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602 S. Gay Street
Knoxville, TN 37902
Thank you very much for Jesse Fox Mayshark’s article “Saving Austin-East.” [cover story, May 5, 2011]
Four of my six children are alumni of A-E, two having graduated there and the other two transferring only after a zoning change. All their experiences there were positive and I was very excited about the orchestra and dance programs that they were introduced to there despite the fact they were not magnet students but simply zoned for the school. I myself learned a great deal about music theory and performance by occasionally sitting in on the orchestra class. (And though it’s far too late and overdue, A-E lost an exceptional teacher in Mr. Jonathan East, and the demise of the orchestra program is news I read with great sadness.)
But A-E is not a school without problems, as the article duly documents, problems that spirit and resolve are not going to solve. I knew little of the school’s past prior to my kids’ matriculation there—and am indebted to the article for what I learned about it—but if the solution has been “just a little more time” away for the 24 years since the merger with the county system in 1987, then perhaps this little more time has been and gone and then some for a while.
One thing the article scarcely touched upon is exactly why a state takeover would be a bad outcome for anybody but school officials who may be looking elsewhere for employment and a school system that may or may not lose some state and federal funding? I do not want to see A-E closed, but when other ideas—including a well intended, well funded, yet still floundering magnet program—have not produced the results required or desired, why is a change to a state charter school or a privately managed system treated as the de facto worst thing for the students, especially if it keeps the school open and produces results? What positives would state management bring?
Robert Quiggle III