Greeson: Picking a school leader, Hillary's pass, and delivering on Chattanooga Strong

Greeson: Picking a school leader, Hillary's pass, and delivering on Chattanooga Strong

April 16th, 2016 by Jay Greeson in Opinion Columns

Jay Greeson

Jay Greeson

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

The Hamilton County Board of Education has been fighting a public relations problem for about four months now.

Yes, school leaders are far from guiltless in this unraveling mess involving the alleged brutalizing of an Ooltewah High School basketball player. But there's little way to blame any of the nine board members for the heinous acts during the December basketball trip that went from overnight trip to triple nightmare.

More Ooltewah rape case stories

The Ooltewah debacle that became national news has generated the passion and response that — hopefully — will result in real change. That hope, though, seems stretched by the continued song and dance that has happened almost every Thursday night since the Ooltewah sexual assault.

Now we are staring at the selection of an interim superintendent next week from a trio of candidates.

Kirk Kelly, who has a current title along the lines of the "Temporary, Acting, Interim Semi, C0-Superintendent," is being considered for the post despite being part of the leadership team that guided our school system to this crossroads between awful and state run.

Jill Levine, the principal at Normal Park, has done a masterful job leading a school that has excelled with a ton of parental support.

Then there is former military officer and Hixson High School alum Shaun Sadler, who has no school system background but is flush with experience leading large-scale operations and practicing leadership in times of controversy.

Truth be told, I'm less worried about the interim than about the choice of a permanent superintendent, so there's that. (And, by the way, the interim should be stricken from the list of potential long-term candidates to make things fair.)

My vote, if I had one, would go to Sadler for the short-term post. And let's all pray that school board Chairman Jonathan Welch and the other school board members do better on the long-term selection than their predecessors did on the previous ones.

Hillary's pass

Earlier this week, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton was at a fundraiser in New York. At this event, the New York City mayor made a joke about being on "Colored People Time."

It was met with frustration by those in attendance, and the term is understandably offensive to a lot of folks. Clinton tried to downplay the matter, and the flap quickly retreated from news reports.

But, dear reader, ask yourself: What would have happened if someone on stage with Donald Trump had made the same faux pas?

We'd still be hearing about the fall-out, that's what.

And the adults protest the protest

OK, we have been quite adamant about our stance on the "safe space" college protest phenomenon that has swept our politically correct nation.

The fact that students are intimidated by political "chalk talk" has become a worrisome trend.

And that trend is worrisome for more than just the right-thinking folks among us who are puzzled by the lack of mental toughness shown by those who are offended by Halloween costumes and scrawled political endorsements.

It should be worrisome for the colleges. Consider that Missouri, which had the biggest and highest profile protest in the last year that even included a proposed boycott by the football team, is down close to 20 percent in freshman enrollment projections for the fall.

In an age when college enrollment is growing across the country, the fact that the school with the highest-profile campus protest is at claims of roughly 80 percent of last year's level of incoming freshmen seems far from coincidental.

Ohio State met a collection of student protesters with a clear and definite response.

The school's representative met with the students with the clear message that the protest for more diversity in the office of the president was a violation of the student conduct policy.

That was grounds for expulsion, according to the representative, and the next wave of his message was that the protest violated the "safe space" of the people who worked in that office.

Quid-Pro(test)-Quo.

This confused the protesters and likely left them wondering whom to hug or what to be sad about.

(Here's a hint. Be sad about our future.)

Rough week

Alabama governor Robert Bentley has had a bad week.

Now there's no doubt he's brought these struggles on himself, what with the claims of an affair with a longtime staffer — in the aftermath of his divorce after a 50-plus-year marriage — and the attempts by the state Legislature to impeach him.

Well, if that was not bad enough — and that's plenty bad for a right-wing Republican who staked his campaign on family and Christian values — now comes news from the Washington Post that Bentley used a state law enforcement helicopter to bring him his forgotten wallet.

The Post cites an Alabama website that claims, according to sources, that in 2014 Gov. Bentley got into an argument with his wife about an alleged affair with a staff member — which the governor denied — and Bentley left the family home for their beach house on Gulf Shores.

More than halfway through the trip, according to reports, Gov. Bentley realized he forgot his wallet and had the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency fetch his billfold for him.

You can write your own punchline for this one.

Saturday stars

You guys.

I wrote in this space Thursday about how the Veterans Bridge Flag Initiative group needed flags for the May 20 dedication.

You guys responded — Chattanooga Strong indeed — and according to VBFI coordinator Charlotte Johnson, the response was outstanding.

Yes, we need to remember that Johnson and company do this every six months and keep this great tribute to our military in mind.

But thanks to everyone who responded and again proved how Chattanooga Strong we really are.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com. His "Right to the Point" column runs on A2 on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

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