Michael Patrick Leahy: Phil Williams’ ‘Nothing Burger’ School Choice Story is Built on Secretly Recorded 2016 Strategy Session of Choice Advocates

JC Bowman, founder and president of Professional Educators of Tennessee, and Michael Patrick Leahy, editor-in-chief and CEO of The Tennessee Star, debated an audio recording slated to be released by News Channel 5’s Phil Williams supposedly addressing the “origin of school vouchers” in Tennessee.

Read the full story

Tennessee House Democrats Want Education Commissioner Lizzette Reynolds to Resign over Lack of Classroom Qualifications

Tennessee Commissioner of Education Lizzette Reynolds is facing calls to resign over her appointment allegedly failing to comply with the Tennessee law governing her office, which was originally written in 1925 which specifies commissioners must be qualified to teach in the state’s classrooms.

A collection of Tennessee Democrats and the statewide party held a press conference on Monday to call for Renyolds’ resignation, claiming she is not legally qualified for her position, citing Tennessee Code Section 4-3-802, which specifies the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) must be overseen by a commissioner who “shall be a person of literary and scientific attainments and of skill and experience in school administration” who is also “qualified to teach in the school of the highest standing over which the commissioner has authority.”

Read the full story

Tennessee Education Association Files to Dismiss Its Suit Against Law Banning Dues Deduction from Paychecks

A three-judge panel of the Chancery Court for the State of Tennessee Twentieth Judicial District ordered the lawsuit filed by the Tennessee Education Association (TEA) that challenged a new law that prohibits association dues deduction from paychecks “dismissed without prejudice” following the union’s voluntary dismissal.

Read the full story

Court Denies Tennessee Teachers’ Union Request to Block Law Banning Dues Deduction from Paychecks

A Tennessee law that prohibits teacher association dues from being automatically deducted from paychecks may go into effect after a three-judge panel declined to issue a temporary halt to it as requested by the Tennessee Education Association (TEA).

The Chancery Court for the State of Tennessee Twentieth Judicial District, Davidson County, denied last week the teachers’ union’s motion, ending a previous temporary halt to the practice of payroll deduction for dues for professional employee organizations.

Read the full story

Commentary: Political Spending Is Hurting Public Education

I have been critical of political spending in education.  For several years, whether it was advocacy disguised as philanthropy or teacher union spending, spending by both sectors has weakened the voice of stakeholders, parents, and educators.  Citizens are less willing to get involved because issues are now more contentious. Even within Tennessee, too much education policy is being driven by groups outside the state.   

Read the full story

Commentary: Most Teachers Are Not Activists

Historically, unions have done some remarkable work in the private sector. However, union officials in the early 1950s began to capitalize on the many extraordinary powers and immunities that were created by legislatures and the courts. This allowed union bosses to no longer depend on rank-and-file workers’ input or support. Starting in the late 1950s, public-sector unions started to grow, and private-sector unions began to decrease.

Read the full story

Commentary: Tennessee’s Conversation About Rejecting Federal Money for Education

Historically, the Federal Government had limited involvement in Public Education. That changed in 1965 when President Lyndon Johnson signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) into law.

ESEA doubled federal expenditures for K-12 education and gave the federal government much more input into education. That has been the debate ever since, central control of education versus state/local control.

Read the full story

Commentary: Tennessee’s National Assessment of Educational Progress Results Don’t Tell the Whole Story

Like any other test, I am careful about reading too much into the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results. With NAEP, representative samples of students rather than the entire national, state, or district populations take the test every two years and only in 4, 8, and 12th grades.

National Center for Education Statistics Commissioner Peggy Carr said “specific pandemic-era local decisions, like how long to keep a school or district shuttered, aren’t solely the cause of these results. Exploring that deserves more research.” My response: “Why?”

Read the full story

Federal Department of Education Threatens to Ask for Money Back from Tennessee Department of Education

A late September letter from the Federal Department of Education (DOE) to the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) threatened to pull TDOE’s federal funding over what the federal government describes as failure to comply with federal assessment reporting standards in 2021.

“The assessment and accountability compliance issues are significant because they not only impact the State’s ability to provide clear and transparent information to the public about school performance, but also result in the State using information that is not comparable across schools in TDOE’s statewide accountability system,” said the letter addressed to Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Peggy Schwinn.

Read the full story

J.C. Bowman of Professional Educators of Tennessee on Williamson County School System’s Insistence That Teachers ‘Stick to a Script’

Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Leahy welcomed Professional Educators of Tennessee Executive Director and CEO JC Bowman in studio to discuss the implementation of the Instructional Practice Guide for only Williamson County public school teachers forcing teachers to stick to a “script.”

Read the full story

JC Bowman Discusses Shelby County Schools Superintendent’s Firing and the Problems with Jamming Through ESAs

Monday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Leahy welcomed Professional Educators of Tennessee Executive Director and CEO JC Bowman to the newsmaker line to discuss the recent firing of Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray and the pitfalls of jamming through Educational Savings Accounts to parents and their students.

Read the full story

Commentary: Education in the Pursuit of Happiness

People should make decisions that result in their best life possible which should include intellectual and moral effort. The Declaration of Independence identified our national identity and the moral standard by which we would live as a nation. The Declaration of Independence was identified by Harry Jaffa as the soul of America, and the Constitution as its body.

The critical elements needed in society today are virtue and character. Aristotle warned that educating the mind without educating the heart is “no education at all.” Although Thomas Jefferson never explained the phrase “the pursuit of happiness” found in the Declaration of Independence, he used a concept put forth by both John Locke and George Mason.

Read the full story

Professional Educators of Tennessee to Hold Leader U Professional Development Conference June 7 at Middle Tennessee State University

Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Leahy welcomed the Executive Director & CEO of Professional Educators of Tennessee, JC Bowman in studio to talk about how they differentiate from teachers’ unions and the upcoming Leader U Professional Development Conference event, Tuesday, June 7th at Middle Tennessee State University.

Read the full story

Flags Unfurled: Presley O’Bannon – Tripoli Hero to Marine Corps Legend

Growing up with the name O’Bannon I was vaguely aware that there was a famous person named Presley O’Bannon who was important in American History. When I got married 37 years ago to a Marine Corp veteran who has a degree in history, I was informed that not only was Presley O’Bannon an important figure in history, he was especially important to the Marines. The United States Marine Corps hymn opens with “From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli, we fight our country’s battles on the land and on the sea.” Presley O’Bannon was the man who led battles on the shores of Tripoli from whence the song lyrics came.

Read the full story

Data Show Public Sector Union Membership In Decline in the United States

Data available from state and local government payroll records – not readily available to the public – show “substantially steeper declines in public-sector union membership” in the United States.

“The best data available are state- and local-government payroll records,” Daniel DiSalvo, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, wrote at City Journal Wednesday.

Read the full story

Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton Anticipates Proposed Titans Stadium Sales Tax Winner for K-12 Education

The anticipated sales tax revenues associated with proposed upgrades to Titans Stadium could be a good idea, says JC Bowman, executive director & CEO of Professional Educators of Tennessee, but whether such a plan is “sustainable” in the long term remains a question.

In an interview with The Tennessee Star, Bowman assessed recent statements by Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton about the state investing in upgrades to Titans Stadium with the expectation that sales tax generated from major events could be invested in K-12 education, particularly in the state’s rural areas.

Read the full story

Tennessee Public School Students Required to Praise School Board Members for School Board Appreciation Week

Public school students throughout Tennessee last week celebrated School Board Appreciation Week, where students were encouraged to praise their local school board members. Staff, students, and parents at public schools were asked to adopt a board member. They sent cards and artwork to board members. They were also asked to create school board appreciation posters or ask students to draw posters of them.

Read the full story

During COVID-19, Tennessee Teachers Say In-Person Learning Poses Fewer Challenges Than Remote Learning

Some of the Tennessee’s educators said in a new survey that they worried about students missing class time during the time of COVID-19. Officials with the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) and the Tennessee Education Research Alliance (TERA) on Sunday released what they said were key findings and responses from the 2021 Tennessee Educator Survey from 40,000 educators.

Read the full story

Tennessee Officials Propose Rules on Teaching Critical Race Theory in Public Schools

A new state law that limits teaching Critical Race Theory (CRT) has prompted the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) to propose new rules as it pertains to teaching on the subject of race in public schools. According to state of Tennessee’s website, educators may not teach that one race is superior to another race. They also cannot teach that an individual is privileged due to race or sex, whether consciously or subconsciously. They also may not teach that the United States is fundamentally or irredeemably racist or sexist.

Read the full story

JC Bowman Commentary: Grow Your Own Teachers

Tennessee is a unique state, not only because we have the greatest citizens, but because of our geography.  We border eight states.  That can be an advantage and a disadvantage at times.  When economic times are good, people want to relocate to our state.  When economic times are difficult, it allows residents to move to a neighboring state and pursue more money in their chosen occupation.  In education, we lose teachers to our border states on a regular basis.

Read the full story

JC Bowman Commentary: The Looming Changes in Student Teaching

As educators, we are concerned about the quality and quantity of applicants entering the field of education.   Our members have often been catalysts for innovative solutions to the many challenges facing education.  That is why we take an interest in the next generation of educators and why our focus is on how to improve their experience and support as they transition from teacher candidate to classroom teacher.

Read the full story