A group of local educators, students, and others opposed to Tennessee Common Core standards greeted Governor Bill Haslam with protest signs and chants as he arrived in Smithville Thursday evening to speak at the local Republican Party's Reagan Day Dinner. The event was held at the county complex auditorium.
The Governor did not acknowledge the protestors as he emerged from his automobile and entered the building where friends and supporters were waiting to welcome him.
Many educators say they are fed up with the pressures put upon them in the classroom and they want the Governor, a supporter of Common Core, to hear their voices. "We're sick and tired of being sick and tired with the way teachers and kids are being treated in education," said Bill Conger, President of the DeKalb County Education Association. "We're over testing and putting too much on the kids. The Common Core and the standards they're trying to set for us are too high, too fast and they're putting pressure on teachers making it difficult for them to do their job every day," said Conger.
"It's difficult for the teachers to live up to all the mandates," said Bryan Jones, an eighth grade science teacher. "We just can't teach school because of all the paperwork. We have so many things going on we have to do to comply with the state. It's also very difficult for the kids. Common Core is something we need to reject as a county and state," added Jones.
Lisa Mabe, a third grade teacher at Northside Elementary, said the evaluations and merit pay system are most unfair to teachers. "We teach our hearts out every day. We want our students to do well but we are judged on an evaluation system that isn't fair. We're scored one through five and we're rarely given five's because we're not perfect. Yet we do everything that is expected of us. We love our kids and we want them to learn. We only ask that they treat us fairly. The merit pay isn't fair. They want to give us raises based on our job performance and our test scores but our classes aren't divided equally. If you want us to have merit pay, you've got to base all our classrooms equally and give all teachers a chance to achieve those standards but it's not set up that way. It never has been. I've been teaching for nineteen years and I've had more evaluations this year than I had my first year of teaching. You are welcome in our classroom anytime. I want to be accountable. I am accountable but do it fairly," said Mabe.