Disorder In The Local Public Education System - And Replies

Tuesday, August 16, 2005 - by Don Drennon-Gala, Ph.D.

When addressing matters in writing I strive to seek the truth and report it. Accuracy is important to me, and to make certain that what I am communicating is grounded in reality. With this in mind, I would like to address the recently reported test scores of Hamilton County Schools, and one of the most important problems needing to be addressed by the citizens of Hamilton County, Tennessee, corruption.

In last Sunday’s Chattanooga Times Free Press, the Education Reporter gave us a presentation on the scores of student progress in Hamilton County Schools. The scores cited are simply unremarkable. In other words, these scores do not represent a statistically significant difference. What this report does not explain is that higher scores skew the results and raise the average from the level caused by lower scores. At first, it appears that our public school students are not doing poorly, which is good to know.

Former Sen. Bill Brock stated in Perspective that educators know what works, and they only need to be allowed to do it. Mr. Brock provided some invaluable information. It is great that we have someone with his voice still interested in providing information that can help our students to become better than they have been allowed to be.

Mr. Brock introduced some interesting, but troubling, statistics about our students in Tennessee, in general. Common goals and approaches to our student needs are necessary to address these education problems. Our “great teachers,” as Mr. Brock labels our teachers, need to be allowed to be leaders and mentors in our public education system.

Recently, it was reported that School Board Member Charles Love was preparing to plead guilty to a federal felony. This afternoon it was reported that Charles Love plead guilty to bribery, a felony.

Mr. Love did the best thing he could to protect himself from a near 20-year sentence to a Federal Prison. It is my understanding that this felony conviction will bar Mr. Love from holding any public office in the future.

The disturbing part goes beyond this felony conviction of Charles Love. The majority of the Hamilton County School Board supported Mr. Love. These same School Board members supported keeping Mr. Love on the School Board. This may now change with Mr. Love’s guilty plea. However, this should be seen as a mere show for the public.

Who are these board members? If a person in our community supports a felon, many good citizens in our community would believe this person lacked good moral character or possessed poor judgment, or both of these. Is this the problem with our present School Board?

It is important that we know who the Charles Love supporters are, in order to know who needs to be removed on election day. This is not the first time that the quality of judgment of many of these board members has come to the surface. However, there are other questions that need to be addressed as well.

The majority of the School Board has refused to keep the superintendent accountable for the spending of taxpayers’ money. They have shown us a lack of good judgment when it comes to the curriculum, control of tax money, and oversight in the manner in which academically challenged students are treated.

In short, these same School Board members have failed their constituents in regard to accountability, the budget, etc. However, we have seen in the past that the voter is either not interested in voting or is apathetic in regard to the representation of the School Board. The individuals on the School Board, including Charles Love, have been controlling millions of tax dollars on an annual basis.

The County Commission has called foul in the past and refused to grant any increase in school funding. These County Commissioners have suffered the indignation of a small group of individuals who have shown unwavering support for Dr. Jesse Register and the School Board. In the end, these same County Commissioners, who have supported greater accountability, were correct. These County Commissioners should be treated with greater respect for doing their job with the highest degree of integrity.

In the interim, the good people of Hamilton County, Tennessee need to be aware of what is going on in local politics, those individuals twisting the truth for the benefit of the School Board and Dr. Register, and the misinformation that will undoubtedly continue to flow in order to support the otherwise unsupportable group of administrators at the Central Office of the Hamilton County Schools.

(Dr. Drennon-Gala addresses numerous issues in education, delinquency, crime, corrections, and organizational assessment. He is an author, lecturer, freelance writer, former Associate Professor, and presently a federal law enforcement officer with the U.S. Department of Justice. He possesses a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester, M.S.Ed. from the University of Rochester, Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development, and an M.A. from the University of Central Oklahoma, Department of Sociology. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons, or the United States.)

* * *

Regarding Drennon-Gala's latest comments on the school system, what your readers need to remember most is that Drennon-Gala's has lost two school board elections to Everett Fairchild in District Three.

His rantings are nothing more than a bad case of "sour grapes." He should add the following title to his credentials: S.L. at large....Sore Loser.

The public has rejected you twice, Drennon-Gala. Your arguments are old and tired. Now go away.

Try doing something positive with your life.

Sean Harris

* * *

It would seem that Sean Harris uses the typical approach. If you can't disapprove the message, attack the messenger personally.

Question to consider. Does it take winning an election to make your opinions worth reading and consideration? Since 99+ percent of the citizens have never been elected then their opinions don’t count.

Many still think having passing grades of 54 or less on the three Gateway Test shows the excellence of the system.

Nick Kennedy Sr.

* * *

I realize this is late response, but I want you to know I really appreciate all the information you provided. I feel the only answer to Hamilton County School problems has come down to replacing all county commissioners and all school board members, then hopefully we can get our representatives working together as they should.

I am over 70 years old, I also have several relatives that teach in Hamilton County schools.
More money is needed for the teachers, they are the ones on the front line dealing with the students each day, and any raises should go to them, all teachers have to pay out of their pocket for supplies, on the small salary they receive.

Being a senior citizen I personally do not want to pay any more taxes for anything, but money is needed. The most important problem is accountability and the School Board just does not get it.

I have questions about Hamilton County scores. Yesterday came the announcement that the SAT scores were down. How can the school board keep saying we are doing better?

How do the pupils that do not score high enough to pass (but are passed anyway) affect the scores? Teachers in all schools are told they can only fail so many, and the rest have to pass? Is this fair to the children, does this show the truth or are we being lied to?

Someone please answer this.


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