Teachers voice concerns at Knox County Commission meeting

Teachers voice concerns at Knox County Commission meeting

Posted:
The recent teacher surveys were at the heart of Monday's meeting, with one commissioner even saying that it will likely take some time to address all of the concerns. The recent teacher surveys were at the heart of Monday's meeting, with one commissioner even saying that it will likely take some time to address all of the concerns.
"Our children are not data and numbers. They are more than test scores. Teachers are more than evaluation scores," said Linda Holtzclaw, a teacher at South Doyle Middle School. "Our children are not data and numbers. They are more than test scores. Teachers are more than evaluation scores," said Linda Holtzclaw, a teacher at South Doyle Middle School.
"It allows us to know what the teachers are thinking and the more information you have the better you can make a decision," said Commissioner Brad Anders. "It allows us to know what the teachers are thinking and the more information you have the better you can make a decision," said Commissioner Brad Anders.

By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Education was at the forefront of the Knox County Commission's meeting on Monday.

Commission met during the late afternoon to allow teachers to attend and voice their concerns.

Discontent has been growing among some Knox County educators, with the discussion coming to a head recently during talks of a new contract for superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre.

That contract was approved by the school board in an 8-1 in early January.

Just a week later, the release of teacher surveys offered a glimpse into how many of the teachers had come to view the school system. The reviews were so harsh, the next school boarding was focused almost entirely on the changes Dr. McIntyre and his peers were making to appease the educators.

Despite those changes, the surveys were at the heart of Monday's meeting, with one commissioner even saying that it will likely take some time to address all of the concerns.

About 60 people attended the meeting; with a handful of teachers speaking out.

"Our children are not data and numbers. They are more than test scores. Teachers are more than evaluation scores," said Linda Holtzclaw, a teacher at South Doyle Middle School. "Not having the autonomy to make decisions in the best interest of students is not teaching. Not being trusted as a professional educator after going through years of education is demeaning."

Amy Kate, a teacher at Pleasant Ridge Elementary says this is the first time teachers have been invited to speak at County Commission.

"I'm encouraged because number one, County Commission wanted to hear from us, number two, they listened to us. They were very appreciative of what we had to say and what people need to realize is things have changed in education and we all need to be aware of what's going on, its not just here in Knoxville, this is a city wide, county wide, state wide nationwide problem," Kate said after the meeting.

Commissioner Amy Broyles was one of the commissioners wearing red in support of teachers. She said teachers are always welcome to speak at their meetings.

"This is something that has been brewing for a long time and it's not going to be resolved overnight," Broyles said.

Many commissioners said they found the teacher's comments helpful.

"The teachers coming to us, you know we have no ability to influence policy on the school board side or contracts on the school board side, but it allows us to know what the teachers are thinking and the more information you have the better you can make a decision," said Commissioner Brad Anders.

Commissioner Sam McKenzie said he supports teacher evaluations. Many teachers in the crowd said "so do we."  He said he is happy to hear continued dialogue about teacher concerns.

"We can talk about school board agendas. We don't have a vote but we can talk about them," McKenzie said.

The school board and county commission will attend a joint retreat in February. They will discuss curriculum, the budget and the recent teacher surveys. It will be a time for both bodies to talk about these ongoing concerns.

"There's always going to be tension between [Commission and school board] because we're the funding body and they're the ones who have the vision and the operation side," said Commissioner Anders. "We can always disagree but I think it's better we have a continual dialogue and those disagreements can be worked out in a professional manner."

Knox County Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre said he thought today's discussion was productive.

"I think it's part of an ongoing discussion we've been having in our community about how we provide the best education to our kids. I think over the last few months it's been a healthy and productive dialogue with our teachers about how we sustain the great work we've had in our classrooms and how we sustain the strong academic progress we've seen," said Dr. McIntyre.

 

 

 

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