TN teachers disappointed with Haslam’s budget decision to delay pay increase

Gov. Bill Haslam’s decision to delay teacher and state employee raises for a year is drawing ire from the statewide association that represents educators.

Tennessee Education Association President Gera Summerford said in a press statement that Haslam’s cuts to teacher salaries and higher education continue the state’s race to the bottom in education funding.

“Accountability – that is all we hear from the governor and other state officials when it comes to public education. Where is their accountability?” Summerford said in the release. “State leaders need to be held accountable for the abysmal job they are doing in taking care of our students and teachers.”

Last year, Haslam said he wanted to give Tennessee teachers the biggest raise in the country over the next five years and initially proposed in February this year a 2 percent increase for teachers and a 1 percent increase for other state employees in his $30 billion budget, according to the Tennessean.

 In October, Haslam tweeted 

In the article, Haslam told critics that he had not abandoned that goal.

“My priorities haven’t changed at all,” he said. “If the funds were there, that was our full intent.”

The state has received $33 million less in sales taxes than it expected and business projections are off by $215 million this year.  State officials are unsure of the reason for the deficits, according to the article.

The Tennesseean also reported that state’s budget shortfall is impacting the state’s colleges and universities, which will not receive a $12.9 million increase to the budget, and TennCare, which will be cut by $25 million.  Haslam believes the state will save $4.75 million by renegotiating contracts with private administrators of the state’s welfare program, Families First.  In addition, Haslam is planning to put $35.5 million in the state’s “Rainy Day Fund” and continue with his proposal to adjust the state’s Hope scholarship to encourage more Tennessee high school students to enroll in community college.

Budget cuts are not expected to impact the Department of Children’s Services or the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Haslam said the budget cuts will not result in any layoffs, according to the Tennessean.

What's Your Education Story?

As the 2018 school year begins, join us for storytelling from Indianapolis educators

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat
Sarah TeKolste, right, and Lori Jenkins at a Teacher Story Slam, in April.

In partnership with Teachers Lounge Indy, Chalkbeat is hosting another teacher story slam this fall featuring educators from across the city.

Over the past couple of years, Chalkbeat has brought readers personal stories from teachers and students through the events. Some of our favorites touched on how a teacher won the trust of her most skeptical student, why another teacher decided to come out to his students, and one educator’s call to ramp up the number of students pursuing a college education.

The event, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, is free and open to the public — please RSVP here.

Event details:

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Get tickets here and find more on Facebook

More in What's Your Education Story?

School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.

For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.

Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.