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TNDP attacks TNGOP over proposed initiative backed by Bredesen

The TNDP stepped in it today. Just a few minutes ago, they tweeted this:

Republicans are want more unlicensed teachers and principals in Tennessee. Why? We have no idea. http://ow.ly/4I8vi

Aside from the glaring grammatical gaffe (proof we need to improve education?), the Tennessee Democrats seem to have a short memory.

HB1375 adds the following:

49-5-101. Notwithstanding any law or regulation requiring a license or permit to teach, after June 30, 2011, any person possessing a baccalaureate degree or a graduate degree from an accredited college or university shall be eligible for employment as a principal or teacher in any public elementary or secondary school in the state or as a supervisor in any LEA.   Licensure by the state shall not be required as a condition of employment as a principal, teacher or supervisor by any LEA.

This would essentially provide an opportunity for professionals in the business, science, math, and management world to enter the classroom (or into administration) without the education pedagogy. The TennDems got their panties all in a wad, but let’s travel back to 2007, when then-Governor Phil Bredesen (D) made a trip to MTSU to talk about education standards.

MTSU Sidelines reported:

Bredesen’s speech acknowledged several of the problems in Tennessee’s public and higher education administrations and his plans to address them.

He called for change to improve Tennessee’s education system through a redefinition of teaching credentials.

This is shown through a new program called Teach Tennessee, which offers a fast track to a teaching position for mid-career professionals.

“So far, I’ve received positive feedback,” Bredesen said. “The crew of the U.S.S. Public Education – that dedicated, hardworking crew is, of course, our teachers-they’re doing their best to sail our ship. Despite our crew’s qualities-despite the courage, the presence of mind, the flexibility and dedication it takes to make it in their profession – their ship is faltering.” [Ok, this guy really loved his ship analogies...]

The positions will primarily be available to professionals able to teach Math and Science.

Individuals who can provide practical knowledge of their subjects would also be included in the program. This is the plan to raise Tennessee’s below national average math and technical scores.

Teach Tennessee is in its third year of action and has already yielded 140 new teachers.

Graduates of the program are intended to work with students on the high school and higher education level.

Bredesen said that this program will not replace fully accredited teachers.

Teach Tennessee is meant to deepen what Bredesen calls, “the pool of talent.”

“This country is full of bright, capable people who have it in their hearts to teach. Let’s get these people in the classroom, where they belong,” Bredesen said.

From what I can remember, this angered then-Dean Gloria Bonner, who is/was an educational elitist. There are those who have their M.A. or Ph.D. in pedagogy who believe qualified professionals should not be allowed anywhere near a classroom full of students.

I encountered this in Maryland, when I sought to give a presentation about political activism to high school Government & Civics students. I was confronted by the Director of Curriculum and assured I would not be allowed anywhere near students because I didn’t have a teacher’s license. Little did he know I had completed most of a minor in secondary education, created lesson plans, and knew the ropes in the classroom. But I lacked that one piece of paper – certification.

Understandably, teaching “professionals” and teachers unions would oppose deepening the “pool of talent,” as Democrat Bredesen put it. But why? And why has the TNDP changed direction on this issue? If Bredesen was the titular head of the TNDP (and arguably the most prominent Tennessee Democrat living), then why have the TennDems rejected his education initiative? It seems just a tad hypocritical. Republicans are simply carrying out the initiative of a former Democrat Governor.

3 comments

1 Brandon { 04.27.11 at 10:24 am }

First of all, Matt. Nice try. You’re comparing apples and lawnmowers.

As you said, Gov. Bredesen laid out a plan (plan being the operative word) to help mid-career professionals transition to teaching. The Teach Tennessee program would help transition people with real world job experience to the classroom. To be clear: Movie store clerks need not apply.

While we could argue the merits of his plan, there is no argument that there was a plan.

The current proposal is not a plan to transition professionals into teaching roles. It’s merely a repeal of the license system with nothing in place to ensure quality professionals are teaching our kids.

People understand that education is the most critical component to ensuring the long-term sustainability of our state economy. So in our classrooms they want high-quality — and qualified — teachers.

2 NashvilleJefferson { 04.27.11 at 12:04 pm }

Brandon has it exactly right. These are two completely different things.

The first is called “alternative certification” and appears in almost every state in the United States, having been around for about 30 years at this point.

The second is “free-market” nonsense which assumes that the only thing you need to be a teacher is smart (or, at least, smart enough to cruise through college somewhere). There’s literally thousands of pages of research that tells us that the latter proposition isn’t true.

We’ve had enough politicization of teachers and teaching this year. Your take on the subject is either mistaken or misleading. Maybe both.

3 Suzie Gail { 04.27.11 at 7:51 pm }

Brandon is correct, Matt. You are comparing apples and lawnmowers. From the website http://www.tn.gov/education/teachtn:
“the program offers an expedited way to obtain licensure”.

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