Letter: Seeking Illumination

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602 S. Gay Street
2nd Floor
Knoxville, TN 37902

In his May 3 Insights column, Joe Sullivan asked, “What Will it Take to Get Knox Schools Funded for Success?” Well, first of all, and perhaps most of all, it will take journalists willing to dig deeply and provide us with some actual insight regarding this highly complex and politicized matter. Mr. Sullivan’s latest column provides scarcely any meaningful analysis and interpretation. Instead, he mostly gives us a list of facts, figures, and generalizations and then signs off by saying, “...I believe McIntyre’s initiative is worthy of support.” Why? And on what basis?

I, too, am outraged that we spend, per pupil, significantly less than Hamilton and Davidson counties do and that only 38 percent of our high school students score a 21 or higher on the ACT. It’s shameful, but it would also be shameful, and reckless, to write the school system a $35 million check because business and/or media leaders tell us this is a good idea without first requiring them to break it down, in good faith, exposing the fine print and clarifying vague proposals.

For example, what is “an array of teacher support and student intervention programs”? As a former Knox County teacher, who taught for 10 years, I am dubious every time central office announces a new initiative to support teachers. In the past, for the majority of my colleagues and me, this was code for more teacher responsibilities. Maybe this is not the case this time around, but it would be very helpful to the county and its children, if you and your paper actually investigated the rhetoric, presented support, and illuminated the truth.

David N. Drews


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