I have a pretty incredible friend named Ashley. I met her in college at Vanderbilt and since I have known her she has known her purpose in life (for which I am jealous!): to educate children as well as improve the education for children so that they might have an opportunity succeed. And she has always directed this passion to the schools that others have given up on. She was an excellent teacher in Nashville fresh from graduation and it took little time for her to be invited as a member of influential committees and eventually was selected as her school’s Teacher of the Year as well as the Tennessee Education Association’s Distinguished New Educator for Middle Schools. But she could not stop there. She was accepted to the school leadership program at Harvard Graduate School of Education (Ivy!!) and completed the program in 10 months while on sabbatical from her classroom position. I can honestly say I do not know another person in my generation with as much passion and devotion to their job as her.
Unfortunately, after completing this rigorous program and returning to Nashville with a passion and a plethora of ideas, Ashley is unable to be a licensed administrator in Tennessee. Having been born and raised in Tennessee, raised by a Tennessee educator, and educated in Tennessee public schools, this is extremely disheartening for her.
The current state laws require licensure candidates to meet one of two requirements to obtain a license: (1) attend 1 of 19 approved in-state institutions OR (2) serve as a principal in another state for 3 years. Nothing against Tennessee colleges, but that first option is leaving out a TON of nationally recognized and ranked programs (ahem – HARVARD). The second option requires someone to upend their whole life to move to a completely different state and find a new job. I personally think this is a tragedy.
So let’s do something about it. I do not live in Tennessee, but I love Tennessee as my own and, apart from this affecting my good friend, I think it’s only fair that Tennessee schools be able to choose from a pool of the most outstanding administrators to help provide a quality education for the kids. Every state should have that ability. This is not about getting my friend a job (in fact, her other main option is to move closer to me which I would love). This is truly to change the law in order to give all those who earn degrees in administration or school leadership the opportunity to apply for licensure in Tennessee if they want to. It really only makes sense. Sign the petition – do it for the kids.