Rhonda Thurman: We Can Learn From The Private Schools

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

At Monday night’s School Board Agenda Session, I brought up the fact that I had received many complaints from parents and some school personnel about the half day of school on Wednesday, Nov. 13. This half day caught many parents off guard because students had just been off October 7-14 for Fall Break. This half day caused many to have to scramble for childcare. Some also noted that it was only going to be a couple of weeks until students would be off again for three days for Thanksgiving and then go to school for 13 days and then off for 13 more days for Christmas and New Years.

During our conversation about how to be more considerate to our customers (parents/taxpayers), I suggested that we might consider being off the entire week of Thanksgiving for Fall Break like some of the private schools do instead of taking off a week in October. Doing this would prevent us from starting and stopping classes so much, which is something most teachers hate.

I must say that I was shocked with the board chairman’s response that, “I could care less what they do in private schools.” (I think he meant “couldn’t care less”).  So, was he saying if private schools are doing something that makes sense, HCDE cannot do it? What kind of logic is that? I noted that private schools have to do things that make sense because they answer to their customers. I suggested that we needed to do the same thing.

I do not understand why some on the board have such a problem with private schools. Private school parents are paying for an education twice. They are paying for a public education system they are not using and also paying for a private education.

I asked what would happen if the 30 percent of Hamilton County students, either attending private schools or home schooled, showed up at their zoned school tomorrow? What would HCDE do? How many more schools would we have to build? How many more teachers, principals and school personnel would we have to hire? 

There are many good things going on in private schools and with home schoolers just like there are in HCDE. I thank God for all of the different education options. They all have their place. There is no need to pit one against the other. We are all fellow citizens of Hamilton County.

I still think taking a half day off the Friday before Thanksgiving as well the entire week of Thanksgiving for Fall Break makes more sense than taking off a week in October for Fall Break and a half day the middle of November and three days off for Thanksgiving. I do not care whose idea it was.

Rhonda Thurman


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