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

Friday, July 25, 2014

Haslam's Secret Meeting at Ground Zero of Secret Classroom Camera Project

Last year we were able to uncover details of a Gates-funded student and teacher surveillance plan that gathered classroom video data and dumped it into a corporate Cloud for sharing among, who knows?

Now it seems Governor Haslam is meeting undercover with a group of "educators" in Washington County to find out "what works and what's not."  Wonder if the Gov plans to keep it all to himself once he finds out.  Apparently, the real educators of Washington County want to know when the Governor learns it:

What organizers are calling an outdoor gathering Friday in the parking lot of the Washington County School District’s central office is intended to shed light on a closed-door meeting taking place inside between the governor and selected school officials.

The meeting is one of 12 planned throughout the state, said Gov. Bill Haslam’s spokesman, Dave Smith, each closed to the public and news media to allow candid discussion between the governor and invited teachers and principals.

“The governor wants to hear from those in the room about what’s working and what’s not,” Smith said. “Common Core usually comes up, so do assessments and whatever else is on their minds.”

But the group of teachers and parents planning the counter meeting, which they emphasized is not a protest but a way for all of the stakeholders involved in the education process to encourage openness and transparency, said they’re worried they may not be accurately represented in the private meeting.
“We’re just concerned that there won’t be an open dialogue,” Washington County teacher Jenee 
Peters said. “The people going into this meeting to represent us are not our true representation.”

Susan Kiernan, the county district’s communications director, who said she would be setting up the meeting room, but was not invited to the discussion herself, said she believed the governor’s office made out the guest list.

Smith, of Haslam’s office, said the list of personnel for the meeting was recommended to the 12 districts by the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents.

“They’ve taken the lead in inviting staff, because we want to keep it to a manageable-sized group,” Smith said.

According to Smith, Haslam has already attended eight such meetings in the state.

Earlier this week, one of those meetings in Bradley County drew criticism from elected school board members, who were shut out of the event by administrators, then informed after the fact by an email that the governor required that neither the school board nor the media be advised of the meeting.
Planning to be present at the outdoor meeting are several Washington County Board of Education members, who said they were likewise left off the guest list.

“We certainly should have been invited,” board member Phillip McLain said. “It’s a meeting about education in the state and we’re the Board of Education.”

McLain said he may not be able to attend the event, but school board member Jack Leonard confirmed his attendance and Peters said David Hammond had also given a verbal commitment to be present.

State Reps. Matthew Hill and Micah Van Huss, both in the midst of campaigning for re-election, are also planning to attend the open event.

“I think we all agree that we’re happy the governor is visiting Washington County,” Hill said from the Jonesborough street corner opposite the old courthouse, where he’d spent most of the day encouraging early voters to mark his name on their ballots. “What we’re doing isn’t adversarial. Both myself and Rep. Van Huss have been getting calls and emails from people worried about this meeting who think they should be included, and we don’t feel their requests are unreasonable.”

Peters said the attendees at the gathering aren’t planning to confront Haslam, but will give speeches outlining their concerns with the way the state Education Department has put in place reforms in recent years.

Teachers from Washington and Greene counties are expected there, as are their counterparts from Johnson City.

The outdoor gathering is scheduled for 3 p.m., about 25 minutes before the governor’s expected arrival for the closed meeting.

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