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


Roy Exum: The Manger Scene Stays!

When the Freedom From Religion Foundation struck the tiny town of Jay, Fla., earlier this month, the town mayor had a life-sized Nativity scene that had been displayed every Christmas for the past 40 years taken down and sold as “city surplus.” But in Alabama, things are different. When the foundation tried the same thing in Rainbow City, Ala., more people than all those who live ... (click for more)

Jody Baker: Arthur Conan Doyle, T.S. Eliot And Andrew Lloyd Webber

T.S. Eliot (Thomas Stearns Eliot: 26 September 1888 – 4 January 1965) was an essayist, publisher, playwright and considered one of the twentieth century's major poets. He is best known among our group for his appreciation of the Sherlock Holmes tales and his admiration of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.[For more details on Eliot, see Wikipedia.] One of Eliot’s many outstanding works ... (click for more)

Rite Aid Pharmacist Robbed At Gunpoint On Sunday

A Rite Aid pharmacist was robbed at gunpoint on Sunday.  At approximately 11:30 a.m. the Chattanooga Police Department responded to 5441 Highway 153 for a robbery from business at the Rite Aid Pharmacy.  The suspect entered the Rite Aid, approached the pharmacy counter and presented a note to the pharmacist.  The suspect then brandished a handgun, demanded ... (click for more)

Bobby Dodd Lawsuit Against City Moved To Federal Court

A lawsuit brought by former Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd against the city of Chattanooga and the Chattanooga Fire and Police Pension Fund over his pension has been moved to Federal Court. The lawsuit was earlier filed in Chancery Court by attorneys Jerry Tidwell and Adam Izell. The suit says former Chief Dodd opted for a plan that would have half of his pension go to ... (click for more)

Vol Seniors Have Final Practice At Neyland Stadium

KNOXVILLE, Tenn .  – Tennessee football coach Butch Jones had a holiday version of "Sudden Change" for the bowl-bound Vols on Sunday afternoon. The Vols practiced in Neyland Stadium, providing a big-time atmosphere for the final full day of on-campus preparation for the TaxSlayer Bowl before breaking for Christmas. "Obviously it's very special any time you can come ... (click for more)

Hawks Defeat Riverdale, 55-43, For Rhea Title

EVENSVILLE, Tenn. – Hamilton Heights had a chance to win the boys and girls title in the Rhea County Holiday Hoops tournament Saturday night. The Hawks delivered. The Lady Hawks came up short. Once-beaten Hamilton Heights, getting pivotal back-to-back 3-pointers by Silas Adheke and Joan Duran in the final two minutes and sterling efforts by Ezekiel Balogun and Abdulhakim ... (click for more)