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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Teachers Under Attack

UPDATE 2/25: Johnson City teachers will not be able to attend demonstration in Nashville. Story in JC Press.

UPDATE: Join us Saturday from noon to two p.m. on North Roan as we publicly support our teachers.
Details here!

In Wisconsin, Ohio, and now Tennessee, teachers are targeted as scapegoats.


Republican lawmakers in Tennessee have proposed some incredibly backward and mean-spirited legislation that will not only hurt teachers but education in general.

Teachers and those who support public education are going to Nashville Saturday March 5th. Join them at the Bicentennial Mall from noon to three. Wear red. Here is that story.

The Tennessee Education Association is urging all teachers to take part in the march to Legislative Plaza on Saturday, March 5 from 12 p.m. until 3 p.m. They're meeting at the Bicentennial Mall in Downtown Nashville, and asking everyone to wear red.

The TEA said "Several bills have been introduced to the 107th Tennessee General Assembly that attack public school educators and the Tennessee Education Association. It's obvious these bills have nothing to do with ‘education reform' in Tennessee."
Here is the article in yesterday's Johnson City Press.
After 28 Republican-backed bills were proposed in the state Senate this month concerning public education in Tennessee, the educators who make up the Johnson City Education Association said there is more at risk than just collective bargaining.

The elimination of collective bargaining, proposed in one Senate bill, would remove teachers’ rights to negotiate as a group for salary, benefits and working conditions.

A Jan. 26 Johnson City Press article discussed the concern that Johnson City teachers held over the potential loss of collective bargaining.

Four members of the JCEA spoke with the Press Tuesday about further implications of the wave of education legislation.

Among their concerns was a bill that would eliminate the requirement for licensure among teachers, principals and school supervisors. Under the proposed bill, the current requirements of a degree in education and the passing of numerous standardized Praxis tests would no longer be needed in order to teach.

“I don’t think any parent would want their child taught by an unlicensed teacher,” said Jennifer Gaby, UniServ coordinator for the Tennessee Education Association, which includes the JCEA.

Another bill would lengthen the number of years required before a teacher could receive tenure. The JCEA said misconceptions are prevalent concerning the actual meaning of tenure in the Tennessee public school system.

“All it does is provide due process,” said Gaby. “It provides you a hearing if you think you’ve been unfairly dismissed.” Tenured teachers can still be dismissed if they are found by the administration to be inadequate. Tenure allows those teachers to appeal the dismissal if they feel it was not justified.

“That’s the public misconception — that tenure is a lifetime guarantee of a job,” said Joe Crabtree, JCEA president. “I don’t know a single teacher who thinks that. Especially here in Johnson City, every teacher here is frankly working their butt off to make sure that we stay at the top.”

Another frequent misconception, according to Karen Anderson, a JCEA member and secondgrade teacher at Lake Ridge Elementary, is that any group associated with TEA holds the same political leaning as the National Education Association. While TEA is part of the NEA, Anderson said the teachers who make up the TEA have no obligation to support the NEA’s views.

“There isn’t an outside entity called TEA that is telling teachers what to do,” said Anderson. “TEA is teachers. It is the voters, the people who live in the state, who pay taxes who are members. Our president is a math teacher from Sevier County. All the board of directors are teachers, principals or supervisors across the state.”

Two-thirds of Johnson City teachers are members of TEA.

Some legislators have implied a difference between teachers and the TEA, such as State Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, who said the TEA had “outrun its usefulness,” then added, “I want teachers to know this (legislation) is a pro-teacher thing.”

“What’s happening is they’re trying to silence the voice of the public school teacher,” said Crabtree.

Misinformation — such as the discrepancies presented in the current proposed legislation — Crabtree said, only supports TEA’s argument that the teachers’ unified voice needs to be preserved in order to present the educator’s side.

“Every time we mention collective bargaining, everyone goes to the money,” said Crabtree. “But it’s about the working conditions, the length of the student day, the length of the teacher day.”

One example of the product of collective bargaining was the inspection and renovation of the Science Hill High School Tech Center.

“We filed a grievance, and that’s what got the technical building worked on,” said Deidre Brown, TEA member and math teacher at Science Hill High School. (Read More)
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