Education Commissioner Responds To Critics; Doesn't Divulge Future Plans

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Education Commissioner Responds To Critics; Doesn't Divulge Future Plans

CREATED Jun 26, 2014
by Aundrea Cline-Thomas

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Educators from across the country gathered at Vanderbilt University to laud Tennessee's educational gains and learn from what's happening here. Ironic as the pushback to the reform efforts is strengthening across the state.

“We're on the right path in Tennessee,” Governor Bill Haslam said. “But I also think it's really important that we be listening to folks, other people who have different views.”

Opponents include state lawmakers, superintendents and even teachers associations who have all called for Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman's resignation.

“Anytime you get critics like that you have to take it seriously but my focus is on doing my job,” Huffman said.

For the first time, he’s responding the latest call for his dismissal. Last week a letter was sent to Governor Haslam on behalf of fifteen Republican lawmakers. It cited mistrust and misguided leadership that was inflamed by the delayed release of TCAP scores to districts. Accusations Huffman denies.

“My focus is on getting ready for next school year,” Huffman said. “So things that are distractions from getting ready for next school year don't really help anybody.”

Meanwhile Huffman's boss, Governor Haslam, is continuing his support.

“Our results are undeniable. We're the fastest improving state in the country,” Haslam explained. “That hasn't been without some bumps and some hiccups, I think that's clear. Then again, there are great outcomes for students right now.”

Haslam said he has to win his re-election bid first before sitting down with his 23 Commissioners to discuss their future with his administration. But Huffman won’t say if he’ll pursue staying in his current position.

“You don't make decisions based on whether people are criticizing you or not, you make decisions based on whether the work is going well,” Huffman said, “and whether you feel like you can make a contribution.”

Email: acline-thomas@newschannel5.com