The Truth About Kirkman - And Response

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Vocational training is a must to improve the standard of living for people of the 28th District and for Chattanooga.  This is a reality that has been understood by the current Hamilton County delegation and championed by Senator Todd Gardenhire for some time now. 

Growing-up, my father was a union electrician and his skilled trade provided well for my mother, me, and my four older siblings.  As an early 1990’s Chattanooga area high school graduate, I remember Kirkman fondly.  The name evokes hope, talent, and economic mobility. 

As my father always told me, we can’t just talk the talk, but we must be realistic, and work together.  We must have a firm grasp on all details and realities that must be addressed to create “a new kind of Kirkman, a 21st Century Kirkman”, and likewise to create successful and sustainable public/private partnerships.

The reality of making all of this possible lies in achieving exceptional coordination over multiple levels of government and strong business knowledge and relationships inside and outside of the region.

At the state level, the Basis Education Program formula allocates budget money per student but does not fund the construction of physical buildings.  This must be done at a local level.  Our Senator Gardenhire did secure a pilot to use existing unused space for vocational training which is pending coordination with the school board to make suitable the space and to operate it.

The majority party in the Tennessee legislature is best positioned to remove the barriers that exist to secure public/private partnerships and create a 21st Century Kirkman—a 21st Century Chattanooga because of their business-friendly track record while leading our state. 

Moreover, a seasoned businessperson fighting for the 28th District can most effectively and readily navigate the complexity of getting trade unions and industry on board without proposing massive funding from the state. 

Every place that I have lived in the city has been within what is now the 28th District.  I am an advocate for it and all residing in it. 

Lemon Williams
Candidate for State Representative District 28 

* * * 

Mr. Williams, I wish you luck in creating a "new" vocational high school. I absolutely believe this will not happen as long as there are similar "pay-to-play" programs at Chattanooga State. Why provide a program for free when you can charge students fees? 

Unfortunately to have a school is only half the solution. You will need skilled instructors in each field with a passion for passing on their knowledge. Had it not been for the late Millard Lee Stephens at Kirkman I would not have achieved two fulfilling careers with what I learned. Not only did he share his knowledge, he realized I could build and fix things, but I was not so great with books. He spent many afternoons setting up lab experiments to teach me electronic theory so I would not fail my first year in his class. 

David B. Little



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