NASHVILLE - Gov. Bill Haslam on Thursday 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.