Buzz Thomas has resigned as president of the Great Schools Partnership, citing unhappiness with the current school board, according to an email from Kristy Altman of Connect Knoxville.
Thomas served as interim superintendent of Knox County Schools before Bob Thomas was hired to replace Dr. Jim McIntyre. In a screed titled “School Bus Plunges Off Cliff?” attached to Altman’s email, Thomas cited three areas of disagreement.
Exemplary Status: “Three years ago, we became the first large district in Tennessee history to achieve ‘exemplary’ status based on key indicators such as academic growth and closure of achievement gaps based on income and race. Today, our school district no longer enjoys exemplary status. Instead, we appear to be sliding back down the mountain.
“Not only are the actions of the school board not ‘exemplary,’ they have gone so far as to order the removal of the plaque proclaiming us to be exemplary from the boardroom wall. That’s like a principal throwing away the school’s state championship trophy because it happened on someone else’s watch.”
Leadership Academy: “According to an independent evaluation by the University of Illinois – Chicago, our program was one of the best in the nation. So good was it that the state is now urging all principal preparation programs toward what was once called the ‘Knoxville model.’ I say ‘once’ because just last month, the Board of Ed voted to walk away from this program and the 10 free graduate level scholarships that came with it. Their reasoning was both political and petty. It was because former Knox County Superintendent Jim McIntyre – now a UT professor – was involved.”
Project GRAD: “The board is currently considering the elimination of what is our most effective program for eliminating (income and race) disparities. Project GRAD helped move graduation rates at Austin East and Fulton from 50 percent to 80 percent. GRAD has also helped increase the number of low-income and minority students attending and completing college by double digits.”
Modified to reflect that Kristy Altman is with Connect Knoxville.