It’s hard to see how Evetty Satterfield doesn’t win the race for school board from District 1. Dametraus Jaggers is sincere and well-qualified, but he’s not local. Andre Canty is local, but he lacks Satterfield’s obvious enthusiasm for the job, her background in education and her teacher’s knack for smashing complex issues into bite-sized nuggets and then saying the important parts twice.
The candidates squared off at a League of Women Voters-sponsored forum at Pellissippi State Community College Magnolia Campus. It was standing room only, and the League live-streamed the forum on Facebook.
If anyone gets 50 percent plus one vote on May 1, he/she will win outright. If not, the top two vote-getters will advance to the August general election. School board races are non-partisan.
Evetty Satterfield drew on her local ties and experience as a special education teacher to set herself apart. Satterfield participated in Project GRAD as a student at Austin-East Magnet Academy and later worked for the organization. She called the program “imperative for our district,” and said she hopes the school board “does the right thing.”
The Project GRAD “carrot” was free college tuition to participants who met program criteria. But Gov. Haslam’s initiative to provide free community college to all who qualify has done a “Peter Rabbit” on this carrot. And now the school board is considering discontinuing the program.
Satterfield argued Project GRAD’s benefits, including relationships formed with mentors that extend through college and beyond.
Dametraus Jaggers is the only parent in the race, and he brought his wife and two young sons to the forum. When asked how he will balance his time among school board, a full-time job, his work toward a doctorate in education administration, and his family, he said he prioritizes his time already … and he promised always to be accessible to residents of District 1. Jaggers called Project GRAD “an investment” that “needs to stay.”
Andre Canty is a professional activist, agitator and fund-raiser. He was motivated to run for the school board after serving as co-chair of the Knox County Schools Disparities in Educational Outcomes Task Force. He says kicking kids out of school has not worked and contributes to a “school to prison pipeline.” Canty also supports Project GRAD.
Arming teachers: Each candidate said no.
Charter schools and vouchers: Each candidate said no, although Satterfield and Canty expressed support for Emerald Academy, a public charter.
Academics vs. technical education: Satterfield supports paid internships in nearby businesses; Jaggers wants expanded technical education including industry certifications; Canty said he doesn’t “want us to be so dependent on technology.”
What qualities make a good superintendent:
Canty: Somebody who knows the culture; an educator; a leader; someone for whom it’s not just a job, but is his/her life’s work; someone who will treat all teachers and students equitably.
Satterfield: Must have been a classroom teacher with adequate training to manage a large organization; an effective communicator with a wide perspective of education; must understand our community.
Jaggers: Someone who listens well to teachers and constituents; leads well and makes difficult decisions; a people person who is transparent; and one who hires strong administrators.
Based on WATE-TV appearance on Tennessee This Week
Andre Canty: Born and raised in East Knoxville; graduated from South-Doyle High School, attended MTSU and graduated from UT with degree in English literature. Longtime involvement with community service including president of 100 Black Men. Works at Highlander Center.
Dametraus Jaggers: Young parent with two kids in KCS; grew up in inner city with single mom. “Education impacted my trajectory.” Holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Kent State University. For 10 years has worked with students transitioning from high school to college. Currently works at Johnson University and is in dissertation phase of doctoral program.
Evetty Satterfield: Former special education teacher and worked one year for Project GRAD. Proud graduate of Austin-East Magnet Academy with a master’s degree in social work from Washington University.
The school board will elect five of nine members this year. Gloria Deathridge (District 1) and Lynne Fugate (District 4) are not seeking re-election. Patti Bounds (7), Terry Hill (6) and Virginia Babb (4) are running unopposed. In South Knoxville, Amber Rountree (9) is challenged by Kristi Kristy.
Early voting begins April 11. The election is May 1.