|McIntyre, left, Burchett, right|
Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett stopped just short of saying
the school board should fire Superintendent Jim McIntyre.
But, he said McIntyre needs to go.
WBIR reporter Jim Matheny and I wrote those lines after
watching last Wednesday’s taping of the 10News weekend political show Inside
We then reached out to McIntyre to get his comment.
Now, the interview with Burchett was actually geared around
his plans for the next four years, but it got off track. A little bit. Heh.
Anyhoo, we felt that McIntyre should have the chance to
respond. It wouldn’t have been fair to air the Sunday show and at least not
make him aware.
So he did.
I’ve transcribed a lot of what the mayor said and parts of
what McIntyre said. (The superintendent repeated himself quite a bit, so I didn’t
capture as much.)
You can read the original story that also includes the TV
version and McIntyre’s complete interview RIGHT SMACK HERE
In addition, the Inside Tennessee show is below.
Here’s some of the key quotes from Inside Tennessee
- “I think what you have to realize is that the superintendent – he is a staff person.
- “He’s not supposed to have control of the school board, which he does. He works for the school board, yet he tells the school board what to do.”
- “He uses the Sunshine laws to his advantage.” (He’s referring to executive committee meetings.)
- “When in this world did it ever become popular for either political party to beat up on school teachers? To me that is just nonsense and that seems to be what we’re seeing out there in the public."
- “And you have school board members limiting the conversation when you have the open mic (referring to the BOE public forum section).
“And you have a school board member (Karen Carson) saying that if you work for the school system then you need to go through your supervisor to discuss with them and they need to OK what you say. If that was on County Commission, I would run down to the mic and I would demand that person’s apology in public. Because First Amendment is something we should all hold sacred. But since it’s the school system . . . they’re allowed to do that. And that is wrong.”
(Karen Carson got in touch with me and sent the following: "I can tell you that I have never said that they needed to go thru their chain of command and get an OK before coming to the Board. I have stated on many occasions that if they have a concern I firmly believe they should work thru their chain of command--that is , start with their first line manager to try to get the concern addressed. I want a mechanism in place that deals with all employee concerns, quickly, appropriately and adequately. I see public forum as the avenue to get things addressed when the manager won't or can't address the concern--both for teachers/staff and parents/students.")
Burchett was then asked what he would like to see happen:
“I would like the school board take their proper role and
take control of the school system.”
This then followed:
Don Bosch: “Do you think Jim McIntyre should be gone?”
Burchett: “Yes, I do. Yes, I do.”
John Becker: “And why do you say that?”
Burchett: “Because his style of leadership. I don’t like, I don’t
like talking to teachers who are afraid for their own jobs because they’re
speaking out. I welcome that in county government. I don’t like hearing from
professionals that testify before school board about kids crying on Friday
mornings. Yeah, I cried on Friday mornings because I didn’t want to go to
school – not because I had to take some ludicrous test. They’re just
continuously testing, they’re mining our kids for information. You know, our
children should not be a decimal point on some big shot from Wall Street’s
portfolio. We should hold them very close and sacred and we’re not. And I’m
afraid that it’s out of control. I’m afraid we’ve let the foxes in the hen
Burchett says he supports electing a superintendent and is
also against term limits in general.
He then blasts the superintendent’s salary of $222,000, plus
all sorts of awesome benefits.
“He makes more than the vice president of the United States.
It’s out of control.”
He’s asked by Mike Cohen how often he “meets with somebody
from the schools.”
Burchett: “I meet with somebody from the school every week
because it’s usually a disgruntled teacher or parent. It’s every week. When
they can’t get in to see him, I get the call, and I get it weekly. And it’s
just more and more, and more . . .”
John Becker: “How about the superintendent?”
Tim: “What about him?”
Becker: “How often do you meet with him?”
Burchett: “As little as possible. He and I don’t get along.”
Burchett then says “we met periodically.”
Burchett: "I just have a hard time with his style of leadership. I’ll
be honest with you. I try to lead by example and get in there with the folks
that are doing the work and find out what’s going wrong. I don’t try to
The mayor goes on for awhile and even suggests that the school system misused the $3 million that he funneled through the Great Schools Partnership as a grant. The plan was to start a pilot reading program, as I recall, for third graders.
The mayor suggests that it is not a pilot program but rather the money is used throughout the school system and that he can't get a straight answer from the superintendent. He says that it's possible that he will pull the funding next year.
Here's some key quotes from the superintendent's interview:
- "Over the years, I’ve really tried to reach out to eh mayor
and collaborate with him on some educational issues I thought were of some
mutual concern and benefit."
- "It is a bit surprising (the mayor’s remarks). I honestly
don’t understand why the mayor seems to feel the need to constantly pick a
fight with me and engage in this kind of rhetoric. It’s unfortunate. It’s
- "But, the reality is I don’t work for the mayor. I work for
the school board and for the families and children of this community and I’m
going to continue to work hard to make sure that we provide a truly outstanding
education for our children and prepare them for a bright and successful future.
That’s my job and that’s what we’ve done and that’s what I will continue to do."
McIntyre is asked about the mayor's suggestions that he micromanages and doesn't build good relationships with the teachers.
He doesn't answer the question. Instead he says things like:
- "Our teachers are doing a fabulous job of educating our kids."
- "I feel like we’re moving in a really positive direction."
- "We’re really making strong academic progress in Knox
County schools” and today’s education is “vastly superior” to what the
county provided to students five years ago.
He later says: "I work for the board of education. I work for the families
and children of this community. My intention is to continue to do that work. To
do the important work of educating kids in our community. To lead this effort
where we have truly extraordinary educators doing a great job, preparing our
kids for the future. That’s my job. That’s really my mission, my calling
in life. That’s what I’m here to do."
The superintendent also acknowledges at some point that he talks in paragraphs.
Finally, he ends his interview, talking about the accusations that he controls the school board:
“That’s ridiculous. I am an employee of the school board . .
. I work for them. People sometimes mistake that (because) there’s not acrimony
between the superintendent and the school board that they’re some sort of
rubberstamp. They’re not. The reason there hasn’t been acrimony is because I
take the vision of the school board. I take the strategic plan of the school
board and I implement it. That’s my job. They developed the vision, they
developed the policies in order to support that vision and I carry them out . .
Again, check out the interviews. They're both pretty engaging.
But, remember at the end of the day, the teachers are still teaching and the students are still learning.
None of this really matters.