published Friday, October 5th, 2012

Drew's views

HEADLINE: Rick Smith says no to vouchers

THE RECAP: In his annual "State of the Schools" address, Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Rick Smith doesn't support public school vouchers. Smith claims proposed voucher programs take badly needed funds away from public schools.

DREW'S VIEW: Smith's claim that vouchers take money away from public schools tells you all you need to know about the superintendent's disappointingly antiquated and, frankly, self-interested ideas about education.

Vouchers empower parents with the opportunity to make decisions about their child's education. Teachers, principals and school board members in Hamilton County frequently complain that it's a challenge to get parents engaged in their children's education. Vouchers can serve to motivate parents to become active in a very powerful way by offering them responsibility and presenting them with options.

Additionally, public schools — and public school students — benefit from vouchers. By having to compete in a marketplace with other schools, public schools necessarily improve in order to vie for the money that vouchers bring. Schools that are considered low performing have the opportunity to reinvent themselves as magnet-type schools that focus on the arts, hard sciences, technical skills and other areas that allow students to excel while preparing for college or a career.

Clearly, Smith is afraid of competition and doesn't believe he is capable of improving certain schools in a way that would make them viable in a system that allows choice and rewards quality.

It is also apparent that, to him, students represent dollars coming into the Hamilton County Schools, rather than children who need — and deserve — a quality education.

•••

HEADLINE: Marion County approves funds for nonprofits

THE RECAP: When Marion County found itself with a $1.5 million budget shortfall in 2011, many local nonprofit and charitable organizations lost county funding in an effort to fill the gap. Last week, the county commission voted unanimously to appropriate $449,226 to various nonprofit and charitable organizations that the county traditionally supported.

DREW'S VIEW: Perhaps Marion County's $1.5 million shortfall was related to the fact that the county's leaders spend taxpayers' money supporting organizations and programs that government has no business funding.

There is an argument to be made that volunteer fire departments — recipients of a portion of the funds — are a justifiable use of tax dollars since fire protection is a proper role of local government. Further, if the departments weren't adequately funded, taxpayers would be forced to pony up anyway.

But the fire departments make up just 21 percent of the money the county has earmarked for nonprofits and community groups. The remaining $352,726 is wasted on programs and projects that should exist on their own merit — not as a result of welfare handouts.

If a resident of Marion County wants to support a nonprofit, great. However, county taxpayers shouldn't be forced by government to support a private organization with their money, and against their will.

County leaders should never take tax dollars from struggling Marion County families and hand that cash over to arts organizations, civic clubs, festivals and other charities and nonprofits. It's government redistribution at its worst — politicians raiding the pockets of tax payers and giving the money to organizations in the county that are run by their buddies.

When Marion County leaders complain about not having enough money in the future, I hope county residents remind them of the inappropriate and foolish ways in which they've chosen to spend money this year.

•••

HEADLINE: Bradley Couny rezoning rejected; traffic woes cited

THE RECAP: On Monday, Bradley County commissioners voted 10-1 to oppose a request to rezone an acre of residential property near the intersection of Hopewell Place and Georgetown Pike that would've been used to display and sell storage buildings. There were fears that additional traffic could cause accidents.

DREW'S VIEW: Heaven forbid that Bradley County officials do something that could possibly bring a few dollars into the county and benefit an entrepreneur. We certainly wouldn't want that!

"Drew's views" is a weekly roundup of Free Press opinions about topics that appeared in the Times Free Press over the past week. Follow Drew on Twitter: @Drews_Views.

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Actually Smith is quite rightly concerned that what happens is the purported solution of vouchers is used to do nothing for actual problems except say there's a solution.

Menawhile students end up not benefiting, as these private schools find ways to maximize their profits. Cuz you know who sees them as dollar signs, right? The people who want to run these schools.

As for Marion County, why didn't you name those programs??

And Bradley County? Maybe they thought there would be costs to that business in that location. Perhaps you are willing to risk more traffic accidents just so somebody else can make a buck, but that's not what I would elect anybody to do.

But hey, your worship of the Almighty dollar is your way of doing things.

October 5, 2012 at 12:13 a.m.
John_Proctor said...

If rezoning a residential neighborhood to allow the display and sale of storage building is such a great idea, let's rezone the parcel next to where Drew lives. Hey, anything his friendly local entrepreneur wants to do it can't be bad. Drew's gospel of wealth preaches that any other concerns don't count when there's money to made.

October 5, 2012 at 12:19 a.m.
richarddawkins said...

Smith is a county commission crony.

Smith had a masters degree, the job required a PhD. Nonsense, say Skillern and Sloppinger. We have high school educations and run the county just fine.

Ramsey crony for judge looking better and better

October 5, 2012 at 12:24 a.m.
librul said...

Thank you, Rick Smith.

October 5, 2012 at 7:01 a.m.
conservative said...

"Smith claims proposed voucher programs take badly needed funds away from public schools."

In the common vernacular of the day - well duh!

The teachers unions want those federal dollars that are given for each student so they can hire more teachers who will pay those union dues, which will empower the NEA even further, and of course stifle competition.

October 5, 2012 at 9:55 a.m.

And conservative wants fewer teachers, paying fewer union dues, so he can break the power of yet another union, in order to allow his corporate masters to leech even more from the population, who won't even be educated enough to realize it.

Well, I suppose they might be educated, if we count corporate brain-washing as education.

October 5, 2012 at 11:18 a.m.
tipper said...

Drew's view on vouchers has nothing to do with education. Voucher's, charter schools, and online education such as K12, are simply a continuing assualt on the public school system by trying to sell privatization of education as the panacea to all parents' problems. Conservative lawmakers bolstered by private business and lobbyists have a misguided ideology that nothing ever works or nothing ever gets done unless someone makes a dollar. What better way to get more money than to have legislators pull it out of the pockets of taxpayers while at the same time avoiding accountability for expenditures and performance. There are two institutions in this country that will never work under that philosophy no matter how much money you throw at them--education and healthcare. Vouchers are a simplistic answer to a problem that has many facets that require more than throwing money at it. Conservative lawmakers seem stuck on only one concept--make it a business. They spend too much time debasing teachers and administrators and chasing simple solutions that don't exist in the private sector. And let's not forget that I and others are outraged that Tennessee legislators seem to feel they can give away our tax money to religious-based schools under some assumption that these schools produce better educated people. So far, I haven't seen any proof of that. One thing I do know, however, any voucher program that gives money to private and religious schools will be challenged.

October 5, 2012 at 4:01 p.m.
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