NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE) -- A representative of Tennessee’s largest teacher’s union says a strike like walkouts in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky is unlikely here, as long as state lawmakers continue to make progress on school funding.
Carolyn Crowder is Executive Director of the Tennessee Education Association. She applauds the Governor and Tennessee Legislature for regular increases in school funding and teacher salaries.
“Oklahoma and West Virginia both have gone decades without a raise, and that hasn’t happened here. We’ve had raises but they haven’t been what they should be and they haven’t been what was intended.”
Crowder says the problem is that money allocated by the state isn’t always passed on to teachers by local school boards.
She says problems with state mandated academic testing are currently a far more pressing issue for the union’s 40,000 members.
“We’re spending more time testing and preparing people for standardized tests that don’t always work and aren’t always appropriate instead of having the time to spend teaching.”
Crowder says security is also a growing concern, given recent school mass shootings. She says the union prefers to see more professionally trained police officers assigned to Tennessee schools.
The TEA opposed a recent bill that would have allowed teachers to be armed. Crowder says most members want to teach. In her words, “They did not get into this to be soldiers.”
A recent study by Vox says that on average Tennessee teachers earn a little over $48,000 (inflation adjusted) a year. That’s $10,000 below the national average and less than every neighboring state except Mississippi.