- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 16, 2015

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - One of the state’s largest school districts failed to nominate its top teachers to a special group formed by the governor because of a mistake in the way the names were to be submitted, a spokesman said Tuesday.

Gov. Bill Haslam announced in a news release the 18 Tennessee teachers who will make up his Governor’s Teacher Cabinet, a group he hopes will provide real-time feedback from classrooms.

Directors of schools were asked to nominate at least one teacher from each of their districts. Classroom teachers were selected statewide based on criteria that include focus on student achievement and demonstration of leadership.

Superintendents in Davidson and Hamilton counties, which are among the state’s four largest school districts, did not submit nominees for the cabinet.

A representative for Hamilton County schools did not immediately return a call to The Associated Press.

However, Metro Nashville Public Schools spokesman Joe Bass said the Davidson County school district actually submitted two nominations, but they weren’t received because they should have been sent by SurveyMonkey instead of email.

“We submitted them the incorrect way,” Bass said. “We feel terrible that our oversight could lead to their missed opportunity.”

When asked about the two school districts not submitting nominations, Haslam told reporters at a news conference later Tuesday that he didn’t know why they weren’t submitted.

The Republican governor said in December that he was creating the cabinet in an effort to improve teacher communication and collaboration.

It’s also part of the administration’s effort to involve them in decision-making that affects them, as well as the state.

The governor is also including teachers in his review process for K-12 academic standards, and several teachers and other educators are part of a new task force formed by the state’s education commissioner to review student testing and assessment.

“It’s a long way … from the Capitol to the classroom, and so teachers who are everyday teachers that are impacted by decisions we make here can give us feedback about what’s working and what’s not,” Haslam said Tuesday.

Teachers will serve two-year terms on the cabinet. The first meeting is planned for next month.

Teresa Wasson, spokeswoman for the State Collaborative on Reforming Education, said she believes the cabinet will be beneficial.

“It’s important to tap into that knowledge by listening to teachers and providing opportunities … to amplify teacher voices,” Wasson said.

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