Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Hamblen County News

Here are just the first few thoughts on local politics. More soon.


It is insulting how the School Board and Dr Lynch behave with taxpayer dollars. More is never enough. So far this summer, they have blamed the parents for “not participating”, or immigrants in the education system, and of course, they always hammer away at the Hamblen Commission (with the perverse help of local media outlets). Wasn’t it last summer they blamed the teachers themselves, locking them into high-pressure, federally mediated contract negotiations they dragged on for months and months?

To them, Education means one thing – Jobs, which is to say, Their Jobs. As the largest single employer in the county, they wield tremendous power. Funds are dispersed in a dizzying pattern from the Federal, State and Local levels. Millions and millions and millions pour in.

When they work on their budget, again with the perverse help of the local media, there is scant coverage on their decisions, such as spending money for new windows at their building, a building they are eager to leave for a newer, more expensive home. “We would not want a prospective business to see those ugly windows,” emerges as a veiled threat that Jobs depend on the school board.
The ‘news’ reports escalating costs, but never the actual funding decisions the board makes.
The ‘news’ cheers the board for establishing an additional pre-school program as a ‘state model’, handling a few dozen children at a cost of tens of thousands and cries of ‘we need more.’ There is no perception that the Board and Dr Lynch eagerly increase operating costs despite being unable to keep their growth in line with community needs.

Sadly, the public is so confused and distracted by all the wailing and finger wagging they never get the chance to focus on the facts.

Tennessee and Hamblen County, like most public school system operations remain stuck in an endless loop of demanding more and more tax dollars with steadily decreasing results and less and less accountability.
Recently, on May 18, 2005 while the Texas legislature was working on the details of a school finance bill, Gov. Rick Perry (R) addressed more than 300 educators and activists at the Texas Public Education Foundation's Education Summit. Below are excerpts from his comments, provided by Connie Sadowski, director of the Austin CEO Foundation

On financial accountability: "If the taxpayers are going to pick up the tab, they ought to be able to look at every item on the receipt. The only way to ensure more dollars make it to the classroom is to make sure classroom expenditures are disclosed in plain terms. I think taxpayers deserve to know how much is spent on administration and instruction and how much they are paying lobbyists and lawyers to extract more tax dollars from their pockets. Taxpayers should also be empowered to control future spending by having the authority to vote on future property tax enrichment increases. The decision to spend more local tax dollars on local schools should be made by local voters."

Rather than cope with current needs, there is always a new ‘model’ to be tested which needs YOUR money.

Rather than pay teacher increases, they’ll fight them in mediation with YOUR money.

Rather than cooperation, there are dire warnings, fears heaped upon fears. What is a concerned parent to do?
Most who have raised any questions will tell you a tale about blame being leveled everywhere and zero accountability.
For a Teacher – the nightmare of beauracracy is deeply intimidating. To even join their colleagues for collective bargaining power is presented as something that threatens the public good.
With a government-controlled monopoly, a Parent’s choice or a Taxpayer’s choice is eliminated. Imagine your child is in a private school. The tuition costs go up every year, 6 to 10 percent, from First grade thru Twelfth grade. But when testing scores are revealed, or actual graduation rates are revealed (not GEDs), or when your child can’t make it into college – would you not take your child from that unsuccessful and expensive school and find something better for them?

You are absolutely right, Commissoner Linda Noe, that this is a game they have perfected over the course of many years. This county is now subject to the whims of second-generation board members who inherit positions from a public plainly left in the dark.
Parents who take issue (or just don’t cheer the board’s demands) find their children’s education being dangled in mid-air – ‘They could be in trouble!!! They’ll never get jobs!! We know who the agitators are!!”
Any question from the public or the county or any parent is immediately seized as proof of hostile intent.

Who will they blame next??


  1. I thought the purpose of Hamblen County schools was to produce an alumni that could fumction within the county's factory system. Of course, they didn't plan on industry upgrading their standards. Hamblen County is graduating students that are capable of standing on an assembly line when industry needs them to opperate hi-tech equipment. Fine job their doing over there in their ugly building. The reason they need new windows is because the old ones are caked with bull$#!+.

  2. coffeelover8:48 AM

    Boy, did you ever hit the nail on the head Mr. Powell!

    The local newspaper in Morristown should rename itself "SCHOOL BOARD TRIBUNE" considering how it works hand-in-glove to support every outrageous demand and scare tactic the Hamblen County School Board makes.

    People like you and Commissioner Noe are among the very few public voices who have consistently stood up for the hard working taxpayer when the School Board supported by the local paper begins its yearly chant, "Give us more, more, MORE money!"

    Accountability? Straight answers to questions? Shoot. It all gets papered over. A thicker layer every year thanks to the "School Board Tribune". Paper sticks pretty well to bull$#!+, doesn't it?