The Williamson County Schools Board of Education met Monday for its first meeting of the school year.

In it, the members adopted three resolutions which, although unique, all reveal the position of the elected body on certain key issues affecting both teachers and students.

Here’s what to know about each resolution:

1. A Push Against Unnecessary Educator Demands

Two of the resolutions are ones that the Williamson County Schools Administration intends to submit to the Tennessee School Boards Association. The objective: To inspire the organization to consider the inclusion of certain issues on its legislative agenda.

The first of the two resolutions recommends modifying the “unnecessary demands” expected of teachers.

School psychologist Dana Hood greets students as they arrive for the first day of school at Edmondson Elementary School on Friday August 6, 2021 in Brentwood, Tennessee.

In late 2021, administrative staff at Williamson County schools began asking district superintendents what could be removed from teacher and administrator responsibilities, District Superintendent Jason Golden said.

The district has found required duties of teachers and principals it and the state have mandated over the years. But now these elements distract individuals from “student outcomes and well-being”, according to the resolution.

“One thing that has become apparent is that it’s time for the state to do the same…to review state laws, to review regulations, to review state policies to figure out what they could get out of teachers’ plates that might tend to accumulate over time,” Golden said.

The district administration hopes the resolution will become a stepping stone to action by lawmakers, alongside a recent op-ed in The Tennessian by Rep. Sam Whitson, R-Franklin, and Rep. Darren Jernigan, D-Nashville.

Board member Rick Wimberly speaks during a Williamson County School Board meeting in Franklin, Tennessee, Monday, August 16, 2021.

“The initiative would include a thorough and thoughtful assessment of all requirements to identify practices and procedures that duplicate or no longer produce sufficient return for the effort expended,” Whitson and Jernigan wrote.

Board member Rick Wimberly led efforts to bring this issue to the state directly from the district.

“I think this movement is already having success, and I didn’t expect it,” Wimberly said during the recent board business session. “Bureaucracy can grow into bureaucracies and we have a lot of those that may not be needed and this is a call for the state to seek these things out in a collaborative process, with educators and others involved .”

2. A Request to Change Tennessee’s Third-Grade Retention Law

This second resolution directed to the district’s Tennessee School Boards Association advocates changing a state law that went into effect with the start of this school year.

The law requires that third-grade students not be promoted to fourth-grade if their results indicate that they are “near” or “below” grade level in the English Language Arts portion of the TCAP exams. Fourth graders must also show “adequate growth” on the same part of the exam in order to be promoted to fifth grade.

A Williamson County Schools sign.

Although there are exceptions to the rule – for example, if a student is an English language learner, is assigned a tutor, or attends summer school and retests at a proficient level – This resolution calls for the law to be changed so that districts have more control over detention decisions.

According to the most recent TCAP scores from schools in Williamson County, this law would impact 34% of students who were in third grade during the 2021-2022 school year.

Both Golden and the administrators said research shows retention leads to negative outcomes, such as an increased likelihood that a student will drop out of school. And they believe Williamson County schools have the resources and expertise to handle each case individually and locally.

“The heart of this request from the legislature is not to rely on this specificity to know whether a student is retained, because our principals, in consultation with parents, know much more about each child than just a result. testing and just whether a student has been in a summer program or tutored,” Golden said.

“I believe the perpetrators of this had their hearts in the right place… But we believe that ultimately these decisions have to be local.”

Students exit the bus outside Crockett Elementary School on the first day of school in Brentwood, Tennessee, Friday, August 5, 2022.

3. A Statement of Support from Public School Teachers

A third resolution affirms the council’s support for teachers in response to controversial comments by Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn, who suggested that teachers be trained “in the dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges in the country”, during a private event involving Tennessee Governor Bill. Lee.

July’s comments rocked the region and the state.

“Public comments were made by a person unfamiliar with the top

quality of Williamson County teachers denigrating both intelligence and

teacher professionalism,” the resolution reads.

“Be it resolved by the Williamson County School Board that it affirms our commitment to supporting teachers and their invaluable contribution to the education of all students and schools in Williamson County.”

Williamson County Schools Superintendent Jason Golden (right) speaks to the audience at the quarterly Franklin Tomorrow conference "Breakfast with the Mayors" event alongside Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson on Tuesday, July 26, 2022, in Franklin, Tenn.

Board members Nancy Garrett and Eric Welch spoke ahead of the vote, agreeing that while the resolution was late solely due to the schedule of board meetings, it was necessary.

Welch called Arnn’s comments “idiotic,” before addressing Governor Lee directly.

“Our governor who had a wonderful education, which allowed him to be very successful, about a mile from here,” he said. “Because this is his home county, I mean Governor Lee, your silence in sitting there without saying a word was deafening, and your refusal to condemn the comments since then speaks volumes.”

Garrett, a longtime board member who lost the recent local election to a Republican newcomer, attended his last meeting remotely due to exposure to COVID-19.

“Being the child of a teacher and in a family of many public school teachers and librarians,” Garrett said via video call. “I couldn’t be happier that this was on the agenda for my last meeting.”

Anika Exum is a reporter covering Williamson County at The Tennessean, part of the USA Today – Tennessee network. Contact her at [email protected], 615-347-7313, or on Twitter @aniexum.

To stay up to date on Williamson County news, sign up for our newsletter.