Roy Exum: Extra Vs. Expected

Sunday, July 21, 2019 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Kendra Young, a school teacher, wrote a wonderful letter that appeared on this week (“When The Extra Becomes Expected From Teachers”) that included a line where she misspoke. Kendra writes, “This letter is only intended for one audience. Teachers: I’m talking directly to us.”

No, Kendra is writing to all of us, her experience wide in buying classroom supplies with her own money, taking home mounds of silly paperwork, and enduring even dumber visits from those “in the central office” who she knows are the furthest thing from “an expert” that you can imagine. Teachers such as herself are brain-washed into a system where ‘bus duty’ and ‘cafeteria duty,’ and ‘police duty,’ and ‘psychiatric duty,’ and ‘home room duty’ are only a few of the distractions of every single day.

For the record, there are 176 full student days on the 2019-2020 school calendar.

There are roughly 20 more days for a teacher so, for the sake of simplicity, let’s assume a teacher will work 200 days a year. Simple math tells me a proposed 2.5 percent raise to an experienced teacher who is making $50,000 a year will be a $1,250. Divide that by 200 work days and we’re talking increasing that teacher’s hands-on salary by $6.25 a day.

But life’s calendar is different. Our teachers don’t exactly vaporize the other 165 days of the year. We talk loud and bold about giving our teachers “a life” so it is really more like a $1,250 salary increase, spread over 52 weeks of the year, means a 2.5 percent salary increase is realistically $3.42 more per day. (Think of $3.42 as one gallon of gas.)

I have a problem when I compare all the “extra” our teachers are “expected” to do and what must run through their minds when elected experts quibble over a raise that is just $3.42 a day. That’s wrong. It isn’t enough, and when I am told every adjacent county in Tennessee and Georgia has better pay and has better benefits than Hamilton County, not only is it wrong but it is embarrassing.

School board member Tucker McClendon is as right as he can be when he insists that we “look outside of the box” but the taxpayers of Hamilton County overwhelming believe there is enough fluff in a proposed $410 million budget to easily give our teachers a five percent raise. Guess what? Our own teachers believe there is enough “fluff.”

We are pouring cash into our “priority schools” at the expense of our other schools and that’s dishonest. The State of Tennessee, after six years of trying, just announced shoveling cash into “at risk” schools has not worked. It hasn’t worked in sports, our armed service, the Volkswagen assembly line, with free tuition at Chattanooga State or in medicine – more millions isn’t the answer.

Let’s move money now being lavished on poverty experiments and put it where we know it will be for the good. A typical kindergarten at a school in the north of Hamilton County will have 25-30 students and one teacher. In the poverty zone we’ll have 14-to-20 students, a teacher, and a teacher’s aide. Guess which group does the best?

Understand, I believe our poverty schools are our biggest challenge and that Jill Levine is a treasure but that the disparity in the school district is crippling our Department of Education. Look at Birchwood, Sale Creek and other fringe schools … there are poverty problems galore in the district but, at many schools, their needs are basically ignored.

There is little question we are spending money unwisely. The school district spent $500,000 to have our school’s physical plants studied. That report will be presented this week. The most aching need should draw the same attention. If we were to have an intensive audit I believe we could fund a five percent raise for our teachers, support staff, and more by renewing our misled priorities.

Further, we need to do some long-range planning that would prevent the same crisis every summer. It is shameful a salary increase for our teachers has been allowed to turn into such a bungling mess. The raises should have never been part of a tax increase. The thinking that the want for better education would stir the taxpayers back-fired – no one trusting the hiring of 300 people -- and pity the wizards who believe it was “critical” to insure the momentum of the Department of Education.

The only momentum a simple man has seen over the past 15 years is the parade of public school students leaving for private schools. When over 30 percent of school-age students go elsewhere, somebody ought to acknowledge the reasons and confront them, rather than leaning back to watch.

The other monster in the mix is the not-for-profit group, UnifiEd. As it has been discovered to be a political instigator of the “liberal elite” and a threat to public education, the taxpayers’ distrust has spread into the county’s Department of Education. With most of the county’s elected officials disavowing UnifiEd, it is believed the schools may be on a slippery slope with the elections coming into focus.


How Valuable Is A Child's Life?

Blocking A Road Does Frighten People

Elect Tom Decosimo

If you support Trump after learning he will withhold funds from public schools unless the schools reopen on time then there is nothing anyone can say to help you realize the true nature of Donald ... (click for more)

Marie Mott is quoted as asking, “So you’re telling me blocking a road instills fear in the community?” Apparently she was seeking the approval of her peers; for a more objective answer, she should've ... (click for more)

As early voting in Hamilton County is about to begin, we should take careful note of the positions held by all those running for school board, regardless of district. Views held by those elected ... (click for more)


How Valuable Is A Child's Life?

If you support Trump after learning he will withhold funds from public schools unless the schools reopen on time then there is nothing anyone can say to help you realize the true nature of Donald Trump. But if you care, research just a few of his past statements. “Like a miracle, the virus will disappear in the summer.” “The outbreak will be temporary.” “Coronavirus numbers ... (click for more)

Blocking A Road Does Frighten People

Marie Mott is quoted as asking, “So you’re telling me blocking a road instills fear in the community?” Apparently she was seeking the approval of her peers; for a more objective answer, she should've asked 'the community' instead. You know, the community -- those working, taxpaying folks who actually pay for and build the roads, public buildings, private homes, etc. The basic ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Dalton Municipal Court Suspends In-Person Sessions Due To Rise In COVID Cases

The City of Dalton’s Municipal Court is suspending in person court appearances through at least Aug. 12 in response to the recent increase in COVID-19 cases in Whitfield County and the northwest Georgia region. Payments for fines can still be made online or in person at the window in the Public Works building at 532 N. Elm Street. There will be no in person Municipal Court ... (click for more)

Protest Leaders Mott, Williams Face 2 Sets Of Charges On Sunday, Including Stealing Flag And Burning It

The two leaders of the ongoing nightly protests in Chattanooga were arrested on two different sets of charges on Sunday. Marie Mott and Cameron Williams were charged by Chattanooga Police with obstructing an intersection and blocking an emergency vehicle. Later in the day, they were charged by the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office in connection with taking the Sheriff's ... (click for more)


Sports Are Back: CFC Wins First Professional Sporting Event In Tennessee Since March

As the tallest player on the pitch, the Chattanooga Football Club’s towering and burly Ian McGrath rumbled down the pitch with aplomb, an inviting target for a pass five minutes into CFC’s 3-1 win over the Georgia Revolution. He graciously welcomed a sterling diagonal pass from fullback Richard Dixon, who was a good 20 to 30 yards away from McGrath when he let the pass go. ... (click for more)

Tee Times Announced For 2020 CWGA City Women's Amateur Golf Championship

The 2020 City Women's Amateur Golf Championship will be held on Tuesday at Black Creek Country Club. Listed below are the first round tee times. Hole 1 Name H.I. C.H. TEE 8:00 AM Ryon, Carlene 7.4 6 White-CWGA ... (click for more)