By Steve Hunley
I continue to be amused by the fiction being perpetrated by some folks that Jim McIntyre is one of the best superintendents in the country, much less that he wants to listen to the board of education.
What is McIntyre’s real record? Visit the Tennessee State Report Card website and you will find that since McIntyre has been here, ACT test scores for Knox County children have gone down every year, except for one.
McIntyre’s policies have focused on graduation rates and he is constantly bragging about how many students we are graduating. What he doesn’t talk about are preparation rates, meaning the number of students who graduate and are prepared to either continue their educations or go out and get a job. It is abundantly clear that McIntyre’s policies have meant we are graduating more students, but those same students have lower preparation rates. This also explains why so many students graduating from the Knox County school system have to take remedial courses before they are able to further their education.
Until the recent elections, the Board of Education has been content to rubber stamp anything McIntyre wanted to do and how he wanted to do it.
Folks can sit around and debate all day whether this is merely incompetence or a strategy to make public education look even worse and promote privatization.
Another unpopular accomplishment of the superintendent has been to thoroughly demoralize and depress our teachers. The emphasis on testing — well beyond what is required by the State of Tennessee — is dismissed as teachers are lazy and fearful of change. That ignores the fact teachers are not being allowed to teach and more than 70% of our teachers have said Knox County is no longer a good place to work or learn in a survey conducted by McIntyre himself. In an effort to put lipstick on a pig, McIntyre low-balled the figure (claiming it was 48% of teachers) and still referred to it as a stinging rebuke. It certainly was and folks ought to be outraged.
The Chamber of Commerce, the business elite, and the Knoxville News Sentinel find fault with everyone but the superintendent, yet McIntyre’s leadership or lack thereof is at the very heart of the debate. McIntyre only seems to flourish in an atmosphere where he always gets his way and can exercise total control over every aspect of his own fiefdom. McIntyre has inserted himself into Knox County’s budget, well away from his responsibility as superintendent; he can’t get along with Mayor Tim Burchett, nor has McIntyre especially endeared himself to the Knox County Commission, his funding body.
The Chamber folks and the business elite are busy pouring money into the Second District Board of Education seat vacated by Indya Kincannon in a desperate bid to win a fifth vote for McIntyre and continue the rubber stamp policy the voters have rejected all across the county. The Sentinel has done its part by publishing tepid editorials nobody pays any attention to anymore. These same folks have attempted to trash the reputation of Board Chairman Mike McMillan and others who don’t march to McIntyre’s music.
Clearly real accomplishments to these folks mean little, but absolute control means everything.