What’s the best way to move Tennessee schools forward? It seems lots of people have opinions about this. And some organized groups (teachers, superintendents, parents) are familiar faces around the General Assembly as education legislation is discussed, debated, and voted on.
Here, I attempt to break down the education agenda according to various groups attempting to influence the debate at the General Assembly this session.
Professional Educators of Tennessee (PET)
This group of teachers is the smaller of the two organizations in the state representing teachers (the other being the Tennessee Education Association).
We’ve written about PET’s 2014 agenda before.
Essentially, they are focusing on teacher licensure (and the use of TVAAS to determine continuation), protection of student and teacher data, and testing.
Tennesseans Reclaiming Educational Excellence (TREE)
We reported last week on the launch of this new group. They appear to stand in opposition to much of the current reform agenda in Nashville (state charter authorizer, vouchers, etc.). They also support full funding of BEP 2.0.
Tennessee Education Association (TEA)
TEA is the state’s oldest and largest association of teachers. The TEA has historically opposed the expansion of charter schools and the use of public dollars for private schools (vouchers). They have a fairly wide-ranging legislative agenda. Additionally, they are currently undertaking a “road trip” to expose flaws in the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS).
Tennessee School Boards Association (TSBA)
As its name implies, this group represents school boards across the state. Though a few systems are not members, most in Tennessee are. Here’s their complete agenda. The organization opposes vouchers and opposes revoking a teacher’s license based solely on TVAAS data.
Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents (TOSS)
The statewide organization representing school superintendents. Their full legislative agenda can be found here. TOSS opposes vouchers, a statewide charter authorizer, and the revocation of a teacher’s license based on TVAAS data.
Statewide Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE)
SCORE is headed-up by former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. The organization is comprised of many education stakeholders and aims to provide information to policymakers as they make decisions that impact schools. They have been supportive of the new teacher evaluation model and are the leading organization in Tennessee in support of the Common Core State Standards. More on SCORE here.
Stand for Children
This organization has been active in Tennessee since 1999. For the sake of full disclosure, I worked for Stand in TN from 2007-2009. The organization made its mark in Tennessee advocating for expanded access to Pre-K. According to a recent email from new Executive Director Betty Anderson, the organization plans to focus this year’s legislative efforts on maintaining the Common Core State Standards. They are also supportive of expanded access to Pre-K and to improvements to the BEP.
This is the Tennessee affiliate of Michelle Rhee’s nationwide StudentsFirst organization. Here’s the group’s official issue agenda. They have been supportive of vouchers, a statewide charter authorizer, and teacher merit pay.
Tennessee Parent Teacher Association (PTA)
The Tennessee PTA is comprised of parents organized at the local school level. While these groups typically support their specific school, the PTA also supports schools and students in the community and state. Their complete legislative agenda can be found here. The PTA includes in its agenda support for the inclusion of parent and student feedback in teacher evaluation and the use of “strategic compensation” for teachers. They also support the Coordinated School Health program and changes to the BEP that would provide funding for additional nurses. The PTA opposes vouchers.
School Choice Now
This group is a joint project of the Tennessee Federation for Children and the Beacon Center of TN. Their focus is on a statewide school voucher program, which they call “opportunity scholarships.”
Those are the major groups I’m aware of attempting to influence education policy in Tennessee. There are likely others. But this is a starting point to understanding what’s going on at the Legislative Plaza regarding education policy and who is pushing for what policies.
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