By Sally Absher

BOE Called Meeting TONIGHT to Vote on FY16 Budget.

The Knox County Board of Education will hold a called meeting to discuss and vote on the fiscal year 2016 general purpose, capital improvement and school nutrition fund budgets on Monday, April 13 at 5 p.m. in the Boardroom located on the first floor of the Andrew Johnson Building (912 S. Gay Street).  The full agenda and supporting materials are available on the website at

KCS Has a Spending Problem. sent an interesting email the other day, listing salaries of Education “Leaders” across the state. Among those included were:

Chris Barbic (Superintendent TN ASD) = $215,000

Candice McQueen (current TN Commissioner of Education) = $200,004

Kevin Huffman (former TN Commissioner of Education) = $208,280

Bill Haslam (Governor of TN) = $184,632 + money through his family’s business

Jamie Woodson (CEO of SCORE) = $329,156

Average salary of a teacher in TN = $45,891

But they left this person off the list:

James McIntyre (Superintendent KCS) = $222,800

That’s right, Knox County. The KCS Superintendent makes even more than the FORMER TN Commissioner of Education, who, by the way, had more classroom teaching experience than McIntyre. Remember this when the BOE comes begging for more of your tax dollars this week.

Tennessee House Approves Flow Motion to Speed Up Legislative Session.

Steven Hale of the Nashville scene reports that the state House voted 97-0 last Wednesday in favor of the Flow Motion, a move they “make every year toward the end of the session in hopes of closing up shop before an arbitrary, self-set, meaningless deadline.”

Andrea Zelinski explained the “FloMo” in the Nashville Post, “The flow motion suspends 12 aspects of the House rules, like allowing a floor calendar to exceed 25 bills, adding flexibility on when committees and the full house can meet, and sidestepping waiting periods for bills or amendments to be heard.”

Or, as Hale paraphrased, “it lets the House work faster by tossing aside rules that make their lawmaking more considered and more transparent to the public.”

According to legislative staff, lawmakers hope to adjourn this week or next week.

This effectively allows the House to ram through controversial or unpopular bills, such as those allowing vouchers and the expansion of Charter schools. On the other hand, once the session is over, perhaps our Knoxville representatives can spend some time visiting our wonderful community schools and see why Knoxville does not need vouchers.  Watch for a new series highlighting some of our community schools beginning next week in the Focus!

“Starve the Beast” is Working in Montclair, NJ.

The Focus reported that the School Board in Montclair, NJ approved a policy in February that recognizes parental rights to refuse standardized tests for their children. In part, the policy states:

“…The Montclair BOE recognizes that some parents may choose to have their children decline to take one of more of such standardized tests. It is the policy of the Montclair BOE that the parental decision to decline testing should be met at the district level with educationally appropriate and non-punitive responses. The superintendent is directed to establish a procedure in accordance with this policy.”

Diane Ravitch reports that 42.6% of students did not take the PARCC test this spring. “That is quite a protest against Common Core and high-stakes testing, against the Bush-Obama agenda,” Ravitch says.

The refusal totals were most pronounced at Montclair High School, where 68% of students refused the test. In contrast, only 7.5% of students at Watchung Elementary school refused to take the PARCC test.

That is 42.6% less personal student data the district has to share with federal and state agencies, and private testing corporations. That’s 42.6% fewer kids who are reduced to being a dot on a chart, or a statistic that can be used to privatize schools and fire teachers. Parents, what will you do? The choice is up to you.