Saying “Thank You” on Labor Day

In the article “12 Seriously Stressful Jobs,” Miranda Marquit lists teaching as being 5th most stressful job in America. Do you know what are 1-4? A combat soldier, air traffic controller, firefighter and coal miner are the only people who have more stressful jobs than a teacher.

I was a teacher many years ago before the digital age. I don’t remember ever getting to anything that I wanted to do. I never watched TV or read books that weren’t required for my job. I stayed up past 11:00 PM and was up before 6:00 AM every weekday. And in the summers, I had to attend workshops and trainings to be able to renew my license.

Today, thanks to many excessive bureaucratic regulations, the hoops teachers must jump through far exceed any that were required for teachers in the 90’s. Therefore teacher attrition rate is at an all-time high. The Alliance for Excellent Education states that turnover is especially high for new teachers. They estimate 40 to 50 percent of new teachers leave the profession within 5 years. This is what happens when politicians make the rules for what educators can and cannot do in their classrooms. To become a coveted “highly effective teacher,” there are so many t’s to cross and i’s to dot that it is no wonder teachers leave the profession in droves. I have personally had several highly-acclaimed teacher friends with 30+ years of experience threaten to leave the profession because of the stress of all the new regulations.

However, it is not the goal of this Labor Day article to try to fix the current woes in education. Our goal is to say “Thank-you” to all the educators in Tennessee. In many states, school does not even start until after Labor Day, but Tennessee teachers have been at it for weeks now. We at the Professional Educators of Tennessee acknowledge the selfless job teachers do every day on behalf of the world’s future laborers. We also want to thank the military, firefighters and policeman for protecting us in many unenviable situations (and who, collectively, never get a day off). And we give an extra big “Thank-you” to the others workers who have to work on Labor Day such as health-care workers, and restaurant and retail employees. Thank you for what you do for the rest of us who enjoy a day off. While you are enjoying the holiday, please remember to thank those around you who provide a service to you and your family. And definitely, give your child’s teacher the accolades he/she deserves.

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Bethany Bowman is the Director of Professional Learning for Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Brentwood, Tennessee. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the association are properly cited. For more information on this subject or any education issue please contact Professional Educators of Tennessee. To schedule an interview please contact Audrey Shores, Director of Communications, at 1-800-471-4867 ext.102.

Legislative Update: March 23-27, 2015

Here’s your legislative update for this week:

House Education Administration and Planning Subcommittee:

Recommended to full committee:

HB78, sponsored by Rep. McCormick, revises the testing schedule of TCAP.

HB921, sponsored by Rep. Akbari, allows priority schools to take certain steps to avoid being reassigned to the Achievement School District.

HB1117, sponsored by Rep. Alexander, requires that the state salary schedule be adjusted when the General Assembly raises teacher salaries. (ProEdTN will release more information about this bill early next week.)

HB157, sponsored by Rep. Casada, permits charter school operators to choose insurance plans offered to its employees.

HB260, sponsored by Rep. Coley, removes the requirement that the Department of Education submit bids for certain Internet and e-learning services to the Comptroller for approval.

HB735, sponsored by Rep. Love, Jr., allows a priority school one year to address academic achievement before the Department of Education can impose any intervention.

HB659, sponsored by Rep. Reedy, allows students with certain medical conditions to self-manage prescribed enzyme therapy without additional assistance or direction. (In layman’s terms, students with diabetes may give themselves insulin shots.)

Off Notice:

HB663, sponsored by Rep. Alexander, revised the membership of the State Board of Education.

Deferred to summer study:

HB762, sponsored by Rep. Byrd, changes the director’s notification of a child’s unexcused absences, requires six unexcused absences to be reported to juvenile court as truant, and allows four unexcused absences per semester before written excuse be required.

Failed:

HB856, sponsored by Rep. Beck, would have prohibited a school assigned to the ASD from serving grades that the school did not serve before reassignment. It also prohibited ASD from from recruiting students not zoned for its school.

HB858, sponsored by Rep. Beck, would have allowed the commissioner of education to assign priority schools or grade configurations within ASD except with 60% parental objection. Bill failed to receive a motion to be heard.

House Education Administration and Planning Committee:

Recommended:

HB904, sponsored by Rep. Clemmons, prohibits the denial of an administrative license solely based on the teacher receiving a Master’s from an out-of-state college or university. This bill is set for the House Floor on April 1st.

HB112, sponsored by Rep. Eldridge, increases the allowable size of advertising on school buses. This bill is set for House Finance Subcommittee on April 1st.

HB874, sponsored by Rep. Love, Jr, requires that teachers’ years of service at a public charter school be recognized by their original LEAs when they return from their leave of absence. This bill is set for the House Floor on March 30th.

HB683, sponsored by Rep. Van Huss , prohibits school personnel, students, and parents from being required to disclose firearm ownership. This bill was sent to House Calendar and Rules.

HB891, sponsored by Rep. Dunlap, allows principals to excuse students for non-school-sponsored extracurricular activities. This bill is set for the House Floor on April 1st.

HB1049, sponsored by Rep. Dunn, establishes the Tennessee Choice and Opportunity Scholarship, or vouchers. This bill is set for House Government Operations Committee on March 31st. (Here is our official editorial on this bill.)

Deferred to summer study:

HB116, sponsored by Rep. Ramsey, requires the BEP funding formula to fund 12 months of medical insurance premiums for local education employees.

House Education Instruction and Programs Subcommittee:

Recommended to full committee:

HB10, sponsored by Rep. McCormick, requires that students pass the US citizenship test with a 60 to graduate high school.

HB947, sponsored by Rep. Harry Brooks, increases charter school application fees.

HB1089, sponsored by Rep. Dunlap, allows parents and teachers to view standardized test questions and student answers.

HB834, sponsored by Rep. Powers, allows local school boards adopt policies for released time religious courses.

HB830, sponsored by Rep. Turner, encourages districts to educate middle and high school students on domestic violence.

HB1070, sponsored by Rep. Kane, requires K-5 students to receive two PE courses of 30 to 45 minutes weekly, taught by a certified PE teacher, with no exemptions but medical.

Deferred to summer study:

HB889, sponsored by Rep. Moody, creates certain requirements for schools using digital learning platforms.

Off Notice:

HB983, sponsored by Rep. Hill, would prohibit standardized testing in grades K-2.

HB685, sponsored by Rep. Van Huss, required the General Assembly to approve new curriculum standards before they become effective.

Failed, but not necessarily dead:

HB1159, sponsored by Rep. Ramsey, requires (instead of “encourages”) school districts to consult with stakeholders before adopting policies regarding bullying. The discussion on the bill revolved around a time limit – 20 days – for investigating bullying incidents, but the limit was for the timely conclusion of the investigation, not the initiation of it. Because of the voting on this bill, it’s possible that it can be heard in subcommittee again, especially with an amendment that addresses the “20 days” section.

Failed and dead:

HB1348, sponsored by Rep. Weaver, would have repealed Common Core and reverted Tennessee back to the 2009 academic standards. No one voted for this bill; it is unlikely any members of subcommittee would request to have it placed back onto the calendar.

House Education Instruction and Programs Committee:

Joint resolutions passed:

HJR16, sponsored by Rep. Deberry, recommends educators, parents, and students be educated about the potential health impact of heavy backpacks and take proactive measures to avoid injury. This bill was sent to House Calendar and Rules.

Bills Recommended:

HB1361, sponsored by Rep. Calfee, extends kindergarten eligibility to certain pre-K students. This bill is set for House Finance Subcommittee on April 1st.

HB650, sponsored by Rep. Holsclaw, Jr, establishes Tennessee Weekend of Prayer over Students on the first weekend in August. This bill was sent to House Calendar and Rules.

HB1204, sponsored by Rep. Ragan, asserts that civic education is the responsibility of every Tennessee public school. This bill was sent to House Calendar and Rules.

HB968, sponsored by Rep. Shaw, requires the textbook commission to study the age and physical status of textbooks in the state. This bill is set for House Consent on March 30th.

HB1035, sponsored by Rep. Spivey, as amended replaces the Common Core State Standards with standards developed by a committee by 2017. (Click here to read the amendment; it’s pretty detailed.) This bill was sent to House Finance.

Senate Education Committee:

Joint resolutions passed:

SJR118 confirms the appointment of Dr. Jason Robinson to the State Textbook and Instructional Materials Quality Commission.

Bills Recommended: 

SB119, sponsored by Sen. Norris, temporarily modifies the percentages in teacher evaluation data and alters some teacher tenure provisions. (Click here for the bill in its entirety; email info@proedtn.org for the short version.) This bill was sent to the Senate Consent Calendar 2 for March 30th.

SB1105, sponsored by Sen. Beavers, prohibits educators for being disciplined for reporting errors, inaccuracies, or inflammatory material in textbooks and other instructional materials. This bill is set for the Senate Floor on March 30th.

SB1163, sponsored by Sen. Bell, as amended replaces the Common Core State Standards with standards developed by a committee by 2017. (Click here to read the amendment; it’s pretty detailed.) This bill was sent to Senate Finance.

Off notice: 

SB757, sponsored by Sen. Harper, would have prohibited a school assigned to the ASD from serving grades that the school did not serve before reassignment. It also prohibited ASD from from recruiting students not zoned for its school. This bill was taken off notice because the House bill failed in subcommittee.

SB954, sponsored by Sen. Harris, required school buses purchased or ordered after July 1, 2016, to be equipped with restraint systems for the driver and all passengers. This bill was taken off notice because the House bill has been deferred to summer study.

SB693, sponsored by Sen. Niceley, prohibited the use of BEP funds to be used at nonpublic schools.

SB803, sponsored by Sen. Niceley, prohibited the use of Measurement Inc. as an assessment developer or provider.

SB808, sponsored by Sen. Niceley, addressed charter school attrition rates.

SB671, sponsored by Sen. Niceley, would prohibit standardized testing in grades K-2.

SB1007, sponsored by Sen. Niceley, would have allowed certain high performing districts to become “Home Rule” LEAs. (The entire bill is here.)

SB155, sponsored by Sen. Overbey, required the BEP to fund 12 months of local school district employee medical insurance. The House bill was referred to a summer study.

SB894, sponsored by Sen. Briggs, would have limited the length of teachers’ contractual obligations, set a compensation standard for time worked outside of contracted time, and required districts to notify teachers of additional service required by April 1.

SB29, sponsored by Sen. Hensley, would have prevented the use of certain restraints in special education services.

SB966, sponsored by Sen. Tate, addressed proficiency scores and priority schools.

SB340, sponsored by Sen. Gresham, allowed local boards of education to shift certain funds between budget categories.

SB455, sponsored by Sen. Bell, allowed districts to offer preK programs for at-risk students outside of the academic year.

SB1022, sponsored by Sen. Gresham, required the General Assembly to approve new curriculum standards before they become effective.

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When the video update is ready, it will be posted here.

This is not an exhaustive list of what the legislature heard or voted on this week. Not included are higher education and scholarship bills, bills that have been deferred, and bills that do not relate to education. Additionally, the bills are described very briefly. We encourage you to research them for further information, or you can contact us.

The objective of this update is to provide unbiased information regarding the bills and actions taken by the legislature. For our opinions on them and actions we took to influence legislators’ opinions of the bills, contact us at advocacy@proedtn.org.

Legislative Update: March 16-20, 2015

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We had an awesome video for you last week. While that’s being created, here’s your legislative update for this week:

House Education Administration and Planning Subcommittee:

Recommended to full committee:

HB904, sponsored by Rep. Clemmons, prohibits the denial of an administrative license solely based on the teacher receiving a Master’s from an out-of-state college or university.

HB874, sponsored by Rep. Love, Jr, requires that teachers’ years of service at a public charter school be recognized by their original LEAs when they return from their leave of absence.

HB116, sponsored by Rep. Ramsey, requires the BEP funding formula to fund 12 months of medical insurance premiums for local education employees.

HB1221, sponsored by Rep. Towns, Jr, requires an LEA to transfer a student upon parent request when their child has been sexually abused while in the care of a public school.

HB683, sponsored by Rep. Van Huss , prohibits school personnel, students, and parents from being required to disclose firearm ownership.

HB473, sponsored by Rep. Harry Brooks, as amended expands the enrollment of ASD charter schools.

HB891, sponsored by Rep. Dunlap, allows principals to excuse students for non-school-sponsored extracurricular activities.

Off Notice:

HB920, sponsored by Rep. Akbari, requires new ASD schools to serve all grades that the school served before reassignment.

HB37, sponsored by Rep. Dunn, prohibits certain restraints from being used on students receiving special education services.

Deferred to summer study:

HB1349, sponsored by Rep. Weaver, establishes a progressive truancy intervention program to prevent students from entering the juvenile justice system for absenteeism. Many districts already have a plan in place for this purpose, and it is not clear whether this bill overrides a district’s plan or is to be in place concurrently, or if a district having a plan would exempt them from this plan. Research will be conducted to determine the benefits of this plan.

House Education Administration and Planning Committee:

Recommended:

HB645, sponsored by Rep. McCormick, establishes the Educator Protection Act. Authorizes the state to develop and fund teacher liability insurance. No actual details on the insurance are available; the bill would have to be passed before the policy is determined. This bill was sent to House Government Operations.

HB158, sponsored by Rep. Casada, expands the Little Hatch Act to apply to teachers, and by “teachers”, the bill lists essentially any employee in a school system. The expansion prohibits district employees from political campaigning while performing school duties. This bill was sent to House Calendar and Rules.

HB1031, sponsored by Rep. Daniel, as amended requires that teachers be notified of dismissal 5 (five) instructional days prior to the end of the school year. This bill was sent to House Calendar and Rules.

HB429, sponsored by Rep. Goins, prohibits teachers from being disciplined for reporting errors or “inflammatory material” contained in textbooks or other instructional materials. This bill was sent to House Calendar and Rules.

HB1171, sponsored by Rep. Smith, as amended permits districts to refuse federal funding without state penalty as long other districts are not impacted by this decision. This bill was sent to House Finance.

Off Notice, but not really:

HB1049, sponsored by Rep. Dunn, establishes the Tennessee Choice and Opportunity Scholarship, or vouchers. This bill was taken off notice last week, but it is on next week’s calendar.

House Education Instruction and Programs Subcommittee:

Recommended to full committee:

HB1361, sponsored by Rep. Calfee, extends kindergarten eligibility to certain pre-K students. Upon further research, it appears this bill does not conflict with or change current state law regarding kindergarten eligibility.

HB650, sponsored by Rep. Holsclaw, Jr, establishes Tennessee Day of Prayer over Students on the first Thursday in September.

HB1204, sponsored by Rep. Ragan, asserts that civic education is the responsibility of every Tennessee public school.

HB968, sponsored by Rep. Shaw, requires the textbook commission to study the age and physical status of textbooks in the state.

HB1035, sponsored by Rep. Spivey, as amended replaces the Common Core State Standards with standards developed by a committee by 2017. (Click here to read the amendment; it’s pretty detailed.) This bill was recommended to allow a full discussion of the bill by the full committee.

HB138, sponsored by Rep. Moody, enacts the Individualized Education Act, an education spending account program for eligible children with special needs.

Off Notice:

HB1362, sponsored by Rep. Calfee, addressed charter school attrition rates.

HB1231, sponsored by Rep. Towns, Jr, addressed proficiency cut scores for the determination of the priority schools list.

HB1058, sponsored by Rep. Van Huss, required districts to make digital textbooks and instructional materials available to the public.

House Education Instruction and Programs Committee:

Recommended:

HB98, sponsored by Rep. McCormick, makes minor changes to the way underage DUI fatalities are reported to the Department of Education, districts, and, ultimately, high school students. This bill was sent to House Calendar and Rules.

Senate Education Committee:

Joint resolutions passed:

SJR107, sponsored by Sen. Ketron, opposes a National School Board.

SJR142, sponsored by Sen. Tracy, urges the State Board to approve teacher training programs for occupational teacher licensure.

SJR119, sponsored by Sen. Gresham, confirms the appointment of Susan Bunch to the Textbook and Instructional Materials Quality Commission.

Bills Recommended: 

SB27, sponsored by Sen. Gresham, enacts the Individualized Education Act, an education spending account program for eligible children with special needs. This bill was sent to Senate Finance.

SB1229, sponsored by Sen. Bell, requires local boards of education to provide information on lobbying and professional association expenditures in their budgets. This bill was sent to Senate Calendar Committee.

SB1088, sponsored by Sen. Harris, prohibits the denial of an administrative license solely based on the teacher receiving a Master’s from an out-of-state college or university. This bill was sent to Senate Calendar Committee.

SB334, sponsored by Sen. Jackson, increases the size of advertising allowed on school buses. This bill was sent to Senate Calendar Committee.

SB1025, sponsored by Sen. Ketron, requires K-5 students to receive 2 PE classes of 30 to 45 minutes each taught by a certified PE teacher weekly and prohibits the removal of a student from these classes for any reason other than medical conditions or physical disability. This bill was sent to Senate Finance.

SB600, sponsored by Sen. Kelsey, as amended allows parents to petition for the restructuring of a school following a specific process and prohibiting them for petitioning schools already undergoing intervention. This bill was sent to Senate Finance.

SB293, sponsored by Sen. Gresham, as amended expands the enrollment of ASD charter schools. This bill was sent to Senate Finance.

Off notice: 

SB1241 – off notice, sponsored by Sen. Bell, addressed the notification of districts regarding juvenile delinquency.

SB8, sponsored by Sen. Massey, addressed teacher reemployment after retirement.

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When the video update is ready, it will be posted here.

This is not an exhaustive list of what the legislature heard or voted on this week. Not included are higher education and scholarship bills, bills that have been deferred, and bills that do not relate to education. Additionally, the bills are described very briefly. We encourage you to research them for further information, or you can contact us.

The objective of this update is to provide unbiased information regarding the bills and actions taken by the legislature. For our opinions on them and actions we took to influence legislators’ opinions of the bills, contact us at advocacy@proedtn.org.

Legislative Update: March 9-13, 2015

Director of Member Services Samantha Bates describes the K-12 education bills from the week that legislators acted upon.
This video is not an exhaustive list of what the legislature heard or voted on this week. Not included in the video are higher education and scholarship bills, bills that have been deferred, and bills that do not relate to education. Additionally, the bills are described very briefly. We encourage you to research them for further information, or you can contact us.

The objective of this video is to provide unbiased information regarding the bills and actions taken by the legislature. As to our opinions on them and specific actions we took to influence legislators’ opinions of the bills, contact us at advocacy@proedtn.org. Currently, we have an editorial on the voucher bill and a petition regarding the Educator Protection Act. Additionally, we send letters of support or opposition to sponsors and committees or subcommittees before they take action on bills, and we have had educators already testify on bills this session.

LINKS:
Our website: http://www.proedtn.org
House Education Administration & Planning: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/house/committees/education.html
House Education Instruction and Programs: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/house/committees/educationprograms.html
Senate Education Committee: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/senate/committees/education.html

For reference, the House has two education committees and two education subcommittees. The Senate has one education committee and one education subcommittee regarding higher education.

Terms:
“Recommended” means the legislators voted on it, and the bill passed in that committee or subcommittee.
“Deferred” or “rolled” means that the bill will be discussed at a later date.
“Taken off notice” means that the sponsor has removed the bill from the calendar, and it will not be discussed or voted upon at this time.
“Failed” means the bill was voted on in committee or subcommittee, and it did not receive enough votes to advance. Once a bill has failed, the committee or subcommittee can put the bill back onto the calendar to be discussed and voted upon again, which did happen this week to HB 158 sponsored by Representative Casada, which extends the Little Hatch Act to apply to teachers, and by “teacher” they mean anyone employed by a school district or working in a school.

Teacher Voice

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Let’s discuss teacher voice for a moment.

There are many organizations who claim to “give teachers a voice.” The problem with this wording is that it implies that educators don’t already have their own voices, their own opinions.

In our experience, nothing can be further from the truth.

Educators don’t need to be told their opinions on issues. Educators don’t need someone’s permission to think. Educators certainly should not face consequences for forming and sharing their opinions in ways that advance the profession and serve their students, even if it opposes the majority.

No, especially if it opposes the majority.

The Educator seeks to be a forum where professional educators can share their views and discuss issues in education. We will feature guest bloggers. We will feature ProEdTN members. We will feature ProEdTN nonmembers. We will share information and request discussion.

The Educator will never be ProEdTN’s bully pulpit, soap box, or propaganda machine. We will never purport to “give teachers a voice.”

Educators don’t need to be given a voice. What educators need is a megaphone, and that’s precisely what this blog is for.girl with megaphone