Greg Cain is a tenured teacher with absolute legal rights. The action taken against him is blatant teacher abuse. The policies and procedures, available online and put in place by The Bradley Board of Education (BOE) were NOT followed. The issues that the BOE is trying to force about an internet policy were unknown to all teachers, and such use will be difficult to verify. The current policy is poorly written and antiquated. But the issue is not about a policy violation, it is really about squashing freedom of speech. There were no notices or warnings verbally, in writing or otherwise. There is nothing regarding this issue or any other issue found or mentioned in his teacher file. Greg Cain absolutely did not neglect his class; there was an intern in his class during the 2007-2008 school year. An Intern is a degreed teacher. Other teachers also had interns. All tenured teachers need to be concerned about who could be next. Teachers need to consider joining their local union. As Benjamin Franklin stated during the signing of the Declaration of Independence "We must all hang together, else we shall all hang separately."
Yes, Greg Cain was outspoken in some of his political beliefs, as were many of our forefathers, which "some" in Bradley County did not like--namely the power brokers on the Bradley County School Board. However, that is not a reason to terminate someone for exercising their rights to free speech. This is an American right. All someone needs to do is look at comments directed about our President, Congress, other candidates and political figures or public policies. Free speech is the cornerstone of our democracy. The web site Greg posted his opinion on www.bradleyweekly.com was an approved web site or surely the technical personnel at the Bradley County Schools would have blocked it, like they blocked other sites and users. Many citizens enjoy the opportunity to comment privately on the issues of the day.
Some of the individuals on the BOE have a personal agenda, and have had a personal agenda for a long time. The timing of the event against Mr. Cain is very suspect. The former director, Bob Taylor, waited until the very end of his term to initiate this action. Thus impacting Mr. Cain's chances to properly defend himself or secure other employment opportunities. The question is, did Mr. Taylor threaten Mr. Cain if he did not resign he would go after his teacher license or if he resigned he would make this go away? Why are Taylor supporters continuing these efforts? Why the need to destroy a simple classroom teacher?
Strangely, the new Director of Schools continues to uphold the prior vendetta against Mr. Cain. As Principal of Bradley High School, Mr. McDaniel apparently had no knowledge of the events which were supposedly happening in his own school. He appears to not have been even aware of any problems or privy to the information that there was an impending and now reported investigation. Mr. Cain received a letter stating he had been rehired like every other tenured teacher at the end of May 2008. Then a mere month later while school is not in session Mr. Cain is targeted for termination. The new Director barely in our community for a year has demonstrated he neither understands the citizens nor the community and is continuing the pursuit of personal vendettas and agendas. He did understand that as Director of Schools he could help his son get a job at Bradley High School, and that is just what he did. Even if Bob Taylor signed off on it and Todd Shoemaker made the decision, it was suspect to say the least. When the School Board wants to talk about the "Good Old Boy Network," it obviously has firsthand knowledge and experience. Dr. Baker states he wants to end the "Good Old Boy Network," then why has he never addressed these types of issues? He turned a blind eye to the previous director hiring his spouse, and he turned a deaf ear to a school board member whose then wife gained employment at a school. He will more than likely have a closed mind and mouth in protecting Mr. Cain. If you wanted to chastise Mr. Cain, the message was sent. He will not be a member of a private internet community and share concerns again. You have effectively silenced him and won. But this entire issue is an unnecessary. The entire effort is a total waste of taxpayers' time, money and energy. Who wins here? It certainly is not the children. It is time to let this issue go, issue a reprimand if you must, and move on.
As the school year begins we all are aware that many teachers have to buy their own supplies to provide for children. Children themselves have to conduct fundraisers to have money for school needs. Why does a bruised school board member or director of schools ego warrant this much attention? What a disgrace, not enough money to fund our children's basic needs but willing to spend money to target a teacher for expressing an opinion. We are constantly reminded that the Director of Schools and other high salaried administrators and self-serving board members supposedly have our children's best interest in mind. We know this is clearly not happening. Let's spend this time, money and energy on the real issues the Board is charged with, our children and their education.
The school board is dysfunctional and only voters can change the direction. Please do not surrender your voice to this out of control government entity. Our founding fathers would not do it, why should we?
--Donace Martin is a homeowner and taxpayer in Bradley County, Tennessee.