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

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

McIntyre Uses Fear Card Against Knoxville Teachers in Hopes of Building Support for Merit Pay Scheme

Despite well-funded astroturf groups, the support of the Chamber of Commerce and the State Business Roundtable, and the unceasing positive spin by local corporate media, Eli Broad's Jim McIntyre's budget plan in Knoxville is in trouble.  

Today teachers will be held after school to hear new scare tactics and threats about what will happen if McIntyre does not get his $35 million for a merit  pay [sic] plan that has a proven record of failure.

Sent to me by a Knoxville teacher, this is McIntyre's recent letter to teachers, his "colleagues."  Bolds are those of the teacher who sent this, whose name must remain anonymous for fear of losing his/her job:

Dear Colleagues,
Recently, the Knox County Board of Education overwhelmingly approved an ambitious FY13 Budget for the Knox County Schools. This bold fiscal plan includes a $35 million structural increase to our budget over natural revenue growth which will allow us to invest in specific educational initiatives that we know from research and experience will lead to greater student achievement and success.
RESEARCH? McIntyre has NEVER produced a single shred of scientific, peer-reviewed “research” to support his agenda, yet he keeps saying “research”. What does he ACTUALLY mean? He has a Ph.D. He SHOULD know what “research” is.
The School Board’s budget will soon be considered by the Knox County Commission for funding, and as we move into this important dialogue, I want to make sure that all our educators have the facts about this budget. In particular, I want you to know that this budget was developed with support for teachers as a significant priority.
No, it was not. And to say so at a time when this budget proposal is facing such a large amount of pushback simply reflects an attempt on McIntyre’s part to “re-brand” this money grab in an attempt to belatedly achieve teacher buy-in. Now watch what he does in this NEXT paragraph:
This budget preserves more than 100 teaching positions that were in danger of being eliminated as funding for the Education Jobs Bill ended. The FY13 Budget also includes both step increases and an approximately 2% pay raise for all teachers , which was funded with both state and local funds, including about $2 million in local revenue.
Suddenly, the specter of “teacher layoffs” gets inserted into the message from Central Office? Nothing motivates quite like fear for one’s economic security, right? As for “Step Raises”, McIntyre and this budget have NOTHING to do with those. They are CONTRACTUALLY OBLIGATED. You may recall, however, that that did not stop McIntyre from disingenuously attempting to unilaterally freeze them a couple of budget cycles ago. The same goes for the “raise” from dollars that were appropriated by the state legislature specifically FOR teacher compensation. This “raise” was not McIntyre’s doing, and for him to attempt to tie it to his budget proposal in an attempt to goad support from his underpaid teaching staff is the HEIGHT of gall. Furthermore, McIntyre has REFUSED to raise teacher pay AT ALL in the 4 years he has been here, and has NOT “locally matched” the state increase, as Sherry from KCEA can verify.
The structural increase to the budget would allow us to invest in several important educational initiatives that are delineated in our strategic plan, including: technology, more instructional time, supports for teachers, strategic compensation for educators, interventions and enrichment for students, magnet and community schools, and full-day kindergarten. In addition, this budget would allow us to make significant upgrades to our school facilities - thereby improving our learning environments for children - without incurring additional debt.
I DO support “increased instructional time”, as long as it is NOT used for additional standardized testing. I support full-day kindergarten as well. As for “Strategic Compensation”, we all know what a canard THAT is. Interventions and Enrichments: Like what? Will they be research based, or will they (as I suspect) just be ued as a reason to send even MORE local money to Pearson Education for MORE scripted, teach-to-the-test “curricula”? Technology: We don’t need any more “machines that go ‘bing’”” until the technology we DO have is actually implemented EFFECTIVELY and WITH adequate infrastructure and support. Presently, the “infrastructure” appears to consist of school library closets and a “Keystone Cops” crew of “repair-persons” who place them in said closets.
Clearly this is a budget designed to significantly enhance student learning and success, but it is also designed to better support and compensate our teachers. In fact, over the next five years, the School Board’s budget includes more than $60 million in additional compensation for teachers. From APEX performance-based compensation, to lead teacher stipends, to extended pay for an extended school year, this budget will not only advance the academic achievement of our students, but it will also help us to make progress in improving our competitive position by increasing our overall compensation for teachers.
Bullshit. Oh, but McIntyre proposes to actually PAY US for the days we work when the school year is extended. What a friend of labor he is! Wait – APEX proves he is NOT.
I would invite you review the details of the School Board’s budget on our website at (link...) and to attend upcoming budget meetings (also listed on our website) if you want to learn more.
If you review this budget and feel, as I do, that it will make a significant positive impact on student achievement and success, please communicate that to others in our community who place a great deal of credibility in your perspective as an educator. In particular, Knox County Commissioners are actively seeking input as they consider funding for the School Board’s budget. Your insights may be helpful in their decision-making process.
McIntyre HIMSELF does NOT “place a great deal of credibility in my perspective as an educator”, as evidenced by the unilateral, fear-based, top-down, arrogant, and punitive manner is which he has managed those working beneath him since his arrival here. As teachers were told to appear “In Alignment” with his policies before he even ANNOUNCED his policies, it is clear that “educator input” is ONLY valued when it “aligns” with HIS preconceived agendas.*

As always, I am honored to be your Superintendent and your colleague, and I am incredibly proud of the instructional work that you have done with our children this year. Let’s invest more in our students, our staff, and our schools… so that we can achieve our ambitious goal of Excellence for All Children.
McIntyre refers to us as “colleagues” and is “honored” to be our superintendent? His past actions would seem to indicate that he views us as little more than “human capital” associated with various budgetary line-items, the cost of which must be reduced under the guise of various “strategic” schemes. PLEASE.
Jim McIntyre

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