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TN Governor Bill Haslam breaks promises to educators, fails to fund high demands

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Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam’s news Tuesday of cutting teacher pay raises from the 2014-2015 budget comes only days after Knox County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre released initial details to local media sources of intentions to include 3% pay raises for teachers in the upcoming Knox County Schools budget, according to WATE 6 News. The Knox County Schools budget proposal, reviewed by WBIR on Monday, also outlined cuts in custodial staff positions, the number of contract days for some assistant principals, the central office budget, Project GRAD, and after-school tutoring.

At this point, the implications of Haslam’s announcement for Knox County Schools and other districts across the state are unclear but foreboding, and community members are left wondering what other aspects of our public education system will suffer at the hands of state level policy making. WBIR also reported that Knox County School “Board member Indya Kincannon said she was disappointed to learn of the governor's news” and that "this governor has said he wants Tennessee to be one of the fastest increasing teacher salaries in the country. And yet, he's not keeping up with that promise.”

Washington County Department of Education Library Media Specialist Jennifer Hite reported her outrage about state budget decisions to Examiner.com in light of the state's failure “to provide schools with the technology needed to even meet all the testing demands.”

Several bills like Senate Bill 2057 which “[would require] the department of education to reimburse [school systems] for the costs of implementing and the ongoing costs to use common core state standards and PARCC assessments” are bogged down in the bureaucracy of the branches of Tennessee legislature education subcommittees at this point and have yet to reach a vote in either the house or the senate. However, in the mean time, regardless of whether bills like these eventually pass or not, school districts are required to purchase enough technology for all students to efficiently take the PARCC assessments on working computers within state mandated testing windows.

“Our state continues to put such high demands on teachers and students but refuses to truly support either,” said Hite.

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