Haslam Education Proposal Has Some Teachers’ Hackles Up

When Governor Bill Haslam lays out his agenda in this year’s State of the State address Monday night, one part is sure to perk up the ears of teachers. Haslam’s been talking about giving local school boards more leeway to set classroom sizes and teacher salaries.

Haslam says he wants to give school districts more flexibility in terms of staffing. That proposal has been under fire from the Tennessee Education Association, which argues it could assign teachers more students while cutting pay for others.

Michelle Greenfield teaches sixth-grade math at Jere Baxter in Nashville. Greenfield says she can handle a bigger classroom, but it will mean less time for each student, because, she says, teachers are only human.

“I can only help so many people during the course of the day, and there’re going to be kids that fall through the cracks. Now can I do it? Sure. And if I had to do it I would. But I’m not going to say that it’ll be totally fine. That’s just not true.”

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Haslam’s move wasn’t exactly the top of the wish-list Greenfield.

“You know, if he could get rid of poverty that would be really great. That would really help me out as a teacher.”

Greenfield feels like it falls to teachers to deal with broad-scale problems that play out in classrooms. She points to the weak economy, saying it undercuts parental involvement.

“A lot of them, I think their parents want to be involved, but they’re busy trying to pay the bills and keep their job and keep their house.”

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