Publisher’s Positions

By Steve Hunley

Back to the Basics Needed at Knox County Schools

Nobody can be happy with the State of Tennessee’s assessment our school system was in the bottom 5% of all state school districts last year.  That ranking is based on things like student learning growth, achievement and graduation rate.  Knox County has a new superintendent, Dr. Jon Rysewyk, who has barely been in office long enough to get the seat of his chair warm.

For the past several years, it seems like the Knox County Board of Education has rarely ever discussed anything that has to do with the basics of education or learning.  Indeed, the hallmark of the prior administration was diversity, equity, and social justice.  Then came the confusion and chaos of COVID and the never-ending culture war regarding masking.  Can anyone truly be surprised at the result?

It isn’t a problem of not having enough money; all told, Knox County taxpayers, who are also state and federal taxpayers, spend quite nearly a billion dollars on the school system.  Recent polls indicate parents are losing confidence in our educational system.  80% of folks in America say the education system isn’t working in our country.  It is impossible to dispute that if one is acquainted with the facts.

The culture wars also involve the vital question of parental involvement in the education of their child/children.  The teachers’ unions say they want parental involvement so long as parents do as they are told because they know what is best for the children.  Increasingly, most parents believe they, rather than the government, know what is best for their children.

Do drag shows in elementary schools have anything to do with educating children?  Not at all.  The notion of “equity” in our schools means no student is gifted in any way shape form or subject.  The idea of equity begs for lowering academic standards for all.  Is it any wonder the outcry for charter schools is increasing?  Hardly.

Of course, the very idea of charter schools is anathema to teachers’ unions and their political supporters.  Teachers’ unions are among the largest contributors of campaign cash to Democrat candidates across the country.  Jason Martin, the Democrat candidate for governor of Tennessee this fall, is attacking “unelected officials” over the issue of charter schools in Rutherford County.  Martin, a doctor, likely had no issue with the health mandates issued by a plethora of unelected officials.  The confusion of the COVID wave allowed teachers to sit at home while teachers’ unions hailed them as heroes of the pandemic.  The interference by the teachers’ union in determining official health policy has been documented.

John Ray Clemmons, a leftist Democrat from Nashville, claims charter schools “undermine” teachers and the issue is “about a bigger plan to reduce the quality of education in the state of Tennessee.”  There is nothing that undermines teachers more than the lack of administration being able to discipline students, which is entirely contrary to one of the wonders of the social justice program, “restorative practices.”  And you can be sure it has absolutely nothing to do with justice.  We’ve seen that happen here in Knox County with our own eyes.  Fully 25% of the teachers at South – Doyle Middle School retired or left because the bad behavior of students went unpunished.

With all due respect to the supporters of teachers’ unions like John Ray Clemmons and Gloria Johnson, nothing has reduced the quality of education in this state and country more than the silly emphasis on social justice.

Social engineering has nothing to do with educating children.  Lowering standards does not help anyone excel.  Let’s call it exactly what it is and let’s be honest about exactly what has brought Knox County to this point.

It’s long past time for the members of the Knox County Board of Education to stress educating children and putting the culture wars and social justice binge to sleep.  Justice is not depriving our children of real education in the name of being politically correct.


Fallout Continues Over Commission Reorganization Vote

The fallout over four county commissioners voting to install a Democrat as chair of the commission continues.  Last week the Halls Republican Club voted to ban the four Republican women who voted for Democrat Courtney Durrett to serve as chair.  A week after the stunning events of the reorganization of the county commission, there has been little or nothing said publicly, at least not to my knowledge, by any elected representative from GOP party officials.  None of the state executive committee members have publicly chastised the four Republican women nor has State Chairman Scott Golden uttered a peep.

As former Congressman Jimmy Duncan pointed out in his column in this paper, there is a time when party affiliation matters and that is during procedural votes.  Basically, those who supported Jimmy Duncan or Tim Burchett did NOT expect them to go to Washington and promptly vote to elect Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House.  Nor did those backing Bill Hagerty or Marsha Blackburn expect them to vote to organize the United States Senate to make Chuck Schumer Majority Leader with their votes.

The fallout likely isn’t over.


Printing More Money to Reduce Inflation… Really?

As Joe Biden shuffles around the country bragging about his misnamed “Inflation Reduction Act,” which is a grab bag of Leftist goodies pertaining to climate change, Americans are experiencing the sharpest rise in food prices in 40 years.  Prices have risen every month of 2022; that is according to data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The cost of food for Americans has risen 13.5% over the last 12 months.  That is the largest increase since 1979.

Household staples cost more for Americans.  Butter is up 15.2%; cereal and bakery products have risen 16.4%; chicken is up 16.6%; ham & pork have risen 9%.  Peanut butter has gone up 15.2%.  Packaged foods have been steadily increasing as well.  Frozen foods have increased year-on-year 18.5% while snack foods have increased 16.7%.  Condiments like ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, spices and seasonings and sauces have increased 15.4%.

Any number of factors have helped to increase the cost of food on grocery store shelves.  High energy costs have increased the cost of transporting foods, which is reflected in the prices we pay.  Supply chain disruptions and increased labor costs add to the ticket prices of food.  An outbreak of avian flu caused the price of eggs to rise 38% last year.

Tennessee Senator Bill Hagerty summed it up nicely: “Yet another month of blistering inflation.  Try as they might, no baseless victory lap or out-of-touch press release from the Biden Admin will change the stark reality that financial hardships are greater & wallets are emptier since Biden stepped into office.”