This is a letter a friend wrote to our state representative about the current and coming state of education here in TN. Thought some here might appreciate it.
Dear Honorable Representative:
As an educator, I respectfully ask that you take a serious look at the current state of education in Tennessee.
Although I identify with the Republican Party, and proudly so, due to the focus on the sanctity of life, fiscal conservatism, free market principles, and individual responsibility, I have been profoundly disappointed in Governor Haslam, Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman, and much of the Tennessee Legislature’s treatment of students, educators, and the school system in Tennessee.
Teacher morale is at all time low across the state. Anecdotally, I know of countless teachers who would leave the profession. Not because of low pay, student issues, or poor facilities, but because teachers are being treated as the scapegoats of society, and undervalued, second class citizens. Granted, you do not believe this, and other representatives would give lip service that my conclusion is wrong, but their actions speak otherwise.
Teachers are being discouraged from furthering through education due to the elimination of the traditional pay scale. No other institution or respectable establishment discourages employees from bettering themselves, but that is exactly what the new pay scale has done. It is incredibly ironic that the Tennessee Education Department has successfully discouraged the furthering of education for educators.
Additionally, there are proposals to revoke teacher licenses if test scores are poor, even though the TVAAS system to evaluate student growth is unscientific, error riddled, unfair, and preposterous.
Teachers are almost never given a voice in educational changes. Instead, we are told by our leaders and administrators that the changes in education are "the nature of the beast,” we are to "do more with less,” or "just deal with it.” Not only is this poor leadership, it is unnecessary and demoralizing.
Serious concerns are also arising with the Common Core advancement. Students are being tested excessively with no conclusive proof that education will improve. The costs for the new assessments are tremendous, and will further strain the State’s budget. Furthermore, it seems ironic to me that Common Core is being heavily lauded by the Obama Administration (perhaps the most liberal in American History) and yet it is being welcomed with open arms by many conservative lawmakers, including our Governor. I believe states should be free to establish educational goals and standards, as outlined by the U.S. Constitution, and it troubles me that a "nationalized” curriculum (i.e., Federal takeover) of education is underway. Sadly, Tennessee has fawned over this takeover because it has been accompanied by briefcases full of Federal money. Naturally, there are many strings attached to these funds.
This is Tennessee’s opportunity to put the brakes on the Federal takeover of education and restore education to the State and local level, and to do what is best for the students. Please take time to listen and utilize the wisdom of educators in the classroom. Educators in the classroom are the most underutilized resource for reform in education. As the classic saying goes, true reform and positive results will come from the bottom up (teachers to lawmakers) and not the top down (lawmakers to teachers).
I appreciate the time you have taken to listen to my concerns. I believe in the American ideals of republicanism and the belief that lawmakers listen to and address the petitioning of the citizens. I will be glad to work with you to improve education in our great State of Tennessee.
Thank you for your help and thoughtfulness.
Responsibility without authority. That's the situation for teachers.
And the States could reject common core, NCLB, Title whatever, or any other Federal intrusion into their State education system if they wanted to. They're too addicted to the Fed tit not to eat shit and ask for seconds.