Roy Exum: An Unwelcome Woman

Saturday, May 13, 2017 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Back when all of us were a lot younger, I had a close friend who showed me his new business card. On the card’s front was the very familiar Chicago Cubs’ logo and the mailing address of Wrigley Field. Underneath was my friend’s name in flashy bold letters, right over a line that boasted, “Minority Owner.” Flabbergasted, I yelped, “No way!”

Yes, there is a way, he replied. “All you gotta’ do is buy one share of Wrigley chewing gum stock … they own the Cubs! With my one share of stock, you’re mighty right I am a minority owner!”

I must have laughed about that for a day. Better yet, I am still laughing over Tennessee Commissioner of Education Candice McQueen’s self-imposed “partnership” with the Hamilton County School Board. In order to enter into any partnership, both parties have to agree and not one person in Chattanooga wants the state’s baffling Department of Education to take over four of our worst schools. And if the School Board votes to allow it, the school board will most definitely become a “minority owner.”

McQueen has announced she’ll speak on the topic next Thursday afternoon prior to the monthly meeting of the School Board and the woman will be about as popular as Cruella DeVille. She has single-handedly torn public education in Memphis apart. Several days ago she slashed her Achievement School District with heavy cuts, this after her federal money dried up.

Oh, McQueen called some 50-odd cuts “stream-lining” while announcing a new pricing structure where all the charter schools in the west Tennessee town would pay an increase to the state-run school district for each child in a charter school, going from $200 a child to a percentage based on how many students attend the school. Parents in Memphis are openly worried.

In another puzzling move last week, McQueen called this year’s state testing “a success, both online and on paper, in schools across Tennessee. Our students were prepared with solid teaching in classrooms every day, and this year all of our students had the opportunity to show what they know on TNReady. Thank you for your partnership in making this success a reality.”

But they say “the real reality” is the fact that the state Department of Education is pushing back on when test results will be made available for the 600,000 students who took the test. In the same email touting the testing success, she wrote: “The department will provide raw score results for all students to districts in late May for the purposes of determining students’ final grades. As a reminder, TNReady scores will factor into students’ grades at a reduced 10 percent weighting this year,”

What? Some schools are already graduating students! Undaunted, Candice continued: “We will release high school end-of-course results this summer, and we will send districts individual score reports for students, families, and educators. Results and the new personalized reports for students in grades 3-8 will be available this fall.”

This fall? Hello. I thought it was still spring. I am so puzzled why anyone would dare go into “forced servitude” with Candace McQueen for any reason. I even ran to my closet and grabbed my conch shell … you know, where you can hold it up to your ear and hear the ocean? The very second I did the ocean told me that this tyrant is a huge embarrassment to the taxpayers of this state.

My mercy, who is going to pay for this partnership. The state has no money after blowing through millions in the failed Memphis experiment and Hamilton County’s budget request had a $24 million “wish list” attached. We’ve got no money to even fix our schools’ building needs.

What McQueen has in mind is a separate superintendent, a separate school board and a list of purely ridiculous demands that cost money. She can’t seem to grasp there are environmental concerns, poverty, a lack of picture-book parents, and a plethora of other hurdles that impede an education.

I am sorry Memphis is among the Ten Most Dangerous Cities in the United States. When the Achievement School District promised to take schools from the bottom five percent to the top 25 percent in five years, nobody in Las Vegas would shade such a bet.

I firmly believe there is not a federal judge in Tennessee who believes the Tennessee Department of Education can do a better job with poverty schools than our own Hamilton County Schools can do. This is the most senseless exercise I have ever heard and it is imperative that our state legislators do not allow this financial fleecing to take place.

If Candace McQueen is successful in her out-and-out takeover, every child in Hamilton County will be affected because of the cash it will take away from our county schools. This is nuts. Stark raving nuts.

* * *

THE OBVIOUS ANSWER TO TEST SCORES IN TENNESSEE

Can you possibly imagine how disappointed “Bad Johnny” is about waiting six months for test scores that he has spent six months getting ready for? This is blatant stupidity, not from kids but from grown-ups. The solution is so easy it is embarrassing.

Here’s how we give every child his or her results the very next day at a fraction of the cost the carpetbaggers swoop in and charge us. Simply design the answer sheets like an election ballot. On test day, have a team from every Tennessee county’s Election Commission  show up at every school and let every child feed their answers into the election tabulator. This is so simple!

Think! We use our election machines – what! – once every two years? These machines cannot only instantly provide a read-out for each individual child but tabulate averages, trends, the child’s name, weight, IQ and street address. I’m talking about in the blink of an eye. All it comes down to is counting data. Data is easy to collect if you are smart. And mere seconds after Horace’s test scores are scanned, he has the tabulated results. Wait until fall is to be admit you are a loser.

Horace gets a civics lesson. He has to stand accountable. He’ll try harder next time, and he will learn the consequences of his answer. All in one day. Life ain’t hard if you ain’t stupid.

We can save millions of dollars with all the machines we own in stock. Natural resources. Let’s return the millions saved to our children.

royexum@aol.com


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