Sat
Jun 2 2012
11:17 pm

Hell freezes over as I agree (in part) with the Chamber. My letter to County Commission.

Dear Commissioners,

As you know, I don't often agree with some folks at the Chamber about the best way to create jobs in Knox County.

However, on the subject of education and how it relates to economic development, I have to concur that making giant leaps in education is the single most important thing we can do for jobs in Knox County.

If we are among the first major school systems in the USA to provide every child in our school system with modern learning tools, we would generate a lot of great publicity nationwide---likely even be featured in national news stories if we do it right.

Executives who are looking for new headquarters will be motivated to move here. People will want to relocate to Knox County so their children can attend our schools. Property values will start rising. There will be so much BUZZ about Knox County Schools that we will have to close our borders to prevent the growth! (Okay, just kidding about the borders.) We don't necessarily want to grow too big but if we grow smart, we can pay off our debt as well as provide great services to the people who live here.

Also, think of the savings on textbooks and the way that electronic curriculum can be individualized to suit the way each child learns---easily monitoring and measuring a child's learning and reporting that information to teachers and parents. Why can't we develop our OWN curriculum for modern devices using the accumulated wisdom of our GREAT teachers? And then use the savings to reward our GREAT teachers the way they deserve?

Of course the devil is in the details, but as the owner of a technology business, I believe if it is imperative that we teach our children using 21st century tools. I am willing to donate my skills and time to help make sure we do technology the right way.

The dramatic third grade reading improvements at Pond Gap by children using iPads is just short of miraculous and I believe we can achieve those kind of results countywide with the right implementation.

The other BIG idea this money would help to grow is one that not only really works for our children, but has the potential to improve the lives of almost every Knox Countian.

Community schools, where the schools become the true center of the community because the buildings are opened up for a wide variety of uses, is a concept that I have seen firsthand in Cincinnati and it really works. It has transformed entire communities and has delivered measurable improvements, not only in grades, test scores and graduation rates, but also whole-community benefits such as reduced crime, increased economic activity, improved quality of life and community cohesion.

I strongly support this concept and am excited to see that some of the money will be going to expand the successes that this pilot program has already wrought in Knox County.

I know that some people are worried that raising taxes will be too hard on people who are struggling. But if this works, the school system in Knox County can be a true economic development engine that will create jobs and improve the standard of living for all.

If we fail, let the people whose job it was to do it properly resign their job or their office ---I'm talking about the School Board and the Superintendent, who is making the case for the extra funding. It's County Commission's job to fund the school system but it's the school system's job to make it work. If they can't, they should be accountable. I'm talking the-buck-stops-here accountability, which can be measured and which has consequences.

You were elected to make the hard decisions for all of us in Knox County, and I appreciate that this is a very difficult decision. I know you have all struggled with this, and like most controversial issues, you have been hearing good arguments from both sides.

But the bottom line is this---we aren't going to make any big improvements by doing the same thing we have been doing. Fully funding the school system's request is a way to make that giant leap that we need in order to make big improvements in results, but we also owe it to taxpayers to have true accountability for that leap of faith.

Thank you for taking the time to listen and for your consideration of this important issue.

Lisa Starbuck

160
like
mld's picture

Lisa, I admire your

Lisa,

I admire your motivation and sincerity. I can tell you really care about the success of the kids. It should all be about them. However, as you say, the devil is in the details. The intention of this scheme is to get intelligent, well meaning folks like you behind the plan by emphasizing a few of the positive points of the plan and ignoring the real long term effects. The KNS does a pathetic job of informing the public with the real facts. The teacher merit pay plan is a proven failure in systems all across America. By just briefly glancing at some of the supporters of this plan, the public should figure out it is not about the kids. Their plan is about control and power. If you have control of the purse and teacher/administrator evaluations you can intimidate and control the teachers and administrators.
I am all for additional funds for the kids.The funds should be used for the right reasons, however. There should be no more wheel tax fiascos. Reducing class sizes should be a top priority. Attracting and keeping good teachers should be a top priority. Giving kids the technology they need and preparing students to be responsible citizens that have the skills needed to get good jobs and be lifelong learners should also be goals. Our School Board should realize that vocational education is important in preparing many students to get good jobs and earn a decent living and pay taxes. Vocational education should be an important part of the plan. Many students are never going to be college material.

I am disappointed that this effort is not about the kids. The plan has not been well explained. Knox County Schools does need additional funding, but we need a better plan to improve education for our kids. Most reliable studies indicate that the School Board's plan will be a failure. They have not done their homework!

JCB's picture

"The KNS does a pathetic job

"The KNS does a pathetic job of informing the public with the real facts."

PR isn't about objectivity. The KNS does what they do well.

rikki's picture

pond gap

Ah, yes, the old my-inability-to-comprehend-is-someone-else's-fault gambit. I've heard that this type of argument is very persuasive to snakes, catfish and other creatures with minimally developed frontal lobes.

Stick's picture

No Do-Overs

I'm in agreement with Mid. The community school project is the one initiative with solid data to back it up, yet it receives the least amount of funding in the proposal. Technology purchases may bring a lot of attention and hype, but that is all that it will bring. We go through this everytime a new technology fad springs up. Remember the push to wire all of our schools to the web in the 90's? That was going to change everything but actually changed nothing. Technology provides tools. Nothing else. It is not an end to itself.

If you pay attention to the mouth breathers over at the KNS commentariat, it should be clear that getting any kind of funding out of Knox county residents is like getting blood out of a turnip. We do not get many chances to make strategic investments, and goodness knows that we need it. My issue is that we do not get the opportunity to tap into new resources very often, and the majority of the funding here will be pure hype and waste. All that will come of this is the creation of a purely destructive teacher evaluation system that will be very hard to dismantle once the institutional framework is created. This is bad policy sugar-coated to draw the support of those who care about public schools.

Lisa Starbuck's picture

Choices

OK, so we just stand back and do nothing? I agree that the teacher merit pay plan is not good and that there needs to be a better plan.

County Commission can force a better plan through requiring some meaningful accountability from the school board before granting the money. I know state law ties their hands to some extent, but it is unreasonable to expect funding without accountability and the School Board and Superintendent should be prepared to prove it---and be flexible and cooperative with regard to addressing concerns about the merit plan before they get the money.

I agree with many of your points and know that some are pushing the plan for the wrong reasons. I am conflicted about it because I know some of what you say is true, but I also know that if we don't at least try, there is no way we can move the schools forward. If this funding effort fails, I don't see how we can make the sea change that is needed.

fischbobber's picture

Opposition to funding

If there was ever a a brilliant plan to drag our schools right down the septic tank, the present plan would be it.

From the right: The schools don't need more money. They need incentives to make teachers work harder.

From the left: Incentives are proven to not work. We need smaller classes.

From Tim: I ain't supporting a tax increase.

From the left: Even if they get it, it will go to charter schools.

From the right: So what? Education is business. My kid can't read cause someone's not doing their job. I don't believe in that ADHD crap.

The reason nothing is going to happen is because those of us who care are a transient population. We will fight for our kids until they are done with school and then we will be so tired of the process that we say "Fuck it!" now it's the next guys fight. But it's really not. Because, one day, someone will have to wipe our ass, make sure our catheters changed, make sure we have our ensure so we don't die a miserable death. And who are we going to have to do that? The same group of kids that we're screwing over now. If you assholes that are trying to keep education down think that kids won't figure this out despite your efforts, you're only fooling yourselves. You reap what you sow. Good luck to me, and good luck to you.

alan swartz's picture

?

"OK, so we just stand back and do nothing?"

Mayor Burchett's plan gives the schools more money than they have gotten in one year. And you call that nothing? At least Burchett's plan has measurable accountability. McIntyre's plan is hope and dreams.

We are doing something. We are not buying into another wheel tax for nothing.

mld's picture

County Budget

I do not think we should stand back and do nothing. The School Board is asking for funding that will not focus on the needs of our kids or improving our schools. Funding a merit pay system that has been proven to be a failure by most reliable studies is absurd. If this budget is approved, County Commission will likely not consider significant increase in funding our schools for another 15 or 20 years. We need to make the best of this opportunity and make it really count toward improving our schools. The focus should be on our kids, not the hidden agenda of some of our leaders. Additional funding should provide needed technology, across the board pay raises to attract and keep good teachers, more teachers to lower class sizes, vocational training, and a stronger emphasis on involving parents and the community in improving our schools. We need to fund the things that have proven to be successful. We do not need to fund this plan.

Most elected officials in Knox County are more concerned with getting re-elected and serving their on personal interests than doing what is best for our community. Knox County residents need to call their School Board members and Commissioners today and tomorrow and let them know they are against this budget. We should pack the Commission meeting tomorrow and let them know that we expect a better plan. This budget is extremely important for the future of Knox County. The budget needs to be analyzed and debated to make sure we are using our resources in the best way possible. The County Commission needs to take more time researching and getting imput on this budget. The budget does not have to be passed Monday. We still have a few more weeks. Better safe than sorry.

Only around 10-15% of registered voters in Knox County have voted in recent local elections. They need to get off their butts and get informed on the issues and become responsible citizens and vote. Most of the people complaining about a tax increase do not vote. They need to realize that all of Knox County would benefit from improving our public schools. Significant improvement in public education in our community would attract more businesses and better paying jobs with an expanded tax base that would benefit all in our county.

bizgrrl's picture

Teaching without

Teaching without computers

The chief technology officer of eBay sends his children to a nine-classroom school here. So do employees of Silicon Valley giants like Google, Apple, Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard.

Seems to me the "community school" concept is what is being touted as the success to Pond Gap.

Thanks to a $323,850 gift to the University of Tennessee to support one professor's work in Knox County schools, Pond Gap will be the model for expanding current programs into a full-scale, full-service school to help students in every aspect of their lives.

Boyd has made the commitment to fund the community school program at Pond Gap for another three years at the price tag of $450,000.

district's efforts to expand the community school concept at Pond Gap and into other schools.

Lisa Starbuck's picture

iPads

Yes, it is true that the full service school concept at Pond Gap is a big success. But it is the iPads in the classroom that are credited with the dramatic improvement in reading results, according to this Metropulse story.

And I've see the article about the Waldorf schools that have no technology before. What is significant is that these are yuppie children who have plenty of access to technology at home along with engaged and high tech parents. This is not the case in many schools in Knox County.

My thoughts are that technology can be used in such a way so that learning can be measured and monitored and interventions could happen faster by teachers and parents. It's not the cure-all, but as a computer consultant, I can see where the devices could really impact student learning, in part by engaging the students and making learning more fun.

I don't have children, but I see how friend's children and my nieces react to technology---they can't get enough of it, and not just for playing games. The key is curriculum and I believe we should be developing our own by capturing what experienced teachers know works in the classroom instead of paying big bucks to a third party for it.

Tacamo01's picture

The big problem overlooked

This districts school system has had my undivided attention since my grandson finished Pre-school and is entering Kindergarden. I have talked to teachers and the majority do not support this plan. A few of the things I have learned over the past few months:
1. Knoxville cannot be compared to Cincinnati. Cincinnati had a 86% dropout rate and is urban with a mass transit system that runs 340+ vehicles for the general public and schools. I applaud the results at Ponds Gap and UT's generous donation, however, the one on one time for 45 students does not equate to success for all.
2. If the parents do not care about after school homework and assignments the kids are going to show the same behavior. The current school budget has $10K set aside for parental/community involvement. We need to educate the parents about the importance of early childhood education first as it is fundamental to a child's success in later years of school.
3. Becoming the first school in the country to hand out I-Pads to all children should be researched further. The are many articles on the internet that show closing the digital divide has had some negative effects on after school assignments. A quote from one article: " In fact, the opposite might be true: School performance seems to decrease. The introduction of high-speed Internet service was associated with lower math and reading test scores in middle grades, and also less frequent self-reported computer use for homework. The researchers wrote in the report that broadband Internet access “appears to crowd out studying effort, presumably by introducing new options for recreational use by students and other family members.”
4. The school district has not reported the total expendatures of school system and continues to just post the General Purpose Fund" in their current and proposed budget. The total funding the school system receives should be posted and accounted for in each line item of the budget.
5. The most important point and one that teachers in the elementary grades agree on and that many administrators ignore, is that ever since spelling was taken off the required testing 14-15 years ago, we have done away with the core requirement to teach spelling in school. If you Google spelling and the correlation to reading scores the past 14 years you will see a decline in the reading scores in all states. If we want to be the first county in the country to do something, maybe we should be the first to put back spelling in the elementary schools as a course of instruction. If you can't spell how can you be expected to read well. Just because it is not a state graded subject is no excuse.

Disclaimer : Typec on my I-Pad, not responsible for typos!

Lisa Starbuck's picture

iPads

Actually, I'm not really all up in the iPads so much as thinking of a tablet or netbook with a VPN that will only connect directly to the school system servers. A lot of concerns about surfing and others using it could be solved if the device only connected directly to school system's servers. I think Comcast and Charter could step up to provide internet access for the devices if they want to continue to have a cable monopoly in Knox County.

I have a lot more ideas about how this all could be implemented, but no time to post it right now.

Barker's picture

iPads

The school system has not determined what type of devices they plan to use if they get the funding. People assume they have decided to use iPads, but that decision won't be made until they actually begin the project.

Tacamo01's picture

I-Pad

I only stated I-Pad's because the district spokeswoman stated in the small computer repair startup article she said they were researching the maintenance of I-Pad's and did not mention tablets.
One other point in this digital divide problem I see IMO is that there were a few references WRT the access to the Internet instead of the % of people who have home access according to the Pew Internet and America Life Project. The facts for home access not access to are:
No High School-22%
High School-52%
Some College-73%
College-85%
I hope this is being considered by the school district. I for one would hope it is Tablets or something similar. However if you look at the results of the home access survey, it just reinforces my belief that the parents need to be educated about the importance of after school assignments and early childhood education. Only 1/3rd of the population in Knox County has a college degree or higher. IMO that equates to the 1/3rd of the students that passed the 3rd grade reading proficiency test plus or minus a few % points. The rest are being left behind.

Tacamo01's picture

Teacher Evaluations

This can be destructive and political. Who does the Evaluations? From talking to several teachers, not one approved of the way this is going forward. However, most when asked about continued education, said the current central office is not doing enough. A recent site prospective teachers frequent when looking for their next career opportunity stated:

"Educators who are looking for more bang for their buck might want to consider teaching in Tennessee. While Tennessee teacher salaries averaged $46,290 in 2009-10—below the national average—Tennessee's cost of living was the lowest in the nation during the third quarter of 2010. (1). Not only that, teachers in Tennessee earned nearly $9,000 more than the average wage for all occupations in the state. (2) Tennessee definitely values its educators."

It went on to list four counties, Knox being one. We can attract the very best teachers if we don't mess it up!

Min's picture

"Tennessee definitely values its educators."

No, it doesn't. And anyone who has listened to the last two years of teacher bashing from the General Assembly or who has observed the slew of anti-education, regressive bills being passed over that same period of time should realize it.

Plus, from what I can see, Dr. McIntyre does not care about teachers or parents or students. He clearly likes numbers better than people, and the increasingly hostile and combative attitude exhibited by the McIntyre central office toward Knox County Schools personnel is a reflection of his management style and his anti-personnel priorities.

GSD's picture

Ding Ding Ding!

EXACTLY, Min.

teachersupporter's picture

Min, exactly.

Min, exactly.

Barker's picture

odd

One of the things that has puzzled me about this whole debate is that everyone, on both sides, has made this an all-or-nothing proposition. To my knowledge, no commissioner has publicly asked the school system what they would do with $15 million or $20 million or $25 million instead of $35 million. No commissioner has publicly suggested paying for the renovation and technology components through a bond issue, which, while it would add to the debt and the additional debt service would have to be factored into the budget, would certainly lower the amount needed for the rest of the plan on a yearly basis (and, therefore, the size of a property tax increase).

alan swartz's picture

"No commissioner has publicly

"No commissioner has publicly suggested paying for the renovation and technology components through a bond issue,"

Was that not in the Deakins/Hammond plan? Or did they only take out the capital part? It is crazy to pay for the technology part forever.

JCB's picture

"Was that not in the

"Was that not in the Deakins/Hammond plan? Or did they only take out the capital part? It is crazy to pay for the technology part forever."

Capital only. Deakins is a lame duck so he is all in. Hammond has been selected by the Chamber and the SOS as Burchett's next opponent. Tim Burchett vs. "Say Anything" Hammond. That will be a great race to watch.

TCB's picture

You can stick a fork in Mike

You can stick a fork in Mike Hammond. This is his last elected seat.

Barker's picture

complications

The Deakins/Hammond plan is a little complicated, but as I understand it, basically it includes an accounting trick. It fully funds the first year of the proposal, but after that all bets are off.

They accept Burchett's $3 million for K-3 reading, which is in the form of a grant and comes from current revenues, and $1 million from fund balance. That leaves $31 million that would come from a 31-cent property tax increase.

Because $28 million in the first year goes toward tech and school renovations, they have proposed accounting this separately from the rest of the expenditures. It would still be funded from a property tax increase, but wouldn't count toward the "maintenance of effort" required under the law.

That leaves $3 million in operating funds that would be funded through the property tax increase. That $3 million would have to be counted toward the next year's maintenance of effort. (Because Burchett's $3 million reading proposal is couched as a grant, it doesn't count toward maintenance of effort and can be cut out at any time)

Fast forward to the next year, which is when the accounting trick kicks in. The schools' plan calls for $21 million in tech and capital improvements and $14 million toward operations. But commission would only be required to fund the "maintenance of effort," which would be the $3 million in added operational funding appropriated the year before. That leaves an $11 million difference between the required maintenance of effort and the schools' plan. That tax money would be coming in, but County Commission could divert that $11 million to anything it wants. Some could go to the sheriff's office for pay raises, cover the sheriff's office pension plan shortfall or anything else.

fischbobber's picture

Let's not forget what they do

(link...)

Sometimes I feel like people spend so much time arguing about the hypotheticals of education, that we lose sight of what really is happening and what is really effective teaching. This P.E. teacher gets it.

Tacamo01's picture

All or Nothing

I've also wondered the same but it seems we have the ones that say no tax increases period, the ones that say we need $35M annual recurring to fix education period and the ones who say an increase is necessary for our schools but do not see substance or accountability in the proposed plan. I for one am part of the last group that believes the current administration does not listen to their teachers, needs more time to explain their "total expenditure" budget request and how it is going to make the K-3rd graders more proficient in reading and math. IMO it should come about by a vote from the citizens. This way more research can be done and the schools central office can better explain just what they intend to do.
Just a couple of side notes:
1. The Ponds Gap project did not originate from the central office. Getting the basic daily necessities of life translating into better grades is from UT.
2. Alabama and South Carolina have had literacy coaches for several years along with 12 other states as part of a program to get better efficient in reading and the other core subjects.
3. This current central office needs to come up with some of their own ideas about Knox county education and proven concepts that work.

Stick's picture

*

+1

jcgrim's picture

McIntyre's "improvement" plan- hack science

There's something distorted and corrupt when McIntyre ignores educators, bullies his administrators into shoehorning teacher evaluation scores into a fraudulent metric, and doubles down on test based incentives that the National Academies of Science knows does not raise achievement.
(e.g., Current Test-Based Incentive Programs Have Not Consistently Raised Student Achievement in U.S (2011)

(link...)

Mcintyre is asking us to pay for think-tanky junk that education policy researchers assert have the potential to do serious harm to schools:

From Helen F. Ladd, Edgar T. Thompson Professor of Public Policy, Sanford School of Public Policy; Professor of Economics, Duke University (2011):

"...test-based evaluation of teachers and the promotion of competition, are misguided because they either deny or set to the side a basic body of evidence documenting that students from disadvantaged households on average perform less well in school than those from more advantaged families. Because these policy initiatives do not directly address the educational challenges experienced by disadvantaged students, they have contributed little -- and are not likely to contribute much in the future -- to raising overall student achievement or to reducing achievement and educational attainment gaps between advantaged and disadvantaged students. Moreover, such policies have the potential to do serious harm. Addressing the educational challenges faced by children from disadvantaged families will require a broader and bolder approach to education policy than the recent efforts to reform schools."

Pam Strickland's picture

I think there's going to be a

I think there's going to be a move tomorrow to pull out the capital improvements and the tech, which is cap improvements at this point, as a bond issue, which might require a referendum. Not completely clear on that, but might require a referendum. The total would be $28 million or so. The rest would come out of cash reserves, which, as I understand it would be a reasonable amount because it's been a good year and the county is actually expected to turn some funds back to the reserves from the current budget. The idea is Hammond's.

This despite the fact that Briggs and Shouse want to put a sales tax referendum to the voters, which is the craziest thing I've heard yet.

Barker's picture

bond issues

A referendum is not required for a bond issue.

Pam Strickland's picture

See that's why I need you

See that's why I need you around.

BassetFan's picture

This is yet another wild haired notion.

Kincannon recently sent out an email where she explained this 14%+ tax hike on Knox County citizens in the middle of a double dip recession was to fund 60 new jobs in the downtown AJ administrative building. So you guys are all giddy about growing a central office bureaucracy on the backs of hurting people in the middle of a recession? And you want to give kids an iPod when the teachers are still failing at teaching them to read and do simple math? In addition you do realize how quickly these iPods will be antiquated? How many of these said iPods will be sold off eh? This is the epitome of throwing money away and giving an institution more money as a reward for inferior results. I will certainly be part of the group who seeks retribution at the ballot booth for all the short sided politicians who voted for this increase just because it sounded good, not because it had true sound and wise merit. I will be encouraging the county government to de-fund the Chamber for participating in an aggressive campaign to raise our taxes so highly in an era of economic devastation.

Tacamo01's picture

Knoxville Focus & WATE Poll

This was taken from an KNS article from this morning:

More than 90 percent of those polled said they do not favor a sales tax increase, something Knox County Commission Chairman Mike Hammond at one point thought about asking fellow commissioners to put on a ballot.

"Just under 65 percent of those polled said they'd vote for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney over President Barack Obama. About 86 percent of registered voters said they wanted to continue electing the county law director and fee officers.

And more than 71 percent said they would rather elect than appoint the county's school superintendent.

In another poll, 74 percent of participants said they do not support a tax increase of 35 cents per $100 of assessed value to pay for the school system's proposal to better education.
Knox County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre said Friday in a statement he wasn't familiar with the poll on the school spending plan, the poll's methodology or results, "so it would be extremely difficult to offer insight, but I continue to believe that the School Board's budget represents an important investment in our children and in the future of our community."

And WATE:
WATE-TV on Thursday released the results of a similar poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling, in which 64 percent of the respondents said they opposed a 31-cent property tax increase. Knoxville Chamber representatives, however, say the poll was imbalanced in the age groups questioned.

I wonder if this will have an impact on tomorrow's vote?

CathyMcCaughan's picture

poor demographics

Telephone opinion polls reach people who still have landlines and are at home during the day.

Pam Strickland's picture

I have problems w/ the

I have problems w/ the methodology of the WATE poll. It used landlines that called homes in the afternoon. No cellphone calls and no evening calls. Also, I have a copy of the questions and they are not nneutral in the way they are structured. Mentions McIntyre upfront, not the school board or the commission, so that's going to color the way the questions are answered.

As for the focus, I don't think they are doing real polls. At least based on the information that I had earlier. One of the things that I did in J-school a 100 years ago is take a course in polling. I haven't seen a proper one yet on this matter.

JCB's picture

"I have problems w/ the

"I have problems w/ the methodology of the WATE poll."

Calls into the Commission office are running more against the school board budget than the WATE poll. No word on whether they use land lines or cell phones.

Pam Strickland's picture

JCB (not verified), the point

JCB (not verified), the point was that many people no longer have landlines so they were not included in the survey, so the poll was skewed.

TCB's picture

The Knox Focus polls use the

The Knox Focus polls use the Knox Election Commission database. I get polls on my cell phone. The Focus polls show even more people against McIntyre. What do you say about that?

CathyMcCaughan's picture

Our household has five cell

Our household has five cell phone numbers, four registered voters and no landline. We do not get opinion poll phone calls.

TCB's picture

What number is on your

What number is on your election form? A normal poll is only 500 hundred people. Doesn't mean you will get a call.

Pam Strickland's picture

My celll phone is my only

My celll phone is my only phone. I've never been polled since 2004.

Tacamo01's picture

Demographics

Good article, could be good or bad for Romney. Like it said, younger generation with cell phones, younger the voter, the less likely they are actually going to the polls. I do not know when during the day the polls were taken and can not assume that it was during the day. I get Harris polls about once a month and they are at night on my landline.

Sean.F's picture

For every good thing there is

For every good thing there is a bad but pouring into education is the best thing that people can do. Our students deserve the very best but unfortunately, not everyone feels that way.

 

Education by using a website in the United States seems to be the first place to suffer budget cuts and as sad as it is a lot of people really don't seem to care.

Tacamo01's picture

And then there is more bad

I for one want the best for our kids and believe that this area will benefit if the students scores dramatically improve. You will not get it IMO with the current superintendent no matter how much money is thrown into the district. A leader and his staff has to have the respect of their employees and also a vision for progress. This central office still has that 2008 5 star "excellence for all children" brief on their web site but continues to look outside of Knox county for answers. Not sure now who put that brief together because it has not worked after 3 solid years. The political machine in this county just does not want to admit that they made a mistake in the hiring of the super. So, remember this next year when the scores stay the same and the excuses stay the same-we need more money.

Barker's picture

answers outside knox county

What's wrong with looking for answers outside Knox County? Other school systems both inside and outside Tennessee have valuable lessons for us. High-performing school systems can be an invaluable resource, especially when combined with local talent. For example, the Cincinnati model for community schools has improved community and parental involvement, which has helped lead to improved student performance. A UT professor and a local philanthropist have shown it can work here, too, in the Pond Gap pilot program. Expanding that concept system-wide requires an investment from the community as a whole. It's one of the best aspects of the plan.

Listen, I understand people have problems with portions of this plan. Some are adamantly opposed to merit pay (though they have a year before implementation to persuade to school board -- which has the authority to decide, regardless of McIntyre's position -- that across-the-board raises are a better idea). Some are skeptical about the efficacy of the technology component. Others just plain don't like McIntyre and would oppose him no matter what. But in the end, the school system is underfunded compared to high-performing school systems and this plan has much to recommend it: More money for teacher support, for intervention for struggling students, for renovation of crumbling schools, for generating more community and parental involvement. Taken as a whole, it's a positive for Knox County students.

Stick's picture

Yes and No

There is, indeed, much to be learned from looking outside of Knox county!

However, it is really a stretch to call this a positive. For one, the APEX system will only accelerate the loss of experienced educators from Knox county. That's huge. From Singapore to Ontario, one big lesson from successful systems around the world is ensuring teacher buy-in and retaining institutional knowledge. The other positives you've mentioned, with the exception of badly needed repairs, are rather low on the priority list. The two major funding proposals are, in turn, destructive [APEX] and useless [technology]. If this passes, we will not be able to go to tax payers again for years to come.

And, again, basic sociology and political economy teaches us that once an institutional framework is created it takes on a life of its own. The idea that we should fund it first and work to reform it later down the road is politically naive. We need to get this right the first time.

teachersupporter's picture

A Whopper Request for $35 Million?

Trying to sell taxes to the public during bad times is not a wise move, even if it is for a proven good performer. KCS needs to show first that they can deliver. No more smoke and mirrors please.

KCS actually spends more than $10K per student when one counts in building and interest expenses, and legal expenses for the school system. Even $8.5K/student is much higher than the top 20 education systems worldwide above ours, and they are in a higher cost of living area, so their cost should be higher if KCS is not wasting money. We have slipped to 52nd position internationally as a nation last year, and TN is in the bottom of the US pack.

According to the TN Report Card and the ACT report, today 86% of the 9th graders will leave high school NOT READY TO BE TRAINED FOR A JOB! Do you have any idea how devastating that will be to these kids' life and our economy?

YOU WANT TO THROW GOOD MONEY AFTER BAD? Give a poor performer more money. DO YOU WANT TO INVEST IN SOMETHING THAT PRODUCES 86% "REJECTS" BY THE CUSTOMER (EMPLOYERS)? I wonder if anyone is that crazy. Especially in bad times.

After its history, I would think that KCS would need to demonstrate that they can develop students who can achieve much better ACT scores. The ACT shows what students have learned from grade one to twelve. In my opinion, that will not happen until we see KCS with an ACT score goal commitment, like 21.0 (the last one being 20.4 on a declining trend), and a real operating plan with measurable academic performance goals in every school to provide some resemblance of management control over achieving the ACT goal for the district.

Under these conditions, without a sound goal and operating plan, the question of high tech tools would have virtually no impact on performance.

I heard from a KCS insider that they ALREADY PURCHASED THE IPADS! It is in their warehouse.

It is absolutely amazing how these people, who have done a very poor job, can pick the worst timing, a huge increase request, and demonstrate incompetence without building credibility first, by pushing so hard something that has no chance of being approved by people who have any sense.

We need some big people changes in the school system here in Knox County as well as statewide.

Pam Strickland's picture

It irritates me to know end

It irritates me to know end when people who use improper grammar also use unfounded rumor in an argument. Show me the iPads in the warehouse. If you can't then don't mention them. That is a lie and you know it.

teachersupporter's picture

Pam, it's your warehouse and

Pam, it's your warehouse and someone from Central told me.

We need much better results from KCS for the amount of money we spend now. KCS treats teachers very badly, I hope that you can concentrate on fixing that. Good morale is vital to maximize performance. It makes a big difference in output.

Pam Strickland's picture

Name 'em. If you don't want

Name 'em. If you don't want to do it publicly then send it to me privately. I'm at the commission meeting right now. I'll go ask McIntyre. my email is stricklandkns@me.com

Pam Strickland's picture

Ok, I just asked Dr. McIntyre

Ok, I just asked Dr. McIntyre if the iPads had already been purchased, explaining to him the claim posted here. He laughed. Told me no, as I expected.

First, they have to put together the infrastructure. Then when the time comes pick the best electronic learning device.

If your source in the central office has them in a warehouse, make them produce the damned paperwork so I can have a scoop and catch the superintendent in a lie. Otherwise shut-up.

teachersupporter's picture

Good move PS. McIntyre

Good move PS. McIntyre always tells the truth.

JCB's picture

"Good move PS. McIntyre

"Good move PS. McIntyre always tells the truth."

What? McIntyre said the BOE spent $420 million dollars last year. The BOE finance director said the amount was $454 million. McIntyre has a PHd in Public Policy. He knew $420 was low. But he said it anyway.

So always is not the right term.

Pam Strickland's picture

I'm tired of y'all making

I'm tired of y'all making things up out of whole cloth. Show me the invoices. Show me the damned iPads. Otherwise, shut up.

Treehouse's picture

Teachers yes, polls and calls no

I don't appreciate the News Sentinel announcing most people don't want a property tax increase. Although I think we CAN afford a property tax increase, the paper could have followed up with, "Do you want to improve public schools?"

I also don't like the County Mayor calling my phone and telling me to call my Commissioner and only talking about a tax increase and not mentioning it is for the schools. I feel sorry for the commissioners he bullies by giving out their phone number so the public can harass them.

Yes, teacher morale is an important thing and McIntyre could certainly do better in that respect. But smaller class sizes, help with technology, and a pay raise would certainly help morale. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. This proposal is not perfect but as noted, it's now or never.

Tacamo01's picture

Answers outside

"for generating more community and parental involvement". This is very much needed, however, my comment was intended to show that the central office has to have a clue first. The UT project is great for the 45 participants at Ponds Gap, however the boondoggle to Cincinnati? This was an urban school system with a 86% dropout rate, 340+ buses and 45+ special use vehicles. The students also use this transportation system to get to school. We are not a mass transit urban county.
While anyone would not disagree that if a students basic quality of life issues are not met, they will not do well in school. IMO a much needed increase in the school budget is needed for community and parental involvement, but get the solutions that best fit the county.
The central office should have realized that literacy coaches were needed two years ago but are just now in the pilot stages.
Getting answers from outside the county can be good if and only if they can be applied to the demographic area.

I am not a strong believer that the schools should be going so far as doing laundry after school.

R. Neal's picture

You've mentioned this

You've mentioned this Cincinnati schools 86% dropout rate a couple of times. Can you cite a source for that? Cincinnati reports they have an 81% to 83% graduation rate and they are working to get it to 90%. That's not great but it's basically the opposite of your claim. And I'm not sure I see how it's relevant to Knox Co. either way.

Tacamo01's picture

Source cited

(link...)

If you google Cincinnati school system with reference to this $1 Billion dollar project you will see additional information.
It is relevant in that this trip was taken, to Cincinnati, an Urban community project, $1B dollar project, and we have 400K+ people spread out over how many miles? With what kind of transportation system?
The Ponds Gap project with the "45" participating students had already started.

Tacamo01's picture

Two cells

We only have 2 cells, two voters, one land line, but I have an I-Pad with Skype. I must not be on the Knox Election Commission database.

Tacamo01's picture

I've heard it all now

Support our schools sends 500 apples to the commission today and each of the 500 "Apples for Education" was labeled with stickers that read: "The Community with the Best Schools Wins." I wish I would have thought of something like that:
"The Community with the Best Superintendant Wins."
I wonder if the apples were a reference to I-Pads. I thought Tablets would be better.

Tacamo01's picture

Budget 2011-2012 and spending

Right now it is in the hands of the commissioners, however, I would like to know where I can find the budget that represents the $454M spent. The only budget listed on web sites is $393M and change.

(link...)

How was this extra money spent? There is a big difference in the two numbers.

Somebody's picture

R. Larry Smith's genius

R. Larry Smith's genius Solutions to All Our Problems: Dr. McIntyre and School Board: take your requested budget increase and cut your budget by that amount. Then you can do everything you wanted to do under the new proposal, but it won't cost anybody anything!

Proof that we need better math education.

rikki's picture

Smith also said that fully

Smith also said that fully funding the schools would increase the county's debt by $35 million, as if not a word had ever been whispered about increasing taxes to cover the expense. But on a day that featured plenty of reasonable arguments for and against, Smith got competition from a guy who ended a rant with some harmonica playing and from Mike Edwards, of all people, who launched his appeal for funding the schools with an incomprehensible analogy about having a diseased spleen removed without anesthesia. And education is supposed to be his strong suit.

Pam Strickland's picture

You forgot about the tea

You forgot about the tea party guy who had 10 lemons for 11 commissioners.

Barker's picture

and

and who told them to make lemonade -- which I have to assume was his way of saying our kids are lemons and we should be satisfied with making lemonade. He also was from Anderson County.

CathyMcCaughan's picture

Are the students lemons or

Are the students lemons or diseased spleens? Either way, there was a lot of cheering about students getting a nineteenth century education and becoming lawn mowers or else Communism will take over. Also, Reagan. Yay!

Pam Strickland's picture

+1, as the techies say

+1, as the techies say

Tacamo01's picture

Dr Mc's Improvement

"The $7 million will be used to fund the reading program. It will also go to hiring new teachers and some community schools initiatives and other educational programs."

I will give it a year, then mark my words, the scores will not go up by much if any. Unless you put spelling back into the curriculum they will not be able to understand the words they are reading. But we do not test that so it is not important. Statistics show that for the last 15 years, since spelling was taken off the states testing, most all states have had a dramatic drop in reading tests. Educators are teaching to the tests and have gotten away from the basics.
Also, parental and community involvement needs slot of attention. The vast amount of information from the school district to the parent lies on the Internet. The central office seems to be ignorant to the fact that there "are" people who do not have home Internet.
No high school-22%
High school-52%
Some college-73%
College or higher-85%
This is "home access" vs what I've seen posted-"access to Internet" (as in work,coffee shops)
Next year I hope the discussions around this time will be who is going to be the next superintendent.

Expect more think-tank type proposals

Barker's picture

of course

Of course scores won't increase dramatically in one year. Educational improvement is an incremental thing, which is why the school system proposed a five-year plan in the first place. Take the K-3 reading program. The kids in 3rd grade next year likely won't improve their scores much (though they should improve some). The efficacy of the program won't be truly known until the kids in kindergarten get to 3rd grade. That's four years.

Tacamo01's picture

Another 4 years

In 2008 the 5 star plan "excellence for all children" was pitched to the community. Four years later we have another increase in funding but have to wait another 4 years to see if it is working for the students? Someone had better start coming up with proven ways to help the kids learn in Knox County or the blame will be on the ones that insist the current system works if only more $$. Sad thing is that the Kids are the ones missing out because of right wing vs left wing see who wins mentality. If someone could just get the central office to start listening to the teachers, getting their input, it could IMO make a difference. Just an idea!

Pam Strickland's picture

I'm w/ Barker on this one.

I'm w/ Barker on this one. You can't expect dramatic improvements in one year. Education is incremental. Whoever thought that something could be determined in a single year clearly wasn't an educator.

I think what's bothering me the most about this is that everybody has talked about this and was seemingly in agreement, but then let one person torpedo it -- Burchett.

CathyMcCaughan's picture

Get off my lawn club

I'm pretty sure that Commissioners who think spankings are all the system needs had as much to do with this as the Mayor.

Tacamo01's picture

I'm w/Barker

And the point being is that 4 years from now you will see very little change. This comment was taken from your KNS site this morning: Thank you, Rebecca Fogerty! You have just stated what every teacher in Knox County already knows is the real problem. As a teacher, I can tell you, you are right on. If the parents don't care, their children won't care.

Now that you've identified the real problem, what should we do about it? I'm up for anything at this point, to help my classroom babies succeed!

See my previous post on here. 1. There seems to be those who will blindly follow the central office advice that things will get better. 2. There are those who would like to see some real meaningful change take place before it is too late.

The National Association of School Boards released their survey of the nations board members: 88% of the nations school board members reported that they rely on the schools superintendent for guidance and budget advice. Unless our members are in the 12% I would say they are in the first category.

I am also up for suggestions. They teach you in your first few Engineering classes that you have to identify and analyze the problem before you can attempt a solution.

fischbobber's picture

Horseshit

Thank you, Rebecca Fogerty! You have just stated what every teacher in Knox County already knows is the real problem. As a teacher, I can tell you, you are right on. If the parents don't care, their children won't care.

This, quite frankly, is the new mantra of the lazy and ignorant. One of the few constants about children is that they all need attention, love and a niche. If you are only going to concede a spot in our school system to those of us who literally do nothing but parent, then you are not only shooting down most children, you're shooting down ours as well.

If that was true and people were actually practicing this philosophy, this tax rate would have passed unanimously since the involved parents I see at these school functions tend to support the budget increase across the board. It's not because we're blindly following the central office, it's because we recognize just how badly our school system is underfunded to begin with. We look at Oak Ridge, and Blount County, and Maryville and ask ourselves "Why can't we do that when test scores come. Or when State Championships are brought home." We don't have the will to succeed in this town and until taxpayers get up off their lazy asses and say "I'd rather produce entrepreneurs than petty thieves with my investment", then this will continue.

The teachers that come to me with this "parents are the key crap" tend to be the ones my child finds less than inspiring. They tend to be looking for excuses rather than ways to better themselves and my child.

Barker's picture

involvement

Yes, parental involvement is a big factor in academic achievement. Everyone knows that. At least the school system plan tries to address that through the community schools initiative that you have criticized in previous posts. So, if the community schools initiative is so poor, what do YOU propose doing about it aside from merely criticizing?

Tacamo01's picture

Involvement

Well I can see you are part of the group in #1.LOL Here it is again:
1. "Get the support and advice/recommendation from the teachers that are with the students 5 days a week." I have always stated that the UT professor is right in his theory that unless the kids basic quality of life needs are met, success in school will be poor. What I objected to was comparing Knoxville county with success in Cincinnati. Urban vs suburban. IMO we do not have the resources to provide the type of needs he describes that are required. The battle for increased funding of $35M generated more vocal responses since I moved here in 2006. The cost to implement the community initiative to all area needing schools would be astronomical compared to the $35M and IMO will not pass.
2. I would like to see a committee formed to analyze and determine how to get more parental involvement. The central office relies on the Internet, but there has to be a better way. This could be done with central office guidance. I am not opposed to finding solutions with their assistance but also understand that running a school system of 56,000+ students takes up most of their time.
3. Look at ways to get spelling back into the classroom even if it is not tested. There is sufficient information about this on the internet and a book written on the subject.
4. The same committee could also put together a budget request brief for the commissioners and citizens to review. This needs to happen prior to December 2012 so that alternatives and such can be
worked out. If you emphasize spelling in the classroom, accountability and parental involvement IMO there would not be such a negative response from the community WRT a tax increase.

Bottom line, there are several ways to go about this and IMO the central office rushed this budget without providing sufficient data to support a tax increase.

Just a few suggestions.

4. We

rikki's picture

how do you spell 'wrong'?

The community schools initiative passed last night, and here you are today predicting it won't pass.

fischbobber's picture

When the solution offered

is "Let's get input and form a committee" the proponent of that solution is not likely to look at facts and hard data. The proponents of those sorts of solutions tend to be more concerned with stretching "Let's get input and form a committee" into a six hundred word essay.

One presumes this is to demonstrate the value of their own real education.

CathyMcCaughan's picture

sigh

The UT professor is Bob Kronick and he has been doing what you say Knoxville can't do for YEARS.

Stick's picture

*

Bob is a dynamo and a gift to this community. The work he is doing should be dramatically expanded to target student populations that are struggling at school and home. Sadly, we can't escape simplistic allusions to markets and FAILURE™.

fischbobber's picture

Reduced teaching standards and lower pay scales

Speaking of which (solutions that is) if the central office is so dead set on these evaluations and bringing in folks who are not formally trained in education, why not raise the pay of certified teachers and put the less than qualified in a teachers assistant position? This will provide extra one on one time for students, allow mentoring opportunities for retirees/part-timers, as well as the teachers and provide a cost effective means of dealing with kids that are struggling to keep up.

The key to teaching is putting the right people in place to interact with and inspire kids. This whole systemic beat down and starting a war between parents and teachers is extremely counterproductive.

Stick's picture

The key to teaching is

The key to teaching is putting the right people in place to interact with and inspire kids. This whole systemic beat down and starting a war between parents and teachers is extremely counterproductive.

+1

Tacamo01's picture

Horseshit

Here is a link:http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080527123852.htm and if you just google "parental involvement and student achievement" there are more positive articles WRT this subject than you have time to read today. There are good teachers and bad just like parents, sorry if your children have some of the bad. At parent meetings I would expect the ones that show up to support the increase. The parents that do not show up and do not get involved with their kids education is the problem but if you do not see it that way so be it.

Is a six hundred word essay the result of committees formed in East TN or is that in general?

My last tour in the Navy was as the CNO's enlisted training officer for Command, Control, Communications and Computers. $175M budget and just a 3 star Admiral, contractor and myself. Committees were formed to get solutions so that the Navy could advance into the 21st century. From those working groups we were able the get sailors trained as system administrators, network administrators and network security. This came about in one years time and it was only 12 years ago. The other services followed our example after a brief to the JCS. I am not sure what you are familiar
with WRT committees but call it a working group if you prefer. I'm just offering my opinion on what I have seen work to solve major problems and possible solutions as asked.

Having read through my posts I never said Bob' work was not effective and beneficial. If you could find a way to convince a majority to favor a tax increase it would do wonders for the needy schools. I do not see doing laundry, 3 meals a day and providing the transportation something that will pass. Knoxville county is not Cincinnati. Someone had better come up with a different angle for the brief if we are to get more $$ for the community initiative in the form of a tax increase.

And yes before it is said, I'm not an expert on public education. I do have 4 degrees, 3 are in Engineering not education, which is why there are so many typos. I have been doing way too much research on this since looking at the last two years school budget, proposed plan and different views. If I've offended anyone with my posts critical of the way things are going I apologize now.

I wish all luck with the many perceived problems WRT the school system. That's it, perceived! Maybe
there isn't one and time will tell. My Grandson enters Kindergarden next year and you can bet papa will be at those meetings after school. Better arrive early because from what I've been told it is hard to find a seat at this school.

alan swartz's picture

Tacamo01

Welcome Tacamo01. You are an interesting new voice here. You have to take FishBob with a grain of salt. He has gotten a little ranty lately. Will probably get worse as time goes on. He wants to be like his KnoxViews mentors when he grows up. It gets a little authoritarian here. Some opinions are more valued than others. Ignore the static.

fischbobber's picture

Whoa!

This from the man with the imaginary numbers that just materialize from undocumented internet pieces.

alan swartz's picture

Bobber, McIntyre understated

Bobber, McIntyre understated the school budget by first $70 million dollars and then later $34 million dollars. That is a fact. I can't remember, is this the day you like McIntyre, or was that yesterday?

My source was the school budget, Chris Caldwell, and the KNS. There is nothing imaginary expect your fervent imagination.

fischbobber's picture

Link the numbers to a report

If it's as obvious as you claim it is it should be easy for you to cross-reference. But it isn't and the reason it isn't is because you know you're lying and your too big a puss to back up your mouth.

(link...)

Here are your numbers. I did your work. It's up to you to document your charges. It's not up to me to follow all you guys in aluminum foil hats screaming that your new, super top secret accounting method shows something different.

If you're too stupid to find something as basic as a public accounting of funds, it doesn't make those of us who don't believe you stupid, it makes the guy you see in the mirror stupid.

Bring your homework if you wish to participate in the class discussion Alan.

JCB's picture

"It's up to you to document

"It's up to you to document your charges."

What are you talking about? It was in the paper the BOE spent $454 million. That is around $70 million more than $384. Alan was right from the beginning. What's the misunderstanding?

Budget 2011-12

2011-12 Fiscal year
$384,670,000

This is common knowledge. That ain't 'super top secret accounting method'. It's called math.

R. Neal's picture

How much are they paying you

How much are they paying you guys to troll our obscure little liberal website? If we take up a collection can we pay you the same to go away?

JCB's picture

"How much are they paying you

"How much are they paying you guys to troll our obscure little liberal website?"

Are you saying McIntyre didn't play budget games? You could just say that. When one of the regulars uncovers something you praise it. I thought that was the point here? Citizen journalism. That is what citizen media is. But on this you call trolls and black helicopters. Is there some hazing ritual that has to be passed?

R. Neal's picture

Is there some hazing ritual

Is there some hazing ritual that has to be passed?

Yes. You have not qualified. We're waiting on your enthusiastic review of Das Kapital.

JCB's picture

I tried to read that in

I tried to read that in college. I got as far as I did with Atlas Shrugged. Like reading molasses.

So what about the question. McIntyre did a bad thing. Do you acknowledge it?

R. Neal's picture

I proposed a market solution.

I proposed a market solution. You want to negotiate. OK, then, what's your price? Oh, wait, is this a collective bargaining deal on behalf of Mike/Alan, you, et. al.? Should we call in the NRLB? Are you represented? If so, you get extra points toward initiation to the elite inner circle here.

fischbobber's picture

I hate to be nitpicky but

From your article

"To evaluate school resources, the researchers looked at per-pupil expenditures on instructional salaries and a set of five school characteristics: student-teacher ratio, lowest salary received by a teacher, percentage of teachers with a master’s or a doctoral degree, percentage of the student body not in the school’s subsidized lunch program, and percentage of nonminority students in the student body."

What they have done in the study you cited is attempt to isolate parent involvement in the absence of known factors to student achievement. In other words, if the factors affecting educational outcome that are lacking in our system get fixed,then parental involvement becomes a measurable factor. You are putting the cart before the horse. You have your argument backwards.

Tacamo01's picture

Nitpickey

"if you just google "parental involvement and student achievement" there are more positive articles WRT this subject than you have time to read today" once again:

If you type "parental involvement and student achievement" in the search box you will find plenty of papers, articles and more that support. What I gave you was a link to the first article. There are Universities that have studies out that discuss the subject.

WRT Alan's statement. He is correct. The actual budget as reported on all KCS web sites and BOE is around $393M. From what I've been told the mayor has the figures for the $453M. That total spending is not on the public web site. If you have connections, I would love to do a line by line comparison of the total expenditure for 2011-2012 year. I've gone through the "General Fund". A think a cross check between the two would keep me busy for the summer. I hate yard work!

Barker's picture

Alan is stupid.

Alan is stupid.

Tacamo01's picture

How much they paying you

For a liberal website, there sure seems like a lot of folks that just have there mind made up without even considering relevant information whether right or wrong. Kind of reminds me of the Good Ole Boy network people told me about when I moved here. My way or the highway mentality. There seems to be a different liberal attitude on the East Coast. They try to look at all sides of things and consider all facts before running there mouth. However, you know what they say about "diarrhea of the mouth" (The ones that are always right, never taking a minute to look at things from a different perspective and always, always having to have the last word) - the analogy is "shit for brains".

"How much are they paying you guys to troll our obscure little liberal website? If we take up a collection can we pay you the same to go away?"

Donate it to the Knox Chamber and the Haslam's favorite charity.

Obscure website but not liberal at all.

Tacamo01's picture

Forgot to add

I won't troll on this website Ryan. Talk about shit for brains LOL Getting old

R. Neal's picture

OK, then.

OK, then.

Yours truly,
Ryan

Tacamo01's picture

Could not help it promise last post FYI

The differences between liberals and conservatives run wide and deep, and a new study suggests they may even be reflected in the very structure of their brains.

In the study, led by Ryota Kanai of the University College London, people who identified themselves as liberals generally had a larger anterior cingulate cortex — a comma-shaped region near the front of the brain that is involved in decision-making. By contrast, those who identified as conservatives had larger amygdalas — almond-shaped structures that are linked with emotional learning and the processing of fear. (More on TIME.com: In Politics, It’s Survival of the Fittest, Literally)

These structural differences, the authors suggest, support previous reports of differences in personality: liberals tend to be better at managing conflicting information, while conservatives are though to be better at recognizing threats, researchers said. “Previously, some psychological traits were known to be predictive of an individual’s political orientation,” said Kanai in a press release. “Our study now links such personality traits with specific brain structure.”

Perhaps most important, liberals consistently score higher on a personality measure called “openness to experience,” one of the “Big Five” personality traits, which are easily assessed through standard questionnaires. That means liberals tend to be the kind of people who want to try new things, including new music, books, restaurants and vacation spots — and new ideas.

“Open people everywhere tend to have more liberal values,” said psychologist Robert McCrae, who conducted voluminous studies on personality while at the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health.

Conservatives, in contrast, tend to be less open — less exploratory, less in need of change — and more “conscientious,” a trait that indicates they appreciate order and structure in their lives. This gels nicely with the standard definition of conservatism as resistance to change — in the famous words of William F. Buckley Jr., a desire to stand “athwart history, yelling ‘Stop!’ ”

JCB's picture

I can sum this up very

I can sum this up very quickly. Think about the people you know. The ones that are slow to react, i.e. have poor situational awareness, those are the liberals. Their default condition is trust. "Don't worry Marge, he will yield and let us in". Ask anyone who ever served in the military or fire or police. Even better, ask those Doctors and Nurses in the ER. Those whose default condition is to be cautious, they are conservatives. This is hardwired from birth.

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