Roy Exum: This Zoning Won’t Work

Sunday, January 12, 2020 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Back many ages ago when the Bible was written, everyone knew you can’t mix goats and sheep. Since, we have learned to never compare apples and oranges, or compare a lemon to a lime, or ride to an Alabama-Auburn football game seated on the back seat between a Crimson Tide loyalist and a diehard Tiger fan. Some things are simply not meant to be, and when the Hamilton County Department of Education floated a trial balloon over the weekend that hinted it may bus poverty students from the bottom of Lookout Mountain to mingle with affluent elementary students at the top, it was the latest show of sheer idiocy that continues to run amuck in our public schools.

Oh, we all realize we must make huge sacrifices and bend backward often if we have any hope of restoring value and pride in Hamilton County’s public education. An implicit lack of stewardship has been uncovered and created an urgent replacement and/or repairs to our schools that easily surpasses over $1 billion (with a ‘b’). The education model has left the majority of our graduates needing remedial classes before they can function in any college, much less as a viable figure in real-life problem solving. And who is to blame? The same liberal buffoons who have turned our nation’s top cities into trash piles, as well as ruining countless school districts at a time in our society that demands better-educated Americans than ever before.

The truth is that Hamilton County’s public education is in the tank. It is terrible. While the school district’s “Office of Propaganda” will go to great lengths to have you believe there are “historic levels of improvement” – this witnessed by 45 meaningless banners that were presented to the majority of our 78 district schools after some meaningless test to show meaningless potential. The more honest measure of education is to test a student’s knowledge and the state figures actually reflect a decline in Hamilton County from 2018 to 2019. To rezone students to make better use of facilities should have taken place 20 years ago, but in a district where the last three superintendents have left quite abruptly, courage and fortitude are simply words in the library dictionary.

The price we face for the past is astronomical. From the dereliction in our physical buildings, our mistreated and underpaid teachers, a chronic lack of materials, and shabby athletic facilities, assures a tax increase later this year. Questionable leadership at “the central office” of the HCDE – combined with unpopular zoning and an equally disdainful tax rise – is more than enough to get Supt. Johnson dismissed. While he is fighting such storms and pleading for a way-too-soon contract extension, I can think of very few reasons to give Johnson a premature contract and many why the school board should vilify such a self-serving notion. Hello? Record numbers of teachers quit at mid-year, tangible test scores are reportedly down, his top-heavy administration is a joke among most teachers in the system, and those 181 questionable hires that robbed the teachers’ raises are still quite inexcusable.

But the best reason yet? Friday’s rumor to merge Lookout Mountain Elementary with Calvin Donaldson Elementary by next fall is unparalleled foolishness. The black racists will point out Lookout Mountain has roughly 180 students and 96.4 percent are white. At the same time, the white racists will show Calvin Donaldson has about 475 students – 81.5 percent black, 13.7 percent Hispanic and 4 percent white.

I contend race makes little difference – I’ve seen too many elementary schools where black and white children adore each other. If you dislike that answer, try this: There are 1.2 million Americans who are active in the military today – by utilizing only discipline and common sense, blacks and whites have created the greatest defensive collective ever seen in the history of the world.

So now, take race out of the argument, look instead at the most obvious:

* -- Lookout Mountain, generously subsidized every year by the town residents, ranks No. 55 of the 985 elementary schools in the state and, for each of the past three years, has been named a Tennessee Reward School (top 5 percent in the state.) Calvin Donaldson ranks No. 973 of the 985 schools in the state, and is now 43rd among 45 elementary schools in Hamilton County. LMS was 4th of 45 schools in the county and has been deemed a five-star school by all standards. Wait … what’s that? By pulling down the top dwellers, placating the bottom sluggards and elevating the innocents, why is it you and presidential pretender Bernie Sanders are the only ones who can make sense of this riddle?

* -- There are 97.9 percent of Calvin Donaldson students on free or discounted lunch program and fewer than 10 students on the assistance program at Lookout Mountain. There is nothing bad about it but I promise a solution will be found.

* -- On Nov 11, an administrator at Calvin Donaldson was injured in an on-campus fight and was rushed to Erlanger Hospital.

* -- The biggest difference? At LMS 92 percent of the students are proficient in math and 82 percent in reading. At CDE, there are 10 percent proficient in reading and 10 percent in math. This will not work. Please … do not send a substitute teacher … instead listen to the “regulars” who have dreamed it, and made it my special dream as well.

* -- Calvin Donaldson Elementary, for whatever reason, became officially known as the Calvin Donaldson Environment Science Academy several years ago. In 1879 “The Little Red School House” opened to serve mountain students from both Tennessee and Georgia. In 1900 a new school was built and it has officially been known as Lookout Mountain School ever since. Not two miles away and bisected only by the state line, Fairyland Elementary School thrives and is annually recognized among the best schools in the state of Georgia.

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