I watched Inside TN this morning to see how the panel discussion about school rezoning turned out. The first segment featured a teacher. What you see on the stage is the teacher asking how this is going to impact all the high schools when there is no budget for new teachers. Existing teachers are going to be asked first, then involuntarily transferred to the new high school in Hardin Valley. How many schools will be left with teacher deficits? How likely is it that teachers at older, struggling schools will make a mass exodus to the new school on the beautiful farmland with actively involved parents? What you didn’t see or hear was the school board members in the background discussing teachers and their loyalty or lack thereof to certain schools.
The second segment had school board members Robert Bratton and Cindy Buttry as well as one husky voiced parent who never looked at the camera. This segment exposed the parent’s personal anxiety about her teenage children driving. It also talked about the numbers involved in this rotation of school districts. Ms. Buttry expressed her sincere concerns about the huge impact this will have on her historically close-knit community. The weird, no-eye-contact parent rambled and failed to mention open enrollment, geographic districts or any real solutions. She did manage to say that West of Morrell should be Bearden High and not West High. The possibility of grandfathering siblings was discussed and the “where do we draw the line” argument was used against it. Ironically, at the Bearden Forum those exact same words were used. Obviously the school board has memorized a few talking points to use during this rezoning process.
The cameras stopped for commercials so that the parent and school board members could leave. While the cameras were stopped there was further questioning of the extremely large numbers of students being moved in Ms.Buttry’s district. The last segment had the panelists summarizing their thoughts on the rezoning. At this point, the topic of breaking up neighborhoods was brought up and quickly scoffed. How can high schools this large have any sense of community? How can those huge neighborhoods have a sense of cohesion? I know quite a few people who could have answered those questions. Our children are growing up playing with the children in our neighborhood. They spend countless hours together and in our home. They are like our extended family. As for the size of the high school, anyone who has ever been to a high school football game on a Friday night can tell you that there is an ownership and school pride that is immeasurable. Knoxville is a town where everyone wears orange on Fridays. On game days the game is broadcast over all the speakers that normally play muzak. Everyone in Knoxville is connected by family and friendships. To dismiss anyone’s feelings of community in this city is unconscionable.