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The pending legislation regarding education in the General Assembly is meant for one purpose — to help the Republican agenda of destroying the Tennessee Education Association.
TEA stands directly in the way of the Republicans’ ability to privatize education by creating charter schools and a voucher system.
TEA’s purpose is to help teachers protect their rights, receive a fair wage, be safe in their schools and their classrooms and have due process rights in personnel issues.
TEA has been doing this for over 150 years and has no intention of stopping anytime soon.
The first bill to be addressed, and possibly the most onerous, is SB 113 which was introduced by state Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Brentwood.
This bill would declare collective bargaining and negotiations between local associations and boards of education illegal.
Originally the bill stated that once current memoranda of agreement expired, there could legally be no negotiation between the two entities.
This is a blatant attack of TEA and the teachers who are members.
Under this legislation, the Board of Education would be solely responsible for setting working conditions, wages, holidays and the like.
The bill’s originator states that teachers associations, groups or even individual teachers could attempt to approach the school board about their thoughts and concerns, but the school board would be under no obligation to listen to them, much less act upon their concerns.
If every teacher in Roane County, much less the state of Tennessee, tried to go to the school board with their concerns and suggestions, soon there would be mass chaos and very little would be accomplished in the schools.
Passage of this bill would set the status of teachers and their profession back 30 years, to a time when teachers had no rights and no voice.
I have not spoken to a teacher, Republican or Democrat, who is in favor of giving up the rights and the voice in education that he or she and TEA have worked so diligently to gain.
In a time when we are striving to improve education and move forward into the future, it is inconceivable to send the teaching profession back into the past and expect favorable results.
At the Feb. 17, 2011, Roane County school board meeting, four of the board members spoke out strongly against this proposed legislation, which is supported by the Tennessee School Boards Association, and in support of collective bargaining and negotiation.
These members were Franklin Mee (Harriman), Everett Massengill (Midway), Wade McCullough (Rockwood) who is also the board’s chief negotiator and Mike “Brillo” Miller (Rockwood).
Roane County Director of Schools, Toni McGriff also voiced her support of the teachers of Roane County by comparing these attacks on them to a teacher telling a student that he would never achieve, never be successful and never be able to do well.
McGriff stated that, like this child, teachers would live up, or down, to whatever they are told is expected of them.
As president of the Roane County Education Association I wish to express the deep gratitude of the association to these board members and the director for their kind words and support in this matter.
They are supporting not only the teachers of Roane County, but by extension, the students of Roane County as well.
There are other pending bills aimed at eliminating the deduction of association dues from payroll, the barring of any association dues being contributed to political campaigns or causes, changing the Tennessee Consoliated Retirement System board of directors to political appointees rather than the current practice allowing members elected by their respective constituencies, and others.
All of these bills serve but one purpose — to eliminate the Tennessee Education Association and silence the voice of teachers.
The Republicans want to run education like a business.
The education of our children, the molding of young minds and the shaping of this state and this country’s future is not a business.
It is much more important than that.
Jeff Davis, president
Roane County Education Association