Aborting The Rescue Of Children's Education In Hamilton County

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

I was really captivated by this morning’s story in the Chattanoogan.com, “County School Officials Mobilized To Keep Hamilton County Out Of Lee Voucher Bill; Emails Give Details” 

I have read these emails and one that was not published from Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson to Elizabeth Millsaps and copied to Robert Gowan on April 15, 2019 about “Hamilton County numbers -ESAs”. This email string quotes Drew Sutton of the Tennessee Education Association as estimating that HCDE would lose 1,000 students a year to non-public schools, costing them $3.6 million if the governor’s ESA proposal became law. 

When the whole county hurts for kids caught by their zip code in failing schools, why would the superintendent lobby at a cost of $75,000 of our tax dollars paid to a lobbying group to stop 1,000 kids a year from leaving failing schools to schools that will at least teach them to read. The 1,000 a year is the TEA’s estimate not mine. 

When the superintendent could have handed a life preserver to these children and solved a problem everyone is concerned about, why did he put the pressure on Todd Gardenhire and Bo Watson to stop the educational rescue? He succeeded and those kids are trapped in their failing schools. 

Now we’re called to raise taxes $34 million and many will feel the tax increase is needed to help those in these same failing schools. This makes no sense to me. What is more important to our kids, their education or retaining dollars for HCDE? 

And it should be asked of the Attorney General Neal Pinkston if Superintendent Johnson and top staff were not in violation of Tennessee’s “Little Hatch Act”, specifically Tenn. Code Ann. 2-19-201 and 202 which seek to prohibit the inappropriate use of public employees and property for political purposes.

The superintendent has done a great job ingratiating himself to many folks in this community. It’s a shame he stopped a law that would have pulled 1,000 students a year out of the educational mud. 

I suspect some of the reasoning was so that the citizens of Hamilton County would be better prepared to accept a huge tax increase. Wow. What a shame. 

Douglas E. Daugherty, Sr.


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