My name is John Butler and I am offering myself for the Knox County Schools Board of Education, District 1 Representative. I am a supporter and advocate for public schools. I believe education is a basic human right, and it is the responsibility of the community to educate and prepare young people for adulthood and to be a benefit to the community.
I am a product of public schools, my children attended public schools, my daughter is an educator in Knox County Schools, and my grandson is a middle school student in Knox County Schools. It takes a village to raise a child, and public schools are a part of that village. I am grateful for the countless administrators, teachers, and support staff that have been a part of my family’s village. I offer myself for this office, in order to support policies, procedures, and programs that produce quality and accessible education to all students. I am offering myself, as a servant, leader, and advocate.
I came to the Knoxville community in the summer of 2007, as the pastor of Clinton Chapel AME Zion Church, in the community of Mechanicsville. It was apparent to our family that the community had a major sense of pride in our neighborhood schools. Clinton Chapel Church established a relationship with Maynard School and we continue to support their needs as a Community Schools Neighborhood Partner.
In August 2007, my wife and I enrolled our children in Vine Middle and Austin-East, and become active in parent and community efforts; including co-presidents of the PTSO at Austin-East with Principal Benny Perry and serving on the Community School Steering committee at Vine Middle School with Cindy White. Early on in our time here, I even served as a substitute teacher at Vine and Austin-East. During my time as a substitute, I gained tremendous respect for the work that educators do.
In the community, I worked with the Knoxville Interdenominational Christian Ministerial Alliance, known as KICMA, in which we supported schools in our neighborhoods. During my tenure as president, KICMA advocated on behalf of Knox County Schools custodian staff, as the school board was considering outsourcing their jobs.
I served as the president of the Knoxville Branch of the NAACP for 8 years. During that time, we supported and advocated for a 21st-century curriculum, state-of-the-art facilities, excellent and diversified educator workforce, and equity in academic achievement and discipline. In 2015, the Knoxville Branch NAACP initiated an Office of Civil Rights Complaint with the US Department of Education concerning these issues. This led to changes in zoning and busing for District 1 schools and informed the work of the Disparities of Educational Outcomes Task Force. At the request of the superintendent, I served on the Disparities of Education Outcomes Task Force and the initial DEO steering committee.
As the Knoxville Branch NAACP President, I served on the Great Schools Partnership Board of Directors, which started the District 1 community schools programs at Green Magnet Academy, Sarah Moore Green Magnet Academy, Vine Magnet, and Maynard Elementary. In addition, in 2018, the branch helped lead the advocacy efforts to maintain the magnet program at Green Magnet Academy and secure Project Grad funding.
There are several other roles and experiences that have prepared me to serve District 1 students, families, and staff, including:
I look forward to serving District 1 students, families, staff, and community on the Knox County School Board; as well as working with them to address barriers, take advantage of opportunities, and see the community come together to uplift one another. I look forward to seeing students graduate from our schools, reach their highest potential, and be productive in their communities.
I ask that you join me in this vision with your prayers, support, and vote.