NASHVILLE- Gov. Bill Haslam today offered up a staunch defense of his education commissioner, Kevin Huffman, from critics who have circulated an online petition seeking to pressure the governor into firing him.
"I'll put it this way, if I was going out to hire an education commissioner again today, I'd hire Kevin Huffman," Haslam told reporters. "If you look at the states that are making the most progress in education, Tennessee's at the top of that list and Kevin gets a lot of credit for that."
The governor added that being said, "the work we're doing is hard. And we're saying we're not going to be satisfied with being [ranked] in the 40s when it comes to education we're making those changes that I think will move us forward."
Huffman's critics last month created two Facebook pages seeking his ouster after the State Board of Education approved a Huffman-recommended plan changing state salary structures for teachers.
The plan changes current state requirements on local schools where teachers are rewarded based on their years of experience and advanced degrees. As a result, local systems can opt to offer merit pay or additional money for teachers in hard-to-fill subjects like math as well as for teaching in less desirable schools.