Go Ahead And Let The State Take Over Failing Schools

Monday, July 17, 2017

I read Roy's column regarding a "state takeover" of five local schools. Having worked in public education for 30 years here in Chattanooga and Hamilton County before retiring in 2001, I have listened to officials from the state department talk about "taking over" what they call failing schools beginning around 1997.

If a bank gets in trouble or a business starts to collapse, a takeover there means something entirely different than a school takeover. Receivers are appointed by the court and a carefully drawn plan for recovery is put into force.

For 20 years politicians and state bureaucrats have been pushing the ultimate takeover action down the road. The same schools here in Hamilton County are the essentially same ones identified for state action many years ago but the students and staff are essentially different. So what's the problem here?

My thinking is go ahead state folks, show us what you can do. What magic formula do you have that you haven't shared with local administrators for the last 20 years? And if there is one why haven't you shared it until now?

Again, my thinking is this new crew of pols and many of the same folks that bravely man the desks in the State Department of Education in Nashville don't have anything new any more than those folks over the last 20 years.

Sure, there are private firms that come up with ideas about operating the schools. Yes, folks with good intentions apply to operate specialized charter schools. The same thing has happened all over the country. But why hasn't there been any huge wave of success that has swept the education world and turned these many schools around?

The answer is not as complicated as we've been led to believe by the so-called experts. For the first half of the Twentieth Century the American family valued an education and saw it as the door to opportunity and success. Simply put, an education had great value. And it took hard work, dedication and endurance to get one.

Enter the Great Society and all of its entitlements including an education. But just giving one an education, or rather holding classes and enacting compulsory attendance laws forcing young people to attend class hasn't worked for many. Getting a useful education that leads to successful employment is not given. It's earned and worked for and the family has to place the highest value on achievement.

Until this American value is once again more than just talk and blustering, things will go on as they have.

Ralph Miller


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