NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The head of the state’s largest teachers’ union said she expects her board to take an official position against proposals that would allow teachers to carry guns.
The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/VHKrcd) reports the measures are among proposals state lawmakers are considering this legislative session in the wake of last month’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
A gunman fatally shot 26 people — most of them children — inside the school Dec. 14. He also killed his mother and himself.
Several Tennessee lawmakers have drafted legislation that would encourage school districts to place at least one armed police officer in every school and would allow teachers who have undergone special training to bring their personal handguns into schools.
However, Tennessee Education Association president Gera Summerford said a “teacher’s job is to nurture and teach,” not to stop an intruder.
“Their main concern is to keep children safe and do what is best for the children, and that is different from being on the front line as a guard,” she said.
The gun issue is on the agenda for a TEA meeting in two weeks, according to The Tennessean.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Open your notebooks and sharpen your pencils. School for thousands of public school students is about to get quite a bit longer.
Five states were to announce Monday that they will add at least 300 hours of learning time to the calendar in some schools starting in 2013. Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Tennessee will take part in the initiative, which is intended to boost student achievement and make U.S. schools more competitive on a global level.
The three-year pilot program will affect almost 20,000 students in 40 schools, with long-term hopes of expanding the program to include additional schools — especially those that serve low-income communities. Schools, working in concert with districts, parents and teachers, will decide whether to make the school day longer, add more days to the school year or both.
A mix of federal, state and district funds will cover the costs of expanded learning time, with the Ford Foundation and the National Center on Time & Learning also chipping in resources. In Massachusetts, the program builds on the state’s existing expanded-learning program. In Connecticut, Gov. Dannel Malloy is hailing it as a natural outgrowth of an education reform law the state passed in May that included about $100 million in new funding, much of it to help the neediest schools.
News release from the law firm of Barrett Johnson, LLC
Nashville – Former Congressman Lincoln Davis filed a class action lawsuit today in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee to challenge the actions taken by Tennessee state government officials to unlawfully purge voters from the state’s voting rolls.
Last week, on March 6, 2012, Congressman Davis attempted to vote at the same precinct in Pall Mall, Tennessee where he has voted since 1995. Instead of casting his ballot, Congressman Davis was told that he could not vote because his name no longer appeared on the voter rolls. As a result, Congressman Davis was denied the right to vote, a right he has exercised in every election since 1964.
In order to ensure that all Tennesseans’ right to vote is protected, Congressman Davis has brought a class action lawsuit seeking a federal court order requiring the State of Tennessee to restore the names of all Tennesseans who were improperly purged from the State’s voting rolls.
“This lawsuit is not about me,” Congressman Davis said, “Rather, I’m taking this action to ensure that the State of Tennessee is required to restore all Tennesseans to the voting rolls whose names were improperly removed.”
Congressman Davis is represented by the law firm of Barrett Johnston, LLC, a law firm with a rich history of success in handling class action litigation and civil rights litigation, including voting rights cases, on behalf of individuals whose rights have been violated.
In bringing this action, founding partner, George Barrett said, “The right to vote is fundamental to any democracy, but it’s especially important to our American democracy, given the long history of government undermining the right to vote. Our law firm is committed to representing individuals, like Congressman Davis, whose right to vote has been violated by what we believe is a concerted effort by state government officials to suppress the vote in Tennessee this election cycle.”
A copy of the lawsuit is available by clicking on this link: Verified_Class_Action_Complaint_for_Declaratory_and_Injunctive_Relief_03.12.12.pdf
By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Gov. Bill Haslam said Wednesday that he’s abandoning his proposal to do away with average class size restrictions in Tennessee.
The Republican governor’s decision came as a growing chorus of educators and parents — and the lawmakers who represent them — criticized the idea, fearing the change would hurt teaching standards because more classrooms would be filled to capacity.
Haslam said in a press conference in his Capitol office that his plan was thwarted by the challenge of explaining that the measure’s goal is to give school districts more flexibility to hire high-priority teachers.
“When the reason to do something takes you four minutes to explain, but the reason not to do something — you can say large classes bad, small class sizes good — takes five seconds, it’s a difficult process,” Haslam said
The governor noted that Tennessee is the only state that places caps on both the total classroom size as well as on average school-wide enrollment.
Gov. Bill Haslam said today he is giving up for this year a push for legislation that would remove the current limits on average class size in Tennessee schools.
The governor said he remains “quite committed to the idea,” but recognizes the proposal has raised many concerns and questions.
“We will wait and work on that and pursue it, with some adjustments, next year,” he told reporters this morning.
Haslam blamed the setback on difficulty in communicating this plan, which is proposal, based on the notion of giving local school systems more flexibility.
It required a “very complicated explanation,” he said, while those opposed had a very simple message – that small classes are good, big classes are bad.
“The reason to do something takes you four minutes to explain,” he said. “You can explain why you’re against it in five seconds.”
A survey by the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents (TOSS) has found that 80-percent of its membership opposes Gov. Bill Haslam’s plans to tie school funding to larger class size, reports WKRN-TV. “The request from TOSS is not to take any action on the bill,” said Williamson County’s School Director Dr. Mike Looney.
“We feel like we have most of this figured out on how to impact students in a positive way, so we don’t need a lot of state intervention to get the work done,” said Looney who is a board member of TOSS.
As superintendents push hard for changes in the governor’s class size bill, House Speaker Beth Harwell acknowledges the pushback from schools even though the bill gives superintendents more flexibility in paying teachers.
“I do have a number of members who are concerned that it is not being well received back in their home school districts, so I think all of this is still a work in progress,” Harwell said.
Democrats said the governor’s bill could eliminate 2,000 teachers statewide.
By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposal to allow local Tennessee school districts to determine class sizes is drawing strong opposition from teachers who say it will adversely affect students’ ability to learn and graduate.
The Republican governor announced the plan and other education proposals last week. He said the measure concerning class size would give local school districts more options and flexibility in how they approach classroom instruction and teacher compensation.
“It keeps the maximum class-size requirements, but average class-size requirements or mandates per school go away at the locals’ discretion,” the governor said.
Tennessee Education Association President Gera Summerford said “eliminating the average class size mandates is a radical proposal that will result in every student having less attention from his or her teacher.”
“This proposal is a threat to student learning, because smaller class sizes enhance safety, discipline and order in the classroom,” she said. “It will result in lower graduation rates and higher juvenile incarceration rates. Students with special needs will have less of the assistance they need.”
By Erik Schelzig
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Gov. Bill Haslam on Tuesday urged cash-strapped local school districts to prioritize spending on top teachers over limiting classroom sizes.
Speaking at a Girls State event at Lipscomb University, the governor acknowledged that larger classrooms mean less individual attention for every student.
“But if you’re going to make an investment, I’d rather invest in getting great teachers and paying them more and have the larger (classrooms) than doing the opposite,” he said.