TEA to Lee: We’ll See You in Court

Tennessee Education Association challenges Gov. Lee’s attempt at union busting

The Tennessee Education Association is challenging a new state law that prevents local school districts from allowing teachers to have their association dues automatically deducted from their paychecks.

The move by the Lee Administration was tied to a teacher pay raise and widely seen as an effort to weaken the oldest and largest organization advocating for teachers in the state.

In recent years, TEA has been the source of the strongest opposition to Lee’s agenda of using public money to fund private schools.

Here’s more from Chalkbeat:

Tennessee’s largest professional teachers organization is challenging the constitutionality of a new state law that prohibits school districts from making payroll deductions for employees’ professional association dues.

The Tennessee Education Association filed its lawsuit Tuesday in Davidson County Chancery Court on behalf of its local education associations and 41,000 members statewide. The complaint names Gov. Bill Lee’s administration, which pushed for the change, and the state education department as defendants. Several local education associations have joined the suit.

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Test Data Given Added Weight in Teacher Evaluations

This year, teachers in Tennessee who teach in subjects that take state standardized tests (TNReady) will see the quantitative portion of their evaluation increase by 10%.

Previously, TNReady scores in tested subjects counted for 35% of a teacher’s evaluation score and “other achievement measures” accounted for 15%. The remaining 50% came from observation scores.

Under the new law and updated State Board of Education policy, “other achievement measures” will now account for 25% of a teacher’s evaluation. TNReady will still count for 35%. Observation scores are reduced to 40%.

Other achievement measures include items like ACT scores.

TNReady is a notoriously unreliable measure of both student achievement and teacher performance. In fact, the test is not even designed to evaluate teacher performance. Additionally, the value-added model used to assess teacher impact has repeatedly been called into question in terms of its validity.

It’s also noteworthy that just as more colleges are dropping standardized test scores from admissions requirements, Tennessee is placing stronger emphasis on them in teacher evaluation.

The disconnect between Tennessee education policy and reality continues to grow.

The Tennessee Education Association has noted its opposition to the move:

“We know that test scores have never been a valid measure of teacher effect and that our kids are more than a score,” said TEA President Tanya Coats. “TEA wholly disagrees with the state’s continued push to increase its reliance on test data over other methods of evaluation like observations that are more meaningful in improving our practice as educators.”

The move also comes as Tennessee is experiencing a teacher shortage:

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TEA Talks Hillsdale, Charters

In response to the controversy surrounding Hillsdale College President and Bill Lee advisor Larry Arnn and his remarks about teaching and public schools, the Tennessee Education Association is calling on Lee to sever all ties with Hillsdale and to limit the power of the state charter commission.

Here’s more from TEA’s press release:

The Tennessee Education Association calls on Tennessee Governor Bill Lee
to sever ties with Hillsdale College and support legislation to limit the power of the state charter commission, restoring local control in public education.

“Hillsdale disrespects Tennesseans and Tennessee values,” said TEA President Tanya Coats. “Lee’s plan for 50 Hillsdale charters in rural and suburban districts is wrong. Using the state charter commission as the tool to open these private charters over objections of local communities is worse.”

“Hillsdale’s Larry Arnn said Tennesseans are too dumb to educate their own children, using talking points straight from the charter industry playbook,” Coats said. “We don’t care how he does it up north, and we don’t need to be saved by charter operators from California or Massachusetts. We know what it takes to educate our children.”

“All Tennesseans should understand Arnn’s slurs were not the words of one man, but part of an organized effort to undermine confidence in Tennessee public schools. That’s the only way they can siphon tax dollars into private pockets,” Coats said.

Tennesseans have had extensive experience with failure of state-created charters. The charters of the Achievement School District have been the lowest-performing system in our state.

“Make no mistake, charter schools often look to make money for financial backers. When charters fail, it is impossible to close them and local governments are left to untangle the mess,” Coats said. “Arnn’s comments not only revealed to us who he is, but also laid bare the tactics of the charter industry. We will be working with the General Assembly to limit the power of the state charter commission and restore local control.”


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TEA Elects New Leadership

The Tennessee Education Association (TEA) announced the election of new leadership this week. Here’s more from a press release:

Hundreds of educators attending the 89th Tennessee Education Association Representative Assembly elected new association leaders. Veteran Knox County educator Tanya T. Coats was elected TEA President. Johnson City middle school teacher Joe W. Crabtree was elected TEA Vice President.

“The strength of TEA is rooted in our member-leaders who use their passion for education to further the association’s work to ensure every student receives a high-quality public education and every educator has the support and resources needed to do their jobs effectively,” said TEA Executive Director Terrance Gibson. “I am confident President Coats will carry on the great work of the association on behalf of TEA’s tens of thousands of members and all Tennessee students.”

Coats takes office July 1, after serving as TEA Vice President and President of the Knox County Education Association. She brings decades of experience as a public school educator and long-time association member. Coats will be on-leave from her position as New Teacher Liaison with Knox County Schools during her tenure as president.

“It is an honor and a privilege to step into this role representing thousands of educators across the state,” said Tanya Coats. “I am committed to being a vocal, tireless advocate for educators, students and public education. I look forward to partnering with other public education advocates in advancing the great work of our public schools and the Tennessee Education Association.”

Crabtree is a proven leader as a local association president and TEA board member. His experience in the classroom and within the association makes him a solid partner for Coats. During his tenure as TEA Vice President, Crabtree will continue in his position teaching social studies at Liberty Bell Middle School in Johnson City.

Tanya Coats, TEA President
Joe Crabtree, TEA Vice President

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