Protecting The Teaching Profession

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

I describe myself with the following identifiers: son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, U.S. Marine, educator and friend. Follower of Christ. It is who I am, and who I was, and all that I hope to be.

A retired Marine Sargent describes Marines this way: the Marine Corps uniform doesn’t come off when our active duty is over. We wear it daily in our attitude and our love of Corps and country. We wear it on our tattoos and our bumper stickers. We wear it on our hearts. I am proud of my service to our country and the values the Marine Corps reinforced in my life; I took those attributes with me to the classroom, as an educator in Tennessee: Honor, Courage, and Commitment. 

Honor is the foundation of character. It empowers us in ethical and moral behavior: to never lie, cheat, or steal; to abide by an uncompromising code of integrity; to respect human dignity; and to have respect and concern for each other. It represents the maturity, dedication, trust, and dependability to act responsibly, be accountable for our actions, fulfill our obligations, and hold others accountable for their actions. Courage is the mental, moral, and physical strength that sees us through tough challenges, overcoming fear, to do what is right. We adhere to a higher standard of personal conduct, to lead by example, and to make tough decisions under stress and pressure. Commitment is the spirit of dedication and determination that leads to professionalism and mastery of our profession. Commitment promotes the highest order of discipline, personally and professionally. It allows us to build pride, concern for others, and an unrelenting determination to achieve a standard of excellence in every endeavor. 

Honor, Courage, and Commitment. Most educators possess the same strength and integrity as Marines. Teaching is about caring for our profession, having a passion for it, and conveying that passion to everyone, most importantly to our students. Teachers are an exceptionally important aspect for any society for a number of reasons. Our role in society is both beneficial and significant. Teachers play an extraordinary part in the lives of children during the formative years of their development. The importance of teachers cannot be understated. For this reason, educators are held to higher standards. Ductus Exemplo is a Latin term that translates into “lead by example.” It means behaving in a manner that inspires others. We must lead the next generation in our role as educators. 

Our organization supports, and requests that the Government Operations Committee approve, the State Board of Education’s revised permanent rule concerning Educator License Discipline. There is no higher duty than making sure that our children are safe and protected in the classroom. We have never received a call, email, or letter asking for our organization to keep a pedophile in a Tennessee classroom. And we would reject such an overture, if such a request was made. Very few teachers will be impacted by any change in the rule. The changes will provide teachers with clear guidance and accountability, ultimately serving the educator and student alike. We are particularly encouraged by the intent of the rule which is to establish a broadened, but focused explanation of the safety standards in place to protect our students and to clarify them for our educators. It protects our profession. 

The OREA report on Educator Sexual Misconduct has made clear that Tennessee has a fractured, ambiguous reporting system that has allowed educators who have engaged in sexual misconduct to slip through the cracks. This hurts the overwhelming vast majority of teachers who must not only be confident in the abilities and character of themselves—but each other. The wheels of bureaucracy move slowly, but above all: character matters. Professional Educators of Tennessee has been following closely the review of Rule 0520-02-03. We are supportive of the revisions, which we believe enhance the uniformity of discipline, define the terms utilized, and clarifies, simplifies and explains the teacher disciplinary process. Bringing clarity to this issue has been long overdue. 

We take the issue of teacher licensure very seriously. Licensure is primarily a function of the state and it is the gatekeeper to employment. It is so important that this is done correctly and transparently. As always, we will continue to work with the Tennessee Board of Education, the Department of Education and the Tennessee General Assembly on our concerns on licensure issues, and to ensure that our educators are treated fairly and impartially. 

Failure by the Government Ops Committee to take positive action on the licensure issue will erode confidence in public education, and necessitate additional action by the legislature to close the loopholes that make it possible for teachers dismissed for abuse to find another teaching job in another district or state. I implore Government Operations to approve the Educator Licensure Rule and send a message to those who engage in inappropriate sexual misconduct with students that they are not welcome in our Tennessee classrooms. Show the citizens of our state that Honor, Courage, and Commitment matter not only in the battlefield and our classrooms, but also right here in the Tennessee General Assembly. 

J.C. Bowman
Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee


Reasons To Choose Another Sewer Treatment Plant Site

Why WWTA's Plan Should Be Discarded

The Deck Is Rigged Against Howard


The Hamilton County Commission is being asked to make a tough decision when it comes to the location of the WWTA WWTP. On one side, you have a handful of people who are pro WWTP at Mahan Gap ... (click for more)

Thanks to a live feed, I was able to watch about three hours of the very important Hamilton County Commission meeting on Dec. 12 while in Alabama. This was the first time I have been able to ... (click for more)

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Opinion

Reasons To Choose Another Sewer Treatment Plant Site

The Hamilton County Commission is being asked to make a tough decision when it comes to the location of the WWTA WWTP. On one side, you have a handful of people who are pro WWTP at Mahan Gap because they want to develop northern Hamilton County and on the other hand, you have residents who want to protect the largest investment that they've made, i.e., their home and their ability ... (click for more)

Why WWTA's Plan Should Be Discarded

Thanks to a live feed, I was able to watch about three hours of the very important Hamilton County Commission meeting on Dec. 12 while in Alabama. This was the first time I have been able to hear both sides of the WWTA vs. Ooltewah Homeowners fully present their arguments. One thing we can all agree on is that they have to do something, the question is what is the best for all. ... (click for more)

Breaking News

State Dismisses All Charges Against Charles Toney In Controversial Arrest

The state on Tuesday morning dismissed all charges against aspiring rapper Charles Toney in connection with his arrest that led to a U.S. Department of Justice probe. The arrest on Dec. 3 on Donaldson Road was caught on video by a neighbor and went viral. It showed Toney being punched and kicked by an officer while he was handcuffed. District Attorney Neal Pinkston afterward ... (click for more)

Hamilton County Schools Announces New School Options And Timeline

For the 2019-2020 school year, Hamilton County Schools is opening enrollment to a select group of schools, “My Future Schools,” to which students across the district will be eligible to apply. Officials said, "Opening enrollment to these schools will provide students with a diverse range of options outside of their neighborhood zoned school. These schools will be in addition to ... (click for more)

Sports

Cleveland Boys' And Girls' Basketball Teams Involved In "Inappropriate Conduct"

Reports surfaced Monday that Cleveland’s boys’ and girls’ basketball teams broke curfew and engaged in inappropriate conduct after a basketball double-header last Friday in Oak Ridge. The Blue Raiders and Lady Blue Raiders played doubleheaders at Fulton and Oak Ridge over the weekend. On Tuesday, Russell Dyer, director of Cleveland schools, released a statement through the ... (click for more)

St. Francis Knocks Off East Hamilton, 58-53, Despite Hayes' 33-Point Effort

East Hamilton’s Lady Hurricanes fell to St. Francis (Georgia), 58-53, in their opening game Tuesday in the CresCom Bank Holiday Invitational at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Junior Madison Hayes scored a game-high 33 points on 12-of-20 shooting and also grabbed 11 rebounds for the Lady Canes (7-5), but even that wasn’t enough to overcome ... (click for more)