Changing The Law

For most, this story will have little relevance but for school board members across the state, it's a pretty big deal.

One of the first things I learned after being elected to the school board was that board members were required by law to take seven hours of training each year. If a board member failed to take the training, that board member could be removed from office by the state commissioner of education. Right off the bat, I was disturbed that a popularly elected, local official could be removed from office for any reason by an unelected government bureaucrat. School board members are the only elected officials in the state who serve under the threat of removal from office for failing to meet state requirements.  

In 1990, the Tennessee Legislature mandated that school board members attend one full-day training session each year. The State Board of Education authorized the Tennessee Department of Education to plan and implement the program. The Department of Education contracts with TSBA, Tennessee School Board Association, to conduct all of the training. Training sessions are generally held in east, middle and west Tennessee at different times of the year. Board members receive a $75 stipend for attendance of the training.  

I'm sure the past legislators intentions were sincere and way back then, the training might have been useful. However, I have attended the "training" sessions for the last four years and unfortunately now the "training" is no more than indoctrination sessions to try to encourage school board members to carry the banner for the TEA, Tennessee Education Association, and NEA, National Education Association. At the "training" sessions I have attended, board members were encouraged to just stay out of the way and let the professional educators make all the decisions.

I took my concerns about the mandatory training to one of my state  legislators, Jimmy Matlock. Like myself, Mr. Matlock found the part of an elected official being removed from office by an unelected government bureaucrat disturbing.

To make a very long story a little shorter, Matlock took his and my concerns to his colleagues in state government where he found many other  legislators who also had a problem with the current law and with their support, the law was eliminated this year. HB1954/SB1429/Public Chapter 875 eliminated the old law.

TSBA can still hold their "training" sessions as they always have and any school board members who wants may still attend the sessions. However, Tennessee school board members will no longer have to serve under the threat of being removed from office if they fail to attend the education indoctrination sessions.

I would like to thank Jimmy Matlock for all the time and energy he put in to get this unjust law changed. I would also like to thank all the state legislators who supported changing the law. The bill passed unanimously in both the House, 93-0, and the Senate 31-0.