Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Support Our Schools Meeting at West High School Last Night

Last night at West High School the 5 women that on 11/29/2011 organized a couple of meetings to attempt to rally "public support" for the Knox County Schools. The women say that the "light" that ignited there interest was when the ladies heard a presentation by Buzz Thomas, Director of Great Schools Partnership. They say that Thomas reported "that every commissioner had told him that they had never received a single call in favor of public education at budget time." They decided to rally the community for a "voice" in favor of public education.

On Monday, Shock And Awe posted this story on the five women and asked the question if this is a genuine grassroots organization or just a "shell" grassroots organization.

Yesterday during the lunch hour the group held their first meeting at the East TN History Center. Last night Ginna Mashburn declared that they had 60-75 people in attendance. A Shock And Awe source was in attendance and counted, there were only 50 people in attendance. Mashburn said last night that her number was a generous estimate. Last night, 40 people attended the West High meeting.

Last evening, County Commissioner Ed Shouse, Ninth District School Board Member Pam Trainor, School Board Member Karen Carson and Fifth District School Board Candidate Elaine Davis were present. WBIR sent a camera guy and the Big Metal Shed on the Hill was represented by Editor Jack McElroy.

Knox County Commissioner at Large Ed Shouse attending the Support Our Schools meeting.
Fifth District School Board Candidate Elaine Davis (in the red sweater) taking notes during the "Support Our Schools" organizing meeting. 
    The five women Ginna Mashburn, former private high school teacher, Virginia Babb, employee of the Great Schools Partnership, Tammy Sommers, former School Board Candidate, Jayme Dobbs, League of Women Voters leader and Margie Carini, a Friends of the Library Organizer were present. Mashburn,  Carini and Sommers primarily conducted the meeting. Dobbs served as the note taker during the last 25 minutes of the meeting which served as the brain storming session. Babb interjected comments throughout the meeting. 

    The primary focus of this organization appears to be as cheerleaders to encourage the Knox County Commission and School Board to sit around a fire, hold hands and sing "kumbaya." Twenty pre-printed note cards were passed around to be signed and will be mailed to the 11 Commissioners and 9 School Board Members. Here is what the card looked like when it came to me. (As a member of the media, I did not sign them)
    One of the 20 cards to be mailed to commissioners and school boarders.
    The group also had an "orange sheet" that had some Knox County School facts on one side and the contact information for the School Board and Commission members. The folks in attendance were encouraged to use the various forms of communication to thank the Board and Commission for having a joint retreat. 

    In addition, they encouraged those in attendance to attend Dr. Jim McIntyre's State of the Schools address on January 19 and to pick up a Support Our Schools t-shirt which will be available at the event. They said that they are likely going to ask you to do two things when you receive a shirt. One is that you pay $3 -$4 for the shirt and Second that you give them the shirt back after the event. They will then take the shirts home and launder them and will have them available at other events. (The first thought that came to my mind was that it is like the bowling alley, rent your shoes)

    Sommers outlined two immediate primary focuses for the group. One is to celebrate the commissioners and school boards out of county retreat in January. Also, to celebrate the State of the Schools address. Again, she reiterated the contact information, the pre-printed note cards, she indicated that Jack McElroy is a big supporter and is donating several ads in the newspaper, being a guest on one of the Hubert Smith programs of January 22 and the t-shirts for the state of the schools event.

    Virginia Babb the Membership Director for the Great School Partnership asked that everyone give their email addresses as they intend to distribute an e-newsletter on a regular basis.

    During the brain storming session several discussion items included

  • math and science at the elementary schools, primarily for African American students. 
  • the comment that "we are losing our boys". The school district should have vocational curriculum for the boys to "get their hands dirty". Emphasising the disparity of girls from boys attending and graduating college. 
  • a third grade teacher talked about the faculty has no confidence in themselves based on the teacher evaluation. 
  • the need for a database for potential school volunteers. 

  • A citizen spoke about a specific group of volunteers that are ready to assist in some of the classes.

    A citizen discussing how a separate group of volunteers are trying  to provide assistance to the schools.
    The 40 citizens that attended last nights second organizing meeting  for "Support Our Schools"


    Anonymous said...



    It sounds like a front organization whose sole purpose is to "celebrate" Dr. McIntyre's State of the Schools speech. In other words show support for Dr. McIntyre and what he will propose during the State of the Schools speech.

    Here's a thought: how about Dr. McIntyre proposing ideas that the community embraces and supports spontaneously, without having to be "guided" by this "grass roots" organization? Or is there fear that the community may not spontaneously support
    Dr. McIntyre's proposals?

    That's my gut feeling about the intentions of this "grass roots" group.

    Anonymous said...

    It's just like Compassion Knoxville, Hillside&Ridgetop, and the Charter Amendment group. Create a group of supporters for ___ (fill in the blank agenda). Then go before deciding bodies and say we have ALL these people showing support for this cause. Commission/City Council/School Board, you MUST do this because ALL these citizens are in favor of it.
    Well guess what folks, this is to give cover to the school board to ask to raise taxes. That's what this retreat between Commission & School Board is all about-how to raise taxes. And they'll say it's for the children. (Remember the wheel tax was for the children.)