The website. A preview.

New KNS website is going online today, and a few questions have come out in the community about it, so here’s some nuts and bolts about the thing before it launches (about 4:30 p.m. – 6 p.m. or so)

Why?

- It makes it an easier to navigate site for tablet and mobile devices. Which would do away with the look that you’re used to seeing, and the navigation tabs as you know them, for the mobile and tablet folks.

Can I comment?

- Yup. Though it’ll still be limited to subscribers. But it is expanded. Commenting via mobile will be easier to do.

What’s it gonna look like?

- This:

website image

… much cleaner, getting away from the abundance of purple there, and it’ll be a slightly different look, based on what you’re using to view the thing.

Questions?

- Like we said in today’s paper, you can access an FAQ section on the site. Other comments can go to webmaster@knoxnews.com . And, the webmaster is a nice guy who is trying to do his job, so be nice.

In other web-related, new website news, the New Yorker is making its archives free for the summer, so go read up on some great journalism and storytelling from some moments that changed the course of modern human history.

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Before Commission today: A thwarted attempt to fire a teacher

norman

Tony Norman

A week or so ago we had this story about Tony Norman’s displeasure with the attempt by Knox County Schools to fire teacher Richard Suttle:

Particularly, he’s upset with Schools Superintendent Jim McIntyre.

“It’s a horrible display of policy in practice, of this administration and McIntyre in particular,” Norman said. He plans to discuss the matter in Commission’s July 21 work session.

Norman, a former teacher himself, wants Commission to know about the successful appeal of a teacher at Gibbs High School — which the school system evaluated as inefficient at his job. The appeal decision by a hearing officer, in favor of the teacher, included some criticism of the evaluation method used to rate educators in Knox County.

McIntyre’s administration failed in its appeal of the hearing officer’s ruling to reinstate teacher Richard S. Suttle.

Norman said teachers are tired of the system’s evaluation standards, adding those figures are not accurate in portraying the effectiveness of teachers.

“I know what the teachers are going through,” Norman said. “I meet with them regularly, and they’re stressed out.”

Ever since the red shirt revolt that began with last fall’s public commentary by teachers who spoke out against the eval methods used by the school system - among other changes handed down by the state – Norman has positioned himself as the voice of those upset teacher.

As these types of things often go, the loudest voices often tend to be the most zealous. But it’s hard to ignore a roomful of about a hundred teachers wearing red shirts in solidarity to show their displeasure with the changes in their workplaces. We covered that previously, as have other media in the community, since last fall.

Norman, today, is expected to bring up the case of Suttle before Knox County Commission. Meeting is at 2 p.m. What makes the Suttle case interesting, is the commentary in an opinon by the hearing official, which also speaks to the standards being used by schools for grading the people who grade our kids. The opinion includes some criticism of the system’s methods. Forgive any typos, as this was transcribed from a pdf, and I’m no stenographer (though sometimes it feels that way). Read more here:

“Much of the testimony and debate in the matter involves Mr. Suttle’s teacher evaluations. Therefore, a convenient starting place for this discussion is the evaluation model, known as the Tennessee Educator Acceleration Model, or its acronym TEAM. This mode is the annual evaluation process for teacher and school support staff including counselors and librarians. TEAM is the evaluation model that resulted from the 2010 First to the Top legislation. To say that the model and the process is controversial would be the grossest of understatements.”

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“In the Hearing Officer’s view, the TEAM evaluation model is a tool, not the holy grail. Since it involves subjective evaluations, it is subject to the frailties of human flesh. Beauty is oft in the eyes of the beholder, and so it is with effective teaching. Rating a teacher’s performance on a scale of one to five necessarily involves subjective judgements, and the results will vary form evaluator to evaluator. The case against Mr. Suttle highlights some of the shortcomings of any evaluative tool.

And if you want to check out the letter of recommendation to fire Suttle, it’s here. Speaking with our education reporter Lydia McCoy, she said that the decision by the school board to refuse the administrations appeal of the hearing officer’s decision was uncommon too.

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… in completely unrelated matters, I’m back from time off (with a bit of good news in the personal life deparment). While I catch up on life here in Knox Co, here’s a photo for you to enjoy from a hike last week:

Shot from the Mark Twain Weg, near Zermatt

Shot from the Mark Twain Weg, near Zermatt

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Hey, a reply on the forum about Kincannon’s 2nd District chair

Whodathunkit?

A small, but important, moment occured on the forum in which Knox County Commission Chairman Brad Anders posted this question: What to do about the opening after Indya Kincannon resigns from the Board of Education in August?

And there, right below, is a reply from Ed Shouse. Yep, a bona fide response. The first response from another commissioner in at least two years. Somewhere in the City County Building, I bet, some webmaster or designer or (someone like that) is smiling. Your work has been validated. Your sweat and toil wasn’t for naught.

A little more: The last time there was any kind of response on the forum between commissioners was in 2011, a conversation on leadership between Brad Anders and Jeff Ownby.

You know, what’s interesting is that there is no lack of commentary among commissioners in meetings, but there’s so little in an online forum. Perhaps it’s more challenging to write your off-the-top-o-the-head thoughts than it is to speak without a filter?

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Ownby on the mend after a pancreatic attack

ownby

Jeff Ownby

Commissioner Jeff Ownby has been in the hospital after a pancreatic attack, according to a county news release. This is retyped from a PDF, so please forgive any typos:

Commissioner Jeff Ownby suffered a pancreatic attack last Wednesday, July 2, 2014. He is being released from the UT Medical Center and credits the skill, hard work and wonderful care of the doctors and nursing staff at UT with his rapid recovery.

Commissioner Ownby looks forward to resuming his duties after a brief respite, but remains available to his constituents by phone at 441-6162.

‘I want to thank everyone for all the well-wishes and prayers, and hope to be back in the saddle in a few days.’

Good to hear that he’s out of the hospital. Hoping he has a speedy recovery.

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Gov’t honoring journalism awards

Generally I’m not one for commenting on local media and who did/didn’t do what or when.

And I appreciate it when my colleagues at other media outlets win awards for their reporting. Good journalism makes for good government, they say.

But I’m not sure I’ve ever seen this in the form of a resolution:

Consideration of a Resolution of the Commission of Knox County, Tennessee honoring local media for receiving journalism awards.
(Commissioner Broyles)

… think I said something unprintable upon reading that, but I kinda blacked out for a second. So the memory is a tad hazy.

Most anytime I have ever heard of elected officials recognizing local media it’s due to some kind of trouble said elected officials have caused for themselves that media have reported upon. But I’m not taking home any hardware this year, so it could just be sour grapes.*

*It’s not. Congrats to those out there who received recognition in regional and statewide competition.

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Commission: 2nd District school board forum is live

Here’s the link

Chairman Brad Anders lays out the options:

- Allow the seat to remain unfilled until the election is certified in November(usually 10 days after the election date)

- Have a selection process at the August meeting that would fill the seat until the November election is certified. We would have a meeting at 5 pm on the day of the work session to allow interested parties to come before commission.

More to come, surely.

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Briggs gets endorsement

Reprinted from a release:

Former Republican Senate Majority Leader, Dr. Bill Frist today endorsed Dr. Richard Briggs for state Senate in District 7.

“Dr. Briggs will bring a strong and unique skill set to the Senate. He’s a principled conservative with a solid ethical backbone,” said Senator Frist.

Read more here -briggs-fristreleaseREV

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