KNS Guest Column on 3/15/2015 Opposing School Choice/Vouchers

On Sunday March 15, 2015 the Knoxville News Sentinel published a Guest Columnist from Tammy Grissom, the Executive Director of the Tennessee School Board Association.

In my previous life, I served as the East Director on the Board of Directors of the Tennessee School Boards Association. During my term on the board, the longtime Former Director Dan Tollett retired and the Board of Directors hired Grissom. Dr. Tollett now serves as Trust Administrator of Utrust based in Gallatin, TN.

While Grissom makes an argument against vouchers. She attempts to confuse the debate of school choice by stating that people have choice and she chooses public education. It is great for her to choose public education. While many residents are forced to choose public education in failing public schools. You see most school districts operate just like Knox County. You must send your child to the school you are zoned to attend. While some people are like my family, where when we were zoned to less than stellar Knox County Middle School. In 1999, we sold our house and bought a house and relocated to an area where the schools matched what we desired for our three children. About seven years ago the school district again rezoned us from a good high school to another less desirable school. However, the grandfathering provision allowed us to keep the kids in the same high school zone. IF, we provided transportation. We took the inconvenience and provided the transportation. Thus allowing us to stay in the second neighborhood and home we desired.

Our youngest will graduate this May and we will be done. However, what about the working poor, what about the single dads and moms that can not relocate due to work or life circumstances? They are stuck in a community that doesn’t really provide the American Dream but they are trying and they are forced to keep their kids in a public school mandated by their residence. The school district doesn’t provide them an opportunity to go to whatever school is best for their child.

Yes, President George W. Bush and the the No Child Left Behind gave a minor relief in dictating that parents can ask and must be afforded the opportunity to move the student to a school of the districts choosing.

School Choice and/or Vouchers is a good measure to allow parents to determine where to spend the dollars allocated for THEIR child’s education. It is not the tax dollars that the parent pays, but all the tax dollars allocated per student/child to be educated.

School Choice and/or Vouchers is a measure to allow public and private schools to compete for each student. It brings our American Spirit of Competition and Individual Success to create a rising tide that will lift all boats.

As for Mrs. Grissom who I haven’t seen or talked to in almost 8 years, I don’t blame her for her position. She is the executive director of TSBA. An Association funded by the assessed yearly dues of the public school boards, which by the way is our tax dollars. Where do school boards get the dollars to pay TSBA dues? By our paid tax dollars. Nearly 90% or greater of all school board members oppose choice/vouchers. In Knox County there is only one of nine board members that support vouchers.

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