Saturday, November 29, 2008

Want to know why Nashville public schools are so screwed up? Look at mainstream news media

The front page of the Local News section of last Wednesday's Tennessean -- and TV news coverage the day before -- illustrates precisely why Metro Nashville public schools are so messed up and won't improve under what passes for leadership here.

The big picture accompanied by a story on the local front of The Tennessean was of the desperate search across the city for a Christmas tree for the town square. TV news couldn't get enough of the story the day before.

Yet inside the Local Section of The Tennessean was a story of how the school board is grappling with a $1.1 million deficit in the current school year. It either has to reduce teacher salaries, cut lower-paid staffing numbers, slash classroom supplies, layoff teachers or a combination of some or all.

What a damn shame! And now we're getting all the warm and fuzzy stories of making sure needy children get toys for Christmas while they're getting an education that violates standards of the No Child Left Behind Act and basic decency in a city of 1,000 churches.

Metro Schools are about to be taken over by the state, which is led by a governor who left a lot of children behind when he was mayor of Nashville.

Children first and foremost need a good education so they can buy their own presents one day for their own children as college graduates and professionals. Yet consider at the west Nashville place of worship called Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church, only one child has received a good enough public education to get a lottery scholarship. And that was the pastor's daughter.

Yet the children of this African-American congregation get top grades on their papers. Then they can't score high enough on their ACTs to qualify for a scholarship. So the scholarships go to other children.

But hey, Metro Nashville finally found a good Christmas tree.

If I could be constructive in my criticism of The Tennessean, I'd recommend more prominent space about budget cutting involving the futures of children and less on Yuletide extravagance.

Needy children deserve it. So does Nashville's future as a city that must finally rid itself of racism and bigotry against the least of its citizens and in its mainstream news media coverage of the issues and injustices involving them.

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