Rep. Womick: Huffman has ‘overstepped his bounds’ in education reforms

Republican state legislators representing Rutherford County – Sen. Jim Tracy and Reps. Rick Womick, Dawn White and Mike Sparks – discussed issues in the upcoming legislative session at a Chamber of Commerce gathering, reports the Daily News Journal. Much of the article is devoted Womick’s comments on education matters.

Some members of the state’s governing body are unhappy with the direction of education reform in Tennessee, Womick said.

“I have at least five bills that I am working on,” said the Rockvale Republican, a staunch state’s rights supporter. Womick then said he wants to put more control back in local hands both on the state and county level when it comes to education.

Womick said the state has seen improvement because of reforms mandated by the Race to the Top grant from the federal government, but the improvement has been made at the cost of state control.

He is concerned about the state’s inability to control reforms mandated by the federal government because of Race to the Top, which encourages states to make education reforms through grants. Tennessee was awarded more than $500 million in 2010 to improve student achievement and increase graduation rates.

While these are worthy causes, Womick said Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman has overstepped his bounds in implementing some of the reforms.

He said Huffman’s push to restructure the teacher-pay system, making it harder for teachers to get raises, was not what the legislature intended.

“He went around the legislature to the state School Board and got it changed to the minimum wording of the law,” Womick said. “That is not what the legislature authorized the (Tennessee) School Board to do.”

…At least one of the bills Womick is sponsoring will exclude test scores from teacher evaluations if statewide standardized tests or curriculum changes, he said.