NASHVILLE - During his first State of the State address on Monday, Gov. Bill Haslam singled out a Red Bank High School science teacher for recognition as a "great example" of where he would like other Tennessee educators to be in the future.
He described how Elaine Harper, who was sitting in the House chamber listening to his speech, recently encouraged her students to create geysers out of soft drinks and evaluate which combination spurted highest into the air.
"Her advanced chemistry class was clearly engaged and enjoying the project, but that was not the point," Haslam said. "Her students were learning about research methods - how to develop a hypothesis, isolate variables, conduct research, analyze results and arrive at conclusions."
Haslam also said his proposed changes to education such as making it tougher to win teacher tenure will put "muscle behind education reform" but is not intended to punish educators.
"Our legislative approach to education is to ensure the best teachers are in the classroom," he said. "Tenure reform is not a punitive action. It is a recognition and reward of achievement by the best."
Haslam is pushing teacher tenure changes and making charter schools more widely available. He has stayed neutral in a push to eliminate collective bargaining for teachers.