Thank You, Commissioners Smedley, Bankston, Fairbanks And Boyd

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

County Chairwoman Sabrena Smedley and Commissioners Chester Bankston, Randy Fairbanks, and Tim Boyd are all the right stuff that Republicans and conservatives are made of.  It is a beautiful thing when our elected unite to do the right thing. 


We have some real leaders in this group.  These county commissioners are representing the majority of property owners in Hamilton County, and have gone on record with media as a no vote for UnifiEd’s property tax increase.


I understand these commissioners are enduring a lot of dirty political tactics from Mayor Coppinger and UnifiEd.  I have faith in our commissioners to nip this in the bud.


Make no mistake about it, we the people in the majority do not want the UnifiEd property tax Increase Mayor Coppinger is peddling for HCDE.

If anyone doubts this, please put the tax increase on a voter referendum.


This week has been media spin from Dr. Bryan Johnson and Mayor Coppinger, with UnifiEd foundation-funded employees in tow campaigning non-stop to convince everyone that a tax increase is needed. HCDE has a public relations budget of around $500,000.


Don’t spend all of that tax money in one place, fellows.


At the same time, it appears that Mayor Coppinger has joined UnifiEd as a member. I look forward to seeing our mayor get out of the UnifiEd vans to canvass neighborhoods, wearing his leftie T-shirt with hired UnifiEd employees. Better, he could be the voice for the UnifiEd robo calls. I think our Mayor has picked the wrong side. That happens in politics, or with last-term mayors.


Let’s consider a number called 31 percent. 


That is the number of Hamilton County children that opt out of the Hamilton County government schools.  It is my understanding from attending a County Commission meeting that 25 percent of Hamilton County children attend many of the fine and moderately priced private schools. Two large private schools on Ashland Terrace provide quality education for less than the $10,400 per child that HCDE spends.


And guess what, private school third graders can read.  The HCDE cannot produce a majority of third graders that can read.


The remaining six percent of Hamilton County children are in home school or in home-based education programs.  This was the best kept secret some time ago.


Let’s think about this home school education. With nothing more than a kitchen table, computer, and textbooks, the home schoolers out preform government schools by leaps and bounds that are spending $10,400. In fact, the state of Tennessee in early distribution of lottery funds assigned a higher ACT score for the home schoolers to gain college lottery funds. The home schoolers performance academically was off the charts.


The 31 percent number is a very important figure.  We see the private sector, home schoolers, and now charter schools, breaking academic barriers with children that were being lost in HCDE. Just wait, our local charter schools are knocking it out of the academic park.


HCDE has approximately 69 percent of Hamilton County children in their government schools.   This is their environment of failure.


State Report Card 2017-2018


Student Enrollment 43,830


Per Student Expenditures $10,400


Classroom Teachers 2863


Administrators 203


Additional Teachers and Staff 603


Student Success Rate  36.4 percent


What are we trying to save with HCDE? There are better education options for the 69 percent of Hamilton County children in government schools.


Children at kitchen tables in home school programs, attending charter schools, and private schools are actually being educated and can read in third grade in majority. Hamilton County children deserve better than the dismal school environments offered by HCDE.


The new excuse from HCDE is many of the 69 percent of children are mentally ill. Mayor Coppinger, Dr. Bryan Johnson, and UnifiEd are citing the need for mental health for the 69 percent. I think their schools are causing these children problems. Let’s move these children to a higher quality environment and see what happens.


If HCDE cannot teach third graders to read or high school students to carry out basic math, just how can HCDE execute programs for complex adolescent mental health?


I reviewed the list of proposed new positions - 300 plus - that range from truancy officer to social workers. There is absolutely no position appropriately credentialed or licensed to conduct clinical mental health assessments and evaluations. HCDE certainly cannot diagnose and treat, and a school building is not a clinical environment. 


It is easier to blame the mental health of children for HCDE’s failure to educate. It is low-hanging fruit.


What exactly is HCDE’s role in adolescent mental health? Simply put, HCDE is not credentialed or licensed to conduct mental health diagnostics and treatment. 


We need to help the 69 percent of children in HCDE by granting them school choice vouchers, more charter schools, and address the inequity of no financial support to home school programs.


More money will not rehabilitate HCDE’s culture of failure. Governor Lee provided vouchers to empower families to escape failing government schools. Let’s get vouchers for the 69 percent of Hamilton County children, as Governor Lee attempted to provide.


Oppose the property tax increase.


April Eidson

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