Rise & Shine: Teacher pay expected to highlight union negotiations starting in Shelby County Schools

Good morning,

Today is the start of negotiations between Shelby County Schools and its two teacher organizations representing 7,000 educators. It's the first time in four years that the two sides have met to hash out an agreement. Re-establishing a teacher pay scale will be at the top of the agenda for the teacher groups. Former Superintendent Dorsey Hopson had tried for several years to implement a merit pay system for teachers based on evaluations that include student test scores, but continued problems with TNReady testing delayed that effort. The issue of performance pay or merit pay is what propelled Denver teachers to go on strike recently. Read what union leaders in Memphis say will be on the table and whether or not a strike is a possibility.

In special education news, Marta Aldrich discovered that fewer than 150 students out of 42,000 eligible students are participating in the state's voucher program for students with disabilities. It's a disappointing statistic for those hoping to expand the program and frustrating for parents who would like to participate. Last year, Tennessee’s Individualized Education Account program awarded an average of $6,700 per participant to use to pay for private school tuition and other educational services. Read more about what's keeping families from participating in the program.

Have a great weekend!

Jacinthia Jones, bureau chief



UNION TALKS For the first time in four years, Shelby County Schools and teacher leaders are headed to the bargaining table to hash out a new agreement. Chalkbeat

LOW PARTICIPATION Only 137 out of 42,000 eligible students with disabilities are participating in Tennessee’s limited voucher program, which last year awarded an average of $6,700 per participant. Chalkbeat

ACT PREP Shelby County Schools, which has long identified a struggle to ready students for college and has an average ACT score of 17.8 out of 36, is launching a new effort to better prepare students for the test — and to understand why it matters. The Commercial Appeal

RETIREMENT Collierville Superintendent and longtime Shelby County education leader John Aitken will retire at the end of this school year. The Commercial Appeal, Local Memphis

HOMEWORK UPROAR Williamson County Schools is apologizing for a homework assignment that asked students to pretend their families own slaves. Tennessean, WTVF