published Thursday, February 9th, 2012

Tenn. Gov. Haslam gets pushback on plan to change rules on classroom size

Should schools have a mandatory average class size?

NASHVILLE — Gov. Bill Haslam today acknowledged his plan to give local schools flexibility to increase average class sizes is getting pushback from educators and lawmakers, but he remained optimistic a workable agreement can be reached.

“It has met with mixed reviews,” the Republican said at a luncheon hosted by the Tennessee Press Association and The Associated Press. “I guess that’s the charitable way of putting it.”

He argued Tennessee is “the only state with a maximum class size and a maximum average class size.”

On Thursday, Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey said officials haven’t done a good job selling the proposal to school administrators and parents, who fear systems will pack classrooms to the limit.

“I think the governor will agree with me we could have done a better job explaining this to the local school system,” Ramsey told reporters at the Tennessee Press Association’s annual winter meeting.

“I just think we need to back up and explain that better,” Ramsey said.

Haslam’s hope is that by giving local schools more flexibility on setting average class sizes, school systems will free up money to provide more pay to better teachers and those teaching in hard-to-fill areas like math and in lower-income schools.

But the proposal is meeting with fierce opposition from teachers, many school superintendents and even school boards fearful that county governments might try to use it slash education funding.

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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