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Tomorrow are the South Carolina primaries, and former VP Joe Biden leads in the poll, followed by winner of the first three contests, Sen. Bernie Sanders and businessman Tom Steyer. Some Republican South Carolinians may vote for Sanders because they want closed primaries.

Stewart: Changing Teacher Assn. Activities Doesn't Aid Education Reform

February 14, 2011

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Newly-proposed restrictions on Tennessee teachers' ability to negotiate their contracts have little to do with raising test scores or preparing students for high-tech jobs, according to State Senator Eric Stewart of the 14th District. Stewart says two bills have been filed for debate about controlling political contributions and the collective bargaining rights of teachers, and in his view, neither of them directly addresses education reform.

"It does not raise a single test score; it does not create a single job, which is what we've been talking about for years now. To me, it's an attack against the teachers' union, under the veil of improving test scores and making education better."

Stewart says supporters of the bills, including the Tennessee Business Roundtable and the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce, should think hard about how these changes would affect students.

"They're not just negotiating salary and benefits. They're negotiating things like class size, equipment for their classrooms, better working conditions. One thing we need to realize is that a teacher's working condition is a child's learning condition."

While Tennessee teachers don't have an "official" union, they do have an association that can help them negotiate contracts and topics like class size and rules for tenure. Newly-elected Governor Bill Haslam has proposed changing the way teacher tenure is granted.

Randy O'Brien, Public News Service - TN