Monday, June 05, 2006


"5" is the number of times in 2006--but before her May 16 public school board appointment--that Kay Brooks used the term "monopoly" when referring to public school education at She also used "protectionism" (a variation on "monopoly") with reference to the school board in 2006. "0" or "zero" is the number of times since her May 16, 2006 appointment that Kay Brooks has used the term "monopoly" when referring to public school education. Has she changed her mind about public schools or is she holding her tongue until after the August 4 election?

On a side note: according to Kay Brooks' few blog updates since May 16, her involvement in public schools has increased dramatically. Or maybe I should put it this way: in light of the fact that there is next to no blogging evidence of it beforehand, Kay Brooks' involvement in public schools and parent-teacher organizations has actually started. I think it is fair to ask the school board candidate why it took a political appointment for her to take interest enough to involve herself in local public schools? But there is no guarantee, given her continuing lack of responsiveness to fair questions, that she will respond if asked that question.


  1. in a system that opposes open enrollment, vouchers, charter schools, home school, or anything else that might be competition, monopoly seems an appropos term. those who aren't satisfied with their zoned school, and arent fortunate enough to win the magnet school lottery are forced to move outside the county or enroll in private schools. so long as this continues public support for the schools wanes. the time for change - real substantive change, not just give us more money and we'll do better - is now. where the change comes from whether it be home schoolers like Kay Brooks, private schoolers or people within the system isnt important, but we shouldnt refuse to hear any voice willing to contribute.

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  3. Vouchers are a means of government subsidizing private business through the back door. We have charter schools. People are free to home-school, but I don't think they should expect to be entitled to use public school facilities when they otherwise fail to participate in or contribute to public education.

    "Monopoly" is a private sector term foisted, usually by conservatives, on institutions that are vested with serving the public interest. Those who are not satisfied with their zoned school have recourse: join a PTO and organize your neighborhood to put pressure on your school board and council representatives. I found out just today that residents in Lockeland Springs formed a PTO to leverage a new public school for their children before the school ever existed. That's a leading example of what to do with dissatisfaction. Nobody is forced to move out of the county or to a private school; they choose to do so because that's more attractive to them than community organizing. And don't tell me they're too busy, because we're all too busy.

    Finally, nobody is refusing to listen to Kay Brooks or anybody else. Some of us just aren't willing to tolerate the unethical means by which Council members put the votes together to appoint her as a temporary seat filler. And some of us find it rather odd that someone who eschews the so-called "monopoly" of public schools would choose to allow herself to be appointed by such back-room, heavy-handed means. This has little to do with Kay Brooks being a home-schooler and everything to do with her seeming opportunism and late interest in public education.

    Adam Dread may have been put off by Gracie Porter's gung ho attempt to work in the community as if she were already a school board member, but I'm put off by Kay Brooks suddenly putting on her public interest after the Council snuck her in last month. At least Ms. Porter showed a previous investment in public education. That's better than no investment whatsoever.

  4. Government subsidizing private business only seems to be an issue when we talk about primary and secondary education (oddly enough where the teacher unions are involved). No one seems alarmed about government funds going to private colleges, hospitals, etc.

    Charter schools have been fought tooth and nail with the end result being admission policies that limit enrollment to students from already failing schools so they are not widely available.

    Home schoolers do participate in the system through their taxes so why shouldnt they be allowed access to school facilities?

    Community involvement is an excellent long term idea, but are you willing to wait 5 years for a new high school when you have a 14 year old child?

  5. Government subsidizing any private business is a general concern for me, regardless of what others seem to you. But in the case of primary and secondary education, public schools are required to accept all comers. Public colleges and universities are not. So, there is no comparison between public vs. private schools and public vs. private universities. The mandate for the former makes the difference. And mandating public education means that we should not allow private schools (which no doubt have a right to offer an alternative) to suck the life blood from public education by means of vouchers. Private schools should do more to raise private funds for scholarships and grants for deserving, yet underprivileged students, that is, assuming they truly care about such students rather than making money for free off the government.

    Charter schools should not have an easy go of it. If you want to be an exception to the rule, you have to prove yourself exceptional. Charter schools want different consideration; they should face a stiffer challenge. But we still have charter schools

    All of us share a baseline obligation to fund our public schools for the common good and the higher interests of disciplined and socialized citizens. Paying taxes does not amount to an entitlement. The good we are supposed to get in return are generations of educated Americans who make broader contributions as they grow up. But participation in public education extends beyond merely paying your taxes. It includes engagement with students, teachers, and parents at curricular and extracurricular levels. Home schoolers like Kay Brooks opt out of that participation, which is their right. But they should not be entitled to use facilities that they choose not to support beyond a cursory baseline tax support. And, by they way, home schoolers like Kay Brooks organize to try and pay less and less of those taxes. So, they end up expecting to use public school facilities for free.

    As for community involvement: fighting to get new schools where they are needed is an important lesson in itself for a 14-year-old child. If everybody opted out, there would be no one around to demand and fight for their children's public school experience.

  6. I disagree with your premise. If lottery funds for example are flowing to private colleges within Tennessee, isnt that taking money out of the coffers of the UT and Board of Regents systems?

    Regarding private schools, most have in place endowments and fund raising campaigns to reduce overall tuition rates and aid deserving students who otherwise wouldnt be able to attend.

    Charter schools are a viable option that should be more widely available. Instead of fighting these programs, why not allow them to flourish?

    Taxes, along with residency, are an entitlement to city services, which should include the schools. Allowing and encouraging home schoolers to participate in extra curricular activities for example might actually allow them to see that public schools are a viable alternative.

    Fighting increased taxes without regard for the purpose isnt a worthy fight, but demanding financial accountability and expecting measurable results are. And more often than not the only way to get accountability and results is to force the system to set priorities. We all do that in our home budgets and I expect government to do the same.