U.S. News

Tennessee legislature passes bill changing teacher tenure rules

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Reuters) - A bill to make it more difficult for Tennessee teachers to get tenure passed the state House on Thursday, following passage by the Senate earlier this month.

The bill, pushed by Republican Governor Bill Haslam, requires teachers to work five years, instead of three, to achieve tenure. It also creates an evaluation procedure that could lead to revoking tenure based on poor job performance.

The two chambers must now agree on some minor changes before the bill goes to the governor’s desk, where it is expected to be signed into law.

A director of the Tennessee Education Association, which represents 52,000 of the state’s 65,000 teachers, said his group supports some aspects of the bill but is concerned the system of evaluation for tenure has not been established.

“The fact we don’t know exactly what we’re dealing with in an evaluation system is problematic,” said Jerry Winters, director of government relations for the TEA. An evaluation system is supposed to be in place by July 1.

Three to five years for tenure is the average in the United States, according to the National Education Association.

The Senate Republican majority has argued that extending the tenure period is part of a continuing effort to raise the education bar in Tennessee.

Reporting by Tim Ghianni; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Jerry Norton