Tennessee Teacher Pay Change Draws Boos, Passes 6-3

Amid criticism from the Tennessee Education Association that the move "guts" the old teacher salary schedule, Commission Huffman said he was "a little bit disappointed about the way the conversation has gone." Image via SBE / ENA

Amid criticism from the Tennessee Education Association that the move “guts” the old teacher salary schedule, Commission Huffman said he was “a little bit disappointed about the way the conversation has gone.” Image via SBE / ENA

The State Board of Education has agreed to rework minimum pay levels for teachers across Tennessee.  Drawing groans from dozens of teachers at a meeting Friday afternoon, the shift gets rid of scheduled raises after a decade in the classroom, effectively flattening salaries for many long-timers.

State Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman notes it would not be legal to lower pay for current teachers.  While saying little to ease concerns that veteran teachers won’t have guaranteed raises like under the old plan, Huffman argued the state’s budget for teacher pay has gone up:

“I think there’s this perception that somehow districts can just shortchange people, but that money has to be spent on salary somewhere,” Huffman said to groans.

State officials are pushing districts toward pay scales that aren’t based solely on years of service and degrees.  They could also factor in working in a tough school, or in a hard-to-staff subject, or possibly performance.

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