Washington County VA

Teachers upset at being shut out of Governor Haslam's education meeting

JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. - Some teachers are concerned over the direction of education in Tennessee, and disappointed more were not included in Governor Bill Haslam's closed meetings with select educators.

Governor Haslam was in Washington County Friday for that purpose. Teachers gathered in the parking lot of the Washington County Department of Education to voice their issue with these meetings.

" The future is too important for a select few to determine the best course for education, " said Jack Leonard, who sits on the Washington County Tennessee Board of Education. Leonard was not invited to the Governor's meeting.

Governor Haslam though, thinks smaller is better.

"Its hard, quite frankly, to get people to be candid in the same way when everything is in front of a large group," the Governor told News 5.

Local educators, like Jenee Peters, who teaches at Gray Elementary, don't agree with that assessment.

"Teachers are here today to once again express their disappointment in this administrations lack of transparency and unwillingness to have an authentic dialog," Peters said.

The group gathered Friday said they want everyone to be included in the conversation that needs to happen to meet the Governor's education goals he outlined last fall.

"To be the fastest improving state- all stake holders- teachers and parents and school board members need to come together and work collaboratively, transparently and publicly," said Peters.

"it is no secret that there's a lot of controversy around education right now,"said Governor Haslam. "From common core to the assessment vehicle to evaluations to teacher pay.  And this is a great chance for me as Governor to do what I think the people of Tennessee want me to be doing- out listening to people who are on the front lines."

"Most people would say this is a real positive for continuing the progress we've made in education in Tennessee," he continued.

The teachers are having a hard time seeing it that way.

Jamie Freeman teaches Social Studies at David Crockett High School. He told News 5 he has made repeated attempts to discuss education standards, but had no luck.

" I'm very much bothered by the point that we don't have the opportunity to express our professional concerns regarding common core," said Freeman.  

Representative Tony Shipley , a former teacher, believes lawmakers also need to be included in education discussions.
" You can't exclude people's elected officials like school board members and legislators who are here to have the same candid discussions that we've had in Nashville," said Shipley.

The Governor and his team have planned 12 closed meetings across Tennessee.

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