Tennessee’s school board members are hoping for a new education commissioner who might be more receptive to their views. Kevin Huffman, who announced late last week he’s stepping down, was seen – at times – as dismissive of local districts.
The relationship got so icy that half of the superintendents in the state signed a letter of no confidence, saying Huffman had no interest in dialogue and rushed his changes without bothering to consult local officials.
“I really want to see the new upcoming commissioner to really focus in on mending fences,” said Allena Bell, a board member in the Franklin Special school district. She says, however, she can’t argue with Huffman’s results, which include higher level performance for both teachers and students.
But plenty of school board members also disagree with Huffman’s ideas, not just his style.
Denny Beaver is on the Maury County board.
“I don’t know if the way Mr. Huffman was approaching it of the test, test, test, I don’t know if that is the right way to go or not,” he said. “I think we need to back off the testing.”
Addressing hundreds of school board members in Nashville, Governor Bill Haslam said he hoped to get their input on Huffman’s replacement. So far, he says he’s talked to candidates within the education department as well as superintendents and some prospects currently in higher education.
A petition on Change.org asks that Governor Haslam appoint a commissioner of education who has at least 10 years experience in a Tennessee public school. Huffman taught for three years with Teach for America in Houston and then became a lawyer.