published Friday, July 4th, 2014

Both District 8 candidates lay claim to experience

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is one in a series of stories about contested races in the August general election.

The two longtime educators vying for the District 8 school board seat agree on many issues. Both think there's too much emphasis on standardized testing in schools. Both think state education reforms have been misguided. And both think teachers have been underappreciated.

Incumbent David Testerman is leaning on his four years of experience on the board and his time as a teacher and a school administrator. But challenger Samevelyn Rock, who just retired in May, says her experience is more relevant because it's more recent.

"I'm saying he was a principal, he's been out four years," she said. "He's not been in that classroom to really see what's going on. I'm just stepping out."

Rock, who was the first and so-far only president of the Hamilton County Education Association, said she'll be a highly visible school board member if she wins.

"My six schools will know me," she said. "I'll be there not to change them, not to run them, but to find out what needs to be done, how I can help."

District 6 includes schools in East Ridge, as well as Barger Academy and the Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts.

Since joining the board four years ago, Testerman said he's been a voice for teachers. New school construction projects have received approval. But one of his biggest accomplishments, he said, was the hiring of Schools Superintendent Rick Smith, a local administrator who followed a pair of out-of-town schools chiefs. He also said the board has worked to be good stewards of taxpayer money.

"I think we have been very conservative in our approach to the finances of schools," he said. "I think we could do more, but I think we have accomplished a lot."

In the future, he hopes to help the school system focus its priorities to better cope with the changing education landscape.

"I think we have to be good stewards as elected officials to realize we don't have to jump on every new wave of education reform," he said. "We need to find the things that work and stay with them."

Rock had not filed campaign financial disclosure forms. She just began fundraising and estimated she raised about $1,300 so far. Testerman had not filed an April disclosure form, but his January disclosure reported $812 on hand, according to the Hamilton County Election Commission.

Contact staff writer Kevin Hardy at khardy@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6249.

about Kevin Hardy...

Kevin rejoined the Times Free Press in August 2011 as the Southeast Tennessee K-12 education reporter. He worked as an intern in 2009, covering the communities of Signal Mountain, Red Bank, Collegedale and Lookout Mountain, Tenn. A native Kansan, Kevin graduated with bachelor's degrees in journalism and sociology from the University of Kansas. After graduating, he worked as an education reporter in Hutchinson, Kan., for a year before coming back to Chattanooga. Honors include a ...

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