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WTF Kevin Huffman? 'Rigor is not always more...' Tennessee TFA state schools supt. increases the number of critics of corporate 'school reform' across the state that invented 'value-added' teacher bashing 'matrices'

Proving that like many ruling classes, those currently running the most avid "school reform" governments -- whether at the local, state, or national level -- learn nothing and forget nothing, Tennessee, which brought us Lamar Alexander and VAM (among other disgraces) is proving that if you put another TFA creep in charge of your schools you get a growing mess. We thought that lesson had been learned in Washington D.C. Call it the "Michelle Rhee" effect. But apparently not. Across the USA, political leaders are putting Teacher for America alumni into positions of extreme power because, well, that has to be answered from Chicago's "Office of Accountability" all the way to the U.S. Department of Education.

Like Michelle Rhee and other Teach for America Zombies now being put in charge of schools and school district's across the USA by corporate "school reform," Tennessee State Supt. Kevin Huffman (appointed in April 2011) knows that the way to get better schools is to accept "no excuses," fire "bad teachers," and figure out who the "bad teachers" are by "Value Added" matrices. Two years after he was appointed by the corporate school reform chiefs in the state that brought many of the worst practices of the past 30 years to the rest of the USA, Kevin Huffman has managed to unite teachers and school boards across the state in opposition to both his policies and his obnoxious "CEO" style of bossing. Just as Michelle Rhee brought people together in Washington, D.C. until her work resulted in the ouster of her boss as Mayor, so Huffman is uniting the weak teacher unions and schools board in Tennessee, one of the most toxic places for corporate "school reform" in the USA, against the State Schools Supt., a TFA guy named Kevin Huffman. On September 13, the newspapers reported that the teachers had voted "no confidence" in their state schools chief. A couple of days later, the news broke that the majority of school boards shared the opinion of the teachers. Just as leaders of the teachers and community in Chicago call the dictatorial style of Mayor Rahm Emanuel "the gift that keeps on giving," so have the TFA alumnae and alumni being hoisted into power positions to push Common Core and corporate "reform" been helping the organizing against insanity.

On September 28, 2013, Diane Ravitch posted the following on her blog:

Educators and school boards in Tennessee continue to express their opposition to State Commissioner Keven Huffman's policies and autocratic style of leadership.

The Marshall County board of education sent a letter of protest against Huffman to the governor and general assembly.

The linked article says: "We want Marshall to be number one in the state, but we have to have time to do that, Marshall County Director of Schools Jackie Abernathy said. Rigor is not always more.

"The resolution comes on the heels of a letter signed by 40 percent of the leaders of the 138 school districts in the state that publicly criticizes Huffman and his reform policies. Among those to sign the letter, are Williamson County Schools leader Mike Looney, Franklin Special School District Director David Snowden and Metro Nashville Public Schools Director Jesse Register.

"Tullahoma City Schools Superintendent Dan Lawson penned the letter, and a copy was emailed to the governor and members of the Tennessee legislature.

"Marshall County is about 50 miles south of Nashville and serves about 5,300 students. Nearly 80 percent of students there are on federal free and reduced-price meal programs, and they are in need of pre-kindergarten and career and technical programs, she said."

Huffman has managed to alienate many of those he is supposed to lead. Perhaps it is his inexperience. He taught for a few years in Teach for America but was never a principal or superintendent.

NEWS STORY ABOUT THE LETTER:

Another school district signs letter criticizing state education leader

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From The Tennessean newspaper

LEWISBURG, Tenn. -- The Marshall County Board of Education has formally endorsed a letter recently submitted to Gov. Bill Haslam and the General Assembly that expresses discontent with the current leadership in the Department of Education.

The eight-member school board approved the single page resolution Tuesday at a meeting, stressing the need for various student programs, frustrations with mandated programs and concerns of not being heard by Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman.

We want Marshall to be number one in the state, but we have to have time to do that, Marshall County Director of Schools Jackie Abernathy said. Rigor is not always more.

The resolution comes on the heels of a letter signed by 40 percent of the leaders of the 138 school districts in the state that publicly criticizes Huffman and his reform policies. Among those to sign the letter, are Williamson County Schools leader Mike Looney, Franklin Special School District Director David Snowden and Metro Nashville Public Schools Director Jesse Register.

Tullahoma City Schools Superintendent Dan Lawson penned the letter, and a copy was emailed to the governor and members of the Tennessee legislature.

Marshall County is about 50 miles south of Nashville and serves about 5,300 students. Nearly 80 percent of students there are on federal free and reduced-price meal programs, and they are in need of pre-kindergarten and career and technical programs, she said.

Abernathy,who has been with the rural school district since March 2012, said she shared Lawsons letter with the school board, and under its direction the resolution drawn. She conceded that even though there are pieces of Huffman's reforms that have worked, there are other aspects that show a lack of leadership.

For example, Huffman was instrumental in helping with Common Core practices that ultimately led to the school systems three Reward schools, she said. But tying teacher licensing and pay to evaluations and test scores is not.

I think his intentions are good, Abernathy said. I think its a lack of experience in the school system, and every school district is different.

TEACHERS VOTE NO CONFIDENCE IN STATE SCHOOLS CHIEF

Metro Nashville teachers vote no confidence in Kevin Huffman

Sep. 13, 2013 | 26 Comments

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Kevin Huffman, Tennessee Commissioner of Education / George Walker IV / THE TENNESSEAN / File

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Lisa Fingeroot

The Tennessean

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Dr. Dan Lawson / File

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Metro teachers announce no confidence in Huffman

Tennessee educators fired a second salvo at Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman Friday as Metro Nashville teachers announced a vote of no confidence in the beleaguered state leader.

At the same time, a letter from school superintendents asking Gov. Bill Haslam to put the brakes on Huffmans polices is continuing to gain momentum while its author solicits more signatures.

The Metro Nashville Education Association, Nashvilles teacher union, voted Thursday night to openly oppose Huffmans leadership and threaten Haslam with political fallout if he continues to support Huffmans policy changes. Haslam has announced his candidacy for a second term.

The Tennessee Education Association, a statewide counterpart to the Metro teacher group, declined to comment on the MNEA vote, although it has been battling Huffmans policy changes for months.

This is craziness, said Stephen Henry, MNEA president. Weve done more to deform education than to reform education. If the governor wants to keep supporting him, have at it, but there is accountability.

Henry said his group was not influenced by a similar move from the states superintendents.

Our profession is under attack, Henry said. Were tired of it. Being the first ones out of the chute makes it easier for the others to go on record. Were done with giving him a pass. We need to make it uncomfortable for him.

Earlier this week, 63 school superintendents attached their names to a letter asking Haslam to rein in Huffmans reform agenda. Dan Lawson, superintendent of Tullahoma City Schools, authored the letter and will send it to Haslam next week, he said. He wants all superintendents to have an opportunity to sign the letter before sending it.

Since the letter became public on Wednesday, two leaders asked for their names to be removed and five more asked to join the campaign, Lawson said. He will not make the names public until the letter is sent to Haslam.

Twice this year Haslam has reconfirmed his confidence in the education leader. The first time was during a social media campaign calling for Huffmans firing after the change in teacher pay.

Friction between Huffman and educators began almost immediately after he was appointed in April 2011 and enacted a controversial teacher evaluation system.

Its not a question of who knows more about what children need, Huffman said this week. Its a question of, in my perch, Im responsible for ensuring that the educational outcomes of 970,000 students in Tennessee get better.

So we can either decide that were going to stay in the bottom 10 states in the country in education outcomes, or we can decide that were going to do the things that will make Tennessee be a competitive state when it comes to education results.

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