More commissioner comments on Knox Schools, teacher complaints

It’s the story of the moment – a long-simmering ire among some teachers who want to see some changes (in leadership, testing or just something) to be able to teach in the way they want and bring the pupils along in the way they know.

normanThere are as many opinions on this as there are individuals. Knox County Commissioner Tony Norman (a former teacher) called back yesterday, after our deadline, and left a message with some pretty strong comments against the administration’s reach:

They’re just not paying attention. They’ve been told things that are an anathema to education. teachers are sick of it. They’re tired of people who don’t know what they’re doing and don’t know what they’re talking about running their lives. Teachers love their kids and their academic areas and they’re tired of people who don’t get it making their decisions.

For those out there without a dictionary handy, Websters defines anathema as an “ecclesiastical ban, curse or excommunication … one that is detested.”

Strong stuff.

As mentioned elsewhere, communication appears to be the issue. Or listening, or however you frame it.

mckenzieFor each point, there’s a counterpoint. Commissioner Sam McKenzie is in favor of the testing.

Change is always different and difficult, but what I keep going back to is the status quo was not working. Our graduation rates, our student accountability, the measures of performances, ACT scores, no one could say they were happy with them.

He, too, was also seeing the need for more conversation among teachers and administration.

“There are some gains that need to happen,” he said. “It needs to be acknowledged that we can always get better.”

Charmian Brad Anders saw a more middle-of-the-pack approach:

I think there are improvements in the product, but I think there is still a lot of room for improvement in regard to education. … and just the feelings of the front-line teachers, if I were evaluating, I feel like the communication between the superintendent’s office, the central office and the teachers needs to be two-way, and collaborative, and needs to improve.

He said he’s said these things to school board chair Lynne Fugate and Superintendent Jim McIntyre.

If they would stop and listen to the teachers, not only stop and listen, but take a positive action and a positive measure for the teachers. There’s got to be something in there that teachers are stating correctly, otherwise it wouldn’t be such agreement on the part of the teachers. The part you can change should be evaluated.

smithWe didn’t have room in the story, but here’s what Vice Chairman Larry Smith also had to say. By the way, he’s term-limited and in his last year on commission. It’s worth mentioning, though, that there are a number of public offices open for election in the upcoming year – including fee offices and on school board. Smith banged the communication drum and called for school board and the administration to respond.

I applaud the teachers for being able to come out and speak their mind, and then I applaud the schools people who listened. And I hope they will take that information and do something with it – not just sit there with deaf ears. If our professional teachers take the time to come, then our staff needs to be able to act.

They need to be able to communicate between each other, and on a professional level, we should be working as a team. The end result is to educate our children, better than what we’ve been doing. (Teachers), they’re the ones in the trenches. I think the administration needs to listen to what the teachers have to say and act accordingly and respond accordingly.


About Gerald

A journalist in Knoxville, TN. Work (mostly) inside and play (mostly) outside. I'm a part of the X or the Y generation. None of us claim the other.
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