Dec 8 2013
07:50 pm

I am tiring of the recurring comments from media and elected officials of late that tensions between Knox County’s teachers and Superintendent Jim McIntyre are rooted in "a communication problem.”

No, tensions between teachers and the superintendent are rooted in great part by a violation of teachers’ rights under the U. S. Constitution.

Only two states nationally employ this unconstitutional teacher evaluation formula that leads to teachers being evaluated on the basis of test scores among students they never taught (and sometimes on the basis of test scores among students attending another school altogether). Those states are Arizona and Tennessee.

A third state, Florida, formerly employed this formula.

In April of 2013, the Florida Education Association (FEA) filed suit in Federal court over the formula, naming as defendants in the suit the Florida Commissioner of Education, Florida’s State Board of Education, and the three local school boards representing the districts employing the suit's seven teacher plaintiffs.

The lawsuit alleges that this method of assessment infringes on teachers’ due process and equal protection rights under the U. S. Constitution because the Florida law then allowed evaluations to be used in personnel decisions including raises and terminations.

Read the FEA complaint here.

Read Tampa-area news coverage of the filing here.

And read Governing magazine’s prediction that the suit is likely to be duplicated in Arizona and Tennessee here.

In June of 2013 Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law a new teacher evaluation formula mandating that the state’s teacher evaluations be tied to the test scores of students they actually teach.

But since Florida’s new law did not address the widespread damage done to teachers’ careers during the two years in which the old formula was employed, it was too little, too late. The FEA suit continues.

Read Tampa-area news coverage of these developments here.

Now, the teacher-plaintiffs in this lawsuit were able to aver an injury in that their teaching careers were harmed by such arbitrary and capricious law.

But so, too, might any Florida school district have been able to aver the same injury, given that all districts were forced by the law to arbitrarily and capriciously award or deny teacher pay raises and to arbitrarily and capriciously retain or terminate teachers.

Too bad they didn’t assert that injury before somebody else did.

Meanwhile, north of the peninsula, the riot to have finally arisen among Knox County’s teachers is not indicative of any “communication problem” between them and Superintendent Jim McIntyre.

The riot is rooted in no small part to the exact same unconstitutional state law as Florida recently disavowed, which in its first year following implementation caused 55% of teachers statewide--a majority--to be subject to arbitrary and capricious evaluations.

Further, here in Tennessee these same teachers are also subject to an unconstitutional State Board of Education policy that may also strip them of the teaching license necessary to teach in any school, anywhere.

To add insult to these injuries, the Knox County Board of Education has even sent its superintendent to Washington, DC to promote this lonely and unconstitutional evaluation policy.

Hope springs eternal, but it sure does look like it’s their conscious choice to be sued, rather than to sue.

A Momma Bear's picture


If teachers can't have the job security of tenure and contracts, McIntyre certainly shouldn't either. He should be held accountable, and should fear for his own job, just like teachers and principals do.

Perhaps a few thousand "conference of concern" letters mailed to the school board from teachers and parents would get their attention???

Average Guy's picture

.33% is better than a 1,000


.33% of YouTube videos reach a million hits.

Ethan Young's video is at nearly two million hits and is liked by 99% of its viewers that rated.*

Most videos have very few views because of lack of interest. Not the case with Young's message.

This is where traditional media bending to the will of local power brokers does the BOE no favors. I'm afraid what they're "hearing" doesn't jive with the public's mood.

(*for perspective, the Beatles "Let it Be" has 1.2 million hits and 98% likes.)

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Sent this same post in the form of a letter to all eleven of our Knox County Commissioners earlier tonight, BTW.

Some of their recent quotes to media left me wondering if they were just saying little on this subject, or if possibly they really don't know what some of teachers' root concerns are?

In either event, they deserve to understand the school system's vulnerability to being sued.

Lucianna Sanson's picture

Sue or Be Sued

Excellent article Tamara. Thank you for putting the truth out there. Keep up the good work. TN BATs- thanks you.

Knoxoasis's picture

What did the federal judge

What did the federal judge rule regarding the constitutionality of the Florida policy?

Tamara Shepherd's picture


We're trying, Lucianna. Consider joining KnoxViews (especially so that I may send you private messages)?

Knoxoasis, the FEA suit is still open, so far as I know. TEA prez Gera Summerford was in Knoxville a couple of weeks back and said they're "watching it."

Observer's picture

Mark my words. They will be

Mark my words. They will be sued. They will lose.

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