Cheatham County Principal Files Evaluation Grievance page 4
Robertson Co. ESP: “I Wouldn’t Walk Into A School Building Without My Membership”
Published by the TENNESSEE EDUCATION ASSOCIATION August 2012 Vol. 44, No. 1
TEA: We Are Here to Help Them Learn
Gera Summerford, TEA President Sevier Co. Education Association Gatlinburg Pittman High School Member since 1985
“We Can Do Anything By Working Together”
As we prepare for another school year, our focus is on our students. We spend significant time and energy to make that first day the best it can be for all the children entering our schools and classrooms. Lists are made and checked off, school buildings cleaned, supplies stocked, textbooks appropriated. In late July and early August, our attention turns to being ready. Whether we work in classrooms, cafeterias, libraries or school offices, we know it takes all of us to create a safe and productive learning environment for our students. None of us can do it alone. TEA members recognize the importance of collective action. We know we can accomplish more by working together than any one of us can individually. We can improve instructional practice by supporting, mentoring and learning from one another. We can promote quality public schools by voting collectively for politicians who support public education. And we can advocate for our profession by standing together with one voice. With the expansive education reform efforts underway in our state and nation, TEA members understand the value of belonging Gera Summerford to a professional Association that unites us. Due to our combined efforts this past year, Governor Haslam withdrew his proposal to increase class size and the State Board of Education reconsidered a teacher reprimand policy. In the coming months TEA will support members through the evaluation process, work to prevent raids on public school funding and protect public employee retirement benefits. A strong Association of dedicated educators can and must impact the future for our students and our profession. While we get ready to welcome the kids back to school, we must also be ready to join together with a united voice. TEA is that voice. We put quality public education at the top of everyone’s list! Let’s not lose focus, however, on the value of our work, the reason we’ve chosen it and the purpose that guides us each day. As education professionals, we’ve faced many obstacles during the past year, and it’s not always easy to stay positive. But there are ongoing reasons for our continued dedication — the children we teach, the communities we serve, and the noble profession we share. Creating the best learning environment for all students is our common goal. Sharing our knowledge and enthusiasm is the method. Providing the best opportunity for a successful future is our dream. And we know it takes all of us to realize our dream.
teach (USPS 742-450, ISSN 15382907) is published monthly (except June, July and December) by the Tennessee Education Association, 801 Second Avenue North, Nashville TN 37201-1099. Periodical postage paid at Nashville, TN. The subscription price of $3.65 is allocated from annual membership dues of $258.00 for active members; $129.00 for associate, education support and staff members; $16.00 for retired members; and $10.00 for student members. Member of State Education Editors (SEE). Postmaster: Send address changes to teach, 801 Second Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37201-1099. MANAGING EDITOR: Alexei Smirnov email@example.com ASSISTANT EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Carol K. Schmoock PUBLISHER: Alphonso C. Mance
Tennessee Education Association 801 Second Avenue North Nashville, TN 37201-1099 Telephone: (615)242-8392, Toll Free: (800)342-8367, (800)342-8262 Fax: (615)259-4581 Website: www.teateachers.org
BOARD OF DIRECTORS PRESIDENT: Gera Summerford* (800)342-8367 VICE PRESIDENT: Barbara Gray* (901)353-8590 SECRETARY-TREASURER: Alphonso C. Mance (615)242-8392 DISTRICT 1 Leisa Lusk (423)928-6819 DISTRICT 2 Melinda Reese (423)587-2120 DISTRICT 3 Karen Starr (423)628-2701 DISTRICT 4 Tanya Coats (865)637-7494 DISTRICT 5 Michael Plumley (423)749-8228 DISTRICT 6 Scott Price (931)455-7198
August 2012 Special Membership Edition
Jane Ligon: “I Wouldn’ Building W Jane Ligon has worked at Bransford Elementary School for 44 years. She has worked under three administrators and says that she has been able to learn from all of them. A longtime local leader who stands up for the rights of education support professionals, Ligon says her principal inspired her to join RCEA. “He was president of RCEA and he believed in including everybody as a family,” Ligon says. Jane Ligon, Administrative Assistant, Bookkeeper “I was allowed to Robertson Co. Education Association take advantage of the Bransford Elementary School Association trainings Member since 1985 and other benefits before ESPs could join in 1982. I had a little edge and I was thrilled. We were the first local in Tennessee to ratify enrollment of ESPs.” When talking to ESPs and teachers who are hesitant about joining their professional organization, Ligon always shares her experience and the history of how Tennessee’s teachers fought for improving their lives. “We talk about the blood, sweat and tears of those who worked very hard to improve the working conditions of teachers, which are students’ learning conditions. We are standing on the shoulders of giants who came before us,” she says. “The legislature is after us now. I feel like they are trying to destroy public education. The anti-public education politicians hit the ground running in January
DISTRICT 7 Allen Nichols (615)653-6501 DISTRICT 8 Kawanda Braxton (615)554-6286 DISTRICT 9 Theresa L. Wagner (270)776-1467 DISTRICT 10 Guy Stanley (615)384-2983 DISTRICT 11 Wendy R. Bowers (731)645-8595 DISTRICT 12 Suzie May (731)779-9329 DISTRICT 13 Ernestine King (901)590-8188 DISTRICT 14 Sarah Kennedy-Harper (901)416-4582 DISTRICT 15 Tom Emens (901)277-0578 ADMINISTRATOR EAST Johnny Henry (865)509-4829 ADMINISTRATOR MIDDLE Margaret Thompson (615)643-7823 ADMINISTRATOR WEST Charles Green (901)624-6186 HIGHER EDUCATION Derek Frisby (615)898-5881 BLACK CLASSROOM TEACHER EAST Paula Hancock (865)694-1691 BLACK CLASSROOM TEACHER MIDDLE Alzenia Walls (615)230-8144
BLACK CLASSROOM TEACHER WEST LaVerne Dickerson* (901)416-7122 STATE SPECIAL SCHOOLS Vacancy ESP Christine Denton (931)647-8962 TN NEA DIRECTOR Stephen Henry* (615)519-5691 TN NEA DIRECTOR Diccie Smith (901)482-0627 TN NEA DIRECTOR Diane Lillard (423)478-8827 STEA MEMBER Marilauren Anderson (731)478-5106 TN RETIRED Gerald Lillard (423)478-8827 NEW TEACHER CandraClariette (615)506-3493 * Executive Committee
TEA HEADQUARTERS STAFF EXECUTIVEDIRECTOR:AlphonsoC.Mance;ASST.EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,TerranceGibson;ASST.EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR:MitchellJohnson;ASST. EXECUTIVEDIRECTOR:CarolK.Schmoock;TEAGENERALCOUNSEL; RickColbert; MANAGEROFBUSINESS AFFAIRS:StephanieFaulkner;
INFORMATIONTECHNOLOGY&SYSTEMSMANAGER,Galen Riggs; STAFFATTORNEYS:KatherineCurlee,VirginiaA. McCoy;MANAGER OFGOVERNMENTRELATIONS:JerryWinters;GOVERNMENT RELATIONSCOORDINATOR:AntoinetteLee;WEBMASTER& COMMUNICATIONSCOORDINATOR:AmandaChaney;MANAGING EDITOR&COMMUNICATIONSCOORDINATOR:AlexeiSmirnov; RESEARCH&INFORMATION:MelissaBrown;INSTRUCTION& PROFESSIONALDEVELOPMENTCOORDINATORS:SusanDalton, NickiFields;COORDINATOROFMEMBERSHIP&AFFILIATERELATIONS: DuranWilliams.
UniServ Staff contact information can be found on page 12.
’t Walk Into a School Without My Membership” 2010, right after the election. We’ve fought those kindergarten students, Ligon often hears from her battles and won in decades past, and now they’re colleagues in other schools about the rising stress taking us backwards.” levels among students. “They are pushed to do so Ligon says that keeping education employees’ much, especially our lower elementary students,” rights is a big reason to band together. Making she says. “They don’t get a chance to work off ESPs at-will employees has really disturbed her. some of that pent-up energy before they have to She says the legislature has given the power to come back into the classroom. I hear stories about the directors of schools to dismiss ESPs without a children throwing up because of stressing about reason or due process. In Ligon’s view, this is the a test as teachers are constantly being pushed to best time in the world to organize, to show people get the scores up, while other students don’t care that TEA is the only organization school employees anymore what answers they choose on a test.” can rely on for help and support. Another problem in Ligon’s view is the lack of “It will require going to the polls and removing desire to visit schools among the people charged some of the people who didn’t vote with us on with making decisions about public education. education,” Ligon says. “We should check our “The ones I work with, they’ve never been in a legislators’ report cards, see who our friends are school building. The board of education members, and remember our friends when we vote.” the commissioners, all those making the rules and During the last few years, Ligon has observed regulations—they either don’t come to see for many ESPs with two or three jobs just to keep their themselves what’s happening in our schools or they heads above water. While she’s don’t stay long enough.” unable to take on another job Yet when Bransford because of her many Association Elementary went through an “We do a lot of responsibilities, Ligon says that evaluation by the Southern laughing in our it has never crossed her mind Association of Colleges and building, and laughter Schools (SACS) a few years ago, to save money by giving up her membership. teachers were told that their is good medicine.” “To those who say they can’t school was the best-kept secret afford to share their time and in Robertson County. “Can you money, I suggest tightening the belt in one way imagine what a warm and fuzzy feeling it was to in order to protect yourself in another way,” Ligon get that report?” Ligon says. “But if anything bad says. “There’s no way I would walk into a school happens with a teacher, it hits the front page of the building without my membership. Unfortunately, newspaper. That’s why it’s up to us as educators to there are too many people out there looking to file tell our story.” lawsuits without a reason.” Ligon says she appreciates having her local When discussing the political turmoil of the Association and TEA on her side. “Whenever we past few years that resulted in the loss of education call or email, I’ve never been turned down on any employee rights, Ligon says it troubles her that services. It really means a lot.” the children are left out of the equation. “We hear Ligon says her wish for the upcoming school that certain entities approach teaching in business year is for all the locals in Tennessee to maximize terms, but children are human beings,” she says. their ESP membership. In order to inspire her ESP “Some of our legislators in Robertson County colleagues, Ligon quotes Bill Raabe, NEA director of don’t listen. They talk out of both sides of their collective bargaining and member advocacy: “The mouths. I had to follow one legislator to her car world is changing and the challenge for us is not one night after a meeting. She would come to a to think how bad things are, but to think how good meeting needing to leave—that’s the wrong kind of they can be.” attitude to begin with. I was determined to make “Why dwell on the negative? We do a lot of her listen to me no matter what. “ laughing in our building, and laughter is good Ligon says it takes everyone—teachers, medicine,” Ligon says. administrators and ESPs—”to educate our babies.” After all, nobody can take the hard-earned But these days, teachers and ESPs are called moments of joy away from teachers and ESPs; and to do more than just teach in order to preserve collective joy is an excellent building block for and improve their jobs. Working with pre-K and collective action.
Al Mance, TEA Executive Director Member since 1985
“TEA Is Pushing The World As It Is Toward the World As It Should Be” TEA is a collective of professional teachers and education support professionals in a relentless struggle to push the world as it is in the direction of the world as it ought to be. Every professional educator should Al Mance belong to an organization aspiring to that goal. The number of people in this collective—together with their courage, leadership skills and commitment to making the lives of students and their communities better—determines our effectiveness. The 107th General Assembly amply demonstrated that no one is going to hand teachers and schools what we need to successfully educate and build better futures for the students we teach. It takes power to move the “Those with power world. According and money see us to Michael when we gather Gecan, author and use our power of Going Public, power comes to check them...” in two forms — organized people and organized money. Neither TEA nor any of our individual members has enough money to move the world. What we do have is each other and that is enough. Those with power and money see us when we gather and use our power to check them, hold them accountable, pressure them and—when necessary—stop them. Together, we must lead the teaching profession in Tennessee and make public education what our youths deserve and the future of our democracy demands. Join TEA, the community of the willing, to push Tennessee toward the world as it ought to be.
Tim Ray: “If You Think You’re Protected Without TEA Membership,
Tim Ray, Principal, Assistant Principal, Teacher Cheatham Co. Education Association Sycamore Alternative School Member since 1993
With 13 years of leadership experience behind him, Tim Ray knows a thing or two about work ethic and responsibility. Imagine his surprise when he was removed from his position as Cheatham Academy principal without a single evaluation to back up his demotion—by a guy who ushered the entire evaluation system into existence. “At no time did my evaluator, director Tim Webb, conduct any portion of the state-mandated evaluation procedure,” reads the grievance against the former Tennessee education commissioner who ran Cheatham County schools before resigning in May to become a principal in Giles County. “According to the law, [Webb] was supposed to observe every administrator. He didn’t do that. It’s a total disregard for taxpayers, for the law and the local school board policies. As an employee of the board I was expected to perform evaluations of teachers in my school and I complied,” says Ray, pointing out that he has been a taxpayer in the county since 1974. “We were paying Dr. Webb to the tune of $120,000 in salary and benefits. I understand that it’s possible to not do all evaluations, to fall short, but when you don’t even start the process… And I wasn’t the only administrator who was affected.” Ray says he wanted to make sure that somebody brought this to the attention of the public and the local board of education. Having been reassigned to teach at the adult alternative school where he was principal, Ray is eager to bring to light the inadequacies of the current evaluation system. During the last school year, Ray says Webb walked into his building twice, both times to inspect air conditioning system repairs.
“Representation and having a collective voice are going to be more and more important over the next five years.”
August 2012 Special Membership Edition
You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” Ray says Webb never formally observed him, but commended his ability to address disciplinary issues at the school. “In my opinion, the whole evaluation process was rushed by the state legislature,” Ray says. “There are some good things, but if it’s going to continue to be used, it needs a lot of fine-tuning.” As a principal of an alternative school, Ray didn’t have any TVAAS data. Even so, the evaluation system will generate a score that doesn’t reflect his performance. As part of his grievance, Ray has asked that his name be removed from any quantitative data on the RandaSolutions site, which determines his evaluation rating. “My teachers at the alternative school were given four choices for the 35 percent: countywide English II End-of-Course (EOC), countywide Algebra I EOC, ACT benchmarks countywide, or graduation rate countywide,” Ray says. “None of that makes any sense for my alternative middle school teachers. At some point the state legislature needs to rethink this part of the evaluation.” Just days after helping Ray file his grievance, TEA helped file two more grievances on behalf of Cheatham County administrators removed by Webb. Angela McCarthy, who was removed as assistant principal at Harpeth Middle School, and Jenny Simpkins, who was removed as principal at Sycamore High School, said in their grievances that state-mandated evaluation procedures were violated prior to their reassignment. As Ray and colleagues await hearings on their grievances, their cases demonstrate that no one is protected from the whims of directors of schools, local school boards or politicians. “I told my faculty at Sycamore the last year I was there, if you think you can be successful without TEA and CCEA, you’ve got another thing coming, because without representation it’s going to get worse,” Ray says. “Unfortunately, the laws in Tennessee were always geared in favor of school boards, and now most of the advantages are taken away from teachers.” Ray predicts that the wave of negative anti-teacher attitudes is only going to worsen, so “representation and having a collective voice are going to become more and more important over the next five years.” Ray hopes that in five years, politicians and those implementing their policies will realize that they can’t find anyone to run and teach in overburdened, over-regulated public schools. “They are going to start being a little more pro-teacher,” he predicts. To the energetic young professionals, Ray has this to say: “We all get old, fat and tired after a while. There will come a time when you realize that things are not stacked in favor of the employee. So when the wrong personalities get together and make decisions on the school board, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done, they are still going to treat you in a negative manner that they think teachers deserve.” “Unfortunately, teachers get blamed for too many problems we have in our society,” Ray says. “It’s not true, number one, and teachers shouldn’t have that pinned on them. We need to stick together in order to survive the atmosphere we are in right now.”
Monroe County Teachers Protect Membership With Automatic Dues Pay Teachers in Monroe County don’t have to be nervous about their membership dues. As of this year, their dues are no longer controlled by the local school board. “Since the loss of our contract in July, we felt like the school board and the county finance department are not going to be obligated to be nice to us,” says Shauna Bowers, who teaches at Vonore Middle School and currently serves as membership chair at MCEA. “We wanted to be proactive and retain our power, so taking control of our membership dues was the biggest selling point to our members.” Together with MCEA President Sarah Amos and Treasurer Whitney Dyer, Bowers says the local organized a drawing for gift cards at every school to see who would convert the most members to Automatic Dues Pay (ADP)—a simple process that requires a member ID number (found on page 12 of every issue of teach delivered to your mailbox) in order to log on to the membership portal at www.teateachers.org. “They did a fantastic job,” says Reba Luttrell, TEA UniServ coordinator who helped organize the drawing. The gift cards were such a hit that one school signed up 100 percent of its members for automatic dues pay. Many schools in the district were able to convert close to 90 percent of their members as part of the ADP campaign. Bowers says that trust in MCEA played a big role in the project’s success. “The main thing is during the last couple of years we’ve been such a positive
force in helping teachers. They trusted us when we said it was time to move away from the school district’s payroll deduction model,” Bowers says. “The last couple of years we had a free breakfast day for all the teachers, and other events. They know we are here for everyone.” When it comes to inviting new members to join, Bowers says her experience as a teacher and assistant principal allows her to share poignant stories with colleagues. “The first thing I tell them is that I don’t have time to go to Nashville or Washington to lobby for our profession,” she says. “I’m happy that I can support the people at TEA who fight for us.” Bowers also likes to share a story from a few years ago when she and a couple of her friends “were talked into” converting to a cheaper membership organization. Then a parent brought a case against one of the teachers. “When that teacher attempted to get in touch with the cheaper organization to get representation, through a P.O. box in California, they said she could have an attorney but she would have to fly them out of California,” Bowers says. “Luckily, that case was dropped.” To avoid paperwork and protect your voice as a member by converting to TEA Automatic Dues Pay, all you need is your member ID number. If you don’t have it, call TEA Membership Coordinator Duran Williams at (800) 342-8367, ext. 213 or drop him a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t let them silence you! The Legislature is attempting to limit and control Tennessee educators’ exercise to free speech rights if they use payroll deductions for TEA dues. There is a way to protect your rights and benefits through your membership in the Tennessee Education Association!
Sign up for
Safe. Secure. Easy to do! All it takes is a voided check.
TEA Automatic Dues Pay! For more information call TEA at 800.342.8367 ext. 213 or visit www.teateachers.org
When we leave
Before the 2010 election Educators had a voice in their profession through professional negotiations. Basic teacher due process rights were protected through a tenure law. A well-developed teacher evaluation system was in place. Teachers elected their representatives to the state retirement board. Limits were placed on unproven “charter” and “virtual” schools. Non-licensed education employees had annual contracts.
Register. Remember. Vote.
Elections do have consequences What’s next for Tennessee: vouchers, more privatization, attacks on retirement benefits, increased class sizes? Remember how your legislators voted and hold them accountable in 2012.
August 2012 Special Membership Edition
politics to others,
We lose control of our profession.
After the 2010 election Teachers lost their right to a negotiated contract. Tenure rights were greatly diminished for teachers not yet tenured as of July 1, 2011. New evaluation “reforms” have stressed and demoralized many teachers. Elected representatives on the state retirement board have been replaced with political appointees. Unproven charter and “virtual” schools have been written a “blank check” to expand. Non-licensed education employees can be fired “at will.”
When you vote, pledge to put public education first. August 2 - Primary Election November 6 - General Election 7
August 2012 Special Membership Edition
TEA Members Urged to Stay Abreast Of Evaluation Grievance Changes
A Success Guide for Teachers Beginning Their Careers
‘First Class’ Guide Offers Teaching Tips TEA’s popular First Class guide offers new teachers tips on practically every aspect of their professional and personal lives, from test security guidelines and the basics of school law to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and time management techniques. The most recent edition of First Class contains QR codes that will take you directly to the valuable resources on the web, such as TEA’s Member Assistance Program (MAP), which is free to TEA members, completely confidential and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The guide also contains tips on managing student behavior and responding to behavior problems, writing report cards, communicating with families and involving families of Englishlanguage learners, as well as preparing for a substitute and maintaining your license to teach. First Class can be accessed in digital format from the Member Center at www.teateachers.org or by scanning the QR code above. To request a print copy, please contact your local Association president.
It’s no surprise that Tennessee’s teacher and principal evaluation system continues to receive unfavorable publicity in the wake of recent reports and analyses. Tennessee’s teachers have been saying all along that the system’s implementation was too rushed, resulting in an unfair and unwieldy system that doesn’t adequately measure student progress and teacher effectiveness. As TEA continues to point out the faults in the evaluation system, it’s more important than ever for teachers to follow the evaluation grievance procedure, which was included in the evaluation process as a result of much lobbying by TEA members and leaders. “This school year, it’s very important to adhere to the set timeline of your evaluation,” says Susan Dalton, TEA instruction and professional development coordinator. TEA developed an evaluation tracking form, which is available in the Resource Center at www.teateachers.org or through your UniServ coordinator (please see page 12 of this issue for UniServ contact information). This form will help you navigate the evaluation process and adhere to the grievance deadlines. “Tracking of your evaluation begins on day one, starting with the amount of training you receive,” Dalton says. TEA keeps its members up-to-date regarding the changes in the evaluation grievance procedure via updates in teach, as well as in its e-newsletters, TEA Compass and TEA Tuesday Report. “We were the main driver for including the evaluation grievance procedure in the new teacher evaluation system from the days of its conception during the 2010 special session of the Tennessee General Assembly,” Dalton says. “Anyone who is evaluated—teachers, principals—have the right to grieve their evaluation, starting with the first year of employment.” TEA is present at every State Board of Education meeting, pushing for more teacher-friendly changes to the evaluation process. For instance, during the June 22 meeting, when most school employees were on leave, the state board announced more changes to the evaluation grievance process. TEA was the only organization allowed to speak on behalf of teachers. Rick Colbert, TEA general counsel, raised concerns about making grievance changes during the summer when teachers are not working. Thanks to his input, the grievance deadline of July 15 was preserved for this year. Also during the June 22 meeting, the state board revised Policy 5.201 concerning deadlines for filing grievances. Here are the particulars you need to know regarding the revision: 1. The references to “the end of the summative evaluation” have been removed from the policy setting the grievance deadline. 2. A grievance on any component of the evaluation (the 50 percent observation score, the 35 percent growth score, and the 15 percent “other measures” score) must be filed no later than 15 days from the teacher’s receipt of his or her score on that component. This means that any teacher potentially may have multiple grievances. Once the 15-day deadline for a particular component has passed, that component cannot be grieved. 3. A grievance may be filed before a component score is received. In other words, the 15-day limit is the outer limit. For example: Ms. Jones only receives one of two observations in the fall. She may grieve the failure to receive a second observation at any time after that failure occurs, before or after her observation score is in; but the final deadline for grieving the failure is 15 days after she receives her final score on the observation component. 4. Because the Commissioner previously set a July 15, 2012, deadline for grievances this year of the 50 percent observation score and 35 percent growth score, that deadline applied this year only regardless of when the teacher received his or her score for those components.
For more resources and training, contact TEA’s Instruction and Professional Development Division at 1.800.342.8367
Nellie Keeton: “TEA Leadership Experience Changed My Life” By Nellie Anne Keeton To inspire my students, I help them to set goals for themselves and to monitor their progress toward the goals on a regular basis. I encourage them to try new strategies, think outside of the box, and defend their positions. Because I believe parents are a vital component of a student’s success at school, I empower them with tools, strategies, and resources to help their children. I have often encouraged parents to sit in on my math classes so that they can hear the vocabulary and see the strategies that their children are learning in order to support their studies at home. As a team leader at school, I work in several capacities to encourage, support, and inspire other teachers. I serve as the Association Representative for my school, which allows me to empower my members when faced with a challenging situation. I have been a school-wide mentor for the last three years, mentoring and supporting new teachers in my school. I have also been a mentor to veteran teachers who are in need of personal improvement plans. I am currently serving as grade chair for the fifth grade at my school, which allows me to lead professional learning communities with my colleagues. Because of my leadership “I have overcome my fear experience in the Association, of confrontation, so many I have been of my colleagues now able to become come to me for support.” an advocate for teachers. Throughout my teaching career, my role has changed from a mentored teacher to a leader amongst my colleagues. I have overcome my fear of confrontation, so many of my colleagues now come to me for support when dealing with uncomfortable situations involving students, parents, and administration. I have been able to champion the cause of public educators through my community connections, such as social groups, church groups and parent groups. Nellie Anne Keeton is a 2012 TEA Distinsuished Educator. She teaches fifth grade math at Munford Elementary School and has been a Tipton Co. EA member since 1997.
August 2012 Special Membership Edition
TEA Staff Always Ready to Share Resources, Experience With Members “If this were easy, we wouldn’t be here,” Rhonda Thompson, TEA UniServ Coordinator, told Robertson Co. EA leaders during a training in late July. As TEA members prepared for the new school year, their Association at 801 Second Avenue North in Nashville and dozens of local offices across the state were abuzz with conversations and seminars geared toward improving the teacher and principal evaluation system, restoring teachers’ rights and improving students’ learning conditions. “If you could track TEA staff on a live GPS map, all kinds of lights would pop up all over Tennessee and beyond, at all hours of the day,” said TEA Membership Coordinator Duran Williams. He was speaking from experience. As a former teacher, principal, assistant principal, coach and local leader, Williams is accustomed to answering his phone and email whenever his phone alerts him, addressing members’ concerns and questions. The same goes for TEA staff attorneys, research professionals, instruction and professional development coordinators and other staff, who work
TEA UniServ Coordinator Rhonda Thompson conducts a meeting with Robertson Co. EA leaders. tirelessly to support Tennessee’s teachers in their local associations. “No other organization has the resources and experience we have at TEA,” said Carol K. Schmoock, TEA assistant executive director. Also a former teacher and association leader in Wisconsin and Missouri, she went into education advocacy because it was her passion. “It is our job and we are always here for our members, Tennessee’s teachers.”
Sumner County Teachers Win Lawsuit
to file this lawsuit, and to stand up and fight for the A Sumner County chancery court judge ruled benefits promised to teachers. We feel vindicated by in July in favor of Sumner County teachers in this outcome and hope it reminds teachers they still their lawsuit against the Sumner County Board of have a voice in Sumner County.” Education. This is the second of two lawsuits filed by SCEA Filed last year by the Sumner County Education in 2011. The first lawsuit grew out of restrictions Association (SCEA), the lawsuit followed Sumner imposed by the Board of Education on the County school board’s decision to impose a activities and communications of SCEA and its unilateral increase in Sumner County teachers’ representatives. SCEA and share of their insurance Walls claimed that those premiums. The court ruled “The court ruled that the school board’s restrictions violated that the school board’s the First Amendment actions were unlawful actions were unlawful and ordered and state law. In late and ordered the board to the board to repay nearly $1 million December, the federal repay nearly $1 million in wrongfully withheld premiums to court issued an injunction in wrongfully withheld Sumner County teachers.” against the board of premiums to Sumner education as a result of teachers. Those still those restrictions. Earlier working in Sumner County this year, the Sumner County Board of Education schools will be paid by a premium adjustment over 12 months beginning October 15. Teachers who have approved a settlement of the first lawsuit. “The resolution of these lawsuits enables SCEA left the system are to be paid in a lump sum. and the Sumner County Board of Education to begin “This is an important victory for the teachers of rebuilding our relationship,” said Walls. “We want Sumner County and the Sumner County Education what is best for our students and teachers. Bringing Association,” said Dr. Alzenia Walls, Station Camp closure to these matters allows us to come together High School teacher and SCEA president. “The and work in the best interest of Sumner County school board chose to ignore its obligations to its schools and students.” teachers and SCEA, leaving us no other option than
“teachers and their unions.” That rhetoric escalated into an all-out war on teachers and public education with all kinds of weird legislation being passed— again, without addressing the core problems which, when left unattended, could cripple Tennessee’s future for years to come. So what does it all mean? It appears to me that during the last two years, Mr. Pody and Ms. Elam haven’t had a clue about addressing the real issues facing Tennesseans, which means they are nothing but opportunistic and parasitic politicians—not Republicans, Democrats or Tea Party members. I totally reject the Pody-Elam concept of government control of firearms by issuing permits. I know plenty of countries where gun permit requirements don’t keep people from carrying guns around when they feel like it. I don’t frequent bars (and I don’t care if you do), and if you want to go
Steve Johnson: “It’s an American Right: Express Yourself” By Steve Johnson As we weigh our options, some folks in our area ask, “Why even vote in the State House of Representatives race for Districts 46 and 57, to elect representatives for Wilson County and other nearby places?” I have asked and been asked this question a lot by fellow teachers, and that’s how I decided to become a write-in candidate during this year’s election. In District 46, we have a choice between Mark Pody (R) and a write-in candidate. In District 57, we have a choice between Linda Elam (R), Susan Lynn (R) and a write-in candidate. Let’s look at these choices. Although Linda Elam calls herself a Republican, and Mark Pody calls himself a Republican, on closer inspection they come across as Tea Party Republicans. Combined with Lou Ann Zelenik, they make a trifecta of Tea Party candidates seeking to represent us locally and nationally. Now let’s see what candidates Pody and Elam have accomplished on Nashville’s Capitol Hill during the last two years. We still have terrific unemployment in our state, but I can’t recall anything that was done about it. Thousands of homes were foreclosed upon, but I can’t recall anything being done about that. Public schools were plagued by social problems arising from economic devastation and disintegration of families, but I can’t remember those issues being addressed. I remember a gun issue progressing through the state legislature, as if carrying guns into parks, restaurants, parking lots or bars could somehow fix the biggest problems in our state—lackluster job creation and underfunded public education. Do you remember the irony of hearing back-toback speeches about prayer in classrooms and guns in bars? There was also inflammatory rhetoric against
armed or unarmed, I doubt that any Pody-Elam prohibition or permit would change your decision. You see, the so-called “gun issue” is an opportunistic and parasitic political gimmick used by politicians unable to solve or even address the real issues. What about the supposedly huge, much-touted Elam-Pody reduction of sales tax on food items to help struggling Tennesseans? Minimal research shows that this miniscule reduction in tax might buy you an extra gallon of milk once a month.
“Teachers have an Association. I am proud to be one of its members, just like lawyers take pride in the Tennessee Bar Association...” Tennesseans who live close to the Kentucky border still prefer to make the trek to the state that levies no sales tax on food. Every time they visit a Kentucky Walmart, it costs Tennessee even more revenue. But opportunistic and parasitic politicians have no real concern for struggling Tennesseans or for addressing and solving their very real issues. Folks, I encourage you to do the math on this rather than trust their rhetoric. Finally, what is the result of the legislature’s war on “teachers and their union?” First of all, there is no “teachers’ union.” It doesn’t exist. Teachers have an Association. I am proud to be one of its members, just like lawyers take pride in the Tennessee Bar
Association and doctors value being part of the American Medical Association. The “teacher-union” rhetoric is just another fabrication by opportunistic and parasitic politicians within the Pody- Elam crowd. They use this language to cover the fact that they have no ideas for addressing economic, cultural and societal issues that are dragging down the public education system in America today. Incidentally, if the Pody- Elam lot wanted to take on a real union, they are welcome to start with the Tennessee State Employees Association. Why do they continue to abuse the teachers and the teachers’ Association with their incendiary rants and laws but never even mention the state employee union? For the same reason that bullies pick on little kids and the ones they think won’t fight back. The political bullies target teachers because we wield no decisionmaking power in public education—the power rests in the hands of the legislature. As you know, we teachers are a very non-confrontational, peaceful and thick-skinned bunch. So, if you are still pondering the State House of Representatives race for Districts 46 and 57, or a similarly uninspiring race in your area, let’s look at the choices because you’re an American citizen and you still have a choice. 1. You can vote for Pody-Elam or a similar candidate. I hear they are working on a bill that would allow us to legally carry guns to Mars. I believe they have nearly destroyed public education and demoralized teachers to the breaking point. But they might have some new distorted and fabricated issues up their sleeves in order to distract us from the real problems. 2. You could elect Republican Susan Lynn in the District 57 race. It seems like every day I get some sort of mailbox stuffer vilifying Susan Lynn from the Linda Elam campaign. Where does Ms. Elam get all that venom and money for the kind of negative campaign she’s running? 3. In the 46th District race, there are only two choices, Mark Pody and the write-in candidate. How sad that no one chose to run against Mr. Pody. I realize that people are disillusioned with politics, but even here you have a choice. I urge you to consider the write-in option. It will take you a couple of extra minutes to fill out the ballot, but you might really enjoy it. You are making a statement and exercising your rights. I kept hoping that “someone else” would step up in District 46, but it didn’t happen. So even without any expectation of winning against Mr. Pody, I ask you to go with the write-in option in the 46th District race. I would be honored if you used my name, but if you don’t, please use your name, or your dog’s name if you like. Just express the fact that you are not satisfied with having no choice other than a politician whose record doesn’t give him or her the right to be on the ballot in this year’s election. Hey, it’s an American right: express yourself. Steve Johnson, Wilson Co. EA member since 1995, teaches at Carroll Oakland Elementary School.
Tennessee’s Teachers Speak Out About Their Profession And Their Vote
Need information, services? Tennessee Education Association 801 Second Avenue N., Nashville, TN 37201-1099 (615) 242-8392, (800) 342-8367, FAX (615) 259-4581
District 1 — Harry Farthing, P.O. Box 298, Elizabethton, TN 37644; phone: (423)262-8035, fax: (423)262-8053; Assns: Carter, Hancock, Hawkins, Johnson, Sullivan. District 2 — Jennifer Gaby, P.O. Box 70, Afton, TN 37616; (423)234-0700, fax: (423)2340708; Assns: Cocke, Greene, Unicoi, Washington, Johnson City. District 3 — Tina Parlier, P.O. Box 74, Corryton, TN 37721; (865)688-1175, fax: (865)688-5188; Assns: Claiborne, Grainger, Hamblen, Jefferson, Sevier, Union. District 4 — Jon White, Knox County Education Association, 2411 Magnolia Ave., Knoxville, TN 379178289; (865)522-9793, fax: (865)522-9866; Assns: Knox, TSD. District 5— Jason White, P.O. Box 5502, Oak Ridge, TN 37831; (615)521-1333, fax: (865)200-5254;
Assns: Anderson, Campbell, Blount, Morgan, Scott. District 6 — Jim Jordan, P.O. Box 4878, Cleveland, TN 37320; phone/fax: (423)472-3315; Assns: Rhea, Roane, Meigs, McMinn, Monroe, Loudon, Bradley, Polk. District 7 — Theresa Turner, 4655 Shallowford
In television spots airing this month across the state, Tennessee’s teachers and education support professionals talk about their profession and their passion for educating children. Below is a sampling of testimonials from your friends and colleagues featured in the TEA web video. To view the video, visit vote.teateachers.org. Bridget Jolley, Sevier Co. EA: “Talk to teachers. We’re not the enemy. We care about our kids. The only reason we do what we do every single day and go back to it every day is because we love our children. And if you really want to know how you are going to affect their education, come talk to the teachers because we are the one that deals with them every single day.” Larry Proffitt, Robertson Co. EA: “TEA is the 40,000 teachers around the state of Tennessee and that is what the legislature needs to be reminded of… that they didn’t
offend five or six people that work in a building in downtown Nashville. They offended 40,000 people that work in the classroom with those children around the state.” Terri Gilbert, Anderson Co. EA: “We’ve got to get out and get out the word to vote for education-friendly candidates. We are literally voting for our jobs, voting for our livelihoods, voting for the future for our students.” Judy Barnes, Knox Co. EA: “Some of our legislators that attacked us last year are playing it cool this year because they are up for election this year and we need to remember that come November.” Sarah Kennedy-Harper, Memphis EA: “We must go to the polls. We must stand up. We must speak out for ourselves.” DeWayne Emert, Anderson County: “This will be my 35th year in the classroom and every year it is like starting a new job. It’s a new adventure. I like to get to know my students and I look forward to spending time with them and leading them toward exciting things. The most important part of my job is to help students understand their place in the world, to be productive citizens, and to go out into the world and be happy and productive.” Sarah Amos, Monroe County Co. EA: “You have to be proactive. You have to do the work to show change. And part of being in TEA is not only for you but to show your students that you’re not just there for yourself, that you are there for them too. And make them proud of the things you are doing to improve your classroom and their school and their learning environment.” Diana Watkins, Giles County EA: “We need to check the records of our legislators and the ones that were not on our side, we need to remember those things because it is in our hands to get education friendly legislators in office.”
August 2012 Special Membership Edition
Rd., Chattanooga, TN 37411; (423)485-9535, fax: (423)485-9512; Assns: Hamilton County. District
8 — Jeff Garrett, P.O. Box 1202, Lebanon, TN 37088; (615)630-2605, fax: (855)320-8755; Assns: Coffee, Cannon, Bledsoe, Franklin, Grundy, Manchester City, Marion, Sequatchie, Tullahoma City, Van Buren, White, Warren. District 9 — Shannon Bain, 1001 Rhett Place, Lebanon, TN 37087; phone: (615)547-7769, fax: (615)547-7879; Assns: Clay, Cumberland, DeKalb, Fentress, Jackson, Macon, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, Smith, Trousdale. District 10 — Jackie Pope, 2326 Valley Grove Dr., Murfreesboro, TN 37128; (615) 8981060, fax: (615) 898-1099; Assns: Bedford, Marshall, Moore, Williamson. District 11 — Susan Young, P.O. Box 422, Madison, TN 37116-0422; phone/fax: (615)865-9700; Assns: Rutherford, Sumner. District
12 — Cheryl Richardson-Bradley, 801 Second Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37201; (615)630-2601; Assns: Cheatham, Dickson, Hickman, Wilson. District 13 — Forestine Cole, Ralph Smith, Metro Nashville, 531 Fairground Court, Nashville, TN 37211; (615)726-1499, fax: (615)726-2501; Assns: Metro Nashville. District
14 — Rhonda Thompson, 801 Second Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37201; (615)354-3305; Assns: ClarksvilleMontgomery, Robertson. District 15 — Miley Durham, P.O. Box 10, Lawrenceburg, TN 38464; phone/ fax: (931)766-7874; Assns: Giles, Lawrence, Lincoln, Hardin, Lewis, Maury, Wayne. District 16 — Maria Uffelman, P.O. Box 99, Cumberland City, TN 37050; phone/fax: (931)827-3333; Assns: Benton, Carroll (West Carroll) Central, Henry, Stewart, Weakley, FTA, S.S.D. Decatur, Houston, Humphreys, Perry.
District 17 — Lorrie Butler, P.O. Box 387, Henderson, TN 38340; (731)989-4860, fax: (731)989-9254; Assns: Chester, Hardeman, Henderson, Jackson-Madison, McNairy. District 18 — Karla Carpenter, P.O. Box 177, Brunswick, TN 38014; (901)590-2543, fax: (901)382-1433; Assns: Crockett, Dyer, Gibson, Haywood, Lake, Lauderdale, Obion, Tipton. District 19 — Zandra Foster, 3897 Homewood Cove, Memphis, TN 38128; (901)377-9472, fax: (855)320-8737; Assns: Fayette, Shelby. District 20 — Memphis Education
Association — Ken Foster, Executive Director; MEA UniServ Directors: Marilyn Baker, Susanne Jackson, Terri Jones, Tom Marchand, Herman Sawyer, MEA, 126 South Flicker Street, Memphis, TN 38104; (901)4540966, fax: (901)454-9979; Assn: Memphis.