When Tennessee Teacher Associations signed on to the Race to the Top application in December 2009, one of the stipulations was that the local education associations' presidents also sign the agreement for the local education system to be eligible.
When it was announced that Tennessee had won one of the grants, the legislature went into overdrive the second week of January 2010. They were forcing many reforms under the guise of RTTT, one of which was evaluating teachers using test scores, which is extremely unfair because a teacher cannot choose the students he or she receives.
In fact the evaluation system is still being developed and piloted. Also, a keystone to the RTTT legislation was that if a teacher is to be brought up on dismissal charges, then the case would be heard by an impartial hearing judge. Now, the Republican controlled legislature wants to remove any facet of due process for a teacher facing dismissal.
Plain and simple, this current legislative session has absolutely nothing to do with education reform. That is a buzz phrase being used to hide the real intent. The real intent here is to exact revenge on the Tennessee Education Association for its lack of pumping money to Republican coffers.
So, the Republicans have decided to use children as pawns to get their way and make us the scapegoats. If all of this passes, then I can assure you there will be no negotiations with a local board and teachers will have no voice whatsoever.
Teachers are backed into a corner right now and we are being purposefully set up for failure. What would happen if we did our students that way?
Most of my colleagues are in complete and utter dismay at what is going on currently. We do not understand why we are being stripped of more rights than a common criminal at present. Why do so many feel compelled to think they know what is best for education?
State Sen. Jim Tracy (R, Shelbyville) spent six years in a classroom between two systems, I have more than three times that number. We will not forget this assault on teachers. We will fight this with every ounce of being we have. We did not start the fight but we fully intend to finish it.
KEITH CORNELIUS is President of the Rutherford Education Association