We, the people of Tennessee, demand that you immediately remove Kevin Huffman from the position of authority over our children's education in our State. We do not want a corporate-driven, profit-seeking, reform-minded appointed person representing us in office any longer. Through his actions, Kevin Huffman has hurt the students and teachers of TN. His actions have benefited greedy corporate interests. We are not fooled, nor will we remain silent on these injustices:
~ Failure to release 2014 TCAP scores by the deadline. Informing local districts of this on the day of the deadline.
~ Manipulation of 2014 TCAP scores, supposedly to "align" with common core but we all know the scores are being manipulated to make the TDOE and Huffman and their failing reforms look good.
~ Continually bragging that the 2013 NAEP scores in TN showed incredible improvement when a law was passed the year before the 2013 NAEP that directly impacted the NAEP test. The law prohibited non-proficient 3rd graders from being promoted to 4th grade, thus, the low-scoring students were held back a year and did not take the 4th grade NAEP. (The NAEP is only given to 4th & 8th graders every 2 years). Tennessee magically became "the fastest improving state in the nation" by leaving students behind.
~ Kevin Huffman underhandedly passed drastic cuts to new teachers and those earning advanced degrees in TN. We realize the extremely important role that teachers play in children's lives, and we further demand that teachers in TN from this point forward be valued, respected, and paid fairly. This is crucial to recruiting and retaining excellent teachers in our State.
~ Kevin Huffman is paid the highest salary of any TN Commissioner of Education. ($200,000 per year, which is 11% more than his predecessor). He has virtually no experience in the classroom except for 2 years as a Teach For America instructor. He has no education degree and no certification to be an educator. He is a lawyer and an executive. He is unqualified to represent public education.
~ Kevin Huffman has sought to ignore and bypass our locally elected school boards by allowing Charter Schools to be approved by his State Board of Education. He fined the Metro Nashville school district $3.4 million for not approving a charter school of his choice. We do not want our public schools given to charter operators! Our public schools belong to the communities they serve. Do not hand over that right to charter school operators.
~ Kevin Huffman and the TN Board of Education seek to hurt current teachers (ie. lowering and limiting their pay, and revoking their teaching licenses based on standardized test scores) and create unfair policies in questionable manners (ie. on a conference call). Tennessee parents want certified, qualified, highly educated, experienced teachers leading their child's education, and we want those teachers paid fairly.
~ We do not want TN students taught by non-certified, inexperienced teachers (such as Teach for America or The New Teacher Project). If a person wishes to be a teacher, they should do so the correct way: earn a college degree & teaching certification from an accredited college or university. There are no short-cuts or bypassing when it comes to our children’s education. Every student should be in a classroom with a degreed, certified, experienced, and fairly paid teacher.
~ Smaller class sizes benefit students and their educational growth. Students learn best when teachers can give individual attention. This is not possible with crowded classrooms and teachers who are stretched thin. Education in Tennessee must be funded adequately. Every child should be in a school with strong academics, individualized attention, and rich music & art programs.
~The "problem" of education in the USA is not the problem we are led to believe it to be. Data has been manipulated to show a crisis, and politicians & corporations are demanding educational reform to fix it, when, in truth, it only benefits their pocketbooks & campaigns, and it is harming our public education system. The truth is that American students are out-performing other nations when compared to students socio-economically. The very real problem in America is poverty, and these reforms will not address nor help the real issue of children growing up in poverty in Tennessee.
~ We do not want our tax dollars spent on excessively testing our students through Standardized Tests mandated by our State. With millions of dollars being spent on these tests in TN, and countless hours wasted as students stressfully take them, teaching staff has been cut and learning time has been slashed in our schools. These tests are unfairly used to evaluate teachers. This is not acceptable. Real teachers, optimal class sizes, and support staff in every school should be the priorities with our tax dollars, NOT Standardized Tests.
~ We further demand that the position of TN Commissioner of Education be an ELECTED position by the people, and not an appointed one (many other States wisely elect this position instead of having one appointed).
NOTE: Kevin Huffman's child attends Harpeth Hall, an elite private school in Nashville where teachers have advanced degrees and are paid well, class sizes are less than half the size of public schools (8 students : 1 teacher), there are rich music & art programs, students have a state of the art library, and they are not doing Common Core. We want someone with abundant experience as an educator who is truly vested in Tennessee public education to represent us.
CLARIFICATION: At the time this petition was created, Huffman's child attended Harpeth Hall. We have been informed that his children attended the best magnet school in Nashville for 2013-14, and we have also been informed, but have not confirmed, that both children are enrolled in private schools for 2014-15.
Governor Haslam, we realize that you seek to be re-elected to a second term of Governor in 2014. Be hereby warned: your actions regarding public education will determine whether or not you receive our votes in 2014 to continue to serve another term as our Governor.