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


Time For Tennessee To Act On Climate This Earth Day

Tennessee will join the rest of the southeast region, the nation and countries across the world in celebrating Earth Day on April 22. The entire month of April is a great time to reflect on the strides we have made to reduce pollution over the last 44 years, and assess current environmental conditions while evaluating our personal responsibility to a cleaner environment.  ... (click for more)

Tim Boyd Will Represent The Common Man

I would like to show my support for Tim Boyd for our District 8 commissioner.  He deserves to have our support because he has stood up to represent the common man and not the super block of politicians.    He tells it like it is and I believe he deserves another term.  I also believe that the average voting citizen will see the way he has represented our district ... (click for more)

Eric Williams Charged In Pinewood Avenue Slaying

Police have made an arrest in the slaying of Daniel Adams on Pinewood Avenue, charging a man who showed up at the hospital with a gunshot wound shortly afterward. Eric Fitzgerald Williams was charged with criminal homicide and filing a false police report. Williams entered Parkridge Hospital suffering from a wound to his head on April 3 - the same day as the Adams slaying. ... (click for more)

One Of "Worst Of The Worst" Gets 10-Month Federal Sentence

One of the men labeled as the "worst of the worst" in a Chattanooga round up was sentenced Tuesday to 10 months and three years supervised release after he plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine. Guy Wilkerson told Federal Judge Sandy Mattice, "I'm just a young father and I want the best for my kids." He said he apologized and that he knew what he ... (click for more)

Cuonzo Martin Leaves Tennessee For Job At California

Tennessee basketball coach Cuonzo Martin apparently took his name out of the coaching search at Marquette so he could put it in a hat at the University of California at Berkeley. On Tuesday, Martin broke ties with the Volunteers and accepted the head coaching job with the Bears. Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart admitted Martin’s move surprised him. “Not from my perspective,” ... (click for more)

Mocs Win Women's Southern Conference Championship

The Chattanooga Mocs are your Southern Conference Women’s Golf Champions. That’s five straight team titles and sophomore Emily McLennan (Queensland, Australia) made it the fourth consecutive sweep winning medalist honors. McLennan was solid shooting 222 for her 54 holes on a tough week for scoring. She won by four strokes over Furman’s Taylor Totland and was seven clear of ... (click for more)