Evetty Satterfield, a sitting Knox County School Board member and Vice Chair, is a member of the non-profit consulting firm Tennessee Educators of Color Alliance as well as serving on its “Educator Diversity Advocacy Council.” Satterfield is also the Chief Executive Officer of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion consulting firm Advancing Lives, LLC. Her profile on the Alliance’s website states that “In her first year on the school board, Evetty actively challenged her district to be transparent around discipline disparities and hiring practices for teachers of color, specifically Black teachers.”
Knox County Schools Superintendent Bob Thomas announced in a family mailing on December 10, 2021, that the school district had partnered with Tennessee Educators of Color Alliance to “conduct an equity audit for the district.” The “first phase” focuses on the recruitment and retention of “educators of color.”
In January 2022, the Tennessee Educators of Color Alliance, a 501c3, released its nineteen-page report titled “Understanding the Experiences of Color in Knox County Schools.” The report details the “six focus groups and individual interviews with educators of color” the Alliance did between Nov. 22 and Dec. 6, 2021. The focus groups included 11 participants while 9 more chose “individual interviews.” Out of the 20 participants, 7 were male and 13 were female, all “identified as Black.” In addition, the Alliance sent out a survey to 65 “certified educators of color” across the district; 37 identified as teachers, 15 as Administrators, 13 in various other roles within district.
The Alliance’s recommendations to Knox County Schools includes the district establishing “affinity groups” for educators of color. This includes affinity groups that would meet monthly and “offer support that is specific to educators of color.”
Another recommendation from the Alliance includes instituting “inclusive hiring practices,” suggesting that the district review the practices and strategies related to increasing “educator diversity.”
The Alliance also notes that Knox County Schools should “Track human capital data.” The document states that “Keeping track of how many people of color apply for certified roles, how many are hired, and how many are leaving the district is important.” It continues by adding that it is important to be “able to track the number of educators that are applying for leadership positions and opportunities” as well as how many are accepted into those positions.
Other recommendations by the Alliance include investing additional money into “professional development, training, and leadership development” for teachers of color, as well as expanded leadership opportunities. Additionally, the district should launch a “mentoring program” that connects educators of color with veteran educators of color.
In response to an Open Records request from Parents Defending Education, the district states that “Knox County Schools does not have a contract with the Tennessee Educators of Color Alliance.” The correspondence continues by stating that questions about the contract should be “directed to the Knox Education Foundation.”
The Alliance acknowledges the Knox Education Foundation in its report. It states that the Alliance is “grateful for the generous support from the Knox Education Foundation to fully fund a new project focused on district partnership and engagement to increase and sustain teacher diversity in Knox County.”
According to an Alliance 2021-22 budget, the Knox Education Foundation paid the consulting group $78,000 during that same fiscal year.