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Creating an Environment Where All Children Can Learn

Thursday, February 13, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Professional Educators of Tennessee
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Creating an Environment Where All Children Can Learn  [View/Download PDF]

 

Policymakers and stakeholders at all levels should make it a priority to work together to reduce excessive educator workload, while at the same time providing salary increases that will actually go into the teachers’ paychecks and not just to the district coffers. However, getting student discipline under control may be a bigger challenge.

 

The Tennessee General Assembly is taking a welcome look at the issue of school discipline. Children cannot learn in a classroom where their teachers spend a significant amount of time dealing with student discipline issues. It can be unsafe, for the teacher and the other students, and significantly disrupts the learning environment.

 

Our organization has raised this issue across the state for the last decade and it has been a national issue for the last 30 years. Finally, legislators in the Tennessee General Assembly are waking up to the fact that it is time we tackle this complex issue that is driving good educators from our classrooms. As an organization, Professional Educators of Tennessee is grateful for the legislators who support those on the frontlines. Here are a few of the bills we support:

 

·         Representative Charlie Baum and Senator Bill Powers have legislation House Bill 2693/Senate Bill 2437 that confers civil immunity upon a teacher, principal, school employee, or school bus driver properly using reasonable force to correct or restrain a student or prevent bodily harm or death to another person. By better defining “qualified immunity” we should reduce frivolous lawsuits in our state.

 

·         Representative Scott Cepicky and Senator Joey Hensley have introduced House Bill 2134/Senate Bill 2252. the “Teacher's Discipline Act," which will give teachers more authority over their classroom by establishing procedures following the removal of a student from the classroom and creating placement review committees. This legislation continues the theme of local control by emphasizing the authority of the individual classroom teacher to maintain order. The teacher also has limited authority to remove from the classroom a student who repeatedly or substantially interferes with the teacher's ability to teach, subject to oversight and review by the local school principal. The Superintendent and LEA will have to establish Board Policies. Other Representatives such as Dan Howell, Matthew Hill, Iris Rudder, Chris Hurt, Mark Hall, John DeBerry, Jason Hodges, Joe Towns, Micah Van Huss, and Jerry Sexton have already signed on to the legislation. This legislation should be welcomed by all educators and parents across the state.

 

·         Representative William Lamberth and Senator Ferrell Haile have proposed legislation House Bill 1671/Senate Bill 1755 to allow a director of schools, or the director's designee, to determine whether a suspended or expelled student should be required to attend alternative school or an alternative program, to remove a student from alternative school or an alternative program if the student is not benefitting from the placement, and to determine whether, and how, if applicable, to enforce the suspension or expulsion of a student who transfers into the LEA under suspension or expulsion from another LEA.

 

This forward-thinking legislation should be supported by all members of the Tennessee General Assembly who want to create an orderly environment where educators are free to teach without chronic student discipline issues. Failure to act quickly and responsibly will only continue to erode support for public education and see quality educators flee the profession. We are pleased the General Assembly is willing to address student discipline in a more comprehensive fashion. We need to support their efforts. We urge the passage of all three needed pieces of legislation.

 

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JC Bowman is the Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the association are properly cited. For more information on this subject or any education issue please contact Professional Educators of Tennessee. To schedule an interview please contact Audrey Shores at 1-800-471-4867 ext.102.

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