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Tennessee teachers have longer tenure road under proposed law

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Reuters)- A proposal to make it tougher for Tennessee teachers to get tenure heads to the state's House this week after a companion measure passed in the Senate.

The proposal by Republican Governor Bill Haslam would require teachers to serve five years, instead of three, to achieve tenure. An evaluation procedure could lead to revoking tenure based on poor job performance.

The tenure measure passed the Senate 21-12 last Thursday, with one Democratic vote joining the GOP majority.

It also is expected to clear the Republican-majority House.

A representative for the state's main teacher's union said teachers don't oppose tenure reform, but have concerns the evaluation piece of the legislation has not been finalized and the rules are unclear.

"We feel the teachers need to know the rules under which they're working," said Jerry Winters, director of government relations for the Tennessee Education Association.

"They are not afraid of accountability. It's to nobody's advantage to have bad teachers in the classroom."

Three to five years for tenure is the average in the United States, according to the National Education Association.

The Senate Republican majority has argued that extending the tenure period would be a part of a continuing effort to raise the education bar in Tennessee.

Another teacher-related bill that would end teachers' rights to negotiate their working conditions with boards of education through collective bargaining is expected to be voted on by the Tennessee Senate this week.

(Reporting by Tim Ghianni; Editing by Jerry Norton)