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Legislative Session Review: Teacher's Union Pres. Summerford


MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  WMOT is again this year asking news makers from across the political spectrum to comment on the just concluded 108th Tennessee General Assembly.

Today we hear from Gera Summerford, President of the State’s largest teacher’s union, the Tennessee Education Association.

Summerford says her teacher members are supportive of reforming education in Tennessee, but also feel that the Haslam Administration has made too many changes too quickly in recent years.

She says the TEA applauds state legislators for taking a slower, more deliberate approach to education this session. Summerford cites the failure of the governor’s efforts to tie teacher licensure to student test scores as an example.

“This legislative action means that student test scores cannot be used to determine a teacher’s licensure. Now they can still be used in evaluation, but not licensure decisions.”

Summerford says the legislative session’s biggest disappointment was the state’s failure to provide teachers promised cost of living salary increases, citing a drop in tax revenue.

“I think our biggest concern going forward on that is to look at why state revenues were not accurately predicted. Where are those shortfalls and what is going on with corporate taxation and those kinds of things. We haven’t been able to get the kinds of answers we want to see coming out of the state government."

Summerford says her organization is pleased with new measures out of the 108th General Assembly that protect teacher class planning time and a law that retains the current salary structure.