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Changes in public education
An open letter to teachers across the Knox County Schools

Dear Colleagues:

It is an exciting and remarkable time for public education in Tennessee. With substantially higher academic standards, a new performance evaluation system, a nascent strategic compensation initiative, and fundamental shifts in tenure and collective bargaining, we have experienced considerable change and reform in a very short period of time. In classrooms throughout the Knox County Schools, and indeed across the state, teachers are educating children professionally and enthusiastically, even as their operating environment is in transition.

The good news is that most of these changes are extremely positive and productive. They are aligned to our strategic plan, Excellence for All Children, they build upon the instructional improvement work that we have been doing for the past several years in the Knox County Schools, and they are intended to help enhance the quality of instruction in our classrooms and ultimately to increase student academic success.

One new statute, the Professional Educators Collaborative Conferencing Act (PECCA) significantly redefines the relationship between the Board of Education and teacher representative organizations. While this necessarily means that the structures of our collaborative relationship with the Knox County Education Association will change, it does not lessen our interest in engaging teachers in meaningful dialogue about topics that are important to the profession. Teacher insight, input, and perspective are incredibly important to us, and we will continue to ensure that teachers have a strong voice in the Knox County Schools.

Please know that we are carefully and deliberately reviewing all of the new statutes and regulations to ensure that we remain true to the letter and the spirit of the law. In some cases we may be able to make a gradual transition to meet our legal requirements, and in other cases, the timeline will have to be more aggressive. In all cases, our intent will be to keep you informed and engaged in the process throughout the transition.

We are proud to be a part of this innovative school system where our success has been made possible by the talent and dedication of our teachers and staff. Tennessee has taken bold measures to enhance public education, and I know that together we will embrace this opportunity to ensure a bright future for our children and our community. Thank you for all that you do on behalf of our students, and we look forward to our continued collaboration as we seek to achieve our ambitious goal of Excellence for All Children.

Sincerely,
Dr. Jim McIntyre, Indya Kincannon
Superintendent Board Chair

August 2011

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