Knox County teachers voiced their concerns loud and clear with the state's education system at a meeting in downtown Knoxville on Wednesday.
Over the last few weeks, Knox County teachers have warned of low morale among faculty. However, Wednesday night, more than 100 of them were cheering as their colleagues addressed the board of education.
Teachers took to the podium of the main assembly room at the City County Building to state their problems with unannounced observations in classrooms, standardized testing and what they call a needlessly punitive evaluation system.
While most of these have been state-mandated changes, they say they feel Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre and the school board did not listen to their concerns when they first came about.
"I'm glad to see we're banding together as one group," said Halls Elementary teacher Amber Rountree.
Many teachers said they want things to change to the way they used to be.
"I will not do it; I will not allow you to force me to put anything ahead of what is best for my students," said teacher Mark Taylor, of Farragut Middle School.
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Another teacher said things have drastically changed in her workplace over the last few years.
"It's not fun anymore," said Hardin Valley Elementary teacher Maureen Myers. "You can learn, do well and have a good time."
Students and parents chimed in too.
PTA president Sandra Rowecliffe said the entire county needs to spend more money in education.
"We have to invest more," she said.
For close to two hours, the Knox County School Board sat and listened. Chair Lynn Fugate said a similar conversation is being had in most of the state's school districts.
"There's been rapid change in education and it's beginning to take its human toll," she said.
Fugate said the entire state needs to dig deeper for solutions, ones that will keep Tennesseans in the teaching profession. Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre, who was often the focus of criticism Wednesday night, echoed that feeling.
"Our school leaders, that's our superintendents, I mean all of us, across the state of Tennessee are really subject to increased expectations and again I think change is challenging and our goal is to work through all of the changes," he said.
The school board said it plans to discuss teachers' concerns at its Mid-November meeting.
(Below-- watch the full nine-minute interview with Dr. Jim McIntyre as he responds to teacher concerns)