Randy Smith: Public Vs. Private: Separate But Equal?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith

It appears that athletic programs in Tennessee’s public and private schools are headed for a final separation. It’s been coming for almost twenty years, and considering that close to 80% of the state’s school administrators now favor the move, it is inevitable.

The ramifications of such a move could be unbelievable. The public schools have ranted and raved for years about private schools recruiting their best athletes and creating an unfair advantage on the field of play. In 1997, the Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association formed two separate divisions; Division I for public schools and Division II for private schools that granted financial aid. Private schools could remain part of Division I as long as they provided no financial aid for student-athletes. Many smaller private schools across the state, chose to remain D-I.

This still did not solve the problem however, and a few years ago, the TSSAA created a multiplier which raised the competition level for the D-I private schools. School administrators in Tennessee still were not happy, so now it looks as if total and complete separation is near.   

The public schools have a definite point or two. A certain private school in Nashville, had four NCAA Division I signees on their boys’ basketball team, with two of them moving to Nashville from Atlanta. The public schools who cried foul are right; they can’t compete with that. On the other hand, every school district in Tennessee should strictly enforce boundary lines for each school, as well as strive for equal opportunities for every student who wishes to participate in athletics. Allowing students to live in one area, and attend a school in another, should be stopped.

Here is something else for the public school administrators and supporters to chew on. A complete separation of public and private schools will not stop the private schools from recruiting your best athletes. If a student is big enough, fast enough and talented enough, the private schools will find him or her. You can bet on that.

I have seen both sides and participated on both sides. Both my children attended private high schools; one at GPS and another at Boyd-Buchanan. They were both college athletes as well and looking back I would do the same thing all over again. I am also a public school educator and I love public education, but schools everywhere need a lot of work. (Another story for another day.)

The public-private split is simply a part of what is happening in our society. It will definitely widen the gap between the haves and the have-nots. For instance, the voucher system that would give money to under-privileged public students to attend private schools, as proposed last year by the Tennessee state legislators, will do nothing more than kill public education. It is just a way to spend some money, yet avoid a bigger problem; the problem of properly funding our public school systems.      

If you think things are equal in the Hamilton County schools, think again. Look at the facilities at Ooltewah, Soddy-Daisy and East Hamilton, then take a gander at the facilities at Brainerd, Tyner and Howard. It goes beyond athletics; it also involves technology and support services, and it is anything but equal.

I have heard proponents of the public-private split, say “It’s a win-win situation for both sides.” The only way that will be possible is to come up with enough money to “fix” all the problems we have in our public school system, because the private schools already have all they need.

In case you’re wondering, I really am not taking either side. I want the same thing for all of our young people; an equal chance for a good education. Our country can ill afford to do anything less.

-----

Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past 45 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer. He is currently teaching Broadcasting at Coahulla Creek High School near Dalton, Ga.

His career has included a 17-year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for thirty years.

He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga Television for more than a quarter-century.

In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson. They have two married children, (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith.) They have three grandchildren, Coleman, Boone and DellaMae.

To contact Randy: rsmithsports@epbfi.com



McCallie Wins Big Over McMinn County

McCallie won their second straight game on Friday with a 49-6 win over McMinn County.   McCallie's high powered offence scores all 49 points in the first half.   Paul Silverblat scored on a 57 yard pass from JaVaughn Craig and on a 44 yard run.  Alex Trotter scored on a seven yard run and a 19 yard run.  Craig also scored on a 23 yard run.   ... (click for more)

CCS Football Earns Second Straight Shutout

The Chattanooga Christian School Charger defense earned their second shutout of the season with a 43-0 win over Lookout Valley.  The Charger defense held Lookout Valley to 132 total yards and scored twice.  The Charger defense scored a safety on a bad snap by Lookout Valley and Philip Sneller recovered a Lookout Valley fumble in the endzone for another defensive ... (click for more)

Plan Revived For 5-Story Boutique Hotel Next To The Walnut Street Bridge

Plans have been revived for a five-story boutique hotel next to the Walnut Street Bridge. Vision Hospitality Group said the yet-to-be named hotel will provide 90 rooms featuring high-end amenities and exemplary service in the city's art district. Plans for a similar hotel were announced in 2012, but the proposal was later withdrawn. The hotel is slated for 102 Walnut ... (click for more)

Grand Jury Says County Needs To Start "Immediately" On Funding A New County Jail

Members of the Hamilton County Grand Jury said in a final report that the county needs to start "immediately" on funding a replacement for the Hamilton County Jail. The report, read by Foreman Robert Smith, says, "The Jail is near and/or over capacity and understaffed!  Hard-working corrections officers are in constant danger.  Being responsible for 80-100 inmates per ... (click for more)

Better Plan For Walnut Street Hotel

Mitch Patel and his Vision Hospitality Group have unveiled a revised plan for a hotel on Walnut Street. It is much better than the one proposed two years ago. By having no curb cuts on Walnut Street, it makes that special block near the bridge more inviting and safer for pedestrians. Deliveries would be off Riverfront Parkway and hotel access (valet parking) would be off Aquarium ... (click for more)

Thanks For Making The Southern Brewers Festival A Success

Now that the dust has settled I'd like to thank Chattanooga for supporting the Southern Brewers Festival and making it yet another very successful event.    For those who do not know - the SBF benefits the Chattanooga chapter of Kids on the Block and the Chattanooga Community Kitchen.  As a partner helping the SBF with volunteers, sponsorships and the overall production ... (click for more)