In their first strike against the teachers’ union, Republicans in the state Senate adopted legislation Wednesday to strip the Tennessee Education Association of its power to make appointments to the state pension board.
Sen. Joe Haynes, D-Goodlettsville, complained Republicans “want to cram it down our throat,” before the Senate voted 20-13 along party lines for the bill, which gives the TEA’s appointment authority to the Republican speakers of the House and Senate.
Senate Education Committee chair Dolores Gresham, R-Somerville, denied her bill is retribution against the TEA, a traditional political ally of Democrats.
“To have a private organization control seats on a government board is clearly inappropriate, and this bill fixes that,” Gresham told the Senate.
The House has yet to act on Gresham’s bill.
Other Republican legislation this session would undermine the TEA. The most controversial so far is a bill to repeal the collective bargaining rights of teachers. It has passed the Senate Education Committee and awaits a floor vote.
“Bills like these don’t help a single child, they don’t raise a single test score and they don’t help move education forward in Tennessee,” said Sen. Eric Stewart, D-Belvidere. “When it comes to education reform, we should be inviting teachers to the table. These bills push teachers away.”
“Teachers should be our greatest allies, and I don’t understand why the majority party is choosing to make them into enemies,” said Sen. Tim Barnes, D-Adams.