This is a great letter from a teacher to the state board of education on Tennessee:

“Dr. Nixon,

Speaking from 32 years of experience in education–both public and private–I beg you, implore you–yes, perhaps even grovel to you–to do your best to put to rest the issue of tying license renewal to student test scores. As I have never contacted the State Board of Education since I moved to Tennessee in 1988, I hope you will give me the courtesy of three minutes to hear me out.

“I have no problem with Common Core. I have no problem with the TEAM evaluation tool. I have no problem with eliminating poor teachers. I do, however, have a problem with the too rapid implementation of these initiatives. Common Core implementation should take three to five years. (I read the manual.) Tennessee has attempted to do it in 18 months. TEAM is an excellent tool when used for the purpose that it was developed, the growth of teachers, but not when it is used as a stick to turn observations into Whack-a-Mole to see how many rubrics a teacher can hit in order to get a score to keep a job.

This final move to tie the ability to continue in one’s profession to a growth outcome based on a matrix that no one can adequately explain smacks of yet another attempt to paint teachers as the problem with education. In the dark of the confessional, both you and I know that this is egregiously untrue. The demoralizing effect this potential act can have on our teachers is one growth measure I feel I can adequately explain. In recent weeks I have listened to gifted teachers—yes, GIFTED teachers–who are talking of exiting the profession early. To quote one teacher, “I’m just so tired. If they would just leave me alone and let me teach the kids, I can do that.” This is a math teacher, an area Tennessee certainly cannot afford to drive away.

“I am not sure when it became a badge of shame to be a “professional educator.” Based on what we have seen in education in Tennessee in the last three years, I seriously look for the eradication of of colleges of education at our universities. We could certainly save money as a state, and if the present leadership in the Department of Education is any indication, a teaching degree is not necessary to teach; anyone can do it. Following this train of thought, I’ve been to a doctor’s office. I know what happens in a doctor’s office. I think I’ll practice medicine for a couple of years when I retire. Maybe I’ll even teach in a medical school and train doctors.

“As a former English teacher, a Tennessee citizen, a voter, a taxpayer, and one who is passionate about seeing children have opportunities to improve their lives through education, I pray fervently that you and the entire Board will bring this runaway train to a screeching halt and vote down this measure.


“[A Tennessee educator]”