Roy Exum: CSLA Lays An Egg

Friday, February 17, 2017 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Part of the mission statement for the Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts (CSLA) – according to its website – is to “participate respectfully and responsibly in a democratic learning community.” But after an outlandish appearance before the Hamilton County School Board on Thursday night, it is safe to say one of Chattanooga’s best schools is today its most least respected. I’m talking about a new definition for stupid.

A sizable delegation from CSLA attended the “facilities committee” of the board’s monthly meeting and some rabble rouser came up with the idea a great way to get attention would be to start a repugnant tiff with the board. The trouble is, CSLA promptly knocked its own self out – face down on the canvas, I’m telling you -- and with the school board and the leaders of the Hamilton County Department of Education watching stone-faced, the animosity that was immediately apparent was cringe worthy.

CSLA, housed in an admittedly poor facility on East Brainerd Road, is like many other county schools in dire need of major repairs but some CSLA organizer got the idea they could bully the school board with catcalls, whistles, shouts of “liar,” and boorish behavior. It was the worst thing a “magnet school” could have possibly done in a district where now there are $231.5 million in construction projects piled up.

Rhonda Thurman – definitely the worst on the board to try to intimidate – was thoughtfully explaining why a “magnet” must wait. “We’ve got schools where a child has no other choice. If CSLA ceased to be, every child is already zoned to another school and there is a place for them. If Harrison Elementary is condemned, those children have nowhere close by to go.”

In short, every child at CSLA is “picked” to attend. There are waiting lists at CSLA of between 159-200 students in each grade because of the educational excellence, but elsewhere in the district some five-year-olds in the first grade must ride over an hour on a bus each way. “Our priority has to be with these people,” Ms. Thurman said.

Obviously, Rhonda is right and, while County Mayor Jim Coppinger has poured over $138 million into school construction since taking office, the County Commission has not been as forthcoming in meeting the demands in education. School officials will be forced to rezone students, particularly in the East Brainerd and Ooltewah areas that are growing in populations by leaps and bounds.

The CSLA crowd demonstrated they could care less. As one “adult delinquent” yelled “Liar” and those around him hissed and booed, Rhonda popped right back, “I’ve been called worse but, you know what? it doesn’t matter because I’ve heard your garbage before and this board is going to do what is best for everybody.”

That’s when some rube stepped badly outside of decency and attempted to goad Rhonda even worse. The board’s vice chairperson, Karitsa Jones, instantly called him down and explained to the CSLA malcontents there were rules and decorum that would not be compromised in the face of their disgusting behavior.

“Who do these people think they are?” was the consensus of the standing-room only crowd.

But the best of all rebuttals came when the monthly meeting began and two of Chattanooga’s so-called “worst” schools, Orchard Knob Middle and Dalewood Middle, celebrated the gains they have made with the board melting at the success stories in the very face of iZone threat. The state has announced it may take as many as seven schools away from Hamilton County and place them in a state-managed achievement district.

Schools in Memphis and Nashville have already been seized from Shelby and Davidson counties and, while Hamilton County schools like Brainerd High have boasted rapid improvement, the word from Nashville is that the state Department Of Education will hit Hamilton County next to show the achievement school concept is viable.

The tingle is that the state achievement district is anything but. Of the schools it has taken, very few have shown improvement. Some think casting aside local teachers and supervisors for outside unknowns will never work. According to independent news sources, this is proving to be true in both Memphis and Nashville.

But the state department of education is mandated to show effort for the money being spent and,, again according to Nashville legislative sources, the grab will happen. Thurman revealed the HCDE must bring the Hamilton County schools “up to standard” before the state assumes control. “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?”

The vice chair, Mrs. Jones, informed the CSLA representatives that the County Commission would decide how school funding with be allocated so perhaps they should appear there to continue their cause. I can predict, after watching last night’s debacle, the commissioners will be waiting.

In contrast to CSLA, the Harrison Elementary spokesperson cheerfully and pleasantly thanked the board members and administrators for coming out to tour the badly-deteriorated, 79-year-old school.

The board responded by voting Harrison Elementary as the top priority for a new school.

I can also predict when this year’s Summer Reading lists are issued by CSLA, there may be a new “parent” requirement: “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.

One line in the book reads like this, “Personally I am very fond of strawberries and cream, but I have found that for some strange reason, fish prefer worms. So, when I went fishing, I didn’t think about what I wanted. I thought about what they wanted. I didn't bait the hook with strawberries and cream. Rather, I dangled a worm or grasshopper in front of the fish and said: "Wouldn't you like to have that?" Why not use the same common sense when fishing for people?”

Good luck.

royexum@aol.com



Soddy Daisy Residents Fed Up With Trains Blocking Roads

Trains have always occasionally blocked roads in the northern part of Hamilton County. However, since the workforce reduction in the rail yard, the occurrences have increased exponentially. When the railroad cut the workforce, several employees mentioned that this would be a byproduct. Man....they weren’t kidding.  To compound the problem, the county has yet to add another ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Why Not Good People?

It makes no difference if you are a Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative – I believe we will all come up short this Tuesday when Alabama announces the winner of a special election for a new Senator. On one hand you have Roy Moore, a controversial judge who has been bounced off the state’s Supreme Court twice, painted as a pedophile by numerous accusers, and just observed ... (click for more)

Driver Of Stolen Car Jumps Out; Leaves Pregnant Cousin In Vehicle As It Hits Pole, Wall, Creek

The driver of a stolen car jumped out, leaving his 15-week pregnant cousin in the vehicle as it hit a power pole and a wall before plunging into a creek. Michael Jalen Sawyer, 20, of Clinton, Tn., was charged with evading arrest, improper registration, reckless endangerment, theft of property over $10,000, failure to maintain lane and vandalism. Police said the incident happened ... (click for more)

Neighbor Takes Photo Of Burglar; Brian Alex Stone Arrested

A neighbor who went over to check on a house break-in has led to the arrest of Brian Alex Stone Jr. Stone, 23, of 3210 Broad St., is charged with aggravated burglary and theft of property. Police were notified on Dec. 1 that a burglary had just taken place on Trailwood Drive. The suspect was a black male with twists in his hair, who was driving a silver Dodge Caliber. ... (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)

UTC Women Fall To Virginia Tech 64-44

The Chattanooga Lady Mocs started off the current basketball season with three straight losses, including a 60-30 whipping at Green Bay on November 11. Things had gotten better since that time as the Lady Mocs came into Sunday afternoon’s home game with Virginia Tech on a six-game winning streak, but the train jumped off the track, the local girls had one of their poorest performances ... (click for more)