Volume 31, Issue #2
October 12, 2015
Do you have enough planning time?
Want more meetings?

MNEA needs data on teachers working conditions to take to the School Board!  As we go to schools, we hear stories about the lack of planning time and the requirement of more and more meetings.  As we fight for more planning time and less meetings, we need data from teachers for support.

Please take our survey and pass it along to your MNPS teacher friends.  If you have already taken the survey, you will not be able to take it again and should receive an error message.
When does your license expire?
License renewal rules changes
The Tennessee Board of Education recently took action allowing individuals who qualified for license renewal under the rules in effect prior to September 1, 2015 to make application for renewal during a "grace period" set to close on December 1, 2015.  The old rules allowed individuals to apply for renewal of a professional license during the last 5 years of the validity of a license.  Under the new rules, one will only be eligible to apply for renewal during the year prior to the expiration of a professional license.  The new rules require that ALL PROFESSIONALLY LICENSED teachers submit proof of completion of 60 Professional Development Points (PDPs), and they shorten the license duration to six years.  In other words, masters-level teachers will be treated the same as a teachers who have only attained a bachelor degree when applying for the renewal of a professional teaching license in Tennessee.

Information about teacher license renewal may be found on the Tennessee Department of Education website.
License renewal FAQ

Q:  How does the "grace period" work?

A: The license renewal grace period allows those who qualified for renewal on August 31, 2015 to renew their licenses through December 1 using the old rules.  Thus, if you have a professional license that was issued by the Tennessee Department of Education that was set to expire within five years of August 31, 2015, you may renew it between now and December 1, 2015. 

Q:  Who can apply for a teacher license under the old license renewal policy grace period?

A:  Anyone who qualified for renewal or advancement on August 31, 2015 may still apply for renewal under the former policy through December 1, 2015. For example, those with a professional license set to expire between September 1, 2015 and August 31, 2020 may apply for a renewal under the old rules because they were eligible to do so on August 31, 2015.

Q:  If my license expires on August 31, 2016, should apply now or later?

A:  That depends. If you have at master degree (or higher) and you apply now, you will not need to document Professional Development Points.  If you have a bachelor degree, both the old and the new rules require PDPs.  The only difference is the number of hours points you must document.

Q:  How many PDDs will I need to renew my license?

A:  The new license rules require 60 Professional Development Points for renewal, which amounts to 60 hours of professional development time outside of the regular work day. 
Those with a master degree renewing under the grace period need to submit no PDPs while those with a bachelor degree needed 90 PDPs under the old rules and 60 PDPs under the new rules.

Q:  I have a master degree. What happens if I seek to renew my license after December 1, 2015.

A:  After December 1, 2015, there is no difference between the license renewal requirements for master- and non-master-level applicants.  All teachers seeking renewal of their license must must submit evidence of achieving 60 PDPs during the tenure of their previous license.
TEA has provides liability insurance and legal representation to members for over 40 years
Get the facts!

For more than 40 years TEA/NEA has provided sound proven liability coverage to members for all professional duties in and out of the classroom. 

A portion of dues purchases an actual insurance policy held by the member, a reliable and time-tested safeguard in the event a civil suit is filed, or criminal charges are initiated against a member.

A member’s insurance covers not only any judgments against a member, but also pays the costs of hiring attorneys to defend against claims. A member’s policy also provides for reimbursement of attorney fees for defense of criminal proceedings, provides bail bond coverage, and provides coverage for assault-related personal property damage for members.   

Yet insurance is not the only liability safeguard offered to members. Immediate out-of-pocket legal costs can easily skyrocket well beyond what an average educator can afford. TEA provides legal services as part of membership, with a staff of experienced and knowledgeable lawyers members can rely on.

Every school system in Tennessee offers some liability insurance for its employees, with no assurance of legal representation. As employer-based, the insurer is responsible first to the system, not the employee. There are instances where employer liability coverage did not extend to assigned work outside of the classroom.  
The General Assembly recently passed a secondary tax-funded liability insurance pool for educators, the Educator Protection Act. It is a “fund of last resort,” accessed only when local liability coverage is exhausted. The state does “not guarantee that a claim will be paid from the fund.”

A state panel decides whether a claim against a teacher merits coverage. No legal representation is offered by the act.   

For TEA members none of this matters. Having a liability policy held by the member means the insurer’s first duty is to protect the member, not anything or anyone else. And having a legal team ready to serve is also a critical safeguard of membership. 
Teaching is getting tougher and unfortunately more litigious. Having TEA in your corner is having peace of mind. 

Teaching is getting tougher and unfortunately more litigious. Having TEA in your corner is having peace of mind. 
Help MNEA. Help your colleagues. Become a leader.
Run for an MNEA seat!

Retirements, transfers, and resignations of several MNEA Executive Board members and MNEA-PACE Council members have created a larger than usual number of MNEA vacancies.  Nominations for vacancies on the MNEA Executive Board and the MNEA PACE Counicle will be taken from the floor of the October 15, 2015 Representative Assembly.  The fall election calendar schedule may be viewed at vote.mnea.com.  Current vacancies on the Executive Board include :
  • District 3 Director (Maplewood Cluster),
  • District 7 Director (Hillsboro Cluster),
  • District 10 Director (Stratford Cluster),
  • District 11 Director (Whites Creek Cluster), and
  • District 12 Director (Cane Ridge Cluster). 

Vacancies on the MNEA Political Action Committee for Education Council, which correspond to Metro School Board districts are: Districts 1 (two positions), 5, 6, 7, and 8.
Help maintain local control of our schools!

The Metropolitan Nashville Board of Education recently denied several charter applications, deciding that these are not the schools Nashville students deserve. Three of these Charter Management Organizations - KIPP, Rocketship, and the International Academy of Excellence - have appealed to the appointed Tennessee State Board of Education to overturn the decision that was made by the locally elected school board.
Educators, parents, and community members elected the local school board to represent the interests of Nashville voters, and to make sound decisions for Nashville schools and students. Tell the State Board of Education to honor the local school board decision.
Locally elected school boards know best how to use our tax dollars for the benefit of local schools and students. Recently, the Metro Nashville school board adopted the  Annenberg Standards, which deal with accountability and transparency in the charter school industry.

The State Board of Education has heard appeals by these Charter Management Organizations and is set to make a decision on October 22 or 23. It is critically important that the State Board of Education hear from thousands of Tennesseans. Tell them to respect the school board's decision.

This is going on right now in Nashville but could very easily happen to many other districts across our state. The members of the State Board of Education must know that we believe in our schools and our communities.

Get a "thank you" from NEA Member Benefits!
Two free magazine subscriptions can be yours!
Thank you for your membership.  As a token of our appreciation for your membership, NEA Member Benefits and
the NEA Magazine Service are pleased to provide you with two FREE magazine subscriptions for one year.
To view a complete list of free subscriptions and to order yours, please go to www.neamb.com/freemag.  Please call 1-800-968-7624 with questions.

*This offer expires June 30, 2016. Limit of two free subscriptions per member per twelve month period. Quantities are limited. Free titles and number of issues are subject to change. No additional purchase is required.
Attend the MNEA member retirement seminar
Monday, November 16 at 4:45 p.m.
The MNEA Member Retirement Seminar is a members-only seminar designed to help members make sure all is in order before retirement. Participants at various levels of their careers are welcome to attend. MNEA President Erick Huth will make a presentation on provisions of the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System and Milt Jenkinson from the MNPS Employee Benefits Office will discuss post retirement medical benefits. Registration is required as a light meal will be provided.
Monday, November 16, 2015 at 4:45 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Check out these PD resources

Please click on the headings below for various professional development resources.
Reading Passages:  Brand new reading passages for grades K-12. The passage lexile levels range from 350 to 1400.
Student Led Conferences:  Videos, resources, and tips related to student-led parent-teacher conferences.
Empowering Students Through Multimedia:  Students use video, audio, and social media to craft documentaries and non-fiction stories about the world around them.
ELL Toolkit: An extensive toolkit to support and identify English Language Learners.
Tips for Parent Conferences with Bilingual Families: Tips for parent-teacher conferences with bilingual families that help navigate some of the language and cultural barriers.
Books related to Hispanic Heritage (in English and Spanish): Provides Hispanic Heritage booklists organized by topic.

October 15
MNEA Representative Assembly
4:30 p.m. at MNEA Headquarters
October 15
Nominations taken on the floor of the MNEA Representative Assembly
October 20
Candidate Speeches at MNEA Representative Assemblyl Elections
October 20
Voting Begins in Contested Race in MNEA Fall Election Cycle​
November 2
November 2
Voting Ends in Contested Race in MNEA Fall Election Cycle​
November 5
MNEA Executive Board Meeting
4:45 p.m. at MNEA Headquarters​
November 16
MNEA Member Retirement Seminar
4:45 p.m. at MNEA Headquarters
November 19
MNEA Representative Assembly
4:30 p.m. at MNEA Headquarters

Let's hear from Erick! 
Erick Huth, Ed. D.
MNEA President

Since the reforms ushered in following Tennessee’s successful money grab under Race to the Top in 2011, teachers and other educators have been subjected to a new evaluation system that includes the addition of TVAAS and other student data in the final “Teacher Effect Score.”  TVAAS, a proprietary statistical estimate of student growth was never intended as a teacher evaluation rating, yet it’s being used to rate teachers all over the state.  Using student data to evaluate educators was largely unheard of before Arne Duncan moved to Washington; and, even though there is little or no evidence to suggest the practice is sound, it is now used all over this country and has moved abroad.

The Tennessee Educator Acceleration Model (TEAM) evaluation process used in the vast majority of school districts in the state is supposed to be a growth model and the Tennessee Department of Education proudly boasts about it on the web. 
“The Tennessee Educator Acceleration Model…is about principals and teachers working together to ensure the best possible instruction every day. Through frequent observation, constructive feedback, student data, and professional development, TEAM is designed to support all educators in doing their best work to help every student learn and grow.” (http://team-tn.org/)

Yet, every week I hear stories from teachers about how principals claim, “If you don’t do this or attend that, your evaluation is going to suffer” or “I’m going to count that against your professionalism score.  Obviously, that threatening autocratic approach is not consistent with the “constructive feedback” of a growth model.  To be fair, all principals do not use the rubrics as weapons, but none should if they intend to be true to the model.
The best approach for educators is to familiarize themselves with the model.  If a teacher knows what is expected of her, she is more likely to perform better.  Teachers scoring below a “3” on the rubric should take time to really get to know the rubric and understand the indicators.  Doing so, makes it easier to provide instruction that meets the expectations of an observer.

Tips to remember about evaluations

Knowing the rubrics.  Studying and internalizing the rubrics is a good idea.  The more you know before you are evaluated, the better prepared you will be.  Review the rubric before the pre-conference and the post conference.  A quick brush up can help you guide your discussion about the lesson.

Avoid the over-planning trap.  Be sure not to over-plan your lesson.  Sometimes a lesson prepared for an announced observation can become too cumbersome.  It’s more important to make your lessons meaningful, to have them flow well, and have a distinct beginning, middle, and end than it is to have a “dog and pony” show with all the bells and whistles.

Inform your observer.  Use the pre-conference as an opportunity to inform the observer about why you will group the students they you plan during the lesson.  Talk about what makes the groups you chose work.  Remember whole-class instruction is a group!

Deal with student discipline.  The observer will be looking to see how you address disruptions if they occur.  Don’t be afraid to correct student misbehavior during your observation, but try to keep corrections from interrupting the lesson as much as possible.

Show that you are trying to improve.  During the pre-conference talk about how you are attempting to address previously identified “areas of refinement” in the upcoming lesson or mention how you attempted to address those areas when you have your post conference.

Know what has been submitted about your evaluation. Frequently, check to see what has been entered in Randa Tower and TN-Compass.  You may see something strange that you might need to address through a grievance.  

Document! Document! Document!  Keep good notes of the entire evaluation process, so you can refer to them to determine if a grievance is warranted, but remember the 15-day time limit.

Contact MNEA for advice.  Email or call us to talk about evaluations and the process.

Our mission is to promote excellence in Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, seek community support for public education, secure economic and professional security for educators, maintain a strong united teaching organization, advance human and civil rights in education, and empower teachers!
The Slate is published during the school year by the Metropolitan Nashville Education Association, an affiliate of the Tennessee Education Association and the National Education Association.

531 Fairground Court
Nashville, TN 37211
(615) 726-1499)
FAX: (615) 726-2501

Erick Huth, President/Editor-in-Chief
Theresa Wagner, Vice President
Rosemary Wade, Treasurer
Nancy Holland, Secretary
Deborah Smith, Parliamentarian

UniServ Coordinators: Mary Campbell, Susan Dalton
MNEA Staff: Kristen Williams