State Senate backs Haslam, votes for stricter teacher tenure time

Thursday, March 10, 2011 at 1:41pm

Gov. Bill Haslam’s key education reform proposal — making tenure more difficult for teachers to earn and to keep — advanced in the state legislature Thursday.

With Republicans unified in support, the Senate voted 21-12 for Haslam’s changes in the state’s 60-year-old tenure law. Sen. Douglas Henry of Nashville was the only Democrat to vote for the bill. In the House, it won approval in an education subcommittee Wednesday.

“This is the administration’s effort to make tenure meaningful for teachers. And we believe it provides more flexibility and better accountability of our teachers and their performance,” Senate Republican leader Mark Norris said.

The measure lengthens probation for new teachers from three years to five years. To qualify for tenure, teachers must score in the top two of five evaluation categories in the two years immediately proceeding eligibility. If teachers then drop into the bottom two categories for two straight years, they lose tenure and return to probation.

Democrats tried to delay the vote, arguing that it should wait until the teacher evaluation system is developed. State Education Department committees are working on that.

“I think we’re getting in a little bit of a hurry,” Sen. Charlotte Burks, D-Monterey, said. “The evaluation part is the thing that’s scaring them to death. If I were a teacher, I’d be scared too. We’re not listening to a majority of the teachers saying we want to know what our future holds.”

But Republicans pointed out teachers are helping develop the evaluation system. Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, said education reform cannot wait.

“For that third-grader who finds herself struggling to read in a classroom with an underperforming teacher, we can’t afford to wait another year to enact this bill,” Kelsey said.

13 Comments on this post:

By: govskeptic on 3/11/11 at 5:07

Long-long overdue piece of legislation. If the Governor
stops with just this one bill very little improvement will
be in the forseeable future!

By: tpaine on 3/11/11 at 5:42

With an entire system like Memphis closing itself down, our current system is obviously failing. Anything that will drive up standards both for teachers and children has got to be an improvement.
To have half of black children dropping out before they graduate high school is simply unacceptable.

By: HokeyPokey on 3/11/11 at 10:33

And the governor and his cronies have exactly how much classroom experience? How about school administrative experience?

Oh, yes, I forgot. Their agenda has nothing to do with education, how silly of me.


By: interest of point on 3/11/11 at 12:39

Well I am a Latino who works in broadcasting to explore the political actions of the governors and managers in turn to the law society of which are in charge of governing and legislating.
When we saw a group of citizens formed to assess how well or how poorly that works the legislature and the government the benefit for the majority people
Since beginning work this new legislature and new governor,
They Realize or proposing bills to satisfy the interests of the rich and powerful states and bills that come to disqualify conquests already won by teacher
As the agglomerate is the state you are teaching and the labor movement.
In case the people of Tennessee voters was what I wanted to sew the people voting in Tennessee is masochistic, is given political power so that after introducing legislation that bludgeoned them to come to impoverish the lives of the poorest people of the state, enrich the existing richer these people need to wake up, as a Latino I have seen that the people of Tennessee for the most part is very noble but naive, this is the case of teachers who are conformists, not make them right or wrong laws that the legislature developed to block the good functionality and a teacher will be encouraged in every way a good teacher and a second student's family and not removing or placing restrictions that will improve the educational system of the state of Tennessee, where they are today teachers doing tomorrow what other workers due companies take this as an example and similar laws of obstruction require workers and business benefit.
i would like to comment about this situations thank you

By: trtay2004 on 3/11/11 at 12:47

How does this help our education system? Will better teachers take the place of these people? Let's be realistic, we're cutting teachers salary and benefits...we're not going to get better teachers or education system by doing this. This is only a means to hurt the TEA (Tennessee Educators Assn.... Not TEA PARTY).

By: pswindle on 3/11/11 at 1:04

We are all where we are today because of teachers. It is the students who have the choice of learning or to become one of the non-teachable students by chosice. Until you have walked in the shoes of a teacher, you have no idea and don't make laws for the teachers. Before you make laws go into one of the classrooms for a month, and your eyes will be opened. Go into each area of Davidson County and see the difference that each area gives.

By: HokeyPokey on 3/11/11 at 2:14

I would like to humbly repeat my suggestion that every member of the General Assembly, the Governor and every member of his cabinet take the 12-th grade TCAP test, with all results published after the testing is over.

No need to identify test takers by name or even occupation, just the general levels of academic progress would be sufficient.


By: Nitzche on 3/11/11 at 2:59

Come on...public education is fine, it just needs more money!

By: Nitzche on 3/11/11 at 3:01

come on....homelessness is fine, it just needs more money... come on welfare is fine... it just needs more money.....yada yada yada

By: BigPapa on 3/11/11 at 3:40

The TEA seem to be the conservatives on this issue. The RADICAL idea in education is to make changes, especially when it comes to being able to get rid of bad teachers. The TEA is taking the stand that everything is fine and needs to stay the same.

By: ilikecheese on 3/11/11 at 3:45

come on....homelessness is fine, it just needs more money... come on welfare is fine... it just needs more money.....yada yada yada


That's where the teacher's money will be going. It's called distribution of wealth. Very typical.

By: tpaine on 3/12/11 at 6:23

The trashing of the Wisconsin state capital ($500,000 worth) BY UNION TEACHERS, skipping class for three weeks with phony doctor's slips (so they still got paid) BY UNION TEACHERS, taking their charges (without the parent's knowledge) with them BY UNION TEACHERS, taught everyone us a lesson about the Teachers Union and I, for one, don't ever want to see another public workers union again.
I also noticed the grammar of the above posters supporting the Teachers Union. Enough said.

By: PromosFriend on 3/12/11 at 5:47

I don't know if this new tenure rule will make our education system better, but I'm for anything that makes it easier to encourage bad teachers (a small but significant minority) to find another line of work. As a student, then as a parent I have been discouraged by the inability of administrations to move underperforming teachers off the payroll. But, what is the real reason we need to get rid of bad teachers instead of protecting them? So that students can learn more in a more productive classroom.