legislation, which limits employee freedom. (Rep. Bill Dunn and Sen. Dolores Gresham)

There is no stronger influence on education legislation than the voice of actual classroom teachers and Tennessee voters. Here you will find contact information for members of education committees during the current General Assembly session. For more details visit the Tennessee General Assembly website.


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JC Bowman is the Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. Follow him on Twitter @jcbowman. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the association are properly cited.


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