Haslam to Teachers: We’ll ‘figure out a way’ to address your pay

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam visited Unicoi County Middle School last week, reports the Erwin Record, and conducted a roundtable meeting with Director of Schools Denise Brown, state Rep. David Hawk and a host of teachers from all grade levels, with experience ranging from one to more than 40 years.
“I honestly think the most important work that I will do as governor is to help continue the progress we’ve made in education,” Haslam told educators at last week’s meeting. “This is not meant to be just a dog-and-pony show.”
…Haslam continued the discussion by asking how participants at the table felt the state was doing at retaining good teachers.
“Not too well,” UCHS German teacher Lynn Honeycutt said. “We’re seeing a huge exodus of teachers (that are) leaving our county to go to systems within 15 minutes of here.”
Honeycutt said equalization of pay among school systems across the state could help remedy the problem, and Haslam agreed that something needs to be done.
“Fundamentally, we’re going to have to figure out a way to address compensation,” Haslam said. “Obviously the right balance is out there somewhere.”
UCHS drama instructor Lori Ann Wright added that colleges are finding it more difficult to place student teachers with mentors, as a new statewide teacher evaluation system places stringent requirements and added pressure on teachers to keep their students’ test scores high.
“That’s a huge part of your evaluation,” Wright said. “A lot of teachers are just not as willing to take on student teachers now because of that.”
Middle school instructor Lenee Hendrix also cited the loss of incentives such as collective bargaining by teacher unions, as well as new rules making it more difficult for teachers to reach tenured status, as culprits for the loss of 30 percent of new teachers from the field after their first three years on the job.
“The loss of these incentives and consistently low salaries are complicating the problem,” Hendrix said, adding that these factors, coupled with the stringent new evaluation system, are creating a “revolving door effect” with new teachers.
Seventh-grade math teacher Lisa Peterson said changes to the education system are being reported in the media and, subsequently, are making the teaching profession look like “the pit of society.”
“This job used to be one of admiration,” Peterson said.

One thought on “Haslam to Teachers: We’ll ‘figure out a way’ to address your pay

  1. Brandt Hardin

    The problem is it IS a dog and pony show. There is no sugarcoating being LAST in the country in ACT scores. There is an education gap between our state and the rest of the country period. Haslam is just whitewashing the issue with his rhetoric to gain exemption from No Child Left Behind. The only changes being made my his administration are those that hinder free speech and any semblance of progressive thinking with our children and state. I attempted to address this maverick’s railroading of constitutional rights in Tennessee with my visual commentary on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/07/potentially-offensive-portrait-governor.html

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