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




Cleveland Wrestlers Maintain Top Spot In State Wrestling Poll

The Cleveland Blue Raider wrestling team is still #1 in the latest state coaches poll.   Cleveland won their own dual tournament this weekend.  McCallie is second and Baylor is fifth followed by Bradley in sixth.   Now in its 26th year, The Poll is primarily a measure of  dual meet strength  with some consideration to individual tournament ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Back To .500 With Win Over 49ers

The Chattanooga Mocs are now at .500 for the first time this season after Sunday afternoon’s 64-50 victory over the North Carolina-Charlotte 49ers. Progress has been slow at times for the youngest team in the NCAA, but the Mocs played much better in the first half than they did in the first and were rewarded with a 14-point victory after being tied at halftime. “We had ... (click for more)

Overflow Crowd Attends Latest Signal Mountain Meeting On Leaving County Schools

The December meeting of the Signal Mountain Town Council was for the most part devoted to giving citizens another chance to voice their opinions and ask questions about forming a new school district separate from Hamilton County. More people interested in the subject came than could be admitted to the council room because of fire capacity and the crowd overflowed into the lobby. ... (click for more)

Haslam Appoints Kyle Hedrick Circuit Court Judge

Governor Bill Haslam on Monday appointed Kyle E. Hedrick of Chattanooga as Circuit Court Judge for the 11th Judicial District.  He replaces Judge W. Neil Thomas III, who has retired. The 11th Judicial District serves Hamilton County.   Mr. Hedrick and attorney Glenna Ramer have practiced together since 1994 and formed the law firm Ramer & Hedrick in Chattanooga ... (click for more)

All I Want For Christmas Are Digitized Newspapers For 2018 - And Response

With recent news of the Public Library investing in their own StoryCorps-ish effort with the Chattanooga Memory Project, it got me thinking about digitizing local newspapers again.   It's been two and a half years since the Chattanooga Public Library committed to sending out a request for proposals to digitize the local newspapers they have on microfilm. Back in ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Top Of My Desk

I am always pleasantly amused when people ask me how I can come up with something different to write about each day. The truth is that it is a rare day indeed when there isn’t something I want to share. As I sat down at my desk yesterday and looked about, I laughed at myself because there were several stacks each worthy of a story so please allow me to present “the best of” the ... (click for more)