• Phillip Sherman

Challenges and Opportunities Facing the Next Board of Education.

"Why in the world did you decide to run for a seat on the Board of Education? And why now?"

As I have been out and about talking with voters, I have fielded some version of this question several times. It is a very good question.

Who am I and what do I have to offer to the work of the Board of Education? Why would I choose to seek this form of public service now?

During the coming weeks, I want to share some of my own thinking about why I decided to dedicate my time and energy to serving Knox County Schools. I also want to take the opportunity to highlight *how* I would approach the sorts of questions which routinely come before the Board and why I think policy oversight requires careful, independent, and non-partisan work habits.

So...here we go!

I believe that Knox County Schools (and public education generally) is in a season of transition and potential transformation. While the pandemic and the endless politicized debates in our community which it engendered are hopefully receding, we have a lot of work to do together to rebuild trust and a sense of pursuing common goals in our public schools.

I am hopeful that we can and will do that work together!

In order to begin the work, we have to identify those issues and challenges that need to be addressed. What are the challenges we face? Let's start with a big one.

Responding to the interrupted learning of the past two years.

The next Board of Education will be tasked with overseeing a number of initiatives intended to increase student learning and directly address the educational challenges imposed by the pandemic.

How do we accomplish this work in a way that is sustainable for teachers and support staff?

How do we help students take ownership of their own learning?

How do we utilize metrics in responsible ways to support student learning?

How do we integrate the good things we learned during the pandemic into the on-going educational programs of Knox County Schools?

How do we look beyond the 'learning loss' of the past two years towards new models of student engagement and success?

How do we address the forms of educational inequity that existed prior to March 2020 and have often deepened as a result of the past two years?

It will be important for the Board of Education to keep both the local and national conversations in mind as they seek to address these challenges.

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