The Wheel Tax Wouldn't Be A Sacrifice And Supports Our Teachers - And Response (10)

Monday, October 21, 2019

I appreciate our underpaid teachers here in Tennessee so much. We as a whole have a moral obligation to make sure we contribute to their pay.

A wheel tax on our cars is a minimal expense to most of us. Sixty dollars is not enough for us to complain. We shouldn't even bat an eye at that if it contributes to the hard working teachers who sacrifice daily for our children.

We should not complain but take pride in assisting our educators. They are under extreme pressure from this spoiled and disrespectful generation of tech savvy millennials who have the attention span of a milla second. They need and deserve our help. We should help.

I own three cars. We should assist our state legislature in helping them. Teachers are parents away from home. Home is where the heart is. We should show our educators we care about them helping build our homes.

Thank you educators, all over the world. 

Jimmie Williams

* * * 

Sir, I appreciate what you say, I really do. I do feel however, $60 a year is a huge deal to a lot of people. I challenge you to go to most any Hardee’s in the mornings. Sit down and have a conversation with the local Papaws and Mamaws. Think about the single parents that struggle with school fees, $60 is a huge deal to them too. Listen to people just go on and on about the $9 emissions fee. 

If the teachers want increased pay they should demand more from their School Board members and superintendent. They’re the ones that decided to cut the increases in lieu of additional workers. I’m hesitant to call those workers what most do, counselors, because I haven’t seen the actual job titles and descriptions. 

Before making blanket covering statements, we should all try and get out of our echo chambers. 

James Berry

* * *

Mr. Berry, respectfully if Mamaw and Papaw ate breakfast at Hardee’s most mornings, then they can afford a $60 wheel tax. I

’m all about discussion. Maybe exempt seniors or make it less than $60. Maybe look at sales tax instead. Maybe....something, anything.

The problem is that the commission failed to even send it to a committee to discuss further. The school board voted (the second go round) according to the wishes of educators who spoke out in favor of putting student supports in place. Myself included. The problem is that both student supports and teacher compensation are a true issue in Hamilton County and must be addressed.

We’ve come a long way under Dr. Johnson’s leadership and that cannot be argued. It’s time we all come together and work to find some solutions because a strong public school system benefits all, whether you have kids in it or not. 

Jennifer Rimback 

* * * 

As a student in county schools I have a different look on this tax. I see that the teachers have to invest extra hours. I know teachers have to lose their weekend trying to grade papers or make lesson plans.

We all know teachers are underpaid, that is a fact. We also see how teachers sometimes get thrown under the bus for not teaching all standards or because their students got too low of a test grade.

Yes, $60 per vehicle may be a lot, but think about all teachers have done. I as a 12-year-old myself would step up to pay the $60 for teachers. Teachers also invest their own dollars to buy school supplies or classroom workbooks or anything they wish for their classroom. This tax will go a long way for teachers. Teachers will benefit from this tax amazingly. 

Do you support teachers? If so, please support this wheel tax. 

Ryan Jenkins

* * * 

Roy Exum is as entitled to his opinions and insults as I am mine. There’s no sense in responding personally to his bullying. For whatever reason, however, he has an audience and that audience has been misinformed. Back in July, the school board asked for a 34 cent property tax increase to further fund education and partially close gaps in teacher pay and necessary staffing. Hamilton County schools are woefully below recommended staffing levels for counselors and social workers, meaning that students are being underserved daily in areas that they desperately need. In addition, the tax increase would have provided teachers across the board with a 5 perccent pay increase, attempting to close yet another gap that exists between Hamilton County and nearby counties in regard to teacher compensation. Tennessee ranks 36th overall in teacher pay. This measure was rejected by five of our nine commissioners. The resulting revised — and balanced — budget at first included a 2.5 percent teacher pay increase, before school board members, district officials and members of the teachers union settled for a one-time, $1,500 bonus for district employees. Later, the county used additional funds to reward teachers for achieving a Level 5 status for state testing, which amounted to an appropriate $555.55 per teacher.

These decisions were made, with input from teachers across the county, because we understood that there was a more immediate need. The funding that would have been used for teacher salary increases, part of about $19 million in growth money the district received between increased local and state tax revenue and federal funds, was instead budgeted for new positions including school counselors, behavior specialists and reading interventionists. These immediate needs outweighed our own long term need for an increase in salary. That need has not gone away. The bonuses are appreciated, but modest, and easily swallowed up by everyday expenses. They are not guaranteed going forward and are not part of our salary package. We sacrificed, again, for our students because we understand that their needs come before ours.

Regardless of what others may say, the most recent proposal before the county commission wasn’t one to raise taxes. It was meant to allow voters to decide whether or not a tax increase is warranted. We are simply asking the county commission to place a referendum on the March ballot asking taxpayers if we should institute a $60 wheel tax to fund teacher raises. If voters do not want it, they can say so. By voting against this measure, the county commission has taken away our collective voice, supporters and opponents alike.

In closing, I would like to remind readers of Mr. Exum’s column that teachers are community members, voters, and taxpayers. We have as much a right to express our views as anyone else. If we write a letter and name a county commissioner, it’s because we felt it necessary to do so. I will not apologize for having opinions. Neither will Mr. Exum. Neither should you.

John DeVore
6th Grade Writing
Hixson Middle School

* * * 

What is not at all surprising to me is so many people miss the point, whether it’s on purpose or simply a lack of understanding. It is not a question of whether or not most of us can afford a $60 per vehicle annual wheel tax to go towards raises for school teachers. It really has nothing to do with our appreciation for the work so many of our good teachers do educating our children, a lot of whom are sent to them daily unprepared.

It’s about having a superintendent who has been given ample funds, with a healthy increase every year he has been here, who doesn’t use the money wisely. How dare these people use our children to write letters shaming us for being responsible with our money, all the while calling Roy Exum a bully for pointing out the truth. I realize it’s a tactic that is becoming more and more prevalent as a portion of our citizenry moves closes to their desire for Socialism.

Gaslighting is an extreme form of emotional manipulation that is aimed at controlling the way someone sees themselves and their reality. Through tactics such as denial, lying, and contradiction, this form of psychological abuse tries to destabilize a person or group of people from the outside in. They will out and out deny it but it won’t change the truth. Recognize the problem and lets move forward.

J. Pat Williams

* * * 

When I worked as a board member of HCRAA for several years to stop the forced annexation of county residents by former Mayor Littlefield, I became acutely aware of the waste and abuse of taxpayer money on many fronts.  The school system was certainly as guilty and maybe more so than many other bloated departments of local government . 

Do yourself a favor and just scan down the unbelievable list of the salaries, and number of those that make up the administrative arm of our school system, independent of the actual classroom teachers.  The number of vice principles, assistants, department heads, counselors, etc., is staggering, and in my opinion downright shameful. The list seems endless. 

Of course every time they cry for more and more money, it is always "for the children". They even use our teachers as their Trojan Horse to sneak themselves right on in each time to another fat pay raise for themselves on the backs of these children and actual teachers, and the disparity continues.  Of course that doesn't count the millions of taxpayer dollars they give out to incompetent administrators and superintendents they buy off every so often, to just go away. After they screwed up and hired them in the first place. 

Oh well, it's not their money, it's just those ungrateful seniors that gather at Hardees every morning for that unnecessary cup of coffee, biscuits and gravy. How could these seniors be so wasteful.

Bill Reesor

* * * 

I am one of those senior citizens trying to survive on $834 a month. To pay my electric bill, my water bill, my phone bill and car insurance leaves very little for medicine and food. That $60 you throw around could mean the difference in buying medicine or food. Which should I do without to pay this wheel tax?

Then after that what new tax will you think of? There is always people supporting a new tax. I just can not afford it. To get a ride to the doctors office or Sav-A-Lot to buy food.

Quit taxing us to death.

Julia Buckner

* * *

I figured $1.15 a week to support a wheel tax for education won't break me. Count me in. However, I continue to remain skeptical of alternative schools. The ones I've come across, dating back to 1980's, specifically while I was in Texas, operated more like mini-prep-for-prisons. The name alone, alternative school, carries a stigma that can impact a student throughout their adult lives. 

Now if alternative schools were renamed and reshaped to operate more like vocational and trade schools, and professionally run by adults actually skilled in various vocational and trade fields, that could be a great improvement and have a powerfully positive impact on the lives of many of these students others quickly label as troublesome, and believe the only solution is to kick them out of school or throw them away in some pre-mini-prison environment. 

Many students labeled 'troubled' early on in life aren't really troubled at all. They are some of the more brightest students, only in a different way, with natural talents and skills which haven't been fully utilized, appreciated or tapped into.

An example is the student who had a natural talent for repairing anything electronic. Another who possessed a natural skill in computer repair. We've all been gifted in some shape or other with natural skills, but often somewhere along the way and under certain conditions we lose those natural born talents and skills we were gifted with earlier on if we're not allowed to use them. Some young people are naturally skilled in painting and drawing. Some are naturally great at building things. These are just samplings of some of the natural talents and skills I've come across and witnessed in a lot of young people over the years who have been mislabeled and tossed aside.

Consider it. It's worth a try.  

Brenda Washington

* * *

Now we're being fed yet another lie, another bit of nonsense.  Actually it's the same old foolishness, now someone else is singing the same old song, just using a few different words this time.  Who says the wheel tax wouldn't have been a burden on anyone in the county?  Who says the money would have gone to the teachers?  We've already seen precisely how that works, and the same people are still in charge of money at the schools; no obvious change has been made, in spite of the most recent blatant deceit about money for teachers' raises.

You know, I am absolutely sick and tired of other people telling me what I must pay for and what I can easily afford.  I don't go to Hardee's and sit around eating and drinking, either morning or evening; and those folks you'll find there and in other similar venues are definitely not the grandparents/retirees/'seniors' who get hurt the worst by all of the asinine tax increases and other money-grubbing schemes of the politicians, bureaucrats, and bleeding hearts of all sorts.

As far as I can tell, the ones in this county and city who most want my money, and who are in a position to requisition it and take it against my will, invariably turn out to be liars and crooks.  Yes, I could name names, but wouldn't want to hurt anyone's feelings.

One letter a few days ago was from a family that owns more than $600,000 in properties on Signal Mountain, telling silly old me who lives down here among the trailer parks that I should be kicking in more of my meager income for their kid's education.  The funny thing is, not a single one of those who keep advocating for me to have to pay more for the education of someone else's children -- not a one of them has ever written a letter to the editor that began or included or ended with the statement,  "I just sent my personal check for $1,000 (or any other amount worthy of their elevated opinion) to the head office of the schools for them to squander as they see fit."  Everybody demands that I put my money where they want it, but they don't put their own money where their mouth is.

Some folks would tell me that I don't have a dog in this fight, since I'm 76-years-old, live on mediocre Social Security and whatever bits of employment I get now and then, and haven't ever had any kids in the public schools here or elsewhere.  They tell me I have no right to complain about anything concerning the schools.  But if that's true, if I don't have a dog in this fight, how come I am forced to buy a thousand-dollar ticket to the same old dog fight every year -- with the very open threat of losing my home if I don't pay?  Yeah, you know exactly what I mean about that.

Since the school administrators have shown they have no common sense, no good judgment, no decent conscience, and no personal accountability when it comes to spending our money for whatever they want, the County Commission has finally done the right thing at least twice this year.  At least a majority of them have done so, and I thank those five for that.  Now, try this on for size:  Why not eradicate the school board completely, and let the County Commission handle the school finances and operation directly?  A recent Free Press article says, "Per state law, elected school board members earn half the salary county commissioners earn."  If each commissioner got his usual pay plus the 50 percent extra school board pay, that'd be about $37,000 -- right close to the average household income for the county --  and maybe they could do a better job of handling all that money. 

After all, the school folks keep telling us that more money will produce better results; maybe it'd work in this situation, by eliminating the school board entirely and giving the commissioners more money to do their work in their place.  I know, the commissioners aren't educators, but considering the present state of affairs, what have we got to lose?  How could they do any worse?  Of course, when it comes to government and politics, never say "It couldn't be worse," because we all know they could make it a whole lot worse. 

But the entire schools situation could also be a whole lot better -- and contrary to the opinion of so many, more money is obviously not the answer to the present problems.  The problem isn't a lack of dollars, it's a lack of good sense.  If you truly absolutely completely wholeheartedly believe the schools need more money, then write them a big fat check on your own account and leave me alone!

Larry Cloud

* * *

Concerning the new wheel tax, I would like to voice my opinion.

First, let me say that I know how governments operate. I oppose the wheel tax, but I would be slightly more in favor if all of the money raised would only go toward salaries for teachers. But we all know that the money would be put into the general fund for the HCDE with no public accountability.

I also feel that "a portion" of the money would go to salaries. Folks, a portion could be one penny out of every $100. If you want support, make sure that 100 percent goes directly to teacher salaries. There are people who are already working who can handle that so it isn't necessary to hire anyone special to deal with the disbursement. And, again, it needs to be publicly accounted for-no lawyers, no filing forms for freedom of information. Public accountability. 

Next, to the teachers who sent the letter to the Commission: you stand a better chance of getting the wheel tax approved if the Commission deals with the matter. Putting it on a referendum for the public to vote on it is a suicidal act. Very few people are willing to pay about $60 per car for tags, no matter what the reason. A referendum would go up in flames like the Hindenburg.

Ed Bradley


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