By Ken Lay
Sally Absher is hoping to make some positive changes in the Knox County School System. She is running for the Knox County Board of Education’s District 4 seat; and her platform is simple:
“I think we need more local control of our schools and I think we need to let educators make education decisions and not bureaucrats who haven’t been in the classroom for 30 or 40 years or those who have never been in the classroom as a teacher at all,” Absher said. “I’m a communicator and the main reason I’m running is that I feel that there has been a total lack of communication between our current school board member and her constituents. School board members should be accountable to their constituents; however, the current 4th district school board member has become a cheerleader for the superintendent. The superintendent works for the school board and the school board is supposed to work for We, the People.”
Absher places great importance on communication.
“I’m involved in a door-to-door campaign and you only have a few minutes to engage folks, so I give them a card that has all of my contact information,” she said. “It has my e-mail address and my phone number and I tell them to contact me with their questions or concerns.”
Recently some veteran teachers have taken early retirement from Knox County Schools. The exodus was prompted by the current school superintendent and the board’s implementation of Common Core Standards and convoluted evaluation process.
“That’s another important reason that I decided to run; high-quality teachers are leaving Knox County Schools or leaving the profession all together,” she said. “Teachers don’t mind being evaluated, what concerns them is the way in which they’re being evaluated.”
Absher’s commitment to communication has gone far beyond returning phone calls and e-mails.
“I have been attending all of the parent organization meetings in my district and I am telling everyone that I am here to listen,” she said. “While I have seen a lot of good things going on, I have also encouraged the parents and teachers to voice their questions and their concerns.”
“We always need to celebrate what is good about our schools but we also need to fix what’s wrong and not just sweep those things under the rug.”