Grassroots or Astroturf?

By Sally Absher Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery… unless it is AstroTurf. Artificial, orchestrated copycatting, especially when it is done for political reasons, is offensive. Last October, Halls third grade teacher Lauren Hopson’s speech to the School Board started a dialogue about public education in Knox County, and energized more teachers, parents, […]

Knoxville Focus for July 14, 2014

Click here to view this week’s Focus. Race to the top Part 4: Data Mining By Sally Absher By Sally Absher A particularly troubling aspect of the RTTT scheme is the emphasis on massive data-collection on students, and the sharing of that data for various purposes essentially unrelated to genuine education. As far back as […]

School Board Puts 2020 Strategic Plan on Fast Track

By Sally Absher The planning was extensive and high level. Fifth District BOE member Karen Carson listed the numerous public opportunities to talk about where KCS should go in 2020 (see sidebar) during the Wednesday night meeting and then added, “But until you put a proposed plan out, it’s very difficult. People can give you […]

Knoxville Focus for July 7, 2014

Click here to view this week’s Focus. Race to the top Part 3: Teacher Evaluations By Sally Absher Some say it is just bringing transparency and accountability to the teaching profession. Others have called it a war on teachers. One thing is certain; the way teachers are evaluated, compensated, and even advance in their careers […]

Teacher Frozen Out By KCS Central Office?

By Sally Absher When Dr. McIntyre presented his 2020 Strategic Plan to the Board of Education in May, teachers were especially concerned by one of the details listed under Goal 2, Objective 4 – “Centralize recruitment and selection,” because it appears that Central Office, and not principals, will be making hiring decisions. Apparently, as told […]

Knoxville Focus for July 30, 2014

Click here to view this week’s Focus. Race to the top Part 2: Assessments By Sally Absher When most people think of Race to the Top (RTTT), they think of Common Core. But national, common assessments are perhaps a larger and more insidious part of the initiative. If Common Core is completely repealed, but […]

RACE TO THE TOP. Part 1: Common Core

By Sally Absher Until this year, most people had never heard of “Common Core.” Touted as uniform, higher academic standards in English/Language Arts (ELA) and math across all the states, who could be opposed? Yet Common Core State Standards have recently been at the center of controversy not only in Tennessee, but across the […]

What the Ed Reformers Don’t Want You to Know About Charter Schools

By Sally Absher Last week The Focus reported on the Emerald Academy Charter application. At present there are 101 active public charter schools in Tennessee ( Many people think Charter Schools are the magic bullet that will transform our underperforming schools, particularly in urban districts, into miracles of achievement and success. But Diane Ravitch, historian […]

School Board Passes Budget

By Sally Absher   By Sally Absher The School Board met for their June Work Session and Regular Session meetings last week. It’s too bad that Knox County Schools didn’t get $10 for every time Dr. McIntyre of one of his board members took a jab at County Commission or the Mayor for […]