TN Ed Board mulls changes to teacher pay, curriculum - WSMV Channel 4

TN Ed Board mulls changes to teacher pay, curriculum

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Two proposals in front of the state Board of Education could impact teachers and students across Tennessee.

State education officials gave preliminary approval Friday on a policy that would put the power over teacher pay into the hands of each school district.

The proposal would transform the traditional teacher compensation method. No teacher could make less than they currently earn, however, instead of pay based on years of experience and an advanced degree, the new policy would allow districts to make a pay scale based on their district's teacher needs.

"It's adding fuel to the fire that teachers feel they are under by the state government," said Gera Summerford, president of the Tennessee Education Association.

Many teachers don't like the idea, because instead of the yearly raise they get now, teachers would only be guaranteed a raise every five years.

"Potentially teachers could be seeing a five-year stalemate on their salaries," Summerford said.

Another proposal gaining attention would combine social studies and geography instruction in K-12 classrooms.

Right now, students have to choose one or the other.

"So students graduate high school without knowledge of geography or world history," said Tennessee Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman.

Education leaders say the move is meant to improve the curriculum, but opponents argue by putting the courses together, students wouldn't get the depth of instruction needed to enter geography-specific higher-education programs.

"That's not the way it's taught in college anywhere in the state of Tennessee," said Kurt Butefish, with the Tennessee Geographic Alliance.

The state Board of Education will take up the proposals again later this year. If passed, they would take effect for the 2014-2015 school year.

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