The state Senate Education Committee on Tuesday passed a bill called the Teacher Bill of Rights that educators say would give teachers much-needed respect.
However, the bill was amended to take out a provision prohibiting Tennessee public school teachers from being evaluated by professionals who do not have the same subject matter expertise or from being evaluated based on the performance of students the educator has not taught. The provision had earlier been removed from a companion bill in the House. Also stripped from the Senate bill Tuesday was a provision prohibiting schools from moving teachers to other schools based solely on test scores from state mandated assessments.
The former had been deemed too unwieldy and costly, and bill sponsor Sen. Mark Green (R-Clarksville) told the committee Tuesday the latter provision wouldn’t give struggling schools the flexibility they need. “I’ve gotten to the point where I can accept that,” he said.
The bill retained measures calling for teachers to be treated with civility and have their professional judgment respected. It also frees them from the burden of spending personal money to “appropriately equip a classroom.” It promises teachers a “safe classroom and school” and underscores their right to defend themselves if threatened with violence. In addition, the bill gives teachers a say in the materials that are used in their classrooms.
The bill passed with seven senators voting in favor of the bill, one voting against, and one passing on voting. Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga) voted against the bill because he said he was concerned about costs and liability issues associated with a law guaranteeing a safe environment.