Not Super

Our school Superintendent is resigning at the end of the school year. Maybe he was asked to leave. Maybe he was told to leave. Whatever the details, the end result remains that our school system will be leaderless at the end of this school year.

I do not care about your feelings for the departing Superintendent. Love him or hate him, this statement in Mike Donila’s article is true:

“The current political environment has become increasingly dysfunctional,” said McIntyre, who was hired in the spring of 2008. “At times overtly antagonistic, and seemingly untenable. At recent months the focus of the conversation has all too often become about me, or the school board or other elected officials, rather than around the effective education of our children.”

During the lengthy search that brought this Superintendent to us, it was clear from the top candidate profiles that the School Board wanted to hire someone who would bring more money into our underfunded school system. Less than two years after the Superintendent was hired, the county elected a Mayor known for penny pinching and slashing budgets. There was never going to be a harmonious work relationship between two elected officials with such opposing professional goals. Whoever is hired to replace the Superintendent will still be tasked with finding more funding. Until education is more valued in our community and senior citizens cease to be the largest group of voters, replacing the Superintendent will not change how the school system interacts with the county Mayor.

Ultimately, all blame for what went wrong with the Superintendent falls on the shoulders of the School Board. They hired him. He is their employee. Instead of supervising their hire or making decisions based on what is in the best interest of our schools, our board has been reduced to being for or against the Superintendent. When vote after vote comes down to the same group voting yes and the same group voting no, nobody is putting the schools first.

4 thoughts on “Not Super

  1. Until funding schools becomes a higher priority than funding law enforcement/jails nothing will change. Sadly the situation in Knox Co. is what happens when the electorate is informed only by Faux News and local punditry who espouse the same viewpoints. The ‘hood to prison for-profit pipeline is a very real and lucrative thing. Education is cheaper than incarceration but there’s no private profit incentive in student success. Failure, on the other hand, is making the private sector a fortune. And frankly, anyone who tries to argue otherwise might as well pull their sheets off the bed and get dressed. Sorry… facts are facts.

  2. “At recent months the focus of the conversation has all too often become about me, or the school board or other elected officials, rather than around the effective education of our children.”

    Yet, if questioned whether or not his prescription for “effective education of our children” is actually working and is the product of a push by neoliberal to privatize childhood education, you either hear crickets or the ridicule of his “people.” You are correct that if falls at the feet of the School Board, though. When a political organization of such importance shifts from being seen as a civic duty to being the stepping stone to higher political office AND the majority of candidates for that organization are coming from a political party that HATES the notion, not just of public education, but of broad education of the masses, the outcome is the terrible and, frankly, racist and anti-poor education system that has evolved in Knox County.

  3. Sadly, this is not a situation that is much different than what is playing out all over the country. As Common Core, PARCC, and SBAC continue to fracture the education community as neoconservatives (Thomas got it backwards, unless TN is opposite of the rest of the country) look to line the pockets of the corporations profiting over standardized testing, charter schools, and trying to make teachers out to somehow be the villains, the students and the actual teaching of knowledge will take a back seat and continue to suffer.

    So, you cannot lay all of this on the feet at the local level. Race To The Top (and No Child Left Behind before that), and a poorly planned out and politicized Common Core Standards have created this environment, and school boards everywhere have to deal with it. Changing Superintendants, or school board members is only swapping out parts for like parts. Change has to start at the very least at the STATE level, where the States need to push back and reject this broken initiatives.

  4. “When vote after vote comes down to the same group voting yes and the same group voting no, nobody is putting the _______ first.”

    You just described the American political system in pretty much every situation imaginable. When team loyalty ceases to become a priority, things might be able to start to change.

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