Pam's Points: Trying to make sense of school plans and CHA

Pam's Points: Trying to make sense of school plans and CHA

March 25th, 2014 in Opinion Times

Big Ridge Elementary School has a PTA-funded art program.

Photo by C. B. Schmelter/Times Free Press.

Local school plans disappoint again

In Hamilton County, elementary schools do not automatically receive funds to hire art or science teachers.

It's hard to believe, but true.

We are told over and over that we won't be able to recruit jobs to Tennessee because we can't graduate youngsters with critical thinking skills and yet we don't teach science and art in most of our elementary schools.

This year, 12 of 43 elementary schools have art teachers, and that dozen is the result of those schools themselves raising money through grants or donations to pay for them. Officials say it would cost an additional $2 million or $3 million to hire art teachers for every elementary school - not mention what it would cost to add science teachers.

It seems as though some of our school and county officials who prioritize our school plans lack critical thinking skills. But then, we see evidence of this every day when we open the newspaper.

One day we read what schools county commissioners have chosen to put capital funds into and which they haven't. The list is really pretty simple. Schools are political footballs. The schools with the most parental vote clout for commissioners who need that support at the moment of decision get the expansions. Magnet schools like the Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts draw students from all over the county, therefore no one commissioner can claim that school in his district. Perhaps that's why one of the best schools in the district won't be open to two or three times the number of youngsters because money went elsewhere.

Meanwhile, city and county officials spent some big bucks to go to court to unravel the mystery of why the city hasn't paid the county some $11 million owed in liquor taxes that went unpaid from 1998 to 2012 - a span of three city mayoral administrations.

And in Nashville, Republican lawmakers want to delay Common Core math and English standards because they mistakenly believe the standards mean federal control in schools. The delay will cost the state $10 million, not to mention derailing teachers and students who actually began phasing in the teaching program two years ago. It's credited, by the way, with helping Tennessee last year make the largest gains of any state on the newest National Assessment of Educational Progress. But opponents fear nationalization of education and peddling of liberal social ideas to children.

Liberal social ideas like science lessons?

Agency lax on fire drills

Speaking of incredulous news, the Chattanooga Housing Authority has not had fire drills at high-rise apartments it manages in more than a decade.

This comes to light after a fire forced the evacuation of nearly 250 elderly and disabled renters from Patten Towers last year and the evacuation of 150 residents from Jaycee Towers earlier this month. Fortunately no one was injured, but luck will only go so far.

Boynton Terrace residents, in 250 units in three buildings that are seven- and eight-stories high, have no idea what they do if flames break out in the buildings. Many of the residents there also are elderly and disabled.

CHA is woefully negligent in not providing drills and training. And by the way, where is the fire marshal? Shouldn't this failure for more than a decade prompt some sort of violation?