"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Broad's Jim McIntyre Gets 2 Earfuls from Knoxville Educators

After serving as the Business Roundtable's star witness in Nashville recently for the Milken Plan for teacher evaluation (the essential plan that has spawned the New York prinicpal revolt), the smarmy and saccharine Jim McIntyre offered a commentary a few days ago in the Knoxville News-Sentinel to underscore how bureaucratic insanity may be viewed as rational practice.  From the responses he got from Knoxville educators, I'd say they're not buying it.  Here is a link to McIntyre's piece, and below are some of the responses.
rwhunter writes:
The reason the teachers all tell you it is an excellent system is because they all fear you! Every teacher I have spoken to has stated the numerous issues with this evaluation. While I am for regular evaluations for all teachers it needs to be something that will produce positive results and this is not it nor is McIntyre the leader we need to get those results.
thegimp123 writes:
Dr. McIntyre,
I am a teacher working within the Knox County School system, and I am going to be very honest with you.
OF COURSE the teachers YOU talk to tell you this ridiculous TEAM evaluation system is "excellent", because THAT is what you want to hear. We teachers were told in the first week you began your superintendency to "demonstrate alignment" with your policies, or else. I'm sure the principals were told the same. Are you REALLY so isolated by all the levels upon levels of bureaucracy between you and the front-line classroom personnel that you REALLY believe this? Or do you simply not care?

I'd dare to say that, were it not for the implicit threat of termination as a result of being "out of alignment" with your policies and talking points, the teachers of Knox County - the ones who ACTUALLY DO THE WORK of educating students without the need for buzzwords, smoke and mirrors, spokespeople, or made-for-tv sound bytes to make us look like we are doing something - would tell you this TEAM nonsense does little more than TAKE AWAY from REAL, MEANINGFUL instruction in the classroom, replacing it with a stale, scripted, one-size-fits-all, micromanaged, rubric-driven, soulless dog-and-pony-show. Not what you wanted to hear, I'm sure. But I doubt you care or would be able to understand as you yourself only have 9 months of teaching experience under your belt, not even in a public school setting, and far less than what even the state of TN requires for apprentice licensure, and certainly not enough to develop a REAL understanding of the mechanics and nuances of the art / science of teaching students.

I personally was disgusted by your statement before the state board in Nashville in which you praised the TEAM evaluation as "courageous" and of having the support of front-line staff. Had you been paying attention to the statements made directly to you by those staff members brave enough to speak to you directly at your "town hall" meetings regarding TEAM you would have KNOWN this was NOT the case. No wonder the teachers of Knox County have such little trust in your actions and so little faith in your leadership.

We need REAL leadership from REAL educators in Knox County. Not high-dollar career bureaucrats with no credentials aside from attendance at corporate-style, pro-privatization, business-model think-tanks and foundations such as the Broad Foundation, who delivered you to us and from where you have since hired three more non-educators, placing them into newly-created Central Office positions while simultaneously cutting funding from the classrooms.

The constant buzzword-laded news appearances, slick PR, and Broad-scripted talking points may have been enough to skate by for your first couple years here, but no more. People are waking up to what your front-line staff has already known for years.
thegimp123 writes:
McIntyre (inaccurately) discribes the TEAM eval as a "well-crafted, research-based tool."

TEAM and TAP were created by the NIET / Milken foundation - the same "Milken" that served federal time in the 1980's for securities fraud - earning the title "The Junk Bond King" and being banned from ever working on Wall Street again. He has since identified public education (and all the tax dollars it draws) as a "targeted growth area" and declared himself an "edu-preneur" with the founding of his foundation. NONE of the studies of TEAM / TAPs effectiveness have ever been subjected to scientific peer review. The accomplishments of TEAM / TAP have ONLY been "documented" in the white papers published by the Milken Foundation / NIET themselves. Hardly "research based", unless the "research" was on how to funnel tax dollars into the hands of private foundations. I wonder how much TN taxpayers paid the NIET for this ridiculously-flawed evaluation system?

McIntyre is a Broad foundation graduate so it's critical to understand his training. Read the Seattle Parents' research on the money and influence of this business organization on our kids education:

Follow up with a background read about the think-tanks producing what Bruce Baker at Rutgers calls 'hack science". "Is it research or propaganda?". Note: McIntyre's agenda is based on hack research not peer reviewed science.

Bruce Baker crunches the numbers and discredits the edu-hacks here:
vateacher writes:
As a teacher in Knox County, I can speak to the positives and negatives of this new system. I agree that yearly evaluations should be conducted of every teacher, and I am not the biggest fan of tenure except to guarantee due process is carried out, but this new system is overwhelming. The one thing that would make me a better teacher is TIME. TIME to create the lesson plans that this rubric requires. TIME to create good solid evaluations that allow every student to show the knowledge they have obtained without relying on multiple choice tests to save TIME. TIME to give really good feedback on assignments and essays. TIME to create questions that address all parts of the taxonomy and "Marzano". TIME to create formative assessments that get the students to assess why they are thinking the way they are thinking and formative assessments that allow me to engage every learner while also praising their efforts at an appropriate ratio based on the number of students I have in the classroom.

Now many may point out that I do have time, it is called a "plan period", but those collegues of mine are laughing right now because they know all the ways that the planning period gets taken away for other "professional duties". The real time I am suppose to utilize is the time after my contract time, the time I am not getting paid for, the time I have to use in order to be a "rock solid" teacher, only to be told that rock solid is not good enough in Knox County for tenure. The real frustration also comes knowing that the TIME I really need is getting ready to be reduced even more do to budget problems and the decision that may be made to increase my student load by changing the schedule from block to a 6-8 period day. You have to love your profession to truly do a good job, and I can honestly say that I do. I love teaching, but at this point I also love my family and my sanity. TIME Dr. McIntyre that is really all we need to be better teachers.
DoubtingTom writes:
Wow, reads like there was some cut-and-pasting from Broad Foundation propaganda going on.
dsimmons224#559139 writes:
Mr. McIntyre,
I believe evaluation is important in education but the make it up as you go along Tennessee evaluation system is creating confusion and anxiety among the people who you represent. Yes, not only do you represent the students of our district but you are suppose to be there for the teachers. If it came down to it and all the Central office staff was were to leave their jobs including you, the teachers would still teach and the students would still learn. We make you who you are. We are your backbone. When we as teachers were trained for the evaluation system, we were told to focus on being "rock solid". Now let me explain that to the general public, average. Out of a system that grades you from 1 to 5. Teachers were emphasized to look at a "3". My confusion about this is that we want our students to be the best student they can be, but we are told by the administration from Central Office and by our site administrators that average is just fine, "rock solid". That is contrary to what we as Americans stand for.

Now during the evaluation process, my fellow teachers and I have been givin 2's and 3's in the 12 assessment areas and when asked to explain the reasons for these scores when they were clearly in the lesson plans the evaluator states, "I can not give you a high score because then you would not show progress." Now this evaluator would not have made this comment unless they were given a directive from Central Office to make this statement. Wow! To a point they are setting us up for failure. Mr. McIntyre, the buck stops with you. If this was not your directive, you need met with your evaluators and explain to them this is unacceptable. The problem is that there is no appeal process in the evaluation process. There needs to be. It is a subjective observation and no matter that it is stated that a rubric is in place if is not fool proof. In such a new evaluation process, the evaluators are not going to very competent at first so an appeals process needs to be in action.

Thank you though for combining the evaluations from 4 to 2 for veteran teachers. What is happening in the schools is that student needs are suffering because of the labor intensive evaluation process. Teachers are using up there precious time trying to appease grown ups when they should be devoting their time to the most important people, the students. As stated, evaluating teachers is fine, just take the labor intensive garbage out of it. Let us get back to teaching and inspiring our students.
SeekTruth writes:
Dr. McIntyre showed us his true colors during his unsuccessful bid to outsource the custodians, and coldheartedly throw them under the bus. His math failed to keep pace with the smooth wordsmithery. Now there is no trust.
Dr. McIntyre states, "Virtually every teacher I talk to acknowledges that the evaluation instrument is excellent and will make a significant impact in our classrooms."

Oh please, those teacher responses are about as sincere as the reply from wannabes when Chef Ramsay asks them, "How'm I doin?" Several months ago, teachers declined to go on camera with WBIR for fear of reprisals. The climate of fear and intimidation is a morale killer. Teachers are not free to express an opinion, lest a case be built against them, and they be accused of insubordination. That's no way to run any enterprise.

I wish someone could explain to me why it's sensible "that 50 percent of the evaluation must be based on student academic outcomes." When I was a student, it never occurred to me, nor to my parents, to hold my teacher's feet to the fire for my standardized test scores. I was held accountable. It was my responsibility to learn, it was my life, and I took the test, not my teacher. And the 1-5 rating scheme opens the door to favoritism, settling of old scores, and other mischief. Look for a big spike in brownnosing, and bureaucratic gamesmanship.

I disagree that these hatchet-job reforms will improve our public school institution. Quite the contrary.

It would be a mistake to conclude that the tepid response in this forum to Dr. McIntyre's editorial is an implicit endorsement of his policies. I suspect that the lack of posts confirms pervasive fear among teachers, and that many are too busy to respond because they're preparing lesson plans on their Sunday.
frcafasso writes:
Wow Jim,
I guess you shouldn't have come on here where KNS' decision (for now) to allow teachers to post anonymously allows them to say what they REALLY think AND what is REALLY behind your idea of "improvement."
frcafasso writes:
Thanks for those great links.
There's is a blog from democraticunderground.com called "madfloridian" that EVERY person who cares about the future of public education should read. It monitors the nationwide fraud being perpetrated by the people who claim to be "reformers," but are really just out to turn schools into training grounds for corporate servitude.
TreeHouseLady writes:
Kudos to the teachers who had the courage to speak out against the super, and to the others with excellent posts questioning the validity of these insane "reforms."!


  1. scott knox teacher4:49 AM

    the REAL problem here is that Mr. Mac's primary agenda is his career. if you think he actually cares anything about knoxville or knox county's students, I will be kind and just call you gullible

    McIntyre's efforts are focused on ways to make the numbers that he deems most important to go up by any means necessary.

    grad % are low ? he creates the credit factory known as the Mall School and students who have no business receiving a high school diploma miraculously make up 10 classes they need for graduation in one semester.

    low test scores ? put so much pressure on teachers to raise their class state test scores or face termination and the teachers spend the majority of class time teaching and going over sample state test questions instead of doing a solid job teaching and helping students as they normally would.

    the more Mac can point to an improvement in certain numbers and then list a slew of meaningless "steps and programs" he has implemented to bring about these results, the better the newspaper articles sound and the sooner he can move on to the next ladder step of his career and leave behind us dim-witted hillbillies.

  2. Anonymous11:37 PM

    A friend I teach with made a statement to me that absolutely shocked me. I have been rated low as a teacher due to student test scores. In discussing this with him he said, "You always think it's important for students to know more about the subject. I (my friend) always taught them what they needed to know." And there is the rub that pisses me off no end. To care that students understand the history of their country IS more important than any standardized test score. That's the problem. We are graduating (or dropping out) people who have no idea about this nation, its founding philosophy, or where it is going.

    The Big Testing Companies that own the Department of Education, the legislatures, and the State Boards of Education of this nation don't give a damn about our children. They care about how much they can suck out of the education budgets of our 4,000+ school systems than anything else.