A Voucher by Any Other Name

In November, 2018, 92% of Tennessee School Boards Association (TSBA) delegates voted for a resolution urging lawmakers to oppose “any legislation or other similar effort to create a voucher program that would divert money intended for public education to private schools or organizations.” TSBA membership includes 141 Tennessee school boards, whose members are elected by their districts to manage and control all public schools.

While our elected school boards have repeatedly and overwhelmingly voted to oppose vouchers and similar schemes in Tennessee for nearly a decade, state legislators have ignored their pleas and continued working in the interests of private corporations, rather than public education. This legislative session (January 2019 – May 2020), we expect voucher bills to continue to be pushed by those legislators whose campaign accounts are more important than their youngest and most vulnerable community members.

This time around, we expect to see increasingly ‘creative’ names for these bills, to mislead the public regarding the true nature of these bills. This kind of semantic trickery is should not be tolerated.

Please contact your Tennessee House and Senate representatives and governor-elect, to let them know that you oppose any plan to divert money from our public schools, regardless of what they call it. Please encourage them to do away with the slick sales pitches and listen to their local boards of education, and to fully support our public schools.

Tennessee House:    http://www.capitol.tn.gov/house/members/

Tennessee Senate:   http://www.capitol.tn.gov/senate/members/

Governor-Elect Bill Lee’s transition page:   http://www.transition.billlee.com

TN(not)Ready – part 1

A Timeline and Explanation of Governor Haslam’s Protested “Listening” Tour

On Tuesday, August 21st at noon, the Tennessee School Boards Association forwarded to school board members, a press release from Governor Haslam’s office:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced a multi-phase plan, highlighted by a statewide listening tour, to improve delivery of the state’s elementary and secondary assessments known as TNReady. The goals of the engagement plan and tour are to:

  1. Engage in an open conversation about assessment and ways to improve administration;
  2. Gather feedback that can inform a smooth delivery of state assessments this school year and beyond, including feedback on the selection of the state’s next assessment partner to be chosen later this school year;  
  3. Discuss how to better provide schools, educators, parents and students with meaningful and timely results from assessments; and
  4. Distinguish assessment content from delivery in an effort to focus on the value assessments can provide.

“Tennessee’s unprecedented improvement in education is the result of high academic standards and an assessment that measures knowledge of those standards,” Haslam said. “Without aligned assessments, we don’t know where our students stand and where we need to improve. We finally have a test that is aligned to Tennessee’s strong academic standards, and I don’t want recent assessment delivery issues to cause us to lose sight of why we have these tests in the first place. Delivering the test without disruption is essential and we must get it right. I am confident this listening tour and process will inform the critical work ahead of us.”            

The listening tour will consist of six stops throughout the state and provide an opportunity for educators, school technology and assessment coordinators, and school district administrators to share information about recent challenges related to the online delivery of state assessments. Each meeting will encourage feedback on how the state can continue to improve its assessment; a discussion of steps made to-date to improve test administration in 2018-19; and a conversation on ways to improve test delivery through the oversight and selection of the state’s next assessment partner, which will occur later this school year. Haslam and Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Candice McQueen will attend each leg of the tour. 

Haslam has tapped former long-time educator, and former executive director of the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents, Wayne Miller to facilitate the listening tour meetings and outcomes.  

“As someone who has spent his entire career in public education, I know when difficult issues arise it often takes more listening than talking to resolve them and move forward in partnership and collaboration,” Miller said. “I am excited about the process the governor has put forward and honored to facilitate conversations with educators throughout the state. We are all in this together.” 

To assist with the listening tour, Haslam has convened an educator advisory team to guide the feedback sessions with Miller. Advisory team members will participate in each meeting, gather information and feedback and develop a set of principles and recommendations for consideration by the governor as well as the next administration. The three-member advisory team includes:

  • Cicely Woodard, the 2018 Tennessee Teacher of the Year and a math teacher at Freedom Middle School in Franklin Special School District;
  • Derek Voiles, the 2017 Teacher of the Year and an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher at Lincoln Heights Middle School in Hamblen County School District; and
  • Dr. Mike Winstead, the current Tennessee Superintendent of the Year and Maryville City Director of Schools.

“Tennessee educators are committed to improving educational outcomes for our students, and assessments are an important and necessary component for us to meet that commitment,” Woodard said. “I am appreciative of the governor’s recognition of the need to continue to get feedback, and I look forward to working with the governor and educators to improve assessment delivery.”

The listening tour will begin Friday, Aug. 24, in Knoxville and be followed by stops planned for Hamilton County, Shelby County, Williamson County, Greene County and Gibson County. Specific locations and times are being finalized.

Following the listening tour, the next phases of the process will include implementing feedback from the listening tour, refining the requirements of the state’s next assessment partner, providing on-the-ground oversight of the fall test administration, and developing opportunities for feedback from educators and stakeholders.


Later, in response to questions from Knox County Schools, Governor Haslam’s press secretary sent this information, which later proved to be false:

The meetings are open and we will send out a media advisory on Thursday morning.

The invitations are being extended to teachers, principals, test administrators, etc. to sit around the table and be part of the discussion. The goal of the listening tour is to hear from the people on the ground, directly involved with the testing, to get their direct feedback on how to make this process better. That is why it is being limited to educators. But your school board members are welcome to attend.

Thank you,

Jennifer Donnals | Press Secretary
State Capitol, Ground Floor
600 Charlotte Ave, Nashville, TN 37243

Of particular concern, is that the Governor’s office never requested to use the facilities or followed ANY or our KCS policies regarding use of our facilities. Select sections of the policy are here:

Policy E-130: Community Use of School Facilities

GENERAL REGULATIONS The use of school buildings and property may be permitted in accordance with these regulations at any time when the principal states that the premises are not required for school purposes.

School property may be used for school-related activities on weekdays without application and without charge if permission is granted by the principal of the school. However, this use must still be scheduled by the school to avoid the creation of conflicting facilities reservations.

It shall not be necessary for any application to be made to use the school facilities for any school related activity. However, school-related activities shall be properly scheduled and tracked to ensure that conflicts in scheduling do not arise. School-related activities include:

a) parent-teacher activities;
b) activities of school-related civic clubs, groups or School Support Organizations ;
c) school club meetings, properly supervised by a teacher in the school;
d) classroom groups properly supervised, and
e) educational meetings called by the principal or authorized member of the school administrative staff.

All such meetings are to be arranged through the principal of the school involved.

While state law requires that school boards across the state implement and enforce policies for their school districts, that becomes impossible when some believe they are above following those policies.

From the beginning, the process was laid out just like the unethical “Delphi Method” we have repeatedly experienced in Knox County. A most basic summary of this method is that it uses very practiced facilitators to guide discussion ONLY where the facilitators want it to go, while manipulating discourse to come to PRE-DETERMINED conclusions.

The media, while reporting as much as possible, with limited background knowledge, fails to notice seemingly insignificant contradictions and participants are arranged so that they are unable to see the whole group and CANNOT see these manipulations. This is why it is NECESSARY, with regard to transparency, that meetings be FULLY OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, and also why those planning the meetings work to ensure that the full meeting cannot be seen. This can be achieved either by manipulating the size of the group and the space to be so small that it is visually impossible to see the full meeting or by opening the meeting like a public meeting, but then dividing into small groups in multiple rooms. Ensuring that NO person can hear all of the discussion allows them to later publish whatever “results” they like.


An example of Delphi style manipulation can be found in the questions asked of math teachers who participated:

The facilitator asked how many math teachers were in the room and because I had chosen my own seat, rather than the seat provided for me, I was at a corner of the square arrangement and could easily see 7 hands go up. However, those in the group or those close to the group could not turn their heads quickly enough to see all hands, before he asked the next question. The facilitator asked how many of those teachers preferred a paper test and counted to five out loud. He then asked how many preferred computer-based tests and counted to three, trailing off and acting suddenly confused. He then quickly asked the first question again, quickly counted five, quickly asked the second question again, counting to FIVE, and said, “So, it is about half and half, right?”

The back and forth had confuses people who might have seen these were not the same or who may have noticed that there were NOT ten math teachers in the group. However, since those at the front, the facilitators, and others are already nodding in agreement, they feel pressure to also agree.

Based on the pre-printed nameplates, which ensure nobody participates without being specifically selected, there were very few identified as “math” teachers. This makes it even more difficult for anyone to determine WHO even answered the question. Those identified by only their grade level may have self-identified as math teachers, but there is no opportunity to determine that or whether some of those representing the Department of Education also answered.

Whether the teachers were actually split, 50/50, is impossible to determine by anyone in the room. However, the final conclusion he came to may not have even really been noticed to match NONE of that. The final, announced, conclusion was, “So you all feel that a combination of paper and online would be best.”

No, no, NO!
Nobody in that room said that, with the exception of the facilitator.
Yet, that is the conclusion that is recorded as coming from this group.

Will the next governor use this unethical method? It depends on whether YOU and I ALLOW this to continue. And THAT depends on whether YOU an I continue to vote for the legislators who are CURRENTLY IN OFFICE,  who KEEP VOTING TO KEEP TNREADY, and who REFUSE TO HOLD ACCOUNTABLE, the testing company, QUESTAR, or the COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION.

While some of our legislators, in this ELECTION SEASON, are suddenly declaring that they disagree with all of this, we know that they have not stopped it, after EIGHT YEARS.  And if they haven’t stopped this after EIGHT YEARS, they sure as hell aren’t going to stop it just because there is a new governor in town.

As long as we keep these legislators, Tennessee students will continue to suffer, while parents, teachers, and the public are lied to, regarding trumped up visions of “successes” used to make the governor look like he has actually done something while in office.


We get along quite nicely; thanks.

This is being reposted from a social media conversation, regarding the budget and the relationship between the school board and county commission:

What nobody seems to want to accept, is that the “budget” the BOE “passes” in April is not the actual, final budget. It is ONLY a REQUEST and is required of every office funded by the Knox County Commission. To be able to complete all necessary steps required by law, budget REQUESTS have to be submitted before data regarding available funds is complete. (Final numbers will be available in JULY.)

The process is not the nefarious BS the media desperately wants it to be. There are some political people (not politicians, btw), who are also desperate to control the narrative and THEY are stirring the idea that there is some kind of Cas Walker-esque fist-fight brewing between the BOE and Commission.

There is not.

We get along quite nicely.

The state will not have final budget numbers for us until JULY. It has nothing to do with anyone’s feet dragging. It has to do with following the processes that are in place.

In the meantime, state budget numbers have been updated twice since the last meeting, and the administration is looking to see where those funds will best be utilized.

Final numbers COULD even make the Mayor’s recent proposal unnecessary! If that were the case, but we accepted the Mayor’s funding proposal, we could end up being committed to spending money out of reserves unnecessarily.

The entities involved in budgeting ARE talking to each other. A LOT. The media often does not bother to find that out…

I actually had a meeting with finance and accounting Friday morning. They also invited Chris Caldwell from the Knox County finance department. Though it was not at all related to any of this funding, we DID have a discussion about how easy it now is to have a discussion between entities. (And Mr. Caldwell also hand delivered updated estimates for tax revenue to our KCS finance folks.)

The groups on both sides of the street are working to make our limited funding work.

If our communities want more for our students and our schools, people have to be willing to invest more money through increased taxes, by shortchanging other entities, by shopping locally, so that tax dollars stay in Tennessee, or some other way. We cannot support all of the programs community members demand, without additional funds.

Statement from ProjectGRAD Founders

April 17, 2018
As the original founders of the Project GRAD Knoxville partnership with Knox County Schools, we want to thank the Knox County School Board for delaying its vote on the FY18 budget and for its consideration of restoring full funding to KCS’s partnership with Project GRAD.
For some who may not know the history, when Project GRAD (Graduation Really Achieves Dreams) started in 2001, it was the first major public-private partnership with Knox County Schools. What led to this partnership was the fact that our inner-city schools, filled predominantly with low-income students, were failing miserably with graduation rates that were less than 50 percent. As a result, college-attendance and post-secondary success by these students were almost non-existent, and at least one of our 14 inner-city schools (Maynard Elementary) was slated to be closed by the State of Tennessee. At that time, our community came together to address the specific needs of Knox County’s most vulnerable children and to turn these dismal stats around.
The School System and Project GRAD Knoxville jointly agreed to measurable goals from the very beginning: 1) Move graduation rates at our inner-city schools from 50 percent to more than 80 percent; 2) Push our college (and other postsecondary education) going rate to more than 50 percent of those high school graduates; and 3) Continuously improve our post-secondary completion rate. Working together, we jointly met these measurable goals by 2012, and have met or exceeded the goals almost every year since.
Because of the success of the Project GRAD joint effort, the Great Schools Partnership was formed to work on other partnerships with the school system, such as Community Schools, the Parents-as-Teachers Birth-to-Kindergarten program, and Leaders for Readers. Again jointly, the partners agreed to a goal of becoming the Best School System in the South; and Project GRAD Knoxville agreed to become a permanently linked supporting organization of the Great Schools Partnership to make sure there is full programmatic and financial alignment.
Project GRAD has been funded as a public-private partnership from its beginning. The highest costs to implement Project GRAD were in the first 5 years. Private donors agreed to cover more than 75 percent of those up-front costs and the school system agreed to cover the majority of annual costs in subsequent continuing years. In recent years, Knox County School’s $1 million annual investment in Project GRAD has leveraged an additional $1.5 million each year in private and other funding— funding that would be at great risk if the school board chooses to end its partnership with Project GRAD. All-in-all in nearly 18 years, the School System’s $18 million in funding has leveraged over $32 million in private and other support for the Project Grad partnership.
Project GRAD has become a symbol of hope and opportunity in our community, as everyone could see through the massive grassroots’ turnout to the April 9th Knox County School Board Workshop of more than 1,000 citizens from all walks of life—students, graduates, teachers, principals, parents, clergy, and neighborhood, business, non-profit and government leaders. Just as importantly, current 9th graders at Fulton and Austin-East have already been promised and signed four-year scholarship contracts; have been promised on-campus summer academies at Pellissippi State, the University of Tennessee and the Tennessee College of Applied Technologies; and have been promised robust family, social service, funding, college, and career supports. To end this partnership abruptly without fulfilling those promises is unacceptable.
It is difficult to fathom that our school board would reject the advances of the past 18 years, and unilaterally tear down the partnership bridges that have been built to increase the success rates of our most under-privileged children, with nothing proposed of relevance to replace the current joint effort. This community has made promises that need to be fulfilled to these children. In addition, the school board’s decision will impact continued and future public-private partnerships of all kinds for many years to come. We, the undersigned below, strongly urge the school board to focus on these concerns and we appreciate the school board’s action to take the time to thoughtfully consider a better resolution.
Sincerely, Project GRAD’s founding partners
(Please see the following page for the names of all who have signed in support of this statement.)
2001 Knox County Schools’ Partners
• Sam Anderson, former KCS School Board representative
• Jerry Hodges, founding executive director of Project GRAD
• Montina Jones, former KCS Vine principal
• Marion Quinn, former KCS Austin-East principal
• Michael Reynolds, former KCS Fulton principal
• Dr. Sharon Roberts, former KCS elementary principal
2001 Community Partners
• Gloria Deathridge, current KCS School Board
• Steve Diggs
• Takisha Fitzgerald
• Rev. Joseph Smith
• LeRoy Thompson
• Pam Trainor
• Dr. John Turner
2001 Business/Foundation Partners
• Chrisi Haretos (Bollinger)
• Governor Bill Haslam, who served as Project GRAD chair until he took office as governor in 2010
• Rodney Lawler
• Larry Martin, former COO of First TN Financial Services
• Larry Mauldin
• Kelly Milam
• Lila Pfleger, Executive Director of Lucille S. Thompson Family Foundation
• Bob Talbott
• Laurens Tullock
2001 Partnering Organizations
• Terrence Carter
• Dr. Allen Edwards, former Pellissippi State president
• Dr. Robert Levy, former University of Tennessee executive
• Alvin Nance
• Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero and former director of Knoxville’s Promise – The Alliance of Youth
• Vaughn Smith

TN(still not)Ready

Once again, the Tennessee Department of Education has both failed to deliver a usable achievement test and refused to accept responsibility. The email from Commissioner McQueen to Directors of Schools makes it clear that they are blaming everything EXCEPT the department’s continued failures:

Sent: Monday, April 16, 2018 3:07 PM
Subject: RE: Update on Nextera


Let me first express my appreciation at your patience and flexibility with the issue this morning. The issue earlier today was not related to either volume of student testers or a server issue. It was also not a problem with the test delivery system – Nextera – any network or broadband performance, nor any district action. It was not a “crash.” Our understanding from Questar is the issue was related to a conflict between the Classroom Assessment Builder (CAB) and the test delivery system, which previously shared the same log-in system. This conflict immediately caused unacceptable log-in delays for some students. That issue has been resolved, and we feel good going into testing tomorrow.

More than 20,000 test sessions have been started and/or completed since the fix was applied at 10:30 a.m., and the platform worked as anticipated in maintaining students’ progress and allowing students to complete their test despite the log-in issues.

We understand many of you suspended testing today, and we apologize for the unanticipated scheduling changes this issue may have caused. Our hope is that all testing is completed within the three-week testing window and that subpart 1 for English language arts and U.S. history is completed this week. If you believe you will need additional time, please reach out to tned.assessment@tn.gov. However, timeliness is very important to ensuring that score reports and raw scores are delivered on the original timeline.

Finally, we know many of you have experienced long wait times with Questar customer service. We have escalated this issue with them.

Please continue to reach out. Thanks for your coordination with us today.



Candice McQueen, Ph.D. | Commissioner

Andrew Johnson Tower, 9th Floor 

710 James Robertson Parkway, Nashville, TN 37243

p: 615-741-5158





We haven’t been given any indication of what the Department of Education considers to be a “state-wide” issue, but this list of outages, compiled from Facebook posts and personal contacts, looks pretty far-reaching:

Lake County
Maryville City
Milan SSD

KCS Harassment Policy

Unfortunately, there has been a lot of misinformation spread regarding the Knox County Schools employee and student harassment policies. I want share factual information, rather than trying to address every false claim that is being spread.

The Knox County Board of Education reviews every policy, every year. It is actually required by state law, that we review policies at least every other year, and that we have a schedule and a review timeline. The Tennessee School Boards Association recommends a one-year cycle, like the one we use in Knox County.

During policy review, many suggestions were sent in from community members. Some of them were in conflict with other policies and in conflict with state law. While discussing suggestions, it was realized that the current policy fails to even meet basic federal language, which is a problem. Because “sex” is the word that was left out, it becomes a HUGE problem when looking at actual protections regarding gender identity and sexual orientation.

Right now, we have gender and sexual orientation listed in a way that is not recognized federally AND without the ONE word that has stood the test of time, and has repeatedly been used in handing down decisions regarding discrimination and harassment cases. Most people do not understand that case law is a part of law because it shows exactly how laws have been interpreted and it sets a standard for other cases to follow. EVERYTHING in court decisions that protects our students regarding gender identity and sexual orientation and regarding discrimination and harassment has fallen under that umbrella.

To discard EVERY positive step that has been made, in exchange for language that gives people a false sense of safety, would be a travesty – and it is DEEPLY concerning that this was ever allowed to happen to our policies.  

What we DO have in our current policy is language that is more inclusive than any other language we have been sent as a “template” for improvement. I have not seen other policies that make it clear that NO harassment will be tolerated. Though the Metro Nashville policy has been repeatedly referenced, it is important to look at what it actually says:

The school system prohibits any form of harassment based upon age, religion, marital status, creed, disability, color, race, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or appearance, or sex, including sexual harassment.

It DOES NOT say that the district prohibits any form of harassment, period. It qualifies “any form” with language that clearly does not include all possible harassment.

The Knox County Schools’ policy goes further, by including other forms of harassment that are not listed:

Knox County Schools does not discriminate in its programs or employment practices nor does it tolerate harassment for any reason including, but not limited to, …

The policy continues with

Harassment by any employee will not be tolerated.

This not only covers every kind of harassment of every employee, but it ensures that we are not creating an unintended consequence by being so specific that we create a category in which people cannot be protected.

The student policy also goes beyond other suggested templates, by removing the limitations others, like Metro Nashville impose:

Knox County Schools does not discriminate in its programs nor does it tolerate harassment for any reason including, but not limited to,…

Also included, is language similar to the employee policy:

Harassment of any student will not be tolerated.

I have repeatedly asked people to please give me ANY example of a case that has been found in favor of the person being harassed or discriminated against, which did NOT fall under the protective umbrella of “sex.” I still have nothing that shows that students or staff will have any kind of security with language dangling out there by itself, with no federally protected category to back it up. No one has shown me anything that gives that language any ACTUAL strength.

What I have been able to find, is a wide range of feeling about language that includes sexual orientation and gender identity. This includes Board members’ explanations of how they intend the policy to be carried out – and that is important.

After discussion with many community members, I have submitted a possible amendment to the policy, which maintains all federally necessary language, maintains the KCS language which ensures broad coverage of everyone, and adds a definition to show that the Board understands “sex” in the context of the EEOC definition:

”Sex” includes anything related to sex, gender, sexual orientation, or perception of such, as interpreted by the EEOC: “As the federal law enforcement agency charged with interpreting and enforcing Title VII, EEOC has concluded that harassment and other discrimination because of sexual orientation is prohibited sex discrimination.”

This amended language has been sent to Board members, for inclusion in this week’s agenda. Since an amendment is voted on before voting on the main motion, this amendment will only be included if two things happen: The Board votes with at least 5 in favor of the amendment AND the Board votes with at least 5 IN FAVOR of the main motion, which is attached to this weeks agenda:

Knox County Schools does not discriminate in its programs nor does it tolerate harassment for any reason including, but not limited to, harassment on the basis of actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, sex, national origin, disability, religion, race, color, creed or any other Federally identified protected area.

Supporting the amendment does NOT mean that you also support removing the red-lined language. However, that definition will ONLY be added if the redlined changes are adopted.

I hope that this clears up some of the misinformation that is out there and that you will let others know that there is no attempt to reverse policy, but to correct language that gives a false sense of security, while maintaining language that has real support at all levels.



Partisan politics has no place in public education.

Please contact Representative Smith and Senator Gresham, as well as all members of the Local Government Subcommittee to let them know that you OPPOSE this legislation. (Contact information is below.)

Our kids and our public schools deserve to be represented by people who are focused on them – not on partisan political games.

Partisan School Board Elections:  House Bill 1039 / Senate Bill 582 by Eddie Smith / Delores Gresham will be heard in the Local Government Subcommittee on Tuesday, March 14 at 3:00 p.m.  This bill would require partisan elections in municipalities with a population of 100,000 or greater and in all school board elections. We urge you to reach out to your representatives and ask them to oppose this legislation.


Sponsors of the Bill:

Sponsor Nashville
Phone Fax Staff

Eddie Smith


301 6th Ave. N
207 WMB
Nashville, TN 37243

1508 Charles Drive

Knoxville, TN 37918

(615) 741-2031

(615) 253-0192

Zack Huff

Delores Gresham


301 6th Ave N
Suite 308 WMB
Nashville, TN 37243

16980 Highway 64
Somerville, TN 38068
(901) 465-9433

(615) 741-2368

(615) 253-0204

Linda Klingmann
Executive Secretary

Michael Maren
Research Analyst

Local Government Subcommittee Members:







Dale Carr


301 6th Ave N
Suite 214 WMB
Nashville, TN 37243

2150 Murphys Chapel Dr.,

Sevierville, TN 37876

(615) 741-5981

(615) 253-0303


John Crawford


301 6th Ave N
Suite 20 LP
Nashville, TN 37243

904 E. Center Street
Kingsport, TN 37660
(615) 741-7623 (615) 253-0272  Matt

Dan Howell


301 6th Ave N
Suite 110 WMB
Nashville, TN 37243

252 Chestoee Trail NW
Georgetown, TN 37336

(615) 741-7799

 (615) 253-0252 Brooke

Larry J. Miller


301 6th Ave N
Suite 36 LP
Nashville, TN 37243

1778 Overton Park Ave
Memphis, TN 38112
(901) 272-7884

(615) 741-4453

(615) 253-0329 Tuwania

Antonio Parkinson


301 6th Ave N
Suite 36-B LP
Nashville, TN 37243

P.O. Box 281453
Memphis, TN 38168
(901) 570-5810 

(615) 741-4575


(615) 253-0347



Tim Wirgau


301 6th Ave N
Suite G-2 WMB
Nashville, TN 37243

245 Savannah Dr
Buchanan, TN 38222 

(615) 741-6804


(615) 253-0239








Austin East Dancers & Knoxville Police Department Dance Off


KCS Enrollment Zoning Changes

Though I have not yet seen this letter, Mike Donila reports:

“In the letter sent to middle school parents and staff, Interim Superintendent Buzz Thomas said the construction of a new Gibbs Middle School and Hardin Valley Middle School could affect as many as 11 of the district’s 14 existing middle schools.”



Dates for community meetings to get input prior to making these changes are listed below.  I hope to see you there!

  • Nov. 28 at Farragut Middle School (Hardin Valley Middle)
  • Dec. 6 at Gibbs Elementary School (Gibbs Middle)
  • Jan. 17 at Hardin Valley Elementary School (Hardin Valley Middle)
  • Jan. 24 at Holston Middle School (Gibbs Middle)

Meetings will also be held in the spring, after a zoning proposal has been formulated.

If you are unable to attend one of these meetings, please submit your ideas to:  rezoning@knoxschools.org.

TN Legislators Seek END to Adequate Funding for Public Schools


NOTE: This post is still in progress and is being published early to share the ridiculous things that are said in the committee meeting video at the bottom. 

The State Constitution of Tennessee has only been amended 27 times in 233 years. However, amending the State Constitution is exactly what Bill Dunn wants to do in his latest attempt to remove YOUR PUBLIC TAX DOLLARS from public schools.

Comparison between Dunn’s amendment and current Article XI, Section 12 of the Constitution of Tennessee:


A RESOLUTION to propose an amendment to Article XI, Section 12 of the Constitution of Tennessee, relative to education.

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE ONE HUNDRED NINTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE, THE SENATE CONCURRING, that a majority of all the members of each house concurring, as shown by the yeas and nays entered on their journals, that it is proposed that Article XI, Section 12, of the Constitution of Tennessee be amended by deleting the section and substituting instead the following:

The State of Tennessee recognizes the inherent value of education and encourages its support. The General Assembly as the elected representatives of the people shall provide for the maintenance, support and eligibility standards of a system of free public schools in such manner as the General Assembly may determine.

The General Assembly may establish and support such postsecondary educational institutions, including public institutions of higher learning, as it determines.


Section 12.










The state of Tennessee recognizes the inherent value of education and encourages its support. The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance, support and eligibility standards of a system of free public schools.

The General Assembly may establish and support such post-secondary educational institutions, including public institutions of higher learning, as it determines.

Notice who is being removed from the State Constitution: The People!

The missing phrase, “as the elected representatives of the people,” is a significant piece to remove. 

The purpose, as stated in their agenda is :Constitutional Amendments – Proposes an amendment to Article XI, Section 12 of the Constitution of Tennessee to affirm the general assembly’s sole discretion in the establishment of a system of public schools. “

In other words, if they fail to fund our public schools, and the court finds that they have failed to fund our public schools, it doesn’t matter – because it gives them “SOLE DISCRETION” and the ability to do whatever they want, however they want, and with no recourse for the people.

Replays of hearings on this bill are available below:

House Education Administration and Planning Subcommittee (Dunn begins at 59:00)

Senator Roy Herron explains how this amendment removes a child’s right to an adequate public education and compares it to removing one leg from a stool, which will surely cause the stool to fall.

*Note that they have not yet gotten an opinion from the Attorney General, regarding how this amendment could really impact us, regarding equity.
Also, be sure to listen to 1:29, where Dunn claims that Vanderbilt’s study proved that Pre-K causes students to do worse in school.
THEN, he says, “When you find kids who are struggling or who can’t read, and go back to the homes and you will find people who are strung out on drugs…”