In light of recent allegations that WBIR spiked a story about Knox Co. Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre, this email exchange (obtained through an open records request forwarded by an anonymous source) is interesting:

From: Mike Edwards [medwards@knoxvillechamber.com]
Sent: Sunday, September 29,2013 6:40 PM
To: JAMES MCINTYRE
Subject: Sandra Clark

Read her column posted tonight. She has been a friendly opinion maker. Now she could shift. Think if someone should talk to her.

---

Reply: Sep 29, 2013, at 8:14 PM, "JAMES MCINTYRE"

I'm going to talk with her... a few school board members are as well.

I got your voice-mail message while I was on a crazy one-day trip to Albuquerque with the Claytons on Friday (to see the children's science museum there). Sorry I couldn't follow up. Perhaps you'll have some time to talk tomorrow?

Thanks, Jim

The Sandra Clark column in question (which we cannot find in the Halls Shopper archives) quoted teachers critical of the new evaluations and testing methods, if I recall correctly.

More to come, possibly, about who is really running Knox Co. Schools.

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Bbeanster's picture

Holy Shiite! Clark's probably

Holy Shiite!
Clark's probably done gone to bed.
CANNOT WAIT for her to see this!

And, Mike, if you haven't returned my call before you read this, please do. It's totally about a different subject. Honest.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

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Nothing confusing about that, except maybe how one makes a one-day trip to Albuquerque from Knoxville?

Teacher while he jets about's picture

hmmm...

...at taxpayer expense, I'm sure. Doesn't he have more pressing issues to deal with?? Did he fly on the PILOT Express??? Would be interesting to know, wouldn't it??

Bbeanster's picture

You know, I can see why they

You know, I can see why they were concerned.

Clark started this ball rolling when she gave teachers a voice -- about the time of this email, come to think of it. She invited them to come talk about their issues and promised to protect their identity. A bunch of them took her up on her offer, and, following Lauren Hopson's lead, later got up the courage to speak at the meetings.

And for those who don't know, Clark has been covering education longer and better than anybody in this county. She was a strong supporter of McIntyre for the longest time, and went to the mattresses for his humongous budget request. So losing her as an ally was a big, big deal. Even bigger than they knew.

Bbeanster's picture

Jim Clayton has his own

Jim Clayton has his own plane. Pilots it himself, or used to.

mrvlknxor's picture

Son Kevin is also a pilot

I was in school with Kevin Clayton 25 years ago and he also flew the Clayton plane or planes(?) back then.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

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More to come, possibly, about who is really running Knox Co. Schools.

But seriously, you do know this is yesterday's news, right?

From KNS, January 2009:

Taking the lead in development of a strategic plan that will spell out details of McIntyre’s vision is Jennifer Evans, the chamber’s director of workforce development & education. Her work follows the September release of a comprehensive report culminating the year-long Central Office Review for Results and Equity undertaken by Annenberg Institute for School reform, the school system and the Great Schools Partnership.

And Edwards and Evans are now writing the next Five-Year Strategic Plan.

R. Neal's picture

Evans recently left the

Evans recently left the Chamber:

(link...)

But, yeah.

More to come, maybe...

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

Well, she'll be replaced.

Anyway, expect the Knoxville 2020 plan to look a lot like the Nashville 2020 plan and the Salt Lake City 2020 plan and...

jcgrim's picture

The 2020 plan is for obedient workers

From Nashville 2020

Recognizing that today's students are tomorrow's workforce, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce has made improvement of public education its number-one priority.

Leave aside that the purpose of education should be more than about job training and check out the job projections from the bureau of labor statistics.
(link...)

Our business overlords want to make sure the next generation of service workers are well prepared for $10.00/hr jobs. What other reason is there to applaud this test & punish regime? Are we trying to break-in the next generation like horses?

AnonymousOne's picture

I'd like to see the emails

I'd like to see the emails 'tween Edwards and McIntyre and SOS from th last big school budget battle.

You know, SOS used the KCS teachers' emails to promote attendance in favor of McIntyre's budget, then switched gears, asking for "teacher input" when some started to complain about the misuse of the email system to promote a political issue.

If Burchett or Jones had done it, many of the same ones with SOS and supporters of McIntyre would've raised hell. But SOS and their friends in Central Office just got away with it.

AnonymousOne's picture

And I was wrong about

And I was wrong about focusing solely on firing McIntyre.

Fire both McIntyre and Edwards and find a new school board. That would be a good start.

asummers's picture

the fight

Am I wrong, or shouldn't the fight be aimed toward Nashville? Isn't the Knox County School System doing what is directed because our STATE has adopted this method? Dr. McIntyre is our local head of education, and we should be putting pressure on him to effect change in our state's education policies. Doesn't Bill Haslam and his education commissioner Kevin Huffman hear from every school system's administrator? What it comes down to is that there are a LOT of federal dollars coming to our state for adopting the new standards. Isn't that true? So, that would tell me one thing...no changes will happen if it means loosing that money.

AnonymousOne's picture

"Doesn't Bill Haslam and his

"Doesn't Bill Haslam and his education commissioner Kevin Huffman hear from every school system's administrator?"

Haha. I shouldn't laugh so hard this early in the morning.

Haven't you heard? Haslam and his staff don't solicit administrators' opinions. They don't care how their policies work... or don't work in the field.

And if the administrators offer their true opinions and they counter the governor's opinion, why they're just being "disrespectful."

Sigh's picture

McIntyre represents Haslam's

McIntyre represents Haslam's interests in Knoxville, which appear to consist mainly of burnishing his conservative bona fides by doing a little union-busting and making sure Wisconsin doesn't outdo us in the race to destroy public education, or at least open it up for plunder by private companies. I really wonder whether it was Ingram or Edwards that got to Jeff Lee at WBIR.

McIntyre has eagerly supported Haslam and Huffman's policies in Nashville and in Washington.

And the Race to the Top Money was really not that much once you divide $500 million among 96 counties over a few years. Especially when you consider how that leaves county taxpayers on the hook for continued funding of projects that don't have a great deal of proven value. Remember that request for $35 million a couple years ago? It'll be back, especially given that all the annual testing now has to be done on computer. So we'll be shelling out for a lot more iPads soon. Stay tuned.

Veteran Teacher's picture

One-to-one technology

Computers and associated monies were requested in the name of one-to-one instruction. THIS is a SHAM! These computers and monies are going to be used so that the students can take a test online - then analyze the data - then put a number on a teacher - and then make decisions about the teacher and school. Good score = good teacher - Bad score = BAD teacher. All for a 70 minute test on one day for an entire year's worth of work. Research has proven that Value Added Scores are not good reflections of a teacher's value or impact of a child's educational experience - but it is a number, and we are betting the farm on it. External influences have been shown to account for close to 90% of a child's successes or failures, and a teacher and school have less than a 10% effect on a child's performance on these "MAGIC" tests.
One needs to trace the money - and one could find what is influencing our educational policies today. I would challenge Knox County Schools to publish how much money is being spent on testing.

Observer's picture

"Am I wrong, or shouldn't the

"Am I wrong, or shouldn't the fight be aimed toward Nashville? Isn't the Knox County School System doing what is directed because our STATE has adopted this method?"

Great question. In Knox County Elementary Schools McIntyre is doing much more than the state, federal, or even Common Core standards require. What people don't know is that Knox County has become a Broad Foundation mad scientist laboratory with McIntyre playing the role of Dr. Frankenstein. The role of the monster is played by our kids.

Yes master.

Rachel's picture

Some advise - don't bring up

Some advice - don't bring up this point. Most folks on this thread will just cover their ears and sing la-la-la to avoid hearing it.

Stick's picture

I'm not sure that's fair.

Most folks who follow ed reform know that the only way to reverse a national, well-funded, largely bi-partisan movement is to fight back at the local level. Polling data has been clear for a long time. Folks generally like the schools their children attend. It's when you ask them about national trends that opinion changes, no doubt a product of 30 years of media messaging [see: A Nation at Risk].

The national Democratic party will not move on this until they believe that it could cost them elections. In this respect, I think that Tamara is quite correct in pointing toward hot-beds of dissent around the nation as a model to follow.

glostik's picture

Local (McIntyre)

Local (McIntyre) decisions...
1. High-stakes tests in K-2 that require kindergarten kids to bubble in answers and questions are read to them once and can't be repeated. Oh, and they last 3 days I'm told. Parents are being told they can't opt out of these tests.
2. Changing TEAM Evaluation to all unannounced observations rather than the actual model which is equal number of each. (Announced and unannounced)
3. Supporting Haslam/Huffman teacher pay cut rather than supporting teachers.
4. Sending "Conference of Concern" letters to teachers telling them they are ineffective and may be fired if they don't do everything admin requests. I have seen many of these letters and the scores that got them there. These teachers scored 3 or 4 on their observations and professionalism... But as they don't teach a "tested" class, they have to choose a random sub-group for the other 40-50% of their score. This subgroup of kids they never taught didn't do well and their score drops to low level. THEY NEVER TAUGHT THE KIDS THEY WERE EVALUATED ON. Their observations said they were doing everything that was expected of them plus! But KCS calls them ineffective because they guessed wrong?

involvedteacher's picture

supt./haslam/huffman

Dr. McIntyre refused to sign the letter that 63 school supts signed earlier this fall that went to Huffman and Haslam, being critical of the dept. of education.
He REFUSED okay, I know this personally. He also went around the meeting where it was written, lobbying the supts. from East Tennessee to NOT sign it.

metulj's picture

Can someone please tell me is

Can someone please tell me is this Edwards guy is qualified in anyway to run:

1. A School System
2. Any business organization
3. A petting zoo

Sigh's picture

I have grave doubts that the

I have grave doubts that the AJ Building could competently manage a Dairy Queen.

metulj's picture

I usually bristle at the

I usually bristle at the analogy that somehow fast food restaurants are easy work, but 99% of MBAs couldn't run a Dairy Queen. You can't show a Powerpoint and use buzzwords in the middle of a lunch rush. You actually have to be able to maintain an inventory, production schedule, payroll, and do projections of future business, often on the fly. They don't teach that at business school. They teach "leadership," networking, and how to lie on a resume.

Sigh's picture

You're absolutely right. I

You're absolutely right. I wasn't trying to insult Dairy Queen managers, just assert that 15 floors of bureaucracy on Gay Street don't contain a single lick of sense.

metulj's picture

Having seen them in action

Having seen them in action viz my daughters' attempt to go to Beaumont, the first thing they did was call around to see "who we were."

jcgrim's picture

How to lie on a resume

ha. How to lie and call it marketing.

asummers's picture

teacher's union

I guess the states teacher's union is in bed with the Common Core standards, and probably promoted it to be adopted in Tennessee. So, there will be no help for the teachers from the union.

Sigh's picture

I think they hoped to be a

I think they hoped to be a participant in the process, which is why they went along with the Race to the Top application. They saw which way the wind was blowing, with a Republican governor, state senate, and house. Guess they didn't figure they'd be steamrolled as completely as they were.

They're trying to help teachers, but it's mostly a defensive battle. What teachers and public ed really need is for enough of the public to get on board and stand up for our kids.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

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I think they hoped to be a participant in the process, which is why they went along with the Race to the Top application.

Actually, Sigh, TEA didn't get to read that grant application.

Neither did all the state's school board chairs who signed on nor all the state's legislators who passed our First to the Top legislation paving the way for a successful app.

EVERYBODY was in the dark--except Bill Gates and the U. S. Chamber of Commerce.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

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Some of my fellow Dems may beat me about the head and shoulders, but...with the exception of his stance on private school vouchers, I see no discernible difference between the public ed policy of Democrats Obama/Duncan and Republicans Haslam/Huffman.

I think any local candidate trying to frame this debate in partisan terms will paint himself/herself into a corner soon enough.

The debate should be focused on the proper role of business in public ed and anyone who can't do that in the course of his campaign isn't likely able to do it if elected, either.

That would be a big loss for public ed in Knox County.

lonnie's picture

I have cheered most of the

I have cheered most of the actions our President has taken over the past 5 years. But one area where he has been a huge disappointment is in the field of education.

There are many Democrat5s that are dead wrong on education.Ted Kennedy was one of the most effective Senators over the past half century. He helped shape many good pieces of legislation. But he also supported NCLB.

School Board races are non-partisan and should stay that way. All local races should be non-partisan for that matter.

Min's picture

And that would be a bad guess.

NEA supports Common Core, but the TEA board of directors has not taken a position yet. If you are a teacher and interested in what TEA does, then I suggest you join and use your input to inform the Association's decision on the issue. Otherwise, I'd have to assume that you're just interested in complaining, rather than being part of the solution.

TNchickadee's picture

The great thing about this

The great thing about this uprising is that it encompasses all teachers. The board used to have to only deal with KCEA or about 50 something percent of Knox County teachers. When the legislature stripped the bargaining rights away, they unwittingly left themselves open to having to deal with ALL of us.

Treehouse's picture

Outrageous

Thanks for this information Randy. I find it incredible that a school superintendent and president of the Chamber would "talk to" a journalist in such a manner that clearly implies a threat. I find them to be simple bullies.

It's great that this information about our local news sources are being outed as pawns of the big players in town. Go Sandra! Go Mike! Let the sun shine.

asummers's picture

how many teachers

How many teachers are in the Knox County School system? With that in mind, why aren't there thousands instead of hundreds at the board of education meetings wearing red?

AnonymousOne's picture

1. Most are busy with

1. Most are busy with preparing for the classroom and teaching.

2. They fear retaliation.

Min's picture

Because teachers, as a rule...

...are not good advocates for themselves and don't vote in their own interests and in the interests of public education. So, if they wont even vote their interests in the privacy of the voting booth, you can imagine how reluctant they are to take a public stand. It's one of the reasons that TEA has struggled recently. The Association is only as strong as the membership, and the membership prefers to complain in private, rather than act in public.

That's why what is happening in Knox County is so important. The hope is that it will inspire other teachers.

jcgrim's picture

Organizing teachers will take tons of leg work

Knox Co schools doesn't have a history of teachers and the public staging large organized resistance against the school board or superintendent. To constrain McIntyre's rein of terror, it will take educating and organizing parents and the public about their school privatization schemes. Persistent leg work. Teachers are afraid. They are being tracked and monitored.

Our teachers can't count on the power worshiping press or school board, who obsequiously bow to McIntyre's schemes.

AnonymousOne's picture

While I partly agree with

While I partly agree with you, the teachers and parents just could go and vote out all the BOE butt-kissers like with what happened with the Black Wednesday crowd. People have already dumped the KNS and have had it with the Haslams.

AnonymousOne's picture

"it will take educating and

"it will take educating and organizing parents and the public about their school privatization schemes. Persistent leg work. Teachers are afraid. They are being tracked and monitored."

A few candidates may or may not get votes on their stance on privatizing education, but what will motivate voters is the tracking and monitoring of teachers and making kindergartners cry because they have to take standarized tests at such a young age.

That's what will motivate the voters, not some "educating" them about the evils of the Broad Foundation and Bill Gates and Haslam.

These are local races, keep the issues local.

TNchickadee's picture

Board meetings are held on

Board meetings are held on Wednesdays at 5:00. Most of us are still working at school or headed to church.

Average Guy's picture

Although it may put Clark in a precarious position,

I for one would love to hear how the “talk” went.

I’m sure she’s not the only one, and it could be insightful for the teachers and school board candidates.

Mike Cohen's picture

Talking to the media

I have no idea if Sandra Clark was "called on the carper" or not. She may have been, but you can hardly conclude that from this e-mail. The fact is if a columnist has been supportive and you see a change, making calls to that person isn't evil, it's intelligent. If, in fact, they berated her it would a bad move, but calling her is not.

The McIntyre trip sounds like part of the MUSE effort, so far privately funded, to bring a good children's museum to the city. Schools are generally among the biggest users of such a facility museum and involving the schools seems like a good idea to me. I'm sure he was digitally connected all day.

I understand the problems with teachers. The fabulous young woman who will soon be my daughter-in-law teaches 4th grade. Talk to her about it a lot. The many, many speakers at Board meetings have been intelligent, well spoken and made points well. I think they are making an impact.

But calling Sandra when she changes direction isn't bad on it's face. She can weigh in on how it was handled. If handled well, it was just the smart thing to do.

Feel free to jump me now as being a boot-licking toadie of the establishment.

Average Guy's picture

Absent the WBIR about face,

you’re right.

But that absence doesn’t exist.

People in this community have a right to know who’s controlling their school system.

Bbeanster's picture

Feel free to jump me now as

Feel free to jump me now as being a boot-licking toadie of the establishment.

Been there, done that, Mike. It doesn't need repeating.

Mike Cohen's picture

Betty

So what part of what I said is incorrect, Betty?

metulj's picture

There are poor analyses that

There are poor analyses that are correct. There are great analyses that are incorrect. There are poor analyses that are incorrect. There are great analyses that are correct.

Her great analysis of your toadyism is correct. Your poor analysis of why this matters is correct.

In the end, McIntyre looks like he is a poor analyst who is often incorrect, and licks Mike Edwards' boots.

I think I have that correct.

Bbeanster's picture

So what part of what I said

So what part of what I said is incorrect, Betty?

Sorry to be tardy in replying. I'm being forced to work this morning.

My response was in response to the predictability of your response.

Rachel's picture

I find it incredible that a

I find it incredible that a school superintendent and president of the Chamber would "talk to" a journalist in such a manner that clearly implies a threat. I find them to be simple bullies.

Then Mike said: The fact is if a columnist has been supportive and you see a change, making calls to that person isn't evil, it's intelligent. If, in fact, they berated her it would a bad move, but calling her is not.

That's exactly what I thought when I read the OP. If someone has been your supporter and you see or hear that they are wavering, the smart thing to do is talk to them about it. I've done that more than a few times myself, on political or civic issues. I didn't see anything in those emails that implied "threating" or "bullies."

I think you guys are so hyped up about things (and with some good reason - as I've said repeatedly before, there are some super troubling things going on with so-called education reform) that you are jumping to conclusions and assuming that every single action by the folks who don't like is automatically evil.

As for threatening Sandra, that's a hoot. Sandra can take care of herself.

And yeah, call me a toadie as well.

Stick's picture

Well, I agree with you that

Well, I agree with you that some of the folks suffering from 'Fire McIntyre' tourettes tend to get a little too fired up before all of the evidence has been fleshed out. However, with regard to 'how things work around here', I do find it quite informative to catch a glimpse into the informal networks operating behind the scenes. Scripted platitudes offered for public consumption don't interest me. What power brokers say to each other does.

If Knox county teachers can keep the wind at their backs I have a feeling that we'll be learning a lot more about the power politics at work in KCS.

sclark426's picture

Clark weighs in

Hey, gang. I prefer to keep private conversations private, but I'm pretty transparent in what I write. I met with Jim McIntyre at his request prior to the October board meeting and said essentially what's below -- this is from a "heads up" email I wrote to board members Carson and Kincannon on 9/22/13:

Indya and Karen -- I like you both and really appreciate the sacrifices you've made and are making to serve on the school board. After considerable reflection, I've concluded that it's time for Jim McIntyre to go.

My tipping point came with the demotion of Ken Dunlap (Powell High principal for 8 years). I stuck through the demotions of Jon Miller and Joel Helton at Central. I stuck through the witch hunt at Shannondale that got Arthur Spencer and Lisa Loftin. I talked directly with Jim about Miller, Spencer, Loftin and Dunlap.

His explanations are not satisfactory. I realize he's limited in what he can say about personnel, but I believe each school community should have input and buy-in on the chief administrative officer at its school. School staff should be treated with respect and not as interchangeable pieces of some cosmic puzzle.

Obviously, I continue to support you and funding for KCS. I support technology in every school, 1:1 ASAP.
I even support remediation for and removal of teachers who can't or won't pick up the pace.

But we're way too invested in testing ... Jim sees a community unhappy with KCS and expecting a remarkable surge in test scores. That's just not true. Most folks are happy with the system, support their local school and want their kids safe, respected and challenged. Don't mean to rant, but want you to know where I'm coming from. -- s.

Rachel's picture

Sandra,My appreciation for a

Sandra,

My appreciation for a rational and informative post. We need more of that around here.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

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The fact is if a columnist has been supportive and you see a change, making calls to that person isn't evil, it's intelligent. If, in fact, they berated her it would a bad move, but calling her is not.

I think you're missing the point, Mike, namely that McIntyre didn't phone Clark of his own volition.

McIntyre was advised to phone Clark by the local Chamber head.

Which is why Randy's title reads "How things work around here."

The pivotal question is, why should the local Chamber head be trying to manipulate our local media?

And since the disappearance of that WBIR story this week, another question has arisen as to just how often he's been trying to?

(Thanks for sharing, Sandra.)

reform4's picture

From where I stand, as a parent and taxpayer.

.. I think a superintendent of schools should be, I dunno, RUNNING THE SCHOOLS.

Call me crazy.

He should be spending less time on PR, less time meeting with the power brokers, etc.

Look at the contract for Parthenon. If you read their scope of work, it describes what McIntyre is being PAID to do, but isn't doing. We wouldn't have to pay Parthanon $300K to do it (and with a pre-arranged result) if McIntyre would do his job.

But, having hardly ever taught in a classroom, it's clear he's over his head. He's a great bullshitter, but we didn't pay millions to hire a bullshitter. Bullshitters are a dime a dozen in this town.

If the KCS board renews his contract Monday, they all need to be swept out, even if they get replaced by a pack of Tea Partiers. Yes, I'm willing to burn the house down- they can't do any more damage than McIntyre is already doing. At least they favor more local control, even if they are totally insane.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

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Jim McIntyre farmed out his very first strategic plan to the Chamber, he farmed out the creation of a teacher evaluation model to Battelle for Kids, and right now he's farming out a study of our "resource allocation" to Parthenon and Education Resource Strategies.

We're paying the man a quarter million annually to serve as a purchasing agent--and he's buying a buncha crap we don't even want.

Mike Cohen's picture

Who called who

Edwards calling McIntyre to give him some logical advice, especially given that he is not particularly media savvy, is hardly evil.

It hardly sounds like marching orders. More like advice.

metulj's picture

Why on earth would such a

Why on earth would such a fantastically unqualified person give advice or be asked for advice? What's his expertise again?

Why would the Chamber of Commerce be concerned about school policy matters? Better educated workers? I won't hold my hand on my ass on that one.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

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I said it was "advice."

I did not say it was "evil."

I did imply it was peculiar "advice," and it is.

You need to ask yourself why the local Chamber head might be vested in the way media perceive the local school system head.

I am now implying that the local Chamber head shouldn't be vested at all.

Bbeanster's picture

Maybe it was so late at night

Maybe it was so late at night that I was punchy, but the part of this that I found funny was Mac's advising Edwards that he'd already sicced school board members on Clark. I thought they were supposed to be his bosses, not the other way around.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

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...but the part of this that I found funny was Mac's advising Edwards that he'd already sicced school board members on Clark. I thought they were supposed to be his bosses, not the other way around.

I found that peculiar, too, Betty.

Mike, did you miss that, as well?

Mike Cohen's picture

School Board members

No, Tamara, I didn't miss it.

Traditionally the Super and the Board have a working relationship. If orders are given, it is from the Board to the Superintendent, not the other way around.

But there is plenty of collaboration.

Any my core issue here is that I have seen nothing that makes me think anyone "sicced" anybody on anybody else. They were asked to call. That's not the same thing. And I suspect is they had called and tried to rip into Sandra she would have torn them apart in print. It's the old "never pick a fight with anybody who buys ink by the barrel" adage.

It seems like there is an attitude that PR/communications is evil. Good lord, it is the single most effective way you have of communicating with great numbers of people...not just parents, but all those who help fund education. And because schools are so important and because virtually everyone has gone to school, everyone has feelings about it. Often strong feelings.

Tamara, if you get elected (and I salute you for running) you will find the media is extremely important. And I would guess you would cultivate relationships with media people who cover schools. It's good business and common sense.

If the teachers and their supporters like Gloria Johnson had not worked the media, do you think they have been as effective...have the schools as reeling as they are right now? I sincerely doubt it.

Both sides use the media. Both sides need the media. It's how you reach people. And dealing with them is important. Relationships with them build trust and credibility.

Someone as important as Sandra Clark, who has newspapers that go to virtually every home in Knox County every week, does a directional shift you would be a moron to not address is quickly and with all available resources.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

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Meh. I don't disagree with anything you say here, Mike, although I think McIntyre would have looked better in that e-mail exchange if he'd just said he'd handle it himself rather than instructing his bosses to.

But you're still dodging my question as to why the local chamber head might care to get involved in preserving the image of the school system super. That one is the fundamental one. Just gives the clear appearance that Edwards thinks he's in charge of the school system. And by now, he likely is.

Smoake Jones's picture

Your local head of the Chamber of Commerce is the problem

An expert on everything, proficient and capable of nothing.

He can't recruit or relocate business or industry to Knoxville or Knox County, so he points the finger and the blame at everything else from the terraine to the quality of our public education in Knox County. Doesn't seem to hold the recruitment of business and industry to Memphis or Nashville and does anyone actually think the Hamilton County School System is why Volkwagen and Amazon have laid claim to the northern part of Chattanooga and Hamilton County.

In my opinion, the problem is the man with the mouth full of rocks who continues to deflect attention, accountability, and concern over his failed tenure and inept ability at the Super Chamber to attract and relocate business, industry, jobs, and things necessary to build a local economy and what he has accomplished to justify $230,000 a year, plus perks, plus benefits, 401(k) for this baffonery from Chamber members and the public coffers is well beyond me.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

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Am I wrong, or shouldn't the fight be aimed toward Nashville? Isn't the Knox County School System doing what is directed because our STATE has adopted this method? Dr. McIntyre is our local head of education, and we should be putting pressure on him to effect change in our state's education policies. Doesn't Bill Haslam and his education commissioner Kevin Huffman hear from every school system's administrator? What it comes down to is that there are a LOT of federal dollars coming to our state for adopting the new standards. Isn't that true? So, that would tell me one thing...no changes will happen if it means loosing that money.

Alan, I meant to comment on this this morning...

Understand that the SAT-10 assessment being delivered to kindergarten students isn't mandated in any law.

Neither is that Tripod Survey students are being asked to complete on their teachers' performance.

Also, I've now spoken to two attorneys who believe there's plenty of wiggle room in the state law to adopt a teacher evaluation model not reliant on TVAAS--if the school system leadership were willing to support the change.

Furthermore, states all over the nation are now beginning to walk away from Race to the Top monies and develop alternative revenue streams. See Ohio and New York, in particular.

In short, board members' hand wringing is being overplayed.

There are several reasons for it, not the least of which is some of them don't read anything, anywhere.

I've spoken to one just today who has never subscribed to KNS, can't read it online, and hadn't heard of KnoxViews.

My guess, then, is that this board member would be even more unlikely to read any media outside Knoxville, either.

I'm more and more inclined to think they're people who get all their information from anonymous e-mails, forwarded umpteen times. Or from Jim and Mike.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

I do think it starts with local dissent, Rachel.

When three of us met with the KNS Editorial Board about APEX in May 2012, nada.

When 300 teachers issued a press release indicating there'd be a pow-wow at the school board meeting, media coverage.

Recall that 63 (initially) supers signing that letter to Huffman generated media coverage, too.

Next, teachers and supers and school boards have to unite against first state officials, then federal officials.

I can tell you that I am already in communication with folks in Nashville and Memphis (and will soon attend a Nashville meeting of statewide attendees).

I thought you were a child of that era of "civil disobedience" (not that I'm planning any of that)?" That you went to Kent State, even?

It has seemed to me that you don't recall how to organize to effect change and I haven't understood that?

Rachel's picture

This is my very last post on

This is my very last post on local education matters. I agree with many (many, many, many) of your criticisms about what's going on in public education. But you guys are on a crusade, and I find crusades dangerous.

Tamara, I'm not arguing that local action is bad. Far from it. I'm just hoping people realize the complexity of the situation, and that local action isn't enough.

It's not an either or situtation. It's not a simple problem with a simple fix. It's a complex problem, which demands an understanding of all facets, and a bunch of different approaches - and an understanding that people can not agree 100% with your position or your rhetoric, but still not be the enemy.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

I'm truly not trying to argue. I just don't know what you think constitutes a proper response to the problems.

If by "local action isn't enough," you mean that ultimately legislation or litigation is required, I agree.

This is just the way it seems to me we could get it rolling. I'm certainly open to ideas that involve less rolling uphill.

Mike Cohen's picture

Rachel has nailed it, as she

Rachel has nailed it, as she so often does.

I too have major concerns and think the system needs to make some adjustments. ASAP.

I also think there are things we are doing very well. I haven't heard teachers complain about principals. I think the McIntyre and the system have done a good job of setting up an Leadership Academy and developing a pool of candidates to become assistant and full principals. Test scores have been moving up as well.

There has clearly been a teacher/central office disconnect that needs to be fixed. And it can't be fixed quickly enough. The system must be viewed as teacher supportive/friendly/dependent.

Most on here may hate Mike Edwards but the fact of the matter is he is passionate about education reform and improvement and serves on the state school board. That's a pretty valid reason for him to care. So is running the Chamber. Bad schools makes attracting new industry a lot harder. Workforce development is critical.

If you see the world as all "The Haslam's trying to run everything" you're probably never going to be happy. Not with Jim. Not with someone else at schools. Or at the Chamber.

I'm a Chamber member. I don't run across many other members who don't trust and support Mike Edwards. And it is a member drive organization. It gets some tax money for specific contracted purposes, but the majority of its operations come from local business who pay to belong.

That is very secondary. The real issue is that we have a serious problem that needs fixing at the schools. And like it or not, communications is at the heart of it. There's poor communication between the schools and the teachers who deliver the services and impact our kids. We need to fix that.

TNchickadee's picture

The leadership academy has

The leadership academy has not necessarily produced bad principals, but it has produced a stream of administrators that wouldn't challenge McIntyre.

fischbobber's picture

You missed it.

That is very secondary. The real issue is that we have a serious problem that needs fixing at the schools. And like it or not, communications is at the heart of it. There's poor communication between the schools and the teachers who deliver the services and impact our kids. We need to fix that.

This is a policy issue. There is nothing wrong with the communication procedure. As an active parent of a high school student, I can assure you that the messaging from all sides of this issue is just fine. Everyone is getting their point across. It's just that no one is looking out for the students. How does one justify basing grades on poorly written tests with flawed results? One can't even teach to the test if the test is nonsense.

The problem, in a nutshell, is that grades are arbitrary. There is a justification of standardization but it is an illusion. Individual talents are to be repressed instead of celebrated, and if you don't tow the line, "See Ya" college money. We, the parents, don't have an advocate currently, and frankly, I don't see one stepping up. "Meet the new boss, he's the same as the old boss" and all that.

But we get the message. Trust me, it's not a communication problem.

Bbeanster's picture

The real issue is that we

The real issue is that we have a serious problem that needs fixing at the schools. And like it or not, communications is at the heart of it.

When you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Stick's picture

Yep... Especially when you

Yep... Especially when you know nothing about learning, human development, teaching, curricula, or schools.

MBA's and "business leaders" will be the death of us all.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

Well, let's team up, Mike. You focus on that "teacher/central office disconnect" and I'll spend some time and energy on...other stuff.

(Gotta run.)

Mike Cohen's picture

The difference

One of the differences between a lot of us is this: some of us see value to what people from a different perspective say and bring to the discussion.

Others think there is no legitimate viewpoint other than theirs and reject and belittle anybody who expresses a different view.

Stick's picture

That's all well and good...

That's all well and good... But, if you follow ed policy, it is clear that it is not educators who are driving this train. It is the business lobby, and their track record is (let us say) less than stellar.

I'm all for a big tent, but I'm not really interested in the same old crap coming from the same old groups. Study up on the topic and offer something new, and then I'm be "all ears."

Mike Cohen's picture

Response

I see your point and it has some validity.

At the same time educators drove the train for a long, long time. And under their watch a lot of things happened, good and bad.

Tenure was almost a rite of passage, not something that had to be earned by something more than staying on the job for a fe years. Test scores slipped.

So others stepped in because the industry wasn't addressing the problems.

There's a middle ground between the two sides: valid input and ides on both sides.

I hope that's where we can end up.

Sigh's picture

Um, I don't think it's

Um, I don't think it's because the industry wasn't addressing the problems; society changed fundamentally. Childhood poverty is the single biggest factor in test scores, and more and more kids have been slipping into poverty. So you can join in on piling blame on teachers, but that old dog won't hunt. The research is already in.

And everybody does have an opinion, but not everybody has an informed opinion. I'd rather hear suggestions from actual educators than conservative billionaires like Milken, Broad, Gates, and the Kochs.

Stick's picture

This is what I'm talking about...

At the same time educators drove the train for a long, long time. And under their watch a lot of things happened, good and bad.

When exactly was this golden age? I've studied the history of American education, and I can't really think of a time when educators [especially teachers] had power.

Tenure was almost a rite of passage, not something that had to be earned by something more than staying on the job for a fe years. Test scores slipped.

First, when exactly did test scores slip? For example, this week brought us the new PISA results. Our overall scores were average. If you go back 50 years to the very first international comparisons we scored, well, about average. Scores haven't slipped. Second, the standardized test scores you love so much were never designed to do things you want them to do. Third, you raise the specter of tenure. In a right to be a slave wage state such as Tennessee, tenure means very little. All that it means is that the teacher must be given due process. After watching a science teacher I worked with be targeted by a local church for teaching evolution and be dropped like a hot potato just before she went up, I'm kind of a big supporter of tenure.

This is my point: All you [and others from the business community] bring to the table is the conventional narrative of the last 30 years, one that doesn't reflect any existing reality. I apologize for my initial hostility, but I'm more than a little tired of the business community helicoptering into something they know nothing about to tell us how to run our schools.

Min's picture

I think I know that case.

In addition to evolution, the church also had a problem with the teacher teaching plate tectonics, because the science contradicts a biblical timeline of the earth's creation. BTW both of those subjects are part of the state mandated curriculum, so the teacher was required to teach those subjects. Nevertheless, the principal at the school was so gutless that he recommended the teacher, who was nontenured, for nonrenewal of her contract to appease the parents. And since she was not tenured and therefore not entitled to a due process hearing on a nonrenewal of contract, she lost her job and had no other legal recourse.

tntchr's picture

Tenure?

Before you go around proclaiming that tenure had something to do with the problems, you might want to actually find out what tenure for public school teachers in Tennessee involves. Due process. That is all. Due process. It guaranteed that, when terminated, we would be given a reason, and an opportunity to respond. Anyone who claims that it is or was more than that, is simply wrong. In reality, it was, and still is, VERY easy to dismiss a teacher.

metulj's picture

It's not about understanding,

It's not about understanding, being informed, or performing a public service by being accurate. It's about another moment in which the preferred narrative is foisted upon the public.

Mike Cohen's picture

Tamara

I am hardly trying to minimize this.

What I am saying is that I believe if the Central Office and teachers had a better ongoing, regular, professional relationship there would be better policy by the administration and more support for policies at the school level.

It hardly solves everything, but it is a hugely important ingredient.

redmondkr's picture

"So others stepped in because

"So others stepped in because the industry wasn't addressing the problems."

Somehow I never thought of public education as an industry.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

What I am saying is that I believe if the Central Office and teachers had a better ongoing, regular, professional relationship there would be better policy by the administration and more support for policies at the school level.

I'm sure you're right if another administrator served as superintendent.

What I'm trying to focus attention on, though, is that the office is currently held by someone pretty keen on the ideology of Bill Gates, the U. S. Chamber of Commerce, the Broad Foundation, and the Aspen Institute.

His resume tells the story: He has actively sought involvement with and indoctrination from these groups his entire career.

It simply isn't realistic to expect that that relationship we both know needs to exist might exist with this administrator in office.

It's a very small gesture in the bigger scheme of things, but we can and should remove him and work to hold the line to preserve just a few public schools on just this little patch of dirt. I'm in.

Average Guy's picture

Bad or good - it's who he is

His resume tells the story: He has actively sought involvement with and indoctrination from these groups his entire career.

Exactly. McIntyre has signed on to an idea. The people behind the idea have set up the criteria and have proved they can show improved numbers based on their criteria.

The problem? Teachers, students and parents don’t like vast aspects of the idea. To the point many are finding them insufferable and quitting.

I like the idea of a flipped class (Kahn model). Others here have shot holes in it, but I’d like to see it tried in one, maybe two schools.

Here’s the deal, if it proved intolerable to teachers and parents, and students didn’t show marked improvement, I’d equally be for bailing on the idea.

McIntyre is the local figurehead for a national idea. For local teachers, parents and students – it hasn’t worked.

Is McIntyre a bad guy for staying true to his own course? Of course not.

But if his course is found to be bad for the local community, then there’s only solution to the immediate problem. And because people today may not have the answers for the long term problem, it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be addressing the immediate one.

xmd's picture

I just got a robo survey

I just got a robo survey asking if I knew the superintendent had only 1 year of teaching experience. Push 1 for yes and 2 for no. The only options. Just happens I just finished reading Screams from the Porch. I did not know that before. So I punched 1.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

Did the survey indicate for whom the info was being collected, or where results would be published? In the Focus, possibly?

Really, the effort sounds more like a campaign just to get that informational tidbit out to the public?!

AnonymousOne's picture

The spinners are spinning so

The spinners are spinning so fast and so hard they're getting dizzy and tripping foolishly around.

Cohen blames some vague "system" miscommunication for the troubles. And then praises one of the greatest schools (the Leadership Academy) where the loyal lieutenants are made to be political officers ala the USSR.

Rachel says it's some bigger, national, philosophical issue in what has to be the greatest attempt at re-direction and distraction away from her favored annointed ones.

If you only could realize how empty and desperate all your arguments sound.

Mike Cohen's picture

Schools

What i said it is part of the problem, and I believe that. It's hardly the whole issue.

metulj's picture

It is a propagandist's job to

It is a propagandist's job to make that the whole issue. I think Mike is a great guy and he is one of the best at that task.

GSD's picture

On a related note -

Ahead of the called Monday School Board meeting (which will likely again feature a packed house or red-shirted teachers) in which McIntyre will again ask that his contract be extended an additional year, KCS principals are being rallied and urged - VIA THE KCS EMAIL SYSTEM - to attend the meeting IN SUPPORT of Dr. McIntyre. The email additionally states that a previously-scheduled meeting was being cancelled so as to allow principals who would have otherwise had a prior commitment to attend.

I have seen this email and can attest to it's existence with 100% certainty.

I think it's disgusting.

Can you imagine if one of the lowly TEACHERS (oops - Human Capital, sorry Dr. McIntyre) had used the KCS email system to urge OTHER teachers to attend in PROTEST of the contract extension? I think we all can imagine what would happen.

AnonymousOne's picture

KCS Central Office has no

KCS Central Office has no fear. Their abuses of the county email system in support of the budget and now McIntyre are beyond the pale. Principals are there to run the schools, not politically support Central Office.

Somebody needs to file ethics charges and get the people who are doing this terminated for misuse of govt. resources.

Enough is enough.

Observer's picture

We have tried to infiltrate KnoxViews

Got this in my Inbox a few minutes ago. It is ridiculously funny.

(link...)

Damn hippie blog indeed.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

Posted elsewhere on KV already and at KNS, too.

That's "damn obscure liberal hippie blog."

Observer's picture

a lot of inside baseball

Did you see it was from SOSS? I don't know what is funnier, Yellow Car Jim on Twitter, on that YouTube.

Justsayin's picture

Speaking of the poll...are we

Speaking of the poll...are we not all now discussing the very same issues that the Focus has editorialized for the past 3 years?

Tamara Shepherd's picture

*

External influences have been shown to account for close to 90% of a child's successes or failures, and a teacher and school have less than a 10% effect on a child's performance on these "MAGIC" tests.

I think reasonable people understand the degree to which a good teacher may or may not compensate for deficiencies of environment or nature.

Still, I agree that we need to be disseminating more tracts of a Marguerite Roza antithesis.

MurrayK's picture

a teacher or a politician

McIntyre wasn't hired as a teacher, or even to represent teachers. he was hired as a politician and he's performed just the way he was supposed to.

In this town everything from education to safety is compromised by politics, greed and corruption. I support the teachers.. the 50% of them that do their jobs. The other half got their jobs because they know somebody in schools administration. There are excellent qualified teachers with 20 years experience, the best scores on their students tests working at Wendy's or substituting for 67.50 a day while the very school that McIntyre sends his children to hires teachers with no experience who took six years to earn an education degree. did I mention that teacher's two parents are principals? How about a teacher 24 years old with no experience, poor academic performance in college, several DUIs and possession of marijuana on her record since she graduated? No problem, she was hired because her father is politically connected in Knox County

Knox County could improve the quality of education without spending a dime just by instituting nepotism policy and hiring the most qualified rather than the most connected teachers.

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