Fourteen state legislators on Thursday released a signed letter and issued a statement calling on Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman to resign "under growing scrutiny of his implementation of Common Core standards and testing in Tennessee."
The Professional Educators of Tennessee joined in the call.
Rep. Joe Carr, one of the group, said, “Due to Commissioner Huffman’s failed leadership at the Tennessee Department of Education, teacher morale continues to decline with the continued uncertainty and ever changing expectations in the classroom. In addition Commissioner Huffman has failed to address the growing skepticism by teachers and parents by insisting on the complete adoption and implementation of Common Core.
"As a result of the failed adoption of a fatally flawed Common Core, student test scores have not performed as advertised and have appeared to have deteriorated. Instead of fixing these errors, Commissioner Huffman has apparently violated Tennessee state law in delaying the reporting of student test scores.
“New leadership at the Tennessee Department of Education is what is needed. The educational requirements of students and teachers must be such that they allow Tennessee to compete on the world stage. Continuing down the road with a failed policy that erodes teacher confidence and fails to teach our children the basics we know are necessary to be competitive, requires us to move in a new direction. We need new leadership at the Department of Education to reinstall trust in this administration, and so today, we call on Commissioner Huffman to resign or Governor Haslam to fire him.”
The Professional Educators of Tennessee sent this letter to Governor Bill Haslam:
A formal call for the removal of a state official is rare, so we take the recent call by a group of bipartisan legislators very seriously, as should your administration. We are grateful that many policymakers have expressed their concern with the current direction of the Tennessee Department of Education. We share many of the same trepidations.
We have refrained from telling you who you should or should not appoint as Commissioner of Education. However, we have expressed our disappointment and frustrations in private with leaders of your administration. We are unsatisfied with the response. Dialogue is a two-way street, Governor Haslam, and when people no longer feel their voice is heeded or opinion is desired they will express their sentiments at the ballot box, in editorials, to the media and whatever lawful means is at their disposal. It should not have to come to this.
What is obvious, Governor Haslam, if you are sincere in making Tennessee government transparent and effective, we clearly need a Commissioner of Education that not only communicates with all stakeholders, but can communicate effectively. We need a leader that is a true consensus builder. We would like someone who can respectfully advocate for the education profession, especially teachers and children. We need someone that stakeholders can have complete confidence in, preferably someone with a background rooted in public education here in Tennessee.
So whatever action you decide to take from this point forward in regard to Commissioner Huffman, this much is certain: the Department of Education’s leadership and decisions will continued to be questioned and debated if the status quo is maintained. No stakeholder or educator that we can identify has confidence that we can have an open, productive and fruitful relationship going forward with current leadership at the Department of Education. The legislators were indeed accurate about the lack of trust. This should alarm you and we hope you give this matter a very thoughtful response.
J. C. Bowman, PhD