Professional Development A Pillar Of Reform

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Educators are leaders who should be valued and respected.  In an era of transformational change across Tennessee, there is a well-timed debate over how we define achievement and success both in and out of school, as well as the proper role of federal, state and local policy. Nobody disputes that the path forward is the presence of quality teachers in Tennessee classrooms. However, quietly unnoticed is a startling fact:  there are 3.2 million teachers in the United States according to the U.S. Department of Education.  By 2020, it is estimated that 1.6 million will either retire or leave the profession.  This pending impact will be felt across many Tennessee classrooms. 

Of even more concern is that the data reveals 46 percent of public school educators leave the profession within their first five years.  The attrition rate is highest among science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teachers, who can command higher salaries in the private sector.  The book (and now movie) “Teachers Have It Easy” by Dave Eggers, Nínive Clements Calegari and Daniel Moulthrop has produced a compelling discourse that accumulates data to give readers a blunt and unforgiving portrait of American education which raises questions about the sustainability and desirability of the teaching profession in the 21st Century.  

As an education association, Professional Educators of Tennessee understands that the debate over what essential preparation and skills individuals should possess before entering a public school classroom has largely been decided before educators join any professional organization.  The additional skills that are necessary, and how they are acquired, can also be debated.  Historically, the body of knowledge and skills needed to be an effective teacher has been too unstructured, unclear, and not backed up by the necessary research. That is changing across the state, as well as the nation.   

That we are failing as a state and nation to encourage recruitment of the teachers we need is also concerning.  For example, 90% of high-minority districts report difficulty attracting teachers prepared to teach math and science.  Education organizations can fill a critical role in assisting school districts and teachers to come together and meet their different needs. This includes not only addressing students from assorted cultural backgrounds in the state, but also students with disabilities or with limited English proficiency.  The war drums for compulsory unionism and collective bargaining are growing silent in the face of the urgent need to recruit, retain and support effective educators who can meet these difficult challenges. 

The discussion over teacher quality and preparation often neglects to address the issue of professional development.  Professional Development has traditionally been connected to, and included in, the initial attainment of permanent certification; for school improvement plans, especially to low performing schools;  tying specific topic-professional development to funding (often math, science, and reading); and, improving results as related to teacher evaluation.   Professional development opportunities provided on both the state and local level are where leadership begins to take root for most educators.  Professional Development allows for educators to create a professional career continuum and lays a solid groundwork for the future of Tennessee classrooms.   

By engaging in collaborative networks we are building the capacity for all educators to make a positive influence in the classroom, become leaders in their schools and school district. In 2012 education associations must take the lead in providing high quality, relevant professional learning for pre-service, and novice and career educators. Professional Educators of Tennessee provides Professional Development for all Tennessee educators, both members and non-members, so we can improve classroom instruction, strengthen leadership capacity, recharge our batteries and empower educators to be more effective leaders in Tennessee schools and  communities.

J.C. Bowman

Petty County Tyrants - And Response

Last week's County Commission meeting was quite a show. Ironically, the preacher giving the opening invocation asked that "truth may prevail" because that is the opposite of what happened. What we actually saw was bickering, verbal attacks, and a collapse of democratic discourse. It is typically not my approach to "attack" individuals, but as each commissioner made public statements, ... (click for more)

Enforce The Bond Forfeiture In Padgett Case

Now that Christopher Padgett  was taken into custody by the Chattanooga Police Department and checked back into the Hamilton County jail, I trust the judge will do no favors and enforce the forfeiture of Padgett's entire $350,000 bond. Padgett was accused of murder, he was granted $350,000 bond and he ran. Padgett was found guilty. A convicted murderer was ... (click for more)

2 Shot On Shepherd Road Tuesday Evening

Two people were shot Tuesday evening on Shepherd Road. Chattanooga Police were dispatched just before  6:30 p.m.   Tuesday,  to a parties shot call in the 1900 block of Shepherd Road.   Upon arrival, police were told two injured parties were transported to a local hospital via personal vehicle.  Both victims told investigators they were walking ... (click for more)

In Surprise Vote, Chattanooga City Council Turns Down Short Term Vacation Rentals

In a surprise vote, the City Council on Tuesday night turned down allowing a process to legalize short term vacation rentals in Chattanooga. Only Chip Henderson and Jerry Mitchell voted in favor. Opposed were Carol Berz, Yusuf Hakeem, Larry Grohn, Moses Freeman, Ken Smith and Russell Gilbert. Chris Anderson was absent. Afterward, Councilman Smith said, in light of the vote, ... (click for more)

Taylor Luthringer, Thomas Porter Win Region Cross Country

COOKEVILLE – Tuesday was a pretty good day for the Signal Mountain cross country teams. Not only did they celebrate with both individual winners in the Region 4-A/AA races, but both teams finished in the top three and will advance to the state meet, which will be held at Nashville’s Percy Warner Park a week from Saturday. Taylor Luthringer and Thomas Porter captured the individual ... (click for more)

Notre Dame Draws Top Ranked Greeneville, CCS Opens With Madison Magnet

For the second year in a row, Notre Dame drew the top-ranked Greeneville in the opening round of the TSSAA Class A/AA state tournament.  Notre Dame is scheduled to play Greeneville on Wednesday at 8 p m. (EST)  in Murfreesboro. CCS will play Madison Magnet in the first round on field #1 at 7:30 p.m. (EST) . CCS and Greeneville met in the state championship game ... (click for more)