The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.

APRIL  2007

                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.






Editorial for THE PEOPLE

What do you think?

editorial for The People

By Pete Edwards

This month's what-do-you-think is a tad shorter than my readers are accustomed to because I wanted to print the JC Bowman article below and space was tight. Anyway, to include the subjects that needed to be mentioned I will attempt to condense the topics as best I can under the title "thoughts".


Thought: Are the people demanding for the Bradley County Commission to raise taxes for  education just ordinary citizens / parents or do they have  hidden self interest?
Thought: Do they or their relatives or friends have a financial association with either the Cleveland or Bradley County School System?
Thought: If they are so keen to have their taxes raised can they not donate a portion of their earnings to the school of their choice - year after year, forever - as they are asking for all taxpayers to do?
Thought: If money was the answer to a failing education system why do not the communities who spend the most supply the best education?
Thought: If the Board of Education members, administrators, principals and teachers who promote higher spending without guarantees of success and continue to recommend a failing strategy to improve learning, should they continue to have the support of the community or should they be run out of town in disgrace?
Thought: Is it really about the faceless children or is it about money and power?
Thought: If student learning is not improving related to the increase in spending then the fault may lie in those responsible for education and not those responsible for funding it?
Thought: Why the heck does BICC, Bradley Initiative for Church and Community, want to become involved in the debate over school growth money after the elected Bradley County legislative body has voted twice to place some of it in an Education Capital Outlay Account?
Thought: How can BICC be unbiased if the vote has already been taken and they don't want to see it changed? If they do, why?
Thought: What has BICC become, who controls it and where does their funding come from?
Thought: Why are some of Bradley County's elite so enthusiastic to place  control of  bidding out all public contracts and purchasing in the hands of a hired manager?
Thought: For whom will it be more efficient to remove elected representatives from the

Pete Edwards
Editor - Publisher

Thought: Apart from  spokesperson Lisa Stanbery, who is pushing for the change? What are their names and what do they expect to gain from the change?
Thought: Who exactly would choose and control the proposed financial administrator and who would oversee his work if the present elected county mayor is not considered capable?
Thought: Is it the intention of the Cleveland elite to take control of pubic funds away from the citizen's elected representatives?
Thought: How much is the United Way of Cleveland skimming off the top for being a middleman?
Thought: After mishandling billions of charitable dollars donated after 9-11, can the American Red Cross be trusted to manage donations given to the United Way?
Thought: Who exactly are the needy that have benefited from the millions of dollars given to the United Way?
Thought: Why isn't a list of the names of those helped and amounts given published?
Thought: Who chooses those that decide who gets what?
Thought: It all boils down to trust, if all the boards, committees and entities were trustworthy, none of these thoughts would be necessary.

That's what I think. What do you think?

Grandstanding in Education:
Solutions are better than Excuses

By JC Bowman

We are fortunate to live in a community that values its citizens, all of its citizens, young and old alike. Cleveland is certainly not a perfect town. We are after all a community made up of imperfect people. But given a choice of where to live, I would select Cleveland/Bradley County Tennessee most days of the week and most months of the year. Even on those days when we have local politicians grandstanding on the issue of education and a complicit media that often fails to understand the issue.

Lately the subject of education continues to be raised by some sectors who question the formula of education spending by our community. Capital outlay is not included in the factor, so per pupil spending appears low in Bradley County. I am not going to engage in that debate, it is a flawed formula and unfairly penalizes the hard working men and women of our community who have unfairly been characterized as shirking their responsibility to adequately fund K-12 education in the community. The focus on the quality of education should be on outputs, not inputs.

One of the great educational challenges of the 21st century is to significantly reduce administrative overhead costs and redirect those funds to classroom instruction and teacher salaries. The bureaucracy building days are long over. The question every single elected official needs to ask is not what is the per-pupil spending? But rather how much of our tax dollars actually reach the classroom where the students are? That is a benchmark we can set and measure annually. Citizens must ensure that one of the key goals of any school district administration is strict fiscal discipline and better financial management. That means elected officials must look for ways to get the best return on taxpayer investment in education. They must do so with the objective of keeping the tax burden on our city and county residents low, by managing funds responsibly and seeking outside financial aid wherever it is available.

Public schools are responsible to the taxpayers and to the students, to make sure that the vast majority of our budget goes to the classroom. The optimal number would be 100% of the funds designated to education be spent in the classroom, but I would settle for 90%. Which begs the question how much of your tax dollar actually reaches the classroom? 50%? 60%? 70%? Any job that is at the central office needs to directly correspond to improvement in student achievement in the classroom. It is time to take the best practices of successful businesses and apply them to our school system, reducing our district overhead dollars, outsource some non-education roles and redirect those funds to the schools and to programs that work. The bottom line is the student, and the system exists for the bottom line.

Some additional questions that need to be asked: What if struggling students are not promoted to the next grade? What if kids get the grades they deserve? What if we end the practice of social promotion in our schools? It is a well kept secret that kids are simply promoted up through the system, many of them later dropping out. It is time to end this insidious practice. It is something that no dress code can fix. That is something I would deem a quality investment in and be willing to pay more in taxes to see accomplished, but only after we redirect funds to the classroom by reducing administrative overhead.

I reject the argument that children from poor families, children of color, cannot be expected to do well when the curriculum is rigorous or testing is tough. I reject the argument that there ought to be a different, lesser standard of performance, as some contend, if you are not white or rich, or at least middle class. Masquerading as compassion, this is the soft bigotry of low expectations. This soft bigotry of low expectations is not just morally wrong, it is illogical. If it is important enough to teach it and learn it, then it's important enough to test it. All children deserve the same opportunity to succeed. If schools were to stop attempting to meet the decidedly easy-to-achieve academic levels represented by TCAP testing, then what exactly might they teach instead? Higher standards and effective teaching mean better schools. In our community and in our state, when it comes to education policy, it's better to have solutions than excuses.

Grandstanding in Education: by JC Bowman..... CONTINUED

"What do you think?" Continued