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A mother’s view on education reform

Abbey Andrews • Oct 14, 2013 at 9:07 AM

It is no shock that all parents want what’s best for their child. As a mother, I am pleased to say that Gov. Bill Haslam and state Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman also want what’s best for our kids. By standing tall and advocating for transformative education reforms, our leaders have put Tennessee on the right path to improving education and academic outcomes for all of our students. Moreover, our political leaders have worked tirelessly to ensure that all students have access to a strong corps of teachers in our public school classrooms. And, by approving educator licensing changes, we can now treat these teachers like the hardworking professionals they are. Through this policy, the Department of Education will use data collected through teacher evaluations to ensure those teachers who are consistently rated below expectations do not have their license renewed. This policy also streamlines the license renewal process for teachers making the licensure renewal process easier on them. In addition to prioritizing teacher effectiveness, the department also passed measures that will give districts more control over how they wish to pay their teachers. Now districts will have the option to reward those teachers who are producing excellent student learning results or dedicating their hours to an understaffed school or subject area. Districts can now choose to take advantage of this policy to help them retain their best and brightest teachers. This is a good step in the name of local control and our legislators and teachers and parents should be pleased that these decisions are going to be made right here at home in our community.Moms and dads across the state should be encouraged by this action. Besides immediate family, no one impacts a child’s life like a teacher. Research shows that a teacher is the single most important in-school factor in our children’s education, preparing them for success in college and entry into the workforce. Students with a high-performing teacher gain an additional five to six more months of learning in comparison to students in classrooms with the lowest-performing teachers. In fact, the National Bureau of Economic Research found that a highly effective teacher can add $20,000 to each student’s lifetime earnings compared to the average teacher. With the right support and great academic instruction, every child has the ability to achieve at high levels. I believe this whole-heartedly, and based on the actions of Haslam and Huffman, they believe this too. If we want to guarantee that every child is given a fair chance to fulfill their potential, they must have access to effective teachers.Despite the criticism our leaders have received as of late, I applaud them for their dedication and commitment in education reform. I encourage parents and citizens across the state to stand with Haslam and Huffman, contact your legislators, and get more involved in the education reform movement. Our legislators need to hear move voices of support instead of the usual status quo concerns they have been hearing. Together, we all must do our part to improve our public schools, and offer our kids the world-class education they deserve. Abbey Andrews, a member of StudentsFirst, lives in Blountville with her daughter.

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