published Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Teachers union asks Haslam to veto bargaining bill

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Education Association’s president is urging Republican Gov. Bill Haslam to veto GOP-backed legislation that strips the 52,000-member teachers’ union of its collective bargaining powers, saying teachers “feel totally demoralized and disrespected.”

“The Tennessee Education Association is completely dismayed that this entire legislative session has been an attack on teachers and our Association,” TEA President Gera Summerford, a Sevier County math teacher wrote in a letter to Haslam. “At the top of the list is HB 130/SB 113, legislation which repeals the 1978 Education Professional Negotiations Act (EPNA) and replaces it with a process of “collaborative conferencing.”

The bill, which originated with Republican Senate leaders, passed in the waning days of the General Assembly. GOP proponents say the teachers’ union has been an obstacle to reform. TEA officials and Democratic lawmakers — and some Republicans — say the bill was political “payback” for the TEA’s support of Democratic candidates.

While the bill did not originate with Haslam, he told reporters on Saturday he would sign it

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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rolando said...

There is no disrespect for teachers; all the disrespect in the world is reserved for their unions. THEY, not the teachers per se, are the root cause of the dismal record and total failure of our public school system to properly educate our children.

Sign it, Governor. Restore control of our schools to we, the people.

May 24, 2011 at 9:05 p.m.
AlmostAmanda said...

Rolondo, you once again show how little you know about the education system.

The TEA and NEA are not responsible for the ridiculous unfunded mandates of NCLB or Race to the Top. The TEA and NEA aren't responsible for the poor funds management at HCDE central office or the TN Dept. of Education. That - and most of the problems we see - are the result of politicians who have never spent any meaningful time in a classroom deciding that they can wave a magic wand and fix all them problems schools face with legislation. The fact is that there are multiple problems - both inside and outside of the classroom that impact student learning.

Is TEA perfect? No. But to deny teachers the choice to voluntarily organize to have a say in what goes on in our classrooms is most certainly an attack on teachers. No one is ever forced to join TEA, but they have been shut out thanks to the influence of anti-union politicians and the influence of insurance companies disguised as professional organizations like the PET.

May 24, 2011 at 9:48 p.m.
mountainlaurel said...

I believe the attack on the teachers union is an abuse of power by these State representatives. Do we elect representatives to make laws as to who among us can or cannot form a legal entity or organization? I don’t think so. We elect representatives to uphold the Constitution and the rights of all citizens. If individuals have the right to establish a corporation, a chamber of commerce, a National Rifle Association, individuals have the right to establish a workers union. Gov. Bill Haslam should veto this mean spirited and unconstitutional legislation.

May 25, 2011 at 12:43 a.m.
WhitesCreek said...

Remember back when all these Republicans were campaigning for the Legislature and they all said the number one problem we face in Tennessee is teachers having too much say in the educational process?

Me neither!

And now here is a list of the jobs creation bills passed by Republicans in this session:


May 25, 2011 at 7:23 a.m.
rolando said...

Here is the list of jobs created by Dear Leader.

  1. Government jobs producing nothing.
May 25, 2011 at 8:02 a.m.
rolando said...

As usual, AA, you think money is the problem. It isn't.

Nor are teachers given any say in what "their" union does, says, or supports...but it sure takes their money and uses it for things having nothing to do with education.

The days of the forced confiscation of a teacher's pay called "union dues" are over.

Those on the public payroll have no right to organize, to strike, to form picket lines and any of the other oppressive and repressive union actions. HST and RWR put that issue to bed...the former by threatening to draft the entire railroad workforce and the latter by firing the entire Flight Controller unionized force.

I totally agree with your position that the federal government has absolutely no business sticking its nose -- and mandates -- into the state-run public school system.

May 25, 2011 at 8:11 a.m.
grandmastaj said...

"forced confiscation"

I'm married to a teacher, and know quite a few and every single one of them gladly pays those dues. Take off your Red colored glasses, put down the Tea glass, and actually talk to a teacher, and see what they say.

May 25, 2011 at 8:26 a.m.
AlmostAmanda said...

Actually, Rolando, money is a very big part of the problem. When laws passed by politicians state that teachers are supposed to provide certain services to low-performing students then cut special education teachers, bump class sizes to unreasonable levels, and fail to repair technology that is key to teaching students a number of the skills they will need to be competitive, money is an issue. But I never indicated it was the only issue either.

But back to your lack of understanding, I don't know why so many of you anti-TEA types keep insisting teachers have no voice in what the organization supports or that we are forced to join. Since Tennessee is a right to work state, TEA membership is entirely optional - no one has to become a member. There are a number of other organizations that my fellow teachers have chosen to join for a variety of reasons including disagreeing with TEA policies. Some teachers don't join teachers' associations at all, they just get liability insurance added on to their homeowners or renters insurance. In Hamilton County, HCDE represents teachers because a majority of teachers in the county freely chose to join the union. If that majority declined, HCDE would no longer have the right to represent teachers.

The bottom line for me is this: Educational policy should not be made entirely by people who have not spent quality time in a classroom. I can tell you firsthand that every new teacher (myself included) walks into the classroom for the first time believing he or she knows everything that needs to be done to have a well-managed classroom and rigorous, relevant curriculum. I can also tell you that at the end of that first year, there is not a single decent teacher who doesn't think back to that day and think of how ridiculously arrogant that was. There are so many different challenges from so many different angles that it is impossible for anyone who hasn't been there to anticipate even a fraction of them. Politicians who want to dictate educational policy are operating with the exact same arrogance and ignorance - but at the end of the year, they are not going to look back and realize their mistakes. They just pass the blame onto the teachers - rarely even mentioning the fact that administrators on all levels, students and parents also have responsibilities in the matter - and continue to pass "reform" after "reform."

And the state, with Bill "thank for the business, dad" Haslam and the attorney who didn't serve long enough as a teacher to earn tenure under the new rule, calling the shots, is just as bad. Please don't even get me started with some of the geniuses at central office and the school board.

May 25, 2011 at 11:25 a.m.
rolando said...

AA -- I draw your attention to just two of the more egregious examples of how more money does NOT equate to better education:

Washington, DC and New York City; both are among those with the highest expenditure per student and both are complete failures as school systems.

On the other hand, a few years back Iowa had the best school school in the nation with about half the expenditures per student.

So if it isn't money, other than the federal government what is left? Here's a sample:

Fire staff to pay for iPads for low income folks. Sounds like another waste of money in short supply...

Again, we are in complete agreement concerning federal government interference in public education which is a state and local level responsibility. Politicians, in general and right down to the local level, are infamous for their inability to comprehend reality.

Unions are unions are unions. They are the same today as they were in the days of Hoffa's Teamsters. To pretend they are not self-serving [for other than rank and file] is to bury one's head in the sand. One union is the same as every other union; you know one, you know them all.

The best thing to improve our children's education is to eliminate collective bargaining for public employees.

My daughter taught 4th and 5h grade in Rialto, Calif [google it]. Her stories are legion. Talk about local and state control of education on all levels. But don't get me started on that, either.

Unions are a large part of the problem...they have a powerful lobby...and they greatly influence the actions of those same legislators you deride [with reason]. And that is the point of this article.

May 25, 2011 at 3:03 p.m.
AlmostAmanda said...

Rolando, I have never said that money is the only issue. Why do you continue to go back to that? Are you simply unable or unwilling to address any of the other factors that have been brought up time and time again? I do believe it is one of them, but I have never called for increasing the amount of money per student. I argued - and will continue to argue - that the way politicians and other people who aren't involved in schools on a day to day basis spend the money they have is a problem.

I agree that iPads for kindergartners in a school with so many other needs is ridiculous, but please tell me what that has to do with the union. It seems to me that the article indicates that this was the principal's decision. No evil teacher's union involvement on that one.

The best thing to improve our children's education is to eliminate collective bargaining for public employees.

Really? That's the best thing? Okay. No HCEA means that all of my students will come to class prepared? I will have smaller classes so I can have more one on one time with students? They will all have parents that care about their education and help them in any way possible? All those parents who never show up for conferences, don't answer the phone when I call, or who make excuse after excuse for why their child can't be bothered to do anything will change their ways? It means I won't have a single student bubble answers without even looking at the TCAP test because he knows he won't be held accountable for his scores in any way? Administrators won't ignore repeated requests for better disciplinary policies so that I can prevent disruptive students from interfering with the learning of others? Politicians won't burden us with increasing demands and standards while reducing the human resources we have to help those students who are struggling because of a poor foundation or learning disabilities? And of course, none of my students will ever face things like poverty, abuse, neglect, or any of the other tragedies in life that can set back one without the proper emotional support? Glad to know that the pesky teacher's union won't be causing any of those problems anymore.

I don't know anyone who thinks that any union is perfect, but when you take away the voice of the people doing the heavy lifting, you get people making decisions out of ignorance. I hear time and time again from anti-union folks how unions prevent real reform and progress, but I never hear any hard facts. Honestly, its simply union busting from people who want to help their supporters who benefit from not having to deal with unions in other sectors. It's also a ploy to have taxpayer funds go to corporate (charter) and church schools.

If you think ending collective bargaining will end all the problems in education, you are the one with your head in the sand.

May 25, 2011 at 3:43 p.m.
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