By Sally Absher

SPEAK to host two more showings of Documentary “Standardized.”

Do you have questions about standardized testing and its impact on your students, our schools, teachers, and community? According to co-chairman Dave Gorman, SPEAK is excited to announce that next week we will have two opportunities for you to see the documentary “Standardized”!

From the website “For decades, standardized testing has been a part of public education. Within the last ten years, however, education reform has promoted even more testing. Test scores, mistakenly viewed as effective assessments of student ability and teacher/school effectiveness, are anything but. STANDARDIZED sheds light on the invalid nature of these tests, the terrible consequences of high-stakes testing, and the big money that’s involved.”

The first showing will be on Tuesday, April 21 from 6-8:30pm and the second showing will be on Thursday, April 23 at the same time. Both showings will take place at the Union Hall building, located at 1415 Elm Street, Knoxville 37921.

We will have light refreshments and the movie lasts about an hour. We’ll also have time for discussion, sharing, and connecting with others who share your concerns.

We had close to 40 community members show up last month at the Bearden Library when we first viewed “Standardized”. Since then we’ve seen more and more interest here in the topic and we know that many more of you wanted to attend. We hope you’ll be able to join us on the 21st or 23rd!


Calendars don’t teach children.

Save Tennessee Summers (STS) is a statewide coalition of parents, teachers and community members, formed in 2008 to reverse the ever-earlier start to the school year. Some of you may remember the “School is cool but not in August” stickers.

STS is one of about 30 state organizations operating under the Coalition for a Traditional School Year, a nonprofit, grass roots coalition of parents, teachers, administrators and businesses concerned about the negative impact of the early August school start date and the year-round school calendar have on our children, families, and teachers.

The Coalition is dedicated to providing grass roots assistance across the nation to families and teachers who are fighting bloated school calendars and year-round school in their area. Visit their website at

Tina Bruno, head of the Coalition, said the increasing number of schools that have dropped the year round calendar and returned to a traditional calendar cite two reasons: cost, and lack of academic benefit. She has offered to help Knox County parents who would be willing to help contact school board members, the mayor, and the paper in opposition to the proposed year round calendar.

The group is not opposed to a week-long fall break, but is concerned about revising the calendar to provide “interventions” when the research does not show academic benefit and high costs. To learn more visit the Facebook page “Save Tennessee Summers”!


Knox County Schools Summer School Goes Virtual.

The application for virtual summer school for students who attended grades 9, 10, 11 or 12 during the 2014-2015 school year is now available.

All classes will be taken online with the exception of Driver’s Education. Every student will be required to attend class from 8:30 a.m. until 12:00 noon for the first 10 days. IF adequate progress is shown, the student may then choose to complete coursework from home or any remote location with internet access. All students will return to school to complete the end-of-course test. If the student fails to show continued progress while working from an off-site location, he/she will be required to return to school to complete work.

Meanwhile, Tom Humphrey reported last week that the TN Virtual Academy lost the first round of the lawsuit to block the shutdown of the school due to poor academic scores. Families of three children with disabilities filed suit in March.

From Humphrey’s story, “The school allows students to stay home and do schoolwork on their computers. The virtual school is run by the Union County School system, but students from anywhere in the state can enroll. Union County contracts with Virginia-based corporation K12 Inc. to provide the curriculum to the students. Critics of the virtual school have called it a failure and a drain on taxpayer money.”

TN Virtual Academy ranked among the worst-performing schools in terms of academic gains since it opened in 2011. Last year former Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman ordered the school closed.