The “Tennessean” has an article online by Chas Sisk, TN teachers’ bargaining rights may hinge on battle within GOP Despite deal, Senate may still strip rights and is available to read in full Here.  The very first sentence states:

Teachers may still lose the ability to form unions and negotiate contracts with local school districts, despite a compromise announced last week.

If enacted HB 130 does not restrict any teacher’s ability to join any union or organization they choose.  HB130 merely eliminates the exclusivity of the TEA to represent every teacher within a given district for purposes of contract negotiations – meaning teachers may join the TEA or PET or any other professional teacher’s organization they choose.

Further, HB 130 does not end the teacher’s ability to negotiate contracts and nothing prevents individual contacts with the school board.  HB 130  would free all TN districts and school boards from being required to collectively negotiate with a specific union or any union if they choose.  The board would be free to either accept or decline the demands of any union or organization representing a given group of teachers.  This is now not the case.  Currently 91 districts are forced to collectively negotiate employment contact conditions for ALL of the teachers in that district, regardless if the teacher is a member of that union or not (45 TN districts are currently not unionized and negotiate freely).

Shame on the Tennessean.  How can we possibly make any strides in improving education if this major newspaper is going to perpetuate ignorance?  HB 130 and available to read in full Here. It is only three pages and not difficult to read.  In part it states:

“…no local board of education shall negotiate with a professional employees’ organization or teachers’ union concerning the terms or conditions of professional service.”

Contracts entered into by a board of education and a teachers union before the effective date of this bill:

“…shall remain in full force and effect until the expiration of the contract or agreement.”

The very next sentence of this article states:

Republicans in the state Senate are pressing ahead with a plan to take away teachers’ power to unionize, even after their counterparts in the state House of Representatives unveiled a deal last week that would let teachers continue to bargain with school boards over some issues.

Again, no one will be denied the “power to unionize.”  HB130 merely ends the requirement for school boards to collectively bargain with a union.  How can we debate the merits of any bill if the Tennessean insists on feeding emotions instead of providing facts?  Such as:

  • Tennessee does not authorize any public sector employees to engage in collective bargaining except teachers.
  • The collective bargaining process creates an adversarial relationship between teachers and school boards, which serves only to hinder improving education or helping to create educated children.
  • According to the Comptroller’s most recent weighted salary reports, teachers in systems that are not involved in collective bargaining on average make more in salary and benefits than those in systems involved in collective bargaining.
  • Student achievement is higher in non-negotiating systems according to data from the TN Department of Education “Report Card”.
  • School systems must dedicate a substantial amount of time and funds to the collective bargaining process when these resources could be much better utilized on additional services for students.
  • Through the collective bargaining process, school system often agree to unreasonable conditions or terms in a contract simply to prevent a lawsuit.
  • Reforms are greatly hindered and nearly impossible with collective bargaining.
  • Paying teachers substantially more for effectiveness is an essential component of education reform; collective bargaining is an impediment to the implementation of performance based compensation.
  • Evaluating teachers based on evidence of student results (TVAAS) rather than arbitrary judgments is an essential component of education reform; collective bargaining is an impediment to achieving impartial teacher effectiveness evaluation processes.

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