published Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Cutting Corners

about Clay Bennett...

The son of a career army officer, Bennett led a nomadic life, attending ten different schools before graduating in 1980 from the University of North Alabama with degrees in Art and History. After brief stints as a staff artist at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Fayetteville (NC) Times, he went on to serve as the editorial cartoonist for the St. Petersburg Times (1981-1994) and The Christian Science Monitor (1997-2007), before joining the staff of the ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
SeaMonkey said...

how about saving the money and not having a superintendent. schools are top heavy with overstuffed and overpaid administrators. get rid of other administrators as well and use that money to go after teachers with a track record of success.

June 15, 2011 at 5:02 a.m.
woody said... it just the way "The Saltwater Simian" suggests and wind up with a whole lot more like him/her/it. Or merely look back at a time when your school system was second to none and go after a similar-thinking individual as you had then.

I wish our local board had done this..Woody

June 15, 2011 at 6:41 a.m.
5v5 said...

Rick Smith is part of the good ol boy system..... dirty backroom and under the table dealings. This board is displaying every example of unfairness with this voting team of 5 white bread idiots. Thurman and Testerman are the worst of them all and teachers will be heading towards the border because ricky will get out his book of old unsettle and lost fights only to start back kicking dirt into old wounds. The only way to fix this train wreck is to vote the dirty 5 out of office and make ricky retire..... Dr. Scales saw this open window and was smart to jump out with $282,000 in hand with $18,000 a year for life from the state retirement plan. Again I said vote these 5 Bast...ds off of the board.

June 15, 2011 at 6:53 a.m.
Leaf said...

My god, the apocalypse is upon us. I agree with SeaMonkey.

This war on education is being aimed at the teachers, and the administrators are getting no flack. In the real world, the management is responsible for the performance of the entity.

June 15, 2011 at 8:24 a.m.
limric said...


I agree with you. Hmm, does that mean that - GASP - I too agree with the brine shrimp. Are we on a road to perdition? Oh woe is me ;-)

Your simply worded statement, "This war on education is being aimed at the teachers, and the administrators are getting no flack." shines a light on the obvious so many work to obscure through diversion and deception. Well said.

And...I'm going to hate myself in the morning, but, your right too...mmmm SeaMonkey.

June 15, 2011 at 8:38 a.m.
rosebud said...

5v5: "The dirty five?" Oh, you must mean the five School Board members who sneaked in late one night and gave Scales a new four year contract to insure he could get his state pension. Or do you mean the five School Board members who sneaked in late one night to give Janice "Walmart" Boydston and her cronies a $22,000 retirement pension, unbeknownst to the other four Board members.

Yeah, that's a "dirty five" all right.

June 15, 2011 at 8:41 a.m.
SeaMonkey said...

success in the classroom has nothing to do with administrators...nothing......teachers who are top notch and are rewarded for it is what's needed..not some fat ass suits who need to justify their outrageous salaries by tinkering with everything until learning takes a back seat. schools have gone down hill since unions put politics first. scales was worthless. thank god for rhonda thurman who tells it the way it is. this school system doesn't need some "genius" administraTOR to be in charge and guide anyone. schools were better when teachers were known as teachers and not educaTORS. it's what's in the classroom that matters...teachers need to get their head in the game and parents need to demand that their tax dollars are used to pay for the very b est teachers, the ones with a track record of success.....they should demand that teachers who aren't doing the job, lose their jobs.

woody, you libs are always looking for the magic man..the messiah to lead people ....a demagogue. nobody's going to ride into town and fix everything. hard work and individual responsibility will always be the most important thing. you libs need to stop looking for the magic man. foolish.

and how should we "wind up" you.....? who are you? you obviously didn't learn much in your life if you're still a liberal....... liberalism is the philosophy of those who are lazy minded and control freaks.

June 15, 2011 at 8:47 a.m.
nucanuck said...

Rick Smith may not be the superintendant that Hamilton County needs, but for better or worse, he is the one the county deserves.

June 15, 2011 at 9:17 a.m.
woody said...

Well, "Monk" I don't care how many here agree with you on this point, I will continue to stipulate..every ship must have a captain to ensure the very best personnel are hired and do their jobs to the best of their abilities.

And you would have us believe otherwise?? I don't know where you got your education, but I must assume you left a good bit of it behind..or simply only absorbed that which you thought was pertinent (you may have took that one is spelled correctly).

At any rate you are what some might refer to as, "...educated beyond your intelligence...."

I'd pity you, but that would be an effort in futility..Woody

June 15, 2011 at 9:18 a.m.
tderng said...

seamonkey...give the liberal a break on this.He is only staying true to his beliefs.I'm sure he would be happy to have 3 administrators 9 assistant administrators and 25 school board members.The more people on the government dole the better!The more school board members the better(bigger government locally)the better!!!

June 15, 2011 at 9:35 a.m.
hambone said...

When a football team has a bad season people want the coach fired.

In Tennessee they fire the players!

June 15, 2011 at 9:38 a.m.
Leaf said...

Woody, I think we're not that far apart. What some of us are saying, is that school administration is notoriously top-heavy. The administration is part of the problem, and they need to shoulder their share of the blame.

If a company were performing as poorly as the schools in Hamilton, a lot of the upper and middle management would get fired, not just the lineworkers. I'm sure there's plenty of deadwood we could do without.

June 15, 2011 at 9:39 a.m.
Clara said...

Did A. Lincoln go to school, or was it only his mother that taught him the 3 R's? Didn't he read law on his own?

I'm really ignorant of the facts of his education.


June 15, 2011 at 10:09 a.m.

Let's clean out the poor performing School Board, first, and start with ones who hired Jim Scales then hurried to give him an extension. Chip Baker comes to mind, first.

Kill the School Board pensions, cut administrators from the Central Office, and give bonuses to top performing classroom teachers.

June 15, 2011 at 10:12 a.m.
Professor said...

Sadly, the one thing good teachers need, besides excellent orgazinational, management, and interpersonal skills, are instructional programs that have been proven to 'work'. That is, actually do what they are 'advertized' to do, such as teach students to read, do Algebra, etc. However, no one ever considers laying any kind of blame on the program publishers who put all kinds of stuff out there and then tell teachers it is their job to figure out what works and what does not.

I don't know how many folks have seen all of the 'resources' that accompany instructional programs today, but it is overwhelming... and few, if any, have any valid research to show that they 'work'. There is absolutely no way any teacher could get through all of the textbook lessons in a school year, let alone include all of the extra material materials that accompany them. Before they can even begin to plan their lessons, teachers must review and learn all of the instructional lessons and materials and then 'pick-and-choose' the ones they 'think' are best for their students. This first step alone is an overwhelming task.

Before instructional programs are ever purchased by a school district, publishers should be required to provide teachers with a set of, say 150 lessons and accompanying resources that document (through research studies with with actual students in various school settings), that if presented in an appropriate and/or recommended manner, students can learn the skills taught within the program. THEN, let the good teachers work their magic with the students.

Could you imagine giving a pile of unproven materials to any other profession and then expecting them to try them out on their customers/patients to figure out what worked and what didn't? Most of us wouldn't consider buying a toaster from Wal-mart unless we had some assurance that it would work (or could return it for a refund if it didn't!) However, school districts spend millions of dollars on programs that have no proven instructional effects (when they don't work, we just by more or new one)...and when test scores come back low, we place blame on teachers and students and completely dismiss the 'tools' that they were given to accomplish their tasks. Districts should be asking for accountability from program publishers as well from teachers and students.

June 15, 2011 at 10:28 a.m.
woody said...

tderng said...

seamonkey...give the liberal a break on this.He is only staying true to his beliefs.I'm sure he would be happy to have 3 administrators 9 assistant administrators and 25 school board members.The more people on the government dole the better!The more school board members the better(bigger government locally)the better!!!

Okay Tderng..I get sarcasm..but it still doesn't change the fact that 'good' leadership is still the best way to get the job done. Of course, the operative word here is 'good'....Which is why you also need the 'correct' people in place to find the aforementioned 'good' leader.

Confidentially, I have never been sold on the concept of an appointed superintendent or director of schools, as some refer to them these days. I still believe this is a job for the electorate..those who have a vested interest in the education of their own youth, rather than a handful of people who could be more easily swayed by outside interests.

Yes, I do get you understand conviction and sincerity??

Additionally, Leaf..the right person at the top can make sure the system isn't "top-heavy"..Woody

June 15, 2011 at 10:32 a.m.
AlmostAmanda said...

What goes on in a classroom has nothing to do with administrators? They now dictate what we do in our classrooms. Ask an elementary teacher about RTI (coming to middle school where it will be impossible to implement), the state-mandated reading block, with a clearly laid-structure for that time, and the mandated math block (this may be specific to some schools rather than state or district-wide) which up until now has been focused on the dreadful Everyday Math garbage. Ask an elementary or middle school teacher how many times their recommendation that a student be retained was supported by a principal but overridden by central office because a parent complained that it was unfair even if little Johnny didn't feel the need to do anything all year. Did you know that central office has actually taken almost all the course content and broken it down for teachers dictating not only what they teach, but how long they should spend on a particular topic? Some principals enforce this and take points off for teachers who recognize that their students may need an extra day or two for their students to understand a concept. Who sets our discipline policy? Who decides student to teacher ratio? Who decides how many special education students a school can handle on their own before they get an EX ED program? I could go on and on about how much influence all levels of administration have on what goes on in our classrooms.

But when a student fails, it's still all the teacher's fault, right?

June 15, 2011 at 10:49 a.m.
fairmon said...

Good post almostamanda. If the good lord had wanted to destroy the world he would have sent a committee of administrators. To save it he sent one good man as the principle figure. I wish the state, central office and the union would exit education and leave it to the principles and students working with parents. The only state legislation needed is that educators will be compensated in the upper quartile of the local MSP. Once centralized whether government or schools the central expands and assumes more and more power and more of the available funding. A principle must be qualified and accountable and have hire and fire authority.

June 15, 2011 at 1:18 p.m.
woody said...

No, AlmostAmanda..that is the short answer to your final inquiry. If a student fails, the blame must be equally shared by those closest to that particular student..including and quite specifically the student, him or herself.

I don't believe there are 'bad' teachers, only those who likely need reassigning. However, if a child truly wants to learn, they will..and by the same token, if all a child wants to do is 'take up space' in school they and their parents can and will likely point the finger at anyone and everyone but themselves to lay blame.

And to everyone who says getting a good education is a "right", then I would also add, it is a gift as well, not to be squandered by those who think of it as more of a chore.

And the right person at the helm of an educational system will see to it the job gets and for everyone..Woody

June 15, 2011 at 1:51 p.m.
rosebud said...

Nucanuck, you're right about one thing. Hamilton County did not deserve Jim Scales. Or the tornadoes. Or the drought.

June 15, 2011 at 3:05 p.m.
fairmon said...


I agree an education is an opportunity not a right. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are the rights the constitution says Americans have. it doesn't include education, health care and the myriad of other things politicians have concluded are rights the government is obligated to provide. The principle is government should do nothing that would inhibit or prohibit citizens from pursuing their goals and happiness.

June 15, 2011 at 3:41 p.m.
BigRidgePatriot said...

SeaMonkey said... "success in the classroom has nothing to do with administrators"

I suspect administrators and the like actually make things much worse.

Anyone among us who are older than say, 30 years old, and took Algebra, would know that we were required to show our work for each problem and were not allowed to do it in our heads and just present the answer. There were a lot of good reasons for this. Our teachers explained it was part of developing good problem solving skills and would be critical as we moved into more advanced math. They were right.

When my kids took algebra and geometry they were routinely doing their homework in multiple choice format so that they could present the answers to a computer program for grading. I even saw tests in multiple choice format. Most of their homework was done this way, in front of a computer in "math lab".

I suppose this saves teachers time because they do not have to grade papers (when I was in school, student teachers aides did most of this type of grading).

Talk about putting the cart in front of the horse! The teachers explained to me that the computer homework system was mandated as part of the school system. The scary part was, as I continued to express my concern I did not detect any real understanding of my objection from the teachers, certainly not the, "I know! I know! We are fighting it, but have not gotten it fixed yet!", that I would expect from a good math teacher. After passing the buck to the powers that be they kind of went quiet.

Not long after having that same conversation with the third math teacher my son (that was not doing well with math after excelling in it for years in the Atlanta area) was pulled from Hamilton County schools.

They still collect my property taxes though. Great value there!

June 15, 2011 at 4:12 p.m.
chet123 said...



June 15, 2011 at 6:04 p.m.
5v5 said...

chet123 you are so right all trash smell the same..... I worked in the system with both of these 2 morans and the same things are going on..... ricky the thief & rhonda bimbo hairdresser.

If ricky gets the job it will truly be a @*MN mess, but it's looking that way...

June 15, 2011 at 6:24 p.m.
BigRidgePatriot said...

Professor said... "one thing good teachers need...are instructional programs that have been proven to 'work'

Oh brother. I wonder how long they have been teaching English, Math and History and how the Educational Industrial Complex has managed to complicate it beyond belief.

I am pretty sure, If I could find the Algebra text I used back in 1975, that I could do a better job of teaching Algebra than any of the teachers I have met in Hamilton county.

June 15, 2011 at 6:43 p.m.
AlmostAmanda said...

I agree with you on the textbook mess. The textbook that I am required to use is missing about half of the words that my students are supposed to know for TCAP, leaves out two units that should be covered and is one of the most poorly organized pieces of junk I've ever seen. They cost the district upwards of $70 each for the student edition, $100+ for the teacher's edition, and who knows how much for the workbooks and CDs that come with it. I try to use it as little as possible.

June 15, 2011 at 6:59 p.m.
tderng said...

brp...I agree,when I went back to school calculators were just becoming the rage.My math teacher asked why I didn't use one,I told her "because I want to know how to do the equations,not just get the answer." Unfortunately kids now just punch in the equation and get the answer,most don't even have the slightest idea how to actually do the work.I am not blaming the teachers for this I blame the people who have created the problem.That,imho,would be the people who approve the curriculum and the textbooks.

June 15, 2011 at 7:59 p.m.

Chet, please explain how Dr. Scales was performing so well, using his Phd.

We'll wait....

June 15, 2011 at 8:14 p.m.
AlmostAmanda said...

I knew a teacher (now retired) whose principal required them to use the calculators. Several times she was caught teaching math without allowing the students to use them, and the last time she was told that she would be written up for it. She ended up taking the batteries out of all the calculators, but having the students place them on their desks during math time. They earned the batteries when they had mastered all the required skills on paper, and she felt they were ready to move to the more advanced things that actually require a calculator. She was a brilliant lady!

June 15, 2011 at 8:14 p.m.
tderng said...

AlmostAmanda...too bad she retired! That was a brilliant ploy!Obviously a jackass for a principal!

I seriously doubt I could still do the equations that I did then!Fortunately I don't have too.

June 15, 2011 at 8:41 p.m.
dude_abides said...

SheMuffin, we could give fifty teachers a whopping $2260 a year if we don't hire a superintendent! God, the ultra-competent teachers would be coming out of the woodwork! That's $188 per month, or $47 per week! LOL! Those are truly conservative numbers. Does the super get a car? Those 50 paradigm shifting teachers could each have it one week a year! Simpleton.

June 15, 2011 at 9:08 p.m.
Selah said...

GO are talking the right language...

June 15, 2011 at 9:48 p.m.
MountainJoe said...

Register and Scales both had doctoral degrees, and both were hired after "national searches" using consultants. And look how much the school system improved on both their watches. Oh, right. Test scores are down and more schools are failing. So maybe a local person without a doctorate in "education administration" isn't such a bad idea after all.

June 15, 2011 at 10:33 p.m.
dude_abides said...

BRP, everybody I've ever met that makes statements like you make have been full of sh!t. You couldn't teach a drunk to fall.

June 15, 2011 at 10:44 p.m.
Selah said...

MountainJoe...atleast they applied for a job in this republic, right? Atleast we had a chance to hear their rhetoric...but now in this Monarchy Rick Smith is pushed down our throats b/c a mighty few thinks he is great...The larger picture your losing your right to have a choice...they love you all who go along with the push em through tactics. Why be so scared to put DR.Rick on the interview line? Remember he was in the fight for Superintendent with Scales but withdrew his name? Why if he felt he was Great....Stay tuned to MountainJoe and Rosebud 103.5!!!

June 15, 2011 at 11:42 p.m.
rosebud said...

Selah, who exactly "pushed through" the late-night, last-minute, closed-door 4 year contract renewal for Jim Scales in 2008? You know, the one that guaranteed a new board couldn't terminate him until he qualified for his state pension? And who exactly pushed through Janice "Banned from Walmart" Boydston's last-minute, surprise retirement prize money of $22,000?

You can name names, or I's up to you. Let's just say it was the gang that used to have power. For some reason, the voters told them they don't deserve that power any more. I can't imagine why, can you?

June 16, 2011 at midnight
BigRidgePatriot said...

tderng said... "Unfortunately kids now just punch in the equation and get the answer,most don't even have the slightest idea how to actually do the work.I am not blaming the teachers for this I blame the people who have created the problem"

You are being too kind to the teachers. Two of them were as old as I am and they should know better. I've hired a couple of young engineers from Asia this year, and they both say that they were also required to write out EVERY problem.

It is no wonder we are falling behind in math and science. Our senior teachers, who should know how to teach, do not seem to be fighting for the kids. I guess the younger teachers can't be expected to have a clue.

June 16, 2011 at 12:11 a.m.
BigRidgePatriot said...

dude_abides said... "everybody I've ever met that makes statements like you make have been full of sh!t. You couldn't teach a drunk to fall."

dude, you must think people that do not hold the same opinion as you are automatically full of sh!t, I think they teach that in the school of left wing thought, right? All that sensitivity, respect and diversity you dorks talk about all the time, right?

Let me tell you, you clueless idiot. I end up having to try to reteach many of the kids that come out of our current piece of crap educational system. If you think our educators are doing a good job you are a delusional dolt.

June 16, 2011 at 12:13 a.m.
BigRidgePatriot said...

AlmostAmanda said... "I knew a teacher (now retired) whose principal required them to use the calculators. Several times she was caught teaching math without allowing the students to use them, and the last time she was told that she would be written up for it. She ended up taking the batteries out of all the calculators, but having the students place them on their desks during math time. They earned the batteries when they had mastered all the required skills on paper, and she felt they were ready to move to the more advanced things that actually require a calculator. She was a brilliant lady!"

This seems to be perfectly consistent with my experiance, except I never met the exceptional teacher (not referring to when I was a kid).

How did the idiots end up in charge?

June 16, 2011 at 12:20 a.m.
Selah said...

Rosebud...I can imagine...I guess you didn't know my opinion then so all you can do is go on "what you think"...I didn't agree with backroom tactics then and don't now...The board has become about the adults and getting back at each other. The fab 5 now was done in them with Scales contract ext. and now they are one upping them now POLITICs...but what is taking place now is unbelievable and shows the true hearts of the school board and Rick Smith. to change 3-4 policies and procedures to get a candidate that only they want? To PLACE someone in a position without looking for other qualified candidates and allowing them to stand on their own TWO FEET through an interview process...Rosebud read the entirety of my postings I am calling for the heads of them ALL...Lord, raise up some ethical, well educated, innovative, business minded, compassionate leaders to take the realm of the SChool system and our local govt. Lord, help us....only you can!!!

June 16, 2011 at 12:27 a.m.
Selah said...

Think on this...just do an all call for only local candidate interviews for Superintendent...put Rick in there...Let's see what they ALL are made of in a public forum...Republic, democracy...dont be scared Rosebud to put your candidate out there against other qualified candidates in HAM Co. ...dont be scared to hear the vision of your candidate against other ones...LETS HEAR IT ALL...I AM NOT SCARED TO CHOOSE. WILL HE PULL OUT AGAIN AMONGST THE PUBLIC EXAMINATION LIKE HE DID BEFORE?

June 16, 2011 at 12:30 a.m.
rosebud said...

Now that the rules have not been changed to prevent him from being a candidate, he will not "pull out." We elected these Board members to represent us. They have made it clear they want a local superintendent, and there happens to be a man in the Central Office already who has proven to our representatives that he is up to the task. I say, let them do their job. Represent us, hire their choice for superintendent. Most of them are on the ballot again in 2014. If they made a bad choice, they will be voted out. The system works.

June 16, 2011 at 8:09 a.m.
dude_abides said...

BRP, just seems like a bunch of bragging. Most people of station I know play their cards closer. You don't hear them bloviate about having to redesign the world. Thanks for everything you do for us Great One.

June 16, 2011 at 8:38 a.m.
BigRidgePatriot said...

dude_abides said... "Most people of station I know play their cards closer"

I share the personal experiences so you can know that I am not just a Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck parrot, or whatever it is you guys keep calling people that have opinions to the right of yours. I have a dog in the fights I weigh in on or I would not bother.

At least I am trying. The left apparently does not even realize we have an education problem. It must be all of those stupid, unexceptional American students they are expected to work with. You know, the first step in solving a problem is to recognize that it exists.

June 16, 2011 at 3:31 p.m.
dude_abides said...

This may make you sick, but it really does take a village. I know lots of reasonably well to do parents that quit taking an interest when little league baseball/softball/soccer was over.

June 16, 2011 at 9:53 p.m.
BigRidgePatriot said...

I don't doubt that, but those parents are products of the same system for the most part.

Our priorities are all screwed up.

June 17, 2011 at 1:40 p.m.
chet123 said...


I know you want to make this a referendum on JIM SCALES..i dont care about scales being replaced so you and your croonie get it straight..Will not let you off the hook that easy. This is about BACK-BITING RHONDA THURMAN who couldnt get alone with HARRY REYNOLDS NOR JESSE REGISTER(BY THE WAY NASHVIILE LOVES HIM)because they would not play the good ole boy game....So Rhonda Thurman place her boy-friend in as a replacement,,,going around hamilton county constitution/ the way if you too stupid to know was put in the policy to prevent colluding and QUID PRO QUO.RHONDA THURMAN AND THE OTHER 4 lower the bar to place a man as superindentent with high school teachers credential....lowering the bar to make it fit him,because they happen to be personal friends....JIM SCALES biggest mistake was not firing that back-biter(RICK SMITH) in his first year as superindentent..RICK SMITH DONT HAVE ANY SHAME...NO SUPERINTENDENT CAN OPERATE WITH OVER HALF THE PEOPLE NOT LIKING HIM ON DAY ONE..Rhonda Thurman and her buddies with their phony attoney need to be taken to court.....

June 17, 2011 at 4:22 p.m.
chet123 said...


June 17, 2011 at 4:27 p.m.
please login to post a comment

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »


Find a Business

400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.