Area lawmakers support greater voice for teachers

Area lawmakers support greater voice for teachers

Posted: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 9:02 pm
By: NASHVILLE

NASHVILLE — Following a long discussion centered on expanding rights for teachers, three members of the House of Representatives from northwest Tennessee voted to increase the voice for teachers throughout the Volunteer State by supporting the Professional Educators Collaborative Conferencing Act of 2011.
State Reps. Bill Sanderson (R-Kenton), Andy Holt (R -Dresden) and Tim Wirgau (R-Buchanan) voted Friday for the legislation, which they say allows all teachers in Tennessee to have a voice at the education negotiation table. The reform does away with the mandatory bargaining authority granted exclusively to one union and, instead, opens up direct lines of communication between all education stakeholders, including individual educators.
The bill, created by the conference committee ap-pointed by the speakers of both chambers of the Legislature, authorizes a number of historic reforms in education including.
• Requires training in collaborative problem-solving for school boards to be developed by Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents;
• Suspends all collective bargaining under the Education Professional Negotiations Act;
• Retains the provisions regarding the rights of professional employees;
• Ensures that teachers may engage in collaborative conferencing with the Board of Education individually, with other teachers, or through representation by a professional employee organization.
“With so much riding on the outcome of education, we needed to invest in our teachers and this bill does just that,” Sanderson said. “Any rational examination of the current education environment reveals reform is needed and needed now. We have made great strides with education reform in this session of the General Assembly.
“This vote dovetails with the governor’s call to transform education so that we prioritize student achievement and encourage teaching excellence.”
Holt concurred.
“I’m proud to cast a vote that empowers every teacher in our state like never before,” he said after the vote. “Education is the silver bullet that leads to a better society. This bill ensures all of our hard-working teachers will finally have a voice when it comes to setting education policy.
“This majority has shown it is committed to protecting teacher salaries with bills like HB 367 and we are committed to our children by lifting the cap on charter schools. Once all is said and done, our Legislature will be known as the one that paved the way for a brighter future in Tennessee education.”
“We all know a quality education is crucial to the long-term success of Tennessee,” Wirgau said. “Current law has forced our best and brightest teachers to have their achievements ignored, resulting in average pay and average recognition. This certainly is no way to treat the individuals responsible for guiding and training our next generation of leaders in Tennessee.
“In the collaborative environment envisioned by this historic legislation, all teachers and their invaluable perspectives will be accounted for in curriculum and education policy.”
The legislation now goes to the governor for his signature to become law.
Published in The Messenger 5.24.11

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