TC’s Got Questions

Nashville education blogger TC Weber has some questions about a multi-million dollar contract extension for The New Teacher Project (TNTP) from the Tennessee Department of Education.

The key concern: Commissioner of Education Penny Schwinn’s spouse is an employee of TNTP and stands to financially benefit from the contract.

As Weber notes, though, another element of importance is this: The contract is very likely not necessary.

Here’s more:

Kline and McClellan brought no data to support the extension of the contract, but lots of feel-good anecdotes and platitudes. They could not divulge the number of teachers who’ve participated, the number left requiring training, the demographics of those attending training, but they could relate how beautiful it was to see all these teachers shoulder to shoulder studying the curriculum as if one curriculum could reach all students.

State Senator Brenda Gilmore had the audacity to ask for actual data to support the renewal of the contract. She was told in response, “the Education Department hopes to have student reading scores by late December to show whether children improved their reading skills.” maybe they’ll drop that data by her house on Christmas morning.

McCallum offered that data would be available through the required universal screener by the end of next month, and TNReady data in the late Spring. What was glossed over is what data the new data would be benchmarked against.

At one point in the proceedings, McClellan made the argument that it was important to renew this contract because calls were coming in daily for teachers desperately wanting to take this training. This supposed desire of teachers demanding more professional development has also been raised at the townhalls associated with the Governor’s drive to revamp the BEP formula.

I must be talking to the wrong teachers because none of the ones I talk to are looking for more training. In fact, what I more commonly hear is complaints of their time being eaten up by signature initiatives that prevent them from utilizing training already completed. In other words, how about a little space in order to incorporate acquired skills and experience?

Here’s the problem with that, if you allow teachers to practice their craft unencumbered by bureaucrats and legislators, it becomes hard for the latter to claim credit for success. And that’s what this always comes down to – money and justifying the salaries of those outsides of school buildings.

Read MORE from Weber about the TNTP deal and dig in to his piece, because he’s got some truth about SCORE, too.

boy running in the hallway
Photo by Caleb Oquendo on

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