Roy Exum: The Same Ole ‘Bored’

Tuesday, October 15, 2019 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

As it just so happened, on the same day the Hamilton County School Board held a special two-hour meeting on Monday over disturbing disciplinary concerns among its 44,000 students, the Nashville Tennessean published a revealing report on school suspensions in the Nashville Metro Public Schools. After five years and a $2 million study, the results were available -- Nashville had launched a program called “The Passage” to determine why a disproportionate number of black children were suspended from the city’s middle and high schools compared to white classmates.

Now at the five-year mark, the Tennessean reported, “While the school district was able to lower its overall suspension rate, it dropped faster for white kids than black students, widening the gap. In the 2013-14 school year, black students were 2.7 times more likely to be suspended than white students; by 2018-19, they were 3.1 times more likely.” In Shelby County (Memphis) the disparity is 4-to-1 in the public schools yet Hamilton County was also chastised by the state and ordered to restore a closer ratio. And as in every other metro district in the state, the outcome was predictably … er, disparaging.

Last night this wasn’t what the Hamilton County board wanted to hear. Stung by several articles that have appeared on Chattanoogan.com in recent weeks, the board members voiced strong opinions the media wasn’t the place to air any dirty laundry or report any other system failures of any kind. They want every playground to have thick green grass, children not to sleep nor text in class, and – most of all -- for a critical media “to quit picking on kids who are economically and sociology deprived … it hurts their feelings.” Instead, “focus on the 95 percent of Hamilton County students that are excelling versus the five percent of troublemakers who drag all the rest down,” and, while you are at it, quit saying over 30 percent of school-aged children in Chattanooga are no longer allowed by their parents/guardians to attend the county’s public schools. “People get the wrong idea.”

No, people get the wrong idea when nine good and intelligent and well-meaning people meet in a specially called meeting to confront outlandish behavior in our public schools and, after you stir in all the wanderers from the Central office, I looked at my note pad for meaning when it adjourned and the page was blank. Totally blank. Nothing was decided, nothing was accomplished. A lot of people talked but not one person said anything of merit. I’ll compare my notes with anyone. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. While boredom found a new plateau, it was the most embarrassing misuse of mankind since Pharaoh made some slaves build a pyramid. I’ve had grilled cheese sandwiches more meaningful.

A number of stories that have appeared on Chattanoogan.com, citing specific instances of deplorable behavior that included one Brainerd High student who was shot 45 minutes after school ended several weeks ago, were urged by emails that were received in anonymity from faculties and staff at a number of schools.  Those who wrote privately identified themselves, and were confirmed, but they also fear repercussions. Not one teacher was publicly identified, but it is hard to argue against the truth and fact. “Instead of writing the media, they ought to direct their remarks to some people who can do something about it,” said board member Karitsa Jones, apparently oblivious to the fact nine school board members and HCDE staff would most definitely not have given a desperate group of teachers from Tyner -- or those at wit’s end in any other school -- as much as five minutes on any conference call.

Jones, who admitted she had been the victim of a student’s foul mouth during a school visit, said she later made contact with the student the same day and, when the kid was told Jones was a school board member, he apologized. Those who teach in the schools, however, simply get ready for the next round or next day, often one and the same.

The disciplinary quagmire in Hamilton County came as a result of a 38-page ‘Student Code of Conduct’ that was introduced by the county’s Department of Education just before the start of the current school year in July. Before it had been a tri-fold card but after being plowed, mowed, baled, and twined, the code is regarded by most school teachers as worthless as a bale of hay. The biggest fault is the human one; there is no way under God’s sun that cookie-cutter solutions will ever be applied with any degree of success over the sprawling 576 square miles the county public schools serve in Southeast Tennessee.

Unbelievably, there are at least four former coaches on the nine-person school board who are experts in the art of handling kids and each will attest to the ball-field truth: No two kids are alike. In Soddy Daisy if a fourth grader gets in trouble at school, it will be worse once he gets home, but in Alton Park, the same fourth grader will be lucky to find the heat on in an empty house.

Nashville gave up on a standardized code when budget constraints foiled the doomed Passages experiment. Amy Frogge, a Nashville school board member, could have sent a recording of her remarks to Hamilton County. She’s gotten dozens of calls from principals and teachers – yes, this year – who say they are unable to handle discipline as a result of sudden policy changes. Help her sing this verse: “Many principals and teachers feel their hands are tied because they could not discipline certain students and had no resources to help them control the classrooms.”

So what did they do? In desperation, Nashville resorted to ‘punitive discipline’ and the liberals who love to write dreamy codes are incapable of understanding what happened: the overall suspension rate from last year has already jumped from 8.5 to 8.8 percent. “They went back to their old way of suspending.” As a Vanderbilt professor said as he scratched his head: “We have schools that are fundamentally different yet we have resources that are equally distributed?” Huh?

The Hamilton County School Board is going to do the exact same thing that was accomplished in a special, two-hour meeting on discipline and the lack of it last night.

That would be ‘nothing.’ People have gone blind, been committed, gotten married, milked a cow, cooked a full meal, and carved a pumpkin in less time. Lord help!

royexum@aol.com


2 Wrongs Never Make A Right

What Is Going On In Minneapolis? - And Response

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies


I was outraged at the apparent excessive police restraint used on George Floyd. The man was on the ground with four police officers on his back, did one really need to put his knee on his neck?According ... (click for more)

What in the name of Hubert Humphrey is going on in Minneapolis, one of the most liberal cities in the country in one of the most liberal states? You want diversity; how about a white governor, ... (click for more)

Erma Bombeck, surely one of the greatest newspaper columnists in our lifetime, once decreed, "When humor goes, there goes civilization." With a new spate of disappointing news this week, it is ... (click for more)



Opinion

2 Wrongs Never Make A Right

I was outraged at the apparent excessive police restraint used on George Floyd. The man was on the ground with four police officers on his back, did one really need to put his knee on his neck?According to Chief Roddy apparently not and I agree. The officer has been charged with murder. Speaking of excessive force, I do not understand how protesters think destroying the property ... (click for more)

What Is Going On In Minneapolis? - And Response

What in the name of Hubert Humphrey is going on in Minneapolis, one of the most liberal cities in the country in one of the most liberal states? You want diversity; how about a white governor, a black Muslim as lt. governor, a Jewish mayor, a black police chief and Ilhan Omar, a Somalian, as their U.S. representative. Even one of the cops accused in the police brutality case is ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Protestors Damaged Property Throughout Downtown Chattanooga; Threw Rocks At Police; Fought Officers; Blocked Roadways

Chattanooga Police said protestors damaged property throughout downtown Chattanooga, threw rocks at police, fought with officers, and blocked roadways during several hours of tumult early Sunday morning. Twelve were arrested, including several from out of town. After the arrests the group of around 150 protestors surrounded the downtown jail and courts area before finally ... (click for more)

Health Department Suspends Distribution Of Cloth Face Masks It Got From The Governor

The Hamilton County Health Department is suspending distribution of the cloth face masks that were distributed throughout the state by the Governor’s Unified Command Group. It has been reported that the cloth masks, manufactured by Renfro, are coated with Silvadur. Silvadur is an anti-microbial substance commonly applied to fabrics to reduce odor causing bacterial growth. ... (click for more)

Sports

Ray Deering, Popular Baylor School Administrator And Sports Columnist, Dies

Ray Deering, a beloved Baylor School administrator and sports enthusiast who wrote a popular sports column in the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has died. A lifelong resident of Chattanooga, Mr. Deering was a 1961 graduate of Chattanooga High School and received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Chattanooga in 1965. At UC he served as the sports editor of ... (click for more)

Trio Of Moc Runners Honored As CoSIDA Academic All-Americans

Nathan Watson, Jonathan Boyd and Abbey Bateman were named to the 2020 CoSIDA Academic All-District First Team, as voted on by sports information directors around the country, for their excellence in the classroom and competition. The 2020 Academic All-District® Women's Track & Field / Cross Country Team, selected by CoSIDA, recognizes the nation's top student-athletes ... (click for more)