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Rowe Kicks Off School Board Campaign

By Mike Steely


Although she has been involved with her community, schools, and volunteering for several years, Jamie Rowe has never sought public office. Until now.

Tomorrow, at 5 p.m., Rowe will kick off her campaign for the Second District Seat of the Knox County School Board at the Fountain City Lion’s Club Community Building.

Rowe, a resident of Fountain City, is married to Holland Rowe, a retired pharmacist. Both of their sons attended Shannondale Elementary, Gresham Middle and Central High Schools.

She has volunteered at Gresham and Shannondale and was awarded a Bicentennial Award for her work at Gresham.  She wrote 120 environmental education activities that integrated science with other academic subjects; created outdoor trails, and, with the help and support of several teachers,  started Gresham Environmental Center.

Rowe is  active in various organizations such as the American Cancer Society. She currently serves on the board of directors of Fountain City Town Hall.

The Focus presented a series of questions to her last week:

Focus: How would you have voted on the additional one-year extension of Superintendant McIntyre’s contract?

Rowe: I would not have voted for it. There was no logical reason to extend for another year up to 2017 and commit to another $222,000 of taxpayer money when it wasn’t necessary.

Focus: How do you feel about the 5 Year Plan recently adopted by the school board?

Rowe: “There were several things in it that bothered me. The top two things, aside from the ones the teachers brought up, are the Principal Handbook, where they would be told what decisions they could make and what decisions would be made downtown. That shows either a distrust of their employees or a lack of confidence, or a power control. The other big problem I have is the Parent’s Resource Center. To me you’ve got to have housing and employees. That’s just more money being spent on things that can be done at their local school.”

“It’s just more money not going for the education of the children.”

Focus: How do you feel about Common Core?

Rowe: “I’ve read some about it; I’d like to learn more. I’m kind of concerned about the number of steps you have to go through to get to an answer and how it’s marked wrong if you don’t. Tennessee is one of eleven states that dropped out of the consortium to align their assignments with Common Core. I have questions about that (Common Core) more than I have answers.”

Focus: How about the number of teacher evaluations?

Rowe: “The thing that bothers me most is that it’s not always apples to apples. It may be grapes to tomatoes because you might have a music teacher evaluating a PE teacher or a math teacher being evaluated by a social studies teacher. You need to have a same subject person doing the evaluation.”

Focus: How do you feel about the interim appointment of John Fugate to the school board?

Rowe: “I wouldn’t have had any input on that. To me it’s a short term thing, I don’t think anybody can accomplish a whole lot in four or five meetings.”

Focus: Do you have any thoughts on the endorsement of Tracie Sanger by Indya Kincannon?

Rowe: “I don’t know why Indya chose her. I didn’t ask for her support or endorsement.”

Focus: Can you comment on the cooperation between the school board and the county commission?

Rowe: “That’s where I feel I have an advantage. I have worked on issues closely with county commission in the past and can build on those relationships. Most school board members, except for Mike McMillan, may not know any of the commissioners personally. Also, in my time on Town Hall we’ve worked on many community issues.”

“I’ve always done my own research, I don’t just take the word of the powers that be and at my own expense I’ve hired experts to give me a fair, accurate, and unbiased opinion about issues.”

Focus: Anything you’d like to add?

Rowe: “I feel that reading is very important. I just love books and I want to donate 20% of my salary to purchase books for first and second graders in all the schools in the 2nd district so they can have those books and take them home with them. They can begin a library of their own. Lots of children do not have a book, maybe it will inspire them to learn to read. If children don’t learn to read well by the end of the third grade they are four times more likely to drop out of high school. Beginning with the fourth grade you shouldn’t be learning to read, you should be reading to learn.”