2014 Legislative Session Ends with Many Victories for Public Education

What turned out to be a very successful session for public education, students and teachers wrapped up last week. Thanks to the many calls, emails and visits by educators statewide and the tireless work of TEA's government relations team, many important bills were passed and several damaging bills were defeated. Please take a minute to read through the list of victories Jim and Antoinette, TEA's powerhouse GR team, won for you this session.

2014 Legislative Victories

Legislation passed:

  • TVAAS barred from licensure - TEA's bill to prohibit the use of TVAAS in teacher licensure decisions passed the General Assembly with overwhelming support. The bill now awaits the governor's signature. TEA delivered a petition with 11,674 signatures to Gov. Haslam this week asking him to sign the bill to treat educators as professionals.
  • PARCC delay - After TEA called for a moratorium on the use of the PARCC assessment in February, the legislature voted to delay implementation of PARCC for the 2014-15 school year. The state will instead issue a request for proposals to find a new test best suited to Tennessee students.
  • Salary schedule reinstated - TEA's bill to reinstate the state minimum salary schedule valuing years of experience and advanced degrees passed, but was amended. The amended version states that an LEA may adopt a salary schedule that is identical in either structure or designated salary levels or both to the salary schedule the LEA had in place during the 2012-2013 school year, with such schedule containing steps for each year of service up to and including twenty (20) years and for the attainment of advanced degrees at the level of masters, masters plus forty-five (45) hours of graduate credit, specialist in education and doctor of education or doctor of philosophy.
  • Observation scores protected - The legislature passed TEA's bill to prohibit a forced correlation between observation scores and TVAAS scores in teacher evaluation.
  • Limited tenured teacher suspension - The bill, written by TEA, prohibits a director of schools from suspending a teacher who is under investigation for more than 90 days, except in cases with criminal implications.
  • Planning time protected - TEA's bill to protect individual planning time for teachers passed the General Assembly unanimously. The bill provides that duty-free teacher time for instructional planning be allocated on an individual basis.

Legislation defeated:

  • Vouchers - The governor was forced to take his private school voucher bill off-notice because of a lack of votes in the House Finance Committee, ending the bill's run for this session.
  • For-profit charters - A bill to allow for-profit companies to run public charter schools failed in the House Calendar and Rules committee after Speaker Beth Harwell stepped in and expressed her opposition to the bill.
  • Parent trigger law changes - A bill to change the state's parent trigger law by lowering the percentage of parent votes required to take over a public school died in the House Budget sub-committee when bill sponsor Rep. John DeBerry was unable to get a motion from the committee to even hear the bill.
  • Achievement School District enrollment - Rep. DeBerry's other bill, one to open enrollment to the Achievement School District outside its zone, met the same fate. He was unable to get a motion in the House Budget sub-committee to even discuss the bill.