NASHVILLE, Tenn. – State Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman is under heavy fire from critics over a new teacher salary plan that bases raises on job performance.
They’re also upset at Huffman for supporting charter school expansion and tougher tenure rules for teachers.
The critics are using social media to try to pressure Gov. Bill Haslam to fire Huffman, his hand-chosen education leader.
But their campaign seems to be failing.
On Monday, Haslam defended Huffman and credited him with the substantial progress Tennessee’s K-12 students have made over the past few years.
“If you look at the states that are making the most progress in education, Tennessee is at the top of that list, and Kevin gets a lot of credit for it,” the Republican governor said, according to TimesFreePress.com.
The pay plan – which was approved by the state Board of Education in June – “eliminates a decades-old salary schedule that financially rewards teachers only for advanced degrees and years of service,” The Tennessean reports. “By 2014-15, local school districts must include other variables, such as performance pay or extra money for a teacher who accepts a hard-to-fill position.”
But according to another media out, Huffman has said schools can keep the existing salary schedules in place, and that the state’s intent is only to allow local districts to use merit pay and other performance incentives if they choose.
Perhaps the media’s confusion about the new policy is contributing to the “Fire Huffman” movement.
One factor that’s certainly fueling the anti-Huffman sentiment is his former job with Teach for America, a nonprofit that trains top college graduates to serve as teachers in needy and disadvantaged schools.
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