Governor lauds school improvements, says teachers are satisfied

Gov. Haslam lauds school improvements, says teachers are satisfied

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The governor was in Knoxville Friday at Bearden Elementary School on the last stop of a four school appreciation tour. The governor was in Knoxville Friday at Bearden Elementary School on the last stop of a four school appreciation tour.
"The data shows that teachers in Tennessee are more satisfied with their working environment than they have been," said Gov. Bill Haslam. "The data shows that teachers in Tennessee are more satisfied with their working environment than they have been," said Gov. Bill Haslam.
"We've seen criticism since we started about the evaluation system, but one of the things that we've done is made changes every year based on feedback," said Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman. "We've seen criticism since we started about the evaluation system, but one of the things that we've done is made changes every year based on feedback," said Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman.
"When I hear teacher morale is fine, that the evaluation process is fair, it's untrue," said retired teacher Teresa Brown. "When I hear teacher morale is fine, that the evaluation process is fair, it's untrue," said retired teacher Teresa Brown.

By GENE PATTERSON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Gov. Bill Haslam says, despite pockets of dissatisfaction, the majority of teachers are happy with what's happening in Tennessee schools, including the evaluation process.

The governor was in Knoxville Friday at Bearden Elementary School on the last stop of a four school appreciation tour touting the results of the Nation's Report Card, which showed Tennessee leading the nation in academic growth.

The event should've been a slam dunk for the Governor and his Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman.

The national report card of states, released Thursday, shows Tennessee with significant gains in fourth and eighth grade reading and math.

The gains are so pronounced that Tennessee is considered the fastest improving state in the Nation.

"To move from being in the middle of the 40s to being in the middle of the 30s is significant and almost unheard of," said Gov. Haslam.

Despite the good news, the governor was forced to defend the state's teacher evaluation process. The evaluations drew hundreds of teachers in Knox County to Wednesday's School Board meeting.

The teachers were upset and dissatisfied with the evaluations, describing them as unfair and feeling undervalued. Gov. Haslam said that's not what the majority are feeling

"The data shows that teachers in Tennessee are more satisfied with their working environment than they have been," he said. "I think most teachers are like all of us. They want to be in a place where they see they're making a difference, and news like this where you can say Tennessee students are improving faster than students anywhere else, if I'm a teacher, I walk away taking great satisfaction from that."

Commissioner Huffman says the majority of teachers are happy with the evaluation process.

"We've seen criticism since we started about the evaluation system, but one of the things that we've done is made changes every year based on feedback, and it's interesting. The governor was referencing the TEL survey that talked about workplace, but we also had a survey out of Vanderbilt that showed a significant number of teachers who support the evaluation system after last year carrying, from the previous year," he said.

Not everyone in the crowd Friday agreed with the governor or his education commissioner. 

"When I hear teacher morale is fine, that the evaluation process is fair, it's untrue," said retired teacher Teresa Brown.

Brown, who says she taught for 30 years, says teachers do want to be evaluated because they care about their students.  However, she said the current system is flawed.

"I want to see them change it. I want it to be objective," she said.

The governor says he believes there has been real progress with the evaluations, and he says it's shown up in the academic progress of the students in the state.

"My belief is this is going to be an ongoing process every year. We'll step back and take a look at it, but I also think the feedback that comes through the evaluation is one of the most significant things that led to Tennessee being the fastest improving state in the country," said the governor.

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