Provide better support and compensation for teachers are among a few of the ways several Shelby County school board candidates believe the district should do to attract and retain quality teachers, according to a query sent to all of the candidates.

This year’s school board race will likely upend almost the entire board with seven of the nine seats up for grabs. The election day is Thursday and early voting ended Saturday.

Chalkbeat asked all of the candidates questions around several issues that will likely be key decisions the board will have to make in the next four years. Of the 14 candidates, seven candidates responded to our questions about Teacher Effectiveness.

With 70 of the district’s 180 schools on the 2012 list of worst-performing schools in the state, the board will have to work with Superintendent Dorsey Hopson II to retain the district’s best teachers and get students to read at grade level and graduate on time.

Hopson has said providing quality teachers for every student is the district’s priority. With six suburban districts opening this year along with the expansion of the state-led Achievement School District, Shelby County Schools is facing more competition for teachers and students.

To remain competitive, many of the candidates said Shelby County should ensure its teachers receive the best compensation, support and positive work environments.

Read more of the candidates’ thoughts in their responses to our questionnaire.

For more on the election, visit tn.chalkbeat.org/boardelection

District 1

Chris Caldwell

Chris Caldwell
Chris Caldwell

What issues are most important for teachers in Shelby County?

Having the resources they need- Having the best possible work environment- having enough quality instructional time in the classroom with students- having a fair and meaningful evaluation process, getting the support needed to do the job

What should Shelby County Schools do to retain and attract more teachers?

Better compensation, work environment, and meaningful input into the process

Should teachers be compensated based on students’ performance on standardized tests? Why/why not?

Performance by students on standardized testing should only be a part of the basis for compensation- any evaluation should include all of the factors that affect student test performance

Should teachers’ evaluations be based on students’ performance on standardized test scores? Why/why not?

Performance by students on standardized testing should only be a part of the basis for evaluations- a matter of fairness and accuracy

Should teacher layoffs be based on seniority? Why/why not?

The State has changed the basis for layoffs & the board has approved mutual consent in hiring- seniority should be taken into consideration

Should the district retain its contract with Teach For America? Why/why not?

As always it should be based on the effectiveness of the teachers they provide, the amount of time they stay in our district, and the costs associated with the contract.

Freda Garner-Williams

Freda Garner Williams
Freda Garner Williams

What issues are most important for teachers in Shelby County?

Teachers discuss several issues as I talk with them.  Student discipline is a common concern.  Teachers feel that they have no recourse to deal with student mis-conduct.  Another concern is frequency of evaluation observations.  Teachers have expressed that there are too many observations.  Compensation is another frequently discussed concern.  With no raise for two years, teachers feel unappreciated.  Finally, another frequent concern addressed by teachers is the inclusion of the school-wide score added to their personal evaluation in cases where teacher do not generate TVAAS scores.

What should Shelby County Schools do to retain and attract more teachers?

Appropriate compensation is high on the list of what can be done to attract and retain more teachers.  Allowing teacher to have input on critical issues is another effective strategy.

District 3

Teddy King 

Teddy King
Teddy King

What issues are most important for teachers in Shelby County?

Teachers want to be respected and treated fairly. Teachers should have a voice in the decisions that affect the schools. Job security is also a concern.

 What should Shelby County Schools do to retain and attract more teachers?

We should treat them with the respect that they deserve. We need ensure that teachers are properly supported at the school and district level and receiving resources and training to support the needs of their students. SCS needs to develop our own teacher pipeline.

Should teachers be compensated based on students’ performance on standardized tests? Why/why not?

No. A teacher with students that are low performing has an advantage over a teacher with all advance students when it comes to growth. On the flip side if we are using the proficient bar then the opposite is true.

Should teachers’ evaluations be based on students’ performance on standardized test scores? Why/why not?

Not solely. I believe the scores can be used to determine the necessary supports and professional development a teacher needs to be more effective with the varying academic needs of our students.

Should teacher layoffs be based on seniority? Why/why not?

I believe that we should retain the most effective teachers. If all else is even, then seniority should be considered.

Should the district retain its contract with Teach For America? Why/why not?

I believe teaching is a calling and I would like for the district to hire TFA’ers with teaching experience or who was an education major and has student teaching experience.

Other thoughts?

Teachers are the most important asset of our school systems. I will work to ensure that they receive the support and resources that they need to be successful.

Stephanie Love

Stephanie Love
Stephanie Love

What issues are most important for teachers in Shelby County?

I believe some of the most pressing issues facing teachers include, but is not limited to, equitable compensation among teachers from both the legacy Memphis City Schools and legacy Shelby County Schools, teacher layoffs and TVAAS.

What should Shelby County Schools do to retain and attract more teachers?

Shelby County Schools can retain and attract more teachers by advocating for appropriate resources that are essential in delivering quality education to every student within the school system. SCS can also help foster a more positive work environment.

Should teachers be compensated based on students’ performance on standardized tests? Why/why not?

I am hesitant to support basing teacher and principal compensation on their effectiveness. One of the reasons I am hesitant is because teachers and principals deal with students from various socioeconomic backgrounds. Research has shown that socioeconomic status plays a very important part in the educational development of a child. Teachers and principals play an important part in that development but I believe they should not be the only ones held responsible for that development. The home of a child, parents, household income, food security, public safety, teachers, principals and the community all impact the educational development of a student.

Should teachers’ evaluations be based on students’ performance on standardized test scores? Why/why not?

I do believe teacher’s evaluations should be based on students’ performance on standardized test scores but I do not agree with the percentages currently set by TVAAS.

Should teacher layoffs be based on seniority? Why/why not?

I believe teacher layoffs should not be based on seniority. I do believe there are equitable means at which, if layoffs are necessary, can be implemented. It is in my opinion that seniority alone does not mean a teacher is effective in helping to deliver a quality education.

Should the district retain its contract with Teach For America? Why/why not?

I believe the contract with Teach For America should run its course unless there is a breach of contract. I also believe that Shelby County Schools should monitor Teach For America’s effectiveness prior to expiration of said contract.

District 9

Roshun Austin 

Roshun Austin
Roshun Austin

Should teachers’ evaluations be based on students’ performance on standardized test scores? Why/why not?

Measuring teacher and effectiveness is critical to ensuring and raising student achievement. And student achievement is the purpose of a school system. A part of teachers’ evaluations and compensation should be based on effectiveness and student performance. However, there are cultural and socioeconomic biases inherent in standardized tests. Presently, I am inclined to think that in order to largely base teacher evaluations and compensation on students’ performance on standardized tests, the board and administration must be willing to consider the broader environmental and economic issues impacting the achievement of the student population.

Should the district retain its contract with Teach For America? Why/why not?

In full disclosure, I am a Teach for America alum, Corps 1993. The district should retain its contract with Teach for America. Teach for America attracts the talented teachers who offer new insights and innovation in the classroom.

Mike Kernell

Mike Kernell
Mike Kernell

What issues are most important for teachers in Shelby County?

Job conditions, evaluation procedures, salary and benefits, and trying to overcome the problems that children bring with them to class.

What should Shelby County Schools do to retain and attract more teachers?  

Improve job conditions.

Should teachers be compensated based on students’ performance on standardized tests? Why/why not? 

No. Currently, there is no fair or scientifically valid system to accomplish this. No system has yet been devised that improves over the traditional principal/manager system.

Should teachers’ evaluations be based on students’ performance on standardized test scores? Why/why not? 

Somewhat but limited. Because standardized tests can only assess “standard” learning, I believe that we need teachers who can go beyond “standard” teaching.

Should teacher layoffs be based on seniority? Why/why not? 

I believe tenured teachers should have first right of refusal.

Should the district retain its contract with Teach For America? Why/why not? 

I have not read the contract with Teach For America.

Damon Curry Morris

Damon Curry Morris
Damon Curry Morris

What issues are most important for teachers in Shelby County?

We need to keep the best teachers in the classroom and make sure they have the tools needed to be a success in the classroom. TVAAS is important to teachers because it involves their license and compensation. Absenteeism also has become a hot button issue and affects teacher’s careers.

What should Shelby County Schools do to retain and attract more teachers?

Adequately compensating teachers is the main way to retain and attract more teachers. More school districts are moving towards compensating teachers for great performance and great attendance. SCS needs to follow this model and I believe we will see a great improvement with our educators.

Should teachers be compensated based on students’ performance on standardized tests? Why/why not?

Now I believe all teachers should be compensated, but if we have some educators that are performing at a high level they should receive additional compensation for their student’s achievement.

Should teachers’ evaluations be based on students’ performance on standardized test scores? Why/why not?

Now, we need a system in place to keep track of student progress and keep the best teachers in the classroom, but to base teacher’s evaluations on this performance is seriously flawed. Educators, especially in this district, are met with so many social issues, that it has diminished the educational quality that our children receive. A corporate model for evaluation does not reflect the amount of work our educators are responsible for. In addition, I do not think it can adequately measure teacher success.

Should teacher layoffs be based on seniority? Why/why not?

I believe in unions, and most of the unions base layoffs on seniority. I support seniority because administrators and teachers should be seasoned enough to educate our children. You cannot dismiss experience. I support it as long as the senior educators are effective.

Should the district retain its contract with Teach For America? Why/why not?

The board should take into consideration the effectiveness of the service from Teach for America in order to make a decision to retain the contract.