The Broad Agenda for Tennessee public schools was crippled last evening when Knox County Commissioners rejected the McIntyre school budget increase to fund a meritless performance pay plan for teachers.
For months now the Broad Machine, steered in Knoxville by Supt. Jim McIntyre, has been on a non-stop PR campaign to waste public dollars on a tried-and-failed merit pay plan. Despite unerring support by the TN Business Roundtable, the local Chamber of Commerce, the local corporate media (print and non-print), and untold millions in behind-the-scenes funding of astroturf groups pretending to be education advocates, the $35 million dollar plan did not even make it to the floor for a vote at last evening's County Commission meeting.
Numerous commissioners and the mayor all went on record stating that they had been contacted by hundreds of teachers who were against the budget but feared for their jobs by saying so. Although KNS spun the story to make it look like "school employees" were speaking in favor of the plan prior to the meeting, 90% of those speaking were from the Support our Schools astroturf group and their Chamber of Commerce cronies. The few legitimate school employees (maybe 5) who spoke in favor were either "dead ended" principals looking for a Central Office slot or well-meaning but naive classroom teachers who fell for the constant bullying from McIntyre's board to "be seen" or else.
Time will tell as to how McIntyre proceeds from here. As the KCS budget HAS been funded well in excess of "maintainence of effort" for FY2013, any threat of additional teacher layoffs, pay freezes, or program cuts will obviously be seen as unnecessary - and disingenuous and manipulative on McIntyre's part. As for PerfPay, McIntyre set that as policy in August 2011 on the assumption that it WOULD be funded. Now that it is NOT funded, who knows what will happen?
It has been discovered through some good detective work by local bloggers that one of McIntyre's local Broad Residents, Nokia Townes (formerly of Wachovia Bank) purchased the "APEX" perfpay plan last summer from Battelle for Kids, Inc. How many school board members knew this??
In a letter to school employees today, McIntyre does not mention the crushing defeat of the de-funded perfpay scheme. Instead, he claims victory for the $7 million increase that Commissioners did approve, mainly for parrot learning direct instruction programs for Knoxville's poorest children (do follow the link if you don't know what this brand of bare-knuckled mind scrubbing is about).
Perhaps Broad will find a new home for his loyal stooge, one where the citizenry doesn't mind having its schools run an ancient oligarch three time zones away.