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Should State Board of Education Members be Elected or Appointed?

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (TNS/WMOT)  --  The State General Assembly is considering measures that would change the way members of the State Board of Education are chosen, and Tennesseans are lining up for and against the proposals.

One proposal would make board posts elected positions. Another would take board appointments away from the governor and give them to the leaders of the Tennessee House and Senate.

Gera Summerford, president of the state’s largest teacher’s union, says teachers are watching the debate closely. She says her constituents would prefer State Board of Education members be elected.

"Their accountability then is only to the governor. So we feel like that a different method of appointment where there's more accountability or certainly the voters electing those board members would be more appropriate."

But the influential State Collaborative on Reforming Education sees the debate differently. SCORE’s Teresa Wasson says there are advantages to the current system of appointments.

“The board is bipartisan, it must include women, and a position is guaranteed for a teacher. That sort of diversity would not be ensured with an elected State Board of Education. Currently the board terms are for five years and they’re staggered. That means that board terms span administrations.”

The Board of Education is composed of nine members, one from each of the state's congressional districts, along with a student member.