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: