Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Knox County Education Association Letter and Mayor Ragsdale's commitment

This from today's Knoxville News-Sentinel Letters To The Editor. Kim Waller the President of the Knox County Education Association is complaining that a recent business roundtable that was printed in the business section did not include a teacher. Ms. Waller answers her own question, it is a business roundtable. She goes on to say "the fact that no one bothers to ask teachers what would improve their classrooms." It could be that every time teachers are asked the perception is that all they want is more money from the taxpayers without any justification or benchmarking. Is perception, reality? Probably not, but that is the public's perception. No accountability.

Lets take a look at what Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale has accomplished for public education in Knox County. He has recruited and maintains hundreds of volunteers that go once a week to work with our students in a nationally honored program "Read With Me". He has increased in total dollars more to public education than any previous county executive/mayor. He has engaged the community in a dialogue about public education called the Education Summit (It is often held on a schools in service day for teachers, so that many of the members of Kim Waller's organization can attend)
He has given $40.0 million in additional capital plan dollars above what the county already contributes in order to build a much needed, extremely overdue new west Knox County High School in Hardin Valley. He has created a Knox County Schools Partnership Foundation in order to give a shot in the arm to projects and programs that are worthy of implementation.

Additional Volunteers in the classroom, An Engaged Community, More Financial Resources. A proven record of educational leadership.

Now this comment from her letter is bizarre. "Maybe in a future roundtable discussion you could have educators tell us what is wrong with business in our state." This would be a comical exercise. Successful business should always produce an increase, because their cash flow is not based going to their revenue source and demanding an increase year after year. Successful business must decrease staff and expenses when a product or service does not stand on its own. In public education, if you have a teacher that is not cutting it, they just move them from school to school until they retire, go away or move up. I will examine this issue in detail, soon.

Here's the letter

Next time, ask teachers about education changes

Recently your paper devoted a good portion of the business section to a roundtable discussion about education. Many statements in the discussion piqued my interests; however, it was obvious there was little disagreement among the parties, maybe because you did not include a teacher on your panel.

While I understand that the article was designed for the business section reader and agree that every citizen should have an interest in what is going on in our schools, I fail to understand why business interests keep insisting that education is a field they need to save and they have all the answers.

Perhaps this article was a reflection of what is wrong with the attempts to change education today, and that is the fact that no one bothers to ask teachers what would improve their classrooms.

Maybe in a future roundtable discussion you could have educators tell us what is wrong with business in our state.

Kim Waller
President, Knox County Education Association, Knoxville

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