is lost every time a teacher has to deal
with discipline issues. Some students
need attention and intervention beyond
the scope of what a classroom teacher
can provide. It is imperative that a school
and district adopt policies that support
effective classroom management as well
as instruction for all students. Districts
must have policies in place that protect
all students’ right to learn.
in average classroom salaries in fiscal
years 2016, 2017, and 2018 through
the Instructional Salaries and Wages
category of the Basic Education Program
(BEP). More than $300 million in new,
recurring state dollars was appropriated.
Unfortunately, as most Tennessee
teachers recognized, those dollars did
not actually end up in teacher pockets.
We must support our teachers and make
sure the dollars allocated to their salaries
Bad school culture is a
barrier to student learning
and quality teaching.
To be clear, student discipline is a
serious issue and it must be addressed,
both at the state and local level. Any
assault that causes an injury to students
or teachers should be a police matter.
One possible policy is better tracking of
time an educator spends on discipline
issues. For example, do parents have
the right to know if one student disrupts
their own child’s education so frequently
that their child loses instruction time?
We need to document all discipline
incidents so corrective courses of action
can be taken at the building level, district
level, and state level. We should work to
reduce unnecessary suspensions and
expulsions in our schools by looking at
this data on a regular basis and providing
better training for all staff.
The Comptroller’s Office of Research
and Education Accountability (OREA)
proved through research that there was a
slightly more than 6 percent increase total
reach them as policymakers intended.
This was addressed in Tennessee
through subsequent legislation in 2019.
We know that many teachers still struggle
to support their own families, particularly
in places where the cost of living is higher
than average. Salaries must be a priority.
Increasing student achievement takes
adequate resources, as well as focus
and collaboration to address school
culture, student discipline, and teacher
salaries. Teachers need the support of
their administrators, their district, and the
state. If we want to see increased student
achievement and student learning, it is
paramount that the state and districts work
to address issues together. Immediate
teacher recruitment and retention efforts
will be largely determined by the success
or failure on these issues, particularly in
chronically hard-to-staff schools.