By Steve Hunley
Déjà vu All Over Again

There is a move by the Charter Review Committee to once again place a referendum on the ballot to make the law director’s office appointed, rather than elected.  That reminds me of the last attempt some ten years ago, which was overwhelmingly defeated at the polls.  If preserving your right to vote for county office holders is important to you, please attend the next Charter Review Committee meeting on Thursday, July 30. The meeting will be held in the main assembly room of the City-County Building at 5:30 p.m.  I strongly believe in checks and balances in government and we need to preserve our right to vote for county officeholders.


COVID Hypocrisy

The geniuses at USA Today felt constrained to publish a story refuting the notion the gathering of protesters has nothing whatever to do with the spike in cases of the coronavirus.  Mind you, these are the very same people, most of whom are “prison abolitionists”, opposed to the last person to the death penalty, supporters of restorative practices for beating the crap out of other kids in school to go talk to a social worker instead of suspension, and defunding the police who become hysterical about imposing the most serious of consequences upon people who don’t wear a mask everywhere they go.  I’ve already said I wear a mask and gloves whenever I go out, but I can’t help but laugh at these folks and their hypocrisy.  They don’t believe in school suspension, think social workers can do even better than policemen, and pretend every person in prison, especially a person of color, is innocent and should be released, except folks who didn’t wear a mask to get gas.

The spike did come after the Antifa folks and their ilk gathered together in packs to protest.  The mainstream media has been as silent as the grave, rarely ever referring to rioters as anything but “peaceful protesters.”  They haven’t been peaceful, just ask the family of the eight year-old shot in her family car by protesters.  That was hardly the only fatality, victims of the alleged “peaceful protesters.”  There has been rioting in Portland, Oregon for more than 50 days, but have you seen that on CNN or MSNBC?  Has it appeared in many of USA Today’s newspapers?  I think not.  It is interesting  that mainstream media feels constrained to explain why people gathering in herds and packs has nothing to do with the spike in the COVID-19 virus.  I suppose the kids going to the beach and bringing back the ‘Rona with them is a simple coincidence.  Right.


Superintendent Sizes Up the Situation

Bob Thomas, superintendent of Knox County Schools, was the guest last week on George Korda’s radio show, “State Your Case.”  Korda was interviewing Thomas about the reopening of schools and the normally mild-mannered superintendent seemed to let some aggravation show.  Thomas illustrated his woes with a small, but vocal group of teachers insisting the school year start around or after Labor Day.  Thomas complained those same teachers were demanding the full week they get off for “fall break,” as well as a week off for “winter break” (which used to be called “Christmas break” before that became politically incorrect and too Christian a term to use), along with another week each for “Easter Break” and “spring break.”  And they still want to be out of school by Memorial Day, Thomas told Korda.  Some teachers have been agitating to nudge the superintendent and/or the board of education to petition the governor to shorten the school year by ten days or more.

Well, folks, for those of you who attended a failing school, that’s a total of four weeks, which is a full month off during the school year for teachers.  The average teacher is paid $48,700  annually.  I wonder how many folks who pay the taxes — and again, the Knox County School system spends over half a billion tax dollars yearly — get a full month off from work?  How many of those people paying the taxes even make $48,700 a year?  Oh, wait a minute, that’s not counting the two months off during the summer for teachers.

Now let me be clear, the sentiment expressed above by some teachers represent basically a small minority of educators, most of whom belong to a special interest group dedicated to teachers and couldn’t care less about much of anything else.  These folks don’t represent the majority of teachers who are hardworking and are fine people.  Unfortunately in today’s society most politicians have difficulty standing up to small, oftentimes infinitesimal, groups who are both noisy and persistent.  Some of these teachers are demanding the board members” re-do” the unanimous vote by the board of education to support the reopening plan.  I am told board members have received a smattering of hysterical letters from some teachers literally accusing them of having killed educators and children by simply not waiting until after Labor Day to reopen schools.

Nor is that the extent of their complaints.  They complain about not receiving enough sick leave time and seem not to realize there are plenty of people in Knox County who haven’t been collecting a check for not working.  These folks are called “taxpayers” and yes, they really do exist in the real world.  Some argue they should be allowed to teach all their classes virtually.  Not so long ago, most of these same folks were adamantly AGAINST distance learning of any kind.  Why? How many teachers does one need to teach a subject: the answer is pretty simple: ONE.  That’s why they were against distance learning.  Now, suddenly things have changed and many of them are for virtual learning.  Yet the majority of parents and students are for reopening the schools.  The emails are not coming from parents or students.

Many of the teachers or self-appointed advocates who are preaching doctrines of safety frequently don’t even know what they are talking about.  Truth be told, some are embarrassingly and woefully ill-informed.  For instance, as I pointed out last week the burst of emails generated from a Facebook post, demanded the superintendent insist Governor Bill Lee require masks be worn.  The Knox County Health Department had already issued a mandate masks be worn in all buildings owned by the county, which, of course, includes school buildings.  Clearly, the Facebook mob was unaware of that fact which kinda crippled the next demand on the list; namely the board of education “pledge” to support the teachers and their right to walk off the job should they decide a health emergency existed and they must walk off the job.  Whoever thought of that — and a number of good little sheep parroted the idea in their emails to board members, were evidently unaware teachers walking off the job is against state law.

A handful of these folks continue to pepper the board daily with emails, thinking of some new horror to consider, reasons to delay opening the schools.  The roll has been called people; the vote has been taken.  As board member Mike McMillan said, “There are no absolutes.”  There are no guarantees.  Despite how folks are acting nowadays, the COVID-19 virus has no politics.  It is neither right wing or left wing; while it may be airborne, I doubt it has wings at all.

It’s easy to understand why people are afraid.  I don’t think any of us is comfortable with what our daily lives have become.  The world has changed in some fundamental ways and may never go back to what we were used to.  Yet the economy and every-day life have to resume as best they can.  The unfortunate truth is folks aren’t likely to sit in the house behind closed doors until there is a vaccine developed.  IF there is a vaccine.  I hate to be the one to pop the bubble of some folks, but even trying to stay home doesn’t mean folks are safe from the virus.  The truth is people will get sick and some may die.  We need to do everything we can to ensure that folks are as safe as possible.  It’s called doing the best that we can.  If that’s not good enough for some folks, you need to wake up and live in the real world for a change.

Just so you know, as this goes to press, there are currently over 17,000 requests  — almost 30% of the student population — for the virtual learning option.