published Friday, July 8th, 2011

Thurman should resign

Prominent local black leaders from across the community gathered here Wednesday to call for Rhonda Thurman to resign from the Hamilton County school board because of her apparent racism with regard to the school system’s programs for black students. They have good reason to seek her resignation. She should resign.

By her own repeated statements, Thurman has no regard for the school system’s initiatives to elevate student achievement in predominantly black schools, and apparently no larger view or understanding of the need for such initiatives or their benefits to individual students and schools, and to the broader community.

She has said that she thinks these programs are a waste of time and money, and that she would like to end them and shift the money and resources to mainly white suburban schools. That’s the way things used to be in an era of separate and unequal schools, which were found by the U.S. Supreme Court to be unconstitutional.

In a school system with a large minority population, her racist attitude is demeaning, intolerable, divisive and destructive. And in a county which is trying hard to build an advanced economy with an international base, her presence on the school board — and her role in ousting our first countywide black superintendent — is embarrassing and harmful.

In a statement published last Sunday in an exclusive interview in this newspaper, Thurman caustically dramatized her implicitly racist views by negatively comparing under-achieving black students with poor people and slaves who, she said, had learned to read and write.

“I don’t think suburban students have been treated fairly,” she said in that interview. “Poor people learn. Slaves learned to read. I don’t know why poor people can’t learn to read and write. I have a lot of poor people in my family, but they are still expected to learn.”

With respect to inherent racism, there is no kind way to interpret that demeaning sentiment. Moreover, the underlying linkage with a largely incorrect view of slavery — and the laws that prohibited teaching slaves to read — makes it even more haunting.

As a school board member, Thurman fails to distinguish two important issues that impair her ability to serve well on the board.

One issue, the fundamental educational piece, is that historical under-achievement in largely minority schools is not because individual black students are inherently unable to master reading and learning skills. Rather, low achievement stems largely from cultural and familial issues that were born out of a shameful legacy of Jim Crow-era poverty and suppression of civil rights, and that still pose barriers to learning.

In fact, there are many excellent students in largely minority schools. Principals and teachers at largely black schools here can point with deserved pride to long lists of students who are high achievers and superior students.

But to raise learning levels broadly on par with students from more advantaged backgrounds, they need additional resources — more teachers to allow lower class sizes, more capacity for individual mentoring, outreach to parents to make them more effective first teachers, programs to establish early reading skills. Fostering an enduring culture of learning in neighborhoods that are economically impoverished and often subject to higher levels of unemployment and crime, however, takes time and persistent effort.

Thurman is apparently frustrated with the pace and would abort the effort. That not only reveals her disdain for the effort to raise minority achievement. It also raises the other fundamental issue about misperceived equity and her favoritism for suburban schools, which long received the lion’s share of public school resources — and most of the system’s best teachers — before federal courts overturned separate and unequal schools for blacks.

In short, she is wrong on the current fiscal impact. The resources that have gone to boosting inner-city schools have not been taken from the state and local per-student funding dollars that go to all schools, so suburban schools are not giving up resources to help inner-city schools.

In fact, it is funding from federal Title 1 programs for schools with high levels of impoverished students and families that provides additional resources to most urban schools here. In addition, three Chattanooga foundations and one national foundation have also provided tens of millions of dollars over the last decade to boost inner-city schools.

This additional funding would not be available to most suburban schools, even if the inner-city schools suddenly vanished. That Thurman thinks otherwise — and that she is so resentful about the extra funding for black schools and wishes suburban schools could take it — is testimony to her racial bias and to the need for her to resign from the school board.

Her cramped and racist views taint the school board. Thurman should resign, and make her seat available to a more enlightened and forward-looking leader.

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SeaMonkey said...

this piece is an irresponsible piece of sewer scum.

once again, the truth hurts.

what's there to show for all the money?

the so-called "black leaders" should recede into the background, and joanne favors should step down. she's a clown.

so-called "black leaders" in this country benefit from perpetuating tension between white americans and black americans. they benefit financially and politically. they're not fooling anyone.

rhonda thurman's point is, and she can speak from experience growing up in an impoverished area,..that people have overcome great obstacles to learn, including slaves. too many excuses are made for the outrageous numbers of public school students who graduate without learning to read and write.

slaves often risked their lives to learn to read. they had the drive.....why with the millions of dollars pumped into public schools do they still turn out illiterate people?

rhonda thurman has a great point, but you libs would rather just pull the race car instead of really thinking about it.....dumb asses..

sorry...a slave could not have dreamed of all the opportunities black americans have growing up today...and that includes black, impoverished inner city youth. anyone can be what they want to be in this country, but so-called "black leaders, libs and the democrat party gain politically and from financially from racial strife.

so easily offended all the time..you libs are. so what if slaves were black and most of the inner city students are black. that's not the point. rhonda thurman didn't say black people now are slaves. that's what you libs are trying to twist it as. morons.

ms. favors is simply trying to get back at thurman for her criticism of scales. which is well deserved. he represents everything that's wrong with public education. overpaid and lazy-ass administrators who have nothing to do with learning, but everything to do with things getting in the way of learning.

most of the wounds in the "black community"..are self-inflicted and made worse by liberals. "white people", the "white people" around now, had nothing to do with slavery, nor do they stand in the way of black americans succeeding. but listening to so called "black leaders"..you would think that's so.

ms. favors and the times have no business calling for her to resign...none. the times is fueling the mob mentality out there over an opionion based on facts and reality.

ms. favors is a clown and an irresponsible elected official.

July 8, 2011 at 7:21 a.m.
rosebud said...

More great comedy writing from Harry Austin. When is open mic night at the Comedy Catch? Seriously dude, you could win a trophy.

Where do I start? Well first of all, how sad is it that poor Harry keeps flailing away like a two-bit punch-drunk fighter, and never makes contact. Look at your own poll: 70% of YOUR OWN READERS disagree with your rants. Yet you keep cutting and pasting.

Should Thurman resign? Here's a better idea. She has announced plans to run for re-election next year. Let the voters decide. They can fire her at the polls if they so desire. News flash: that's how the system works!

But if the Times left-wingnuts editorial page really, really wants Rhonda Thurman out, here's a simple solution: Harry, give her your endorsement next year. It's the kiss of death!

July 8, 2011 at 8:49 a.m.
librul said...

Thank you Harry. Your words always count and hit home. That's why the mongrels on the right are so eager to bark.

July 8, 2011 at 12:23 p.m.
rosebud said...

Harry's idea of a perfect school board member (now that the backroom attorneys, Tenneseee Waltzers and Walmart shoplifters are gone) is Chip Baker. He just doesn't go to the meetings!

Can't call for his resignation. He doesn't do anything!

July 8, 2011 at 1:31 p.m.
chet123 said...

ROSEBUD(RHONDA THURMAN),LIBERTARIAN4FREEDOM,SEAMONKEY... DONT THINK YOU CAN TALK ON HALF OF THE BLACK COMMUNITY....SEAMONKEY USED THE TERM SO-CALL BLACK LEADERS ..SEAMONKEY WHO ARE YOU TO SAY WHO IS OR ISNT THE LEADERS OF THE BLACK COMMUNITY..YOU KEEP UP WITH HOOTERVILLE...LET ME SCHOOL YOU AND ROSEBUD...THESE ARE THE VOICE OF 100% OF THE BLACK COMMUNITY...THEY ARE RESPECTED..AND CREDIBLE,AND HONORABLE...WHAT YOU DONT SEE ARE ALL THE PEOPLE WHO ARE MAD AS HELL AND HOPE YOU NEVER SEE THEM,,,JO ANN FAVORS IS YOURWHITE) BEST FRIEND RIGHT NOW,,,SHE IS SENSIBLE...IF THE RADICAL AND PROGRESSIVE BLACKS TAKE OVER...CHATTANOOGA WILL BE ON NATIONAL NEWS....THIS TOWN WAS HURT BADLY IN THE 60'S AND 70'S ROITS....IT HAD A SMEARED IMAGE...MAYBE THAT WHAT YOU AND ROSEBUD WANT SINCE YOU BOTH ARE SEEKING POWER AND MONEY...

I HEARD JERRY ACKEW ON SPORT TALK TAKING POT SHOTS AT JO ANN FAVORS WHAT A COWARD YOU ARE JERRY...IT SUPPOSE TO BE A SPORT TALK SHOW...THAT WAS AN ACT OF A COWARDNESS...I LISTEN TO JERRY TALK AND KISS UP TO RHONDA THURMAN...WHO HAVE SLAMMED THE BLACK COMMUNITY FOR YEARS.I EXPECTED MORE FROM JERRY..BUT YOUR TRUE COLORS CAME OUT..YOU SAID SOMETHING ABOUT OUR LEADERS BEING BOUGHT AND PAID FOR..THAT A BIG FAT LIE JERRY..YOU OWE AN APOLOGY....THAT SAYING A LOT FOR A MAN WHO IS A RUSH LIMBAUGH REPUBLICAN. YOU ARE THE DOLLAR CHASER...SHAME ON YOU JERRY,SHAME ON YOU.. I WAS SUPPRISE TO HEAR JERRY CHEERING HER ON...RACISM MUST BE A MENTAL ILLNESS..HOW COULD YOU SAY THAT JERRY...WHEN YOU ARE INTERVEIWING BLACK ATHLETES FROM THE SAME COMMUNITY..RACISM MAKE GOOD PEOPLE TALK CRAZY...SHAME ON YOU JERRY...YOU TALK ABOUT REGGIE WHITE...DO YOU UNDERSTAND REGGIE WAS RAISED IN ALTON PARK Hmmmm..WHAT WOULD BE your RESPONSE IF A MAN WALK UP TO YOU AND SPIT IN YOUR FACE,,,I THINK YOU WOULD RESPOND...THIS IS WHAT RHONDA THURMAN HAVE DONE FOR YEARS...ON RADIO AIR WAVES..THANK GOD JO ANN FAVOR RESPONDED...GUESS RHONDA THINK WE DONT HEAR...THIS HAVE BEEN BREWING FOR YEARS...EVERYTHING THE BLACK HAVE FOUGHT FOR AS A SAFE GUARD SHE REMOVED WITH HER HIGH SCHOOL EDUCATION...I NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE IT SINCE BULL CONNER OF BIRMINGHAM...THOSE POLICIES ON HIRING WAS THERE TO PROTECT THE MINORITY FROM RACISM,NEPOTISM,AND THE GOOD OLE BOY SYSTEM...THAT POISON THE SOUTH OF THE PAST.RHONDA CIRCUMVENTED THEM...NOW SHE WOULD BE THE FIRST ONE SCREEMING AFFIRMITIVE ACTION...WHEN HER FOLF HAVE ENJOYED AFFIRMITIVE ACTION...EXCEPT THEY DIDNT HAVE TO FIGHT FOR 3% OR 4% CRUMBS OF TABLE...THEY HAD 100% AFFIRMITIVE ACTION.

July 8, 2011 at 3:33 p.m.
chet123 said...

RHONDA THURMAN AND HER FOLLOWER....THIS FIGHT IS NOT NEAR OVER....RHONDA MUST GO....WE CAN NOT HAVE THE FOX GUARDING THE HEN-HOUSE....GG BACK TO SODDY GET YOURSELF A 2 YEAR DEGREE...IT WILL ONLY TAKE YOU 6YEARS

July 8, 2011 at 3:51 p.m.
mountainlaurel said...

SeaMonkey said: “so what if slaves were black and most of the inner city students are black. that's not the point. Rhonda Thurman didn't say black people now are slaves. That’s what you libs are trying to twist it as. Morons.”

There is nothing to twist, SeaMonkey. Thurmond’s comment speaks for itself. It was an offensive and unprofessional thing to say and Thurman owes every student in Hamilton County an apology. The fact that she has not made a public apology shows a real lack of integrity. If she doesn’t do it soon, her collegues on the School Board should do it for her.

July 8, 2011 at 5:31 p.m.
mudbug said...

First, I would have to admit that I have difficulty interpreting Ms. Thurman's recent remarks. Given what I read and the context, and coupled with past remarks, it appears that she is expressing some angst over her perceived notion that 1) extra monies spent on "urban", primarily black schools is wasted money, and 2) that these "urban" schools receive more monies than suburban schools. This editorial piece makes a serious attempt to ferret out and make sense of her remarks, which, lets face it, sound eerily reminiscent of some of the nonsensical remarks made by Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman. It draws attention to the fact that urban schools receive the same local and state, per pupal dollars as the suburban schools, and that additional dollars received by urban schools are Federal Title 1 monies, and private foundation monies. All that aside, there remains what I think is a very important point to make...that 5 of the 9 schools in Ms. Thurman's district receive Federal Title 1 monies. I would think that any reasonable person could rightly assume that schools in her district would be the very "suburban" schools to which she speaks. Furthermore, a search of the HCDE(Ham. Co. Dept. of Ed.) website shows that an additional 25 of the 80 or so public schools in our system...schools mind you that could be reasonably considered suburban...receive Federal Title 1 monies. Couple with the 5 schools in her district, that would be 30 suburban schools out of some 80 schools receiving Federal Title 1 monies. My question is this...after spending a number of years on the school board, should we really believe that Ms. Thurman is unaware of this, or as I firmly believe, she is nothing more than a rabble rousing, divisive politician?

July 8, 2011 at 11:24 p.m.
chet123 said...

MOUNTAINLAUREL....RHONDA THURMAN HAVE BEEN ON THE SCHOOL BOARD FOR ALEAST 13 YEARS AND HAVE MADE NUMEROUS APPEARANCE ON RADIO TALK SHOWS.102.3FM...MAYBE SHE THINK THAT BLACK PEOPLE IN CHATTANOOGA DONT HAVE EARS TO HEAR.EVENTHOUGH WE HAVE BEEN QUIET, THE BLACK COMMUNITY HAVE TRIED AND TRIED TO IGNORE HER...WE HAVE A GREAT RACE RELATIONSHIP IN CHATTANOOGA..WE DONT NEED SODDY TO BRING THERE HATE AND PREJUDICE INTO OUR CITY..BUT WE ARE FAMILIAR WITH RHONDA THURMAN SLAMMING THE BLACK INNER STUDENTS....DO SHE REALIZE THAT SHE IS AN OLD WOMAN ATTACKING THE YOUNG STUDENTS SHE SUPPOSE TO BE HELPING.

THE SLAVE COMMENT IS ONE EXAMPLE OF HER INSENSITIVITY TOWARD THE BLACK COMMUNITY. CAN YOU IMAGINE, A BLACK LEADER WITH ONLY A HIGH SCHOOL EDUCATION LECTURING THE JEWISH PEOPLE ABOUT THE HOLOCAUST. HOW STUOID THAT WOULD BE...BUT I SEE HER DEFENDER LIKE THE SPORT TALK102.3FM(SUPPOSE TO BE A SPORT TALK SHOW--HE COULDNT HELP HIMSELF) JEERRY ASKEW CHEERS HER ON...RHONDA THURMAN CAN DO HAMILTON COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD A FAVOR AND STEP DOWN AS SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER...OR MAYBE THE GOOD PEOPLE IN SODDY CAN SHAME HER OR PLACE A SOCK IN HER MOUTH...ITS BAD WHEN YOU ARE STUPID AND DONT KNOW...RHONDA THURMAN IS NOT STANDING BY HERSELF...NOT UNTIL SHE GET IN TROUBLE ...THEN THAT GROUP THAT IS CHEERING HER LIKE JERRY ASKEW ON SPORT TALK DISAPPEARS INTO HIDING. JUST REMEMBER THIS IS NOT OVER...

July 9, 2011 at 11:03 a.m.
chet123 said...

THANK YOU MOUNTAINLAUREL FOR YOUR WISDOM

July 9, 2011 at 1:05 p.m.
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