By Steve Hunley

More Protest Follies

Readers will recall the antics of Constance Every and her merry band of protesters who tried to disrupt a recent meeting of the Knox County Commission and were promptly arrested by the Knox County Sherriff’s Office.  The protestors quickly discovered that Sheriff Tom Spangler is not Chief of Police Eve Thomas.  Among those arrested was Reverend Calvin Taylor Skinner, who ran for mayor in the last election against Indya Kincannon, Eddie Mannis and Marshall Stair.

The protestors were back at the county commission last week after Reverend Johnnie Skinner and county commission chair Larsen Jay exchanged letters.  The Reverend Skinner demanded to know if “residents of Knox County, especially, can be banned from the City – County Building after being arrested for exercising their first amendment rights?”  Jay deserves credit for a reply that was highly professional, yet quite direct and honest.  Reverend Skinner doubtless doesn’t realize the City-County Building is actually owned by the Public Building Authority and yes, they can ban folks from the premises.  And no, Reverend, the First Amendment doesn’t protect just one group of folks who are trying to disrupt a meeting and denying the people having the meeting their right to free speech.  It’s not exactly a one-way highway, Reverend.

Jay told Reverend Skinner, “In my opinion, your son, and his group of protestors, came to the County Commission meeting with the focus goal of provoking a physical confrontation with law enforcement, to get arrested, and to generate media stories in an effort to further their own image and narratives.”

I think Larsen Jay was spot on in his analysis of why Constance Every and Calvin Taylor Skinner were present.  Commissioner Jay wasn’t finished.

“Not a single member of the protest group signed up to speak at our public forum or contacted me to ask for time at the Commission meeting – – – both of which they would be permitted to do.”

Jay pointed out everybody else was able to discuss the topic in a reasonable manner whether they agreed with one another or not.  As Larsen Jay politely termed it, “This group chose not to engage in any of those productive exchanges of ideas.”

Keep in mind, following one of the shootings in East Knoxville, Indya Kincannon could barely be heard over Every screaming into a bullhorn as the mayor tried to address a press conference at a city park.

The Knoxville News-Sentinel tried to stress the protests were “peaceful” but then again, the mainstream media has made the same claim with buildings burning in the background.  The KCSO was out in force during the last commission meeting, which drew the attention of the Sentinel for some reason.  Skinner the younger has been before the commission previously and has even delivered a lecture/devotional before that body.

Any citizen has the right to sign up for public forum and speak his/her mind.  Neither Constance Every, Calvin Taylor Skinner nor the other protestors had any intention of participating in any orderly process.  I agree with Larsen Jay; they were there to shout, bully and disrupt and get arrested.

“Peaceful” or otherwise, Constance Every and her posse have no right to impede the people’s business or scream obscenities or use a bullhorn in a meeting room.  If anything ever has been equitable, it was the rules apply to everyone equally.

The protestors went out into the county to protest at what they thought was the home of District Attorney General Charme Allen.  They didn’t like the fact once again the Knox County Sheriff’s Office was vigilant and yet they didn’t have the right house.



Racist Math

Did you ever think you’d hear math is racist?  I sure didn’t.  Evidently the Virginia State Board of Education would “move toward eliminating accelerated math classes before 11th grade.”  It’s part of something called the Virginia Mathematics Pathways Initiative (VMPI).  The State Department of Education is attempting to change the framework and pacing of subjects.  Naturally, it’s described by bureaucrats as “an attempt to remedy inequities among various demographics, including race and status.”

In other words, Virginia is seeking to kill off advanced math classes for those students who excel in the subject in the name of social justice.  Those higher-achieving students would be penalized and classes would be the same for all students until reaching the 11th grade.  Only in the junior and senior year would students have the opportunity to take advanced classes.  The state has utilized language stating a goal to “improve quality in mathematics learning opportunities.”  It also calls for empowering “students to be active participants in a quantitative world” as well as “identify K – 12 mathematics pathways that support future success.”  Typical bureaucratic gobbledygook that can mean anything or, more likely, nothing at all.

Then we get down to the nitty gritty.  One committee member said, “Let me be totally clear, we are talking about Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2 – – – those three courses we’ve all known and loved – – – and removing them from our high school mathematics program, replacing them with essentials concepts for grades eight, nine and ten.”  Well, that’s “essential concepts” to a bureaucrat who probably hasn’t taught a class nor stepped foot in a classroom in twenty years.

Some parents are becoming increasingly alarmed the standard for all students might be lowered in the name of equity. Those kinds of changes are diametrically opposed to the efforts of those students who are high achievers in STEM-related curriculum. Locally, that would mean there’d be no STEM schools, no IB program at Bearden and so on. In the name of equity, every student would be taking the same classes across the board. What the left calls “equity” doesn’t take into account individuality or creativity, much less actual ability. If a student played a piano like Liberace, he/she would have to sit in the same music class with a kid who couldn’t hit a note on a triangle. A child who could write expressively and beautifully will supposedly learn in the same class with one who couldn’t spell “cat” if it was printed on the chalkboard. We should all be able to act as well as the greatest thespian on the screen, be as funny as the funniest comic, sing an aria like the greatest opera singer in the world, and play any sport like the greatest athletes; if we all can’t play equally, nobody can play.

The notion of “equity” in subjects raises some interesting and alarming questions. If all things really are equal across the board, what happens to special education? Do special ed students still have special courses in an “equitable” educational program? Are they still mainstreamed with other children and yet retain their aides, etc.? Think of the tens of millions, hundreds of millions of dollars taxpayers have poured into the school system here and elsewhere to RAISE standards, not lower them in the name of equity.

Like everybody else, I’ve watched over the years as local school systems have moved closer and closer to embracing the lowest common denominator in most every respect. Members of the state legislature are becoming, finally, increasingly alarmed at the abysmal preparation rates of many of our school systems. Preparations rates are those students prepared to go on and further their educations at colleges and universities or ready to go out and join the workforce. Graduation rates, usually widely touted by school systems, are pretty well meaningless as compared to a higher standard like preparation rates. Legislators have started discussing that as many as one-third of students in Tennessee likely should have been failed in at least one grade along the way, but instead have been pushed through the system as if they were being squeezed out of a tube like toothpaste. And before you jump to conclusions, it doesn’t have as much to do with inadequate funding as you might think. In fact, it has nothing to do with inadequate funding. For instance, the Knox County school system spends over half a BILLION dollars annually. The high school with the lowest preparation rate – – – 3% last time I checked – – – is Austin – East, which also has the highest per-student expenditure in Knox County. Farragut High School has the highest preparation rate in the county and that is only 42%. Clearly, too many students are being graduated from our local schools without learning what they need to know to go on and further their educations. It is an inescapable conclusion part of the problem is lowering standards, instead of raising them. Schools and bureaucrats can crow about graduation rates, instead of what really matters: what youngsters have actually learned.

These figures are far lower than in private schools. Dumbing down curriculum in the name of equity is one of the stupidest ideas I’ve ever heard in my life. It borders on insanity. Nothing could be more harmful to our children or our country’s future. The best-educated countries in the world are doing no such thing; indeed, they are doing quite the opposite. Big Tech already imports talent from across the globe precisely because those students aren’t deficient in math like American students. Yet, at least in Virginia – – – but it will begin creeping towards us, the woke will see to that – – – they are preparing to make things worse, all in the name of equity and social justice.

Talent isn’t bestowed on any human being by schools, the government or bureaucrats. It is given to an individual by God Almighty and nothing can or will ever change that fact.