Thursday, February 19, 2009

Dr. Frist starting club to point out Tenn.'s education problems

Well, Bill, you're going to need more than 10 meetings.

Broadway, 1100 reports:
"Pointing to Tennessee's ranking in the bottom 10 for educational achievement nationwide, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist called improving the state's schools a moral imperative and announced his new effort to do that.

He's launching the State Collaborative on Reforming Education, or SCORE, featuring a series of town hall and steering committee meetings across the state plus project teams to address teacher quality, technology and other topics.

"We don't need to be the 41st in the country," Frist said. "The biggest legacy we could leave is to pull Tennessee up."

Excuse me, Bill. Weren't you once a powerful U.S. senator? A senator with influence? A senator who could have gotten the ball rolling on meaningful education reform that didn't look like No Child Left Behind?

Yes you were. But, at the time, you were more concerned with pushing the neo-con agenda and making diagnosis from the senate floor.

Now you give us SCORE. Considering our state's high teenage pregnancy rate, I'm sure there is already enough scoring. But I digress.

This is, at the very least, an admirable cause. Tennessee needs better education like a meth addict needs teeth and skin cream.

Too bad the club's only real power is its ability to release a report with former Sen. Bill's John Hancock. And you know what you can get with $1.29 and Bill Frist's signature? A Pepsi — maybe.

Don't get me wrong: I'd love to see this report filled with brave, new ideas for Volunteer State schools. I'm as progressive as anybody.

SPOILER ALERT: Brave, new ideas in education require big boxes of tax payer gold.

But most of Tennessee's public schools have one big hurdle in common: they get their funding from a county commission. And county commissions, for the most part, hate funding school budgets.

It's a purposefully painful and contentious relationship.

So where would funding for Frist's ideas come from?

  1. County commissions gladly agree to spend more to adopt reforms. Not likely.

  2. State lawmakers mandate the counties spend more. Not likely.

  3. The state picks up the tab. With what money?

  4. Millionaire, former-Sen. Bill Frist pays for it out of the goodness of his heart. HA! (Put your money where your mouth is doctor.)

In this political climate change, which is man-made, I don't see any of these actually happening.

Granted, the cause is noble and the lip service is needed. But I just don't see much coming of this.

I hope like hell I'm wrong.

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