The Battle For The Classroom



House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh and Sen. Reginald Tate’s op/ed on Gov. Halsam’s legislation to increase class sizes in school. LINK

A proposal from Gov.  Bill Haslam would permit public school districts in Tennessee  to create classes with larger numbers of children  and, as a result, would  decrease the individual attention our children receive from their teachers. The plan could also result in thousands of teacher layoffs, unbearable financial burdens on local governments and a reversal of the progress we have made in our schools.

We support the governor’s efforts to enact meaningful reform and provide the education our children deserve. That’s why we passed Tennessee’s  Race to the Top legislation two years ago, enabling our public schools to measure performance, better train teachers and support innovative ideas.

But the governor has made a mistake by pushing this year to allow larger class sizes in elementary and middle schools, a move that members of  his own party have opposed. Removing the state’s average class-size  requirement means schools would  put more students in every classroom, while laying off thousands of teachers at a time when we need them the most.


The Times Free Press has an in-depth story on testing scores for teachers, and those educators who do not offer tests such as arts, music, physical education and kindergarten classes. LINK

When teachers and school leaders begin meeting this week to offer feedback on Tennessee’s new teacher evaluation system, it’s likely that the controversial component that measures the effectiveness of teachers through test scores will be a common thread of discussion.

Halfway through the first year of implementing a new evaluation system, teachers have had several in-class observations, which make up half their overall scores.

But the effects of another part of the evaluation won’t be felt until results come back from standardized tests students take in the spring. And some say the inherent flaws of using test data to judge teachers’ performance – data that is referred to as “value-added” – have yet to be addressed.


Maury County educators are balking at larger classrooms. LINK


Removing the average size requirement would allow schools to have larger classes, meaning the total number of teachers could drop.

“Lifting the maximum average class size would give local school boards, if they wanted it, some flexibility to pay some teachers more, but no teacher would be paid less,” Haslam said. “That ability to pay some teachers more for hard-to-teach subjects in hard-to-teach places is very important.”

Haslam stressed that the maximum class size limits would remain in place, but some educators fear the effect of more classes being filled to capacity.

“I don’t see how that’s going to improve educating kids by putting more kids into a classroom,” said Maury County Schools Director Eddie Hickman. “All education research shows you’re supposed to be lowering teacher-pupil ratios.”


The TNDP has a petition to request to not increase class room sizes. They quote Sen. Lowe Finney in the eblast. LINK


“Our teachers just went through a year with a different kind ofABCs. They were attacked. They were belittled. And they werecriticized. This year, there seems to be new math. Fewer teachers, with bigger classrooms, is supposed to equal better results. But that really does not add up.” … Sen. Lowe Finney 

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