published Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

Poll backs Haslam on tenure restrictions

NASHVILLE — Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s efforts to toughen state teacher tenure requirements may be on firm ground, a new poll conducted by Middle Tennessee State University suggests.

Haslam has proposed legislation requiring five years of teaching, up from three, and superior evaluations to receive tenure.

Of 589 adult Tennesseans surveyed, 54 percent agreed with a statement that “tenure makes it hard to get rid of bad teachers.” Just 29 percent agreed that “tenure protects good teachers from being fired without just cause” and 16 percent didn’t know.

But opinion is more evenly split over Republican lawmakers’ effort to outlaw collective bargaining for teachers’ unions, according to the poll, conducted Feb. 14-26 by MTSU’s College of Communication.

Asked whether they favor “eliminating the ability of teacher unions” to negotiate over salaries and other issues, 37 percent said yes, 41 percent said no and 22 percent didn’t know. The poll’s margin of error plus or minus four percent means the responses are a dead heat.

Dr. Ken Blake, director of the MTSU Poll, said, “compared to public opinion about teacher tenure, public opinion about collective bargaining for teacher unions seem to be still taking shape in Tennessee.”

In other findings:

  • • Three in four Tennesseans consider illegal immigration a “somewhat” or “very” serious problem
  • • Forty-two percent, a plurality, describe as “about right” an Arizona law requiring police to check the citizenship status of those they stop or arrest if they believe the detainees may not be in the country legally. Another 25 percent say such a law “doesn’t go far enough,” and 28 percent say it “goes too far.”
  • • Sixty-nine percent of Tennesseans favor letting food stores sell wine.
about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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