Be it resolved …

Sandra ClarkFeature, Gossip and Lies

The Knox County Board of Education made it harder than it should have been Wednesday, stumbling through debate on how best to tell state leaders that teacher evaluations are flawed.

Reacting to complaints from pre-K and kindergarten teachers, the board blasted state testing at last week’s workshop. Wednesday was time for action. Somehow members got tangled up in directing the board chair (Patti Bounds) and superintendent (Bob Thomas) to draft a strong letter stating the board’s displeasure.

Then came a string of so-called friendly amendments, expanding the scope of the message. Veteran board member Lynne Fugate correctly observed that the board should not let such a letter be sent without reading it and voting to accept it.

The deputy law director (Gary Dupler) opined that simply emailing the letter to board members would not comply with the state’s open meetings law. So, Bounds suggested a special called meeting. Dupler said it must have two days public notice and Bounds said most members probably didn’t have their calendar available.

Then board members started peeling off amendments and motion sponsor Jennifer Owen restated the slimmed down version: A motion for the board chair and superintendent to draft a strong letter to the governor, the legislative delegation and the state Department of Education stating that the Knox County BOE has no confidence in the portfolio process (for K and pre-K assessment) or in the Department of Education.

Tony Norman had urged a “no confidence” nod for TN Ready tests in general as well as a specific teacher evaluation process.

Finally, the board passed Owen’s motion 8-1 with Fugate voting no. And BOE staff will poll members on a date for a called meeting. Meanwhile, school has begun and presumably teachers are giving the vile “formative assessment” in which kids are tested on stuff they’ve not been taught yet so that a year’s end test will show their growth.

Folks, this is using kids to grade teachers and it is wrong.

Watching the board bumble around Wednesday made me miss the days of Diane Jablonski and, more recently, Karen Carson – board members who were also PTA leaders who understood parliamentary procedure. Owen should have offered a motion that stated the board’s position: Whereas (list concerns), be it resolved that the Knox County Board of Education hereby denounces the K and pre-K portfolio evaluation process and calls on the state Department of Education to suspend it until a better process is developed.

Kick it to the law department to draft formally and present it to the board. Take a vote and go home.

  • It was the farewell meeting for three board members: Fugate, Amber Rountree and Gloria Deathridge. Kind words were said by all, capped by member Mike McMillan (who was often on the short end of 8-1 votes until the majority flipped) almost saying that he had grown to like Deathridge and Fugate. He managed instead to say, “Well, I’m going to miss you.”
  • Get ready for September when we’ll see Virginia Babb, Kristi Kristy and Evetty Satterfield join the school board.

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