published Saturday, March 13th, 2010

Howard alumni accuse state officials of rushing school legislation

by Kelli Gauthier
  • photo
    Staff Photo by Matt Fields-Johnson/Chattanooga Times Free Press Judge Walter Williams, a Howard High School graduate speaks at a news conference at the school Friday responding to pressures from the state of Tennessee to make improvements.

A group of Howard alumni believes state officials and lawmakers rushed the decision to approve sweeping changes to the state's education system.

Those changes include labeling Howard School of Academics and Technology as a "persistently failing school" and targeting it for inclusion in a state-run "Achievement School District."

"We were just amazed ... this was pushed down the throats of the legislators," said former City Court Judge Walter Williams, a 1970 Howard graduate. "We will fight vigilantly against any state takeover or any change in administration at this time."

Mr. Williams' comments came as a group of prominent Howard alumni gathered Friday for a news conference at the school in support of the administration, faculty and students.

The group included state Rep. JoAnne Favors, D-Chattanooga, who voted for passage of the First to the Top Act, which was approved in order to improve Tennessee's chances of winning millions in federal Race to the Top funds. The act included the Achievement School District proposal.

Along with 15 states and the District of Columbia, Tennessee now is a finalist to receive the $501 million it requested.

First to the Top was passed during a special session called in January by Gov. Phil Bredesen, and Rep. Favors said Friday she would have preferred to have a couple of months to review the legislation, rather than the several weeks she had.

"I was reluctant initially. I don't like to vote on something without having the time to fully digest it," she said. "It was rushed."

When Gov. Bredesen called the General Assembly into the special legislative session, he acknowledged that "the timing was tight," spokeswoman Lydia Lenker said.

"But, as he put it, 'sometimes the planets just line up and there is an opportunity that you didn't expect,'" she said. "The final guidelines for the Race to the Top application process weren't finalized until late last year, so the state had to act quickly if we were going to be competitive."

Those present at Friday's news conference said the news of Howard's potential takeover came at a time when students are preparing to take state standardized tests, and they now are demoralized.

"Now is not the time to pull the rug out from under them," Mr. Williams said. "The state should be supporting us."

He and other members of the alumni group planned to talk to students at an assembly Monday to encourage them, Mr. Williams said.


Read about community reaction to state involvement at Howard.

Kevin Robinson said his son, Kevin Jr., has been improving his grades lately, along with much of the Howard student body. Students made double-digit gains in math and English achievement last year, and the alumni group said they projected the school's graduation rate would be between 67

percent and 81 percent next year.

The possible takeover of Howard "is just one more thing they will overcome," Mr. Robinson said.

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Click here and vote in our daily poll: Does the state need to take over Howard School of Academics and Technology?

Continue reading by following these links to related stories:

Article: Race to the Top could bring drastic personnel changes

Article: Scales mulls options for Howard

Article: Gang summit offers solutions

about Kelli Gauthier...

Kelli Gauthier covers K-12 education in Hamilton County for the Times Free Press. She started at the paper as an intern in 2006, crisscrossing the region writing feature stories from Pikeville, Tenn., to Lafayette, Ga. She also covered crime and courts before taking over the education beat in 2007. A native of Frederick, Md., Kelli came south to attend Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in print journalism. Before newspapers, ...

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Oz said...

Make Judge Walter Williams the principal at Howard. I'm sure he could turn it around.

March 13, 2010 at 12:07 a.m.
mc10ac said...

Amen to Judge Williams as Howard Principal. What can the TN. State DOE bureaucracy (in Nashville) possibly do that can't be done by our local government. The TN DOE is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

March 13, 2010 at 5:19 p.m.
FreedomJournal said...

EXCERPT TAKEN FROM: Fallen Letters: Mis-Education & Intellectual Confusion (Essays on the Black Experience), Carl A. Patton, FreedomJournal Press, 2007. Essays Education in the Black Community Part 3: Black Agents of Control

For the record the following statements also apply to the Public School System. For example the Howard School Alumni Association and Howard’s educational leaders for the most part in these contemporary times have all been Puppets for the existing power structure. Chattanooga, Tennessee has historically been a haven of controlled Blacks in the leadership ranks. Therefore the Straw Boss state of mind has been a treasonous look at an infamous independence. It is also a sad day as we liveth in this temporal world that most of the Ministers (so-called preachers) in Chattanooga also pay homage to the flesh and not Christ Jesus. Thus what results is No Voice when comes to situations that should allow for responsible input from all segments of the population especially those that have historically been at the center of an institution etc. However the price that is paid for bought and sold Black leaders is No Voice and continued second-class citizenship for the mass Black population. The history of Black America has always revealed a cadre of Black agents that have worked against their own people. (For a detailed and documented study of Black agents see "The Black Conspiracy The Rise and Fall of A Commission Form of Government" The Freedom Journal has concluded that if not for this on-going Black conspiracy many of the instances of racism, manipulation and exploitation of the Black and poor would not exist. Therefore, the ruling regime and those that benefit from the mis-education of Black people willfully and carefully select those that they use to impede, stall and hamper any positive independent progress in the Black community.

June 1, 2011 at 1:50 p.m.
FreedomJournal said...

Cont. Howard

Therefore we pose the following questions: 1. Did the public and private agencies that financed the establishment of Black colleges and universities adopt a philosophy of enslavement education? 2. Was Booker T. Washington a tool of enslavement education that oppressed Black people? 3. Did Black people have a viable choice between independence and dependence in the educational arena? 4. Is there any significance to early Black colleges like Fisk being established for the off-spring of White males who had held Blacks as slaves? 5. Since our first real educational experiences were an alleged gift from the defenders of freedom should we have just been grateful for anything we got? Thus if you have answered yes to most of these questions, we conclude that something was definitely wrong from the very beginning with higher education, public education and education in general in the Black community. So if our schools have been staffed by people with a certain mind-set and propelled from the outside by a manipulation philosophy, what are the results? Peace and Love, Carl A. Patton, FreedomJournal Press. 1 June 2011

June 1, 2011 at 1:51 p.m.
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