The Hamilton County primary is May 1! Voters will need to bring a photo ID issued by the state or federal government.
Learn more about the candidates on the primary ballot from The Chattanooga Times Free Press
Look up your election day polling place
See sample ballots here >
See the offices on the ballot here >
Let your voice be heard!
Hamilton County Schools Spring Break starts today and public school teachers are getting a bit of rest from their hard work all year educating our children.
As a thank you for their service, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke has teamed up with local businesses to offer exclusive Blackboard Bonuses discounts and rewards to HCDE teachers.
All you have to do is present your HCDE employee ID to participating retail shops, health and wellness businesses, restaurants, and entertainment venues from March 31st through April 8th.
View a list of participating businesses on BlackBoard Bonuses website.
April 2nd is the deadline for being registered to vote in the May 1st election.
It only takes a few minutes to register online.
Information about where your voting place is here:
Let’s take charge of our communities by using our vote!
Please watch the meeting by clicking the “play” button on the video below!
We are honored to host nationally-renowned journalist and expert on housing and school segregation Nikole Hannah-Jones on March 22! She’ll be speaking on the role of and importance of desegregating our schools to achieve equity and will share her research on the relationship between housing segregation, school segregation, and the role of individual choice.
We welcome you to join us in creating a safe space for authentic conversation about the role race and class play in maintaining a separate and unequal school system.
Topics discussed will include:
History and relationship between housing and educational segregation
Role of individual choice and white flight in fostering inequities
Why the conversation around race is essential when speaking about addressing educational inequities
Importance of adopting policies that encourage racial and socioeconomic integration in public schools
Following her talk, we will break into small groups to strategize how desegregating schools would impact equity for the Hamilton County community.
Food will be provided.
This is a free ticketed event. Seating is limited so you must reserve a free ticket in advance. If you wish to help cover the cost of your attendance, a suggested donation of $10/person is greatly appreciated.
Visit Nikole Hannah-Jones’ website >
ARTICLES, VIDEOS, & PODCASTS
“Choosing a School for My Daughter in a Segregated City” (New York Times Magazine)
“Segregated by Choice” video
“Have We Lost Sight of the Promise of Public Schools?” (New York Times Magazine)
“Schools are Segregated Because White People Want Them That Way” (Vox)
“The Problem We All Live With” (NPR This American Life podcast) – Part 1 and Part 2
“School Segregation, the Continuing Tragedy of Ferguson” (ProPublica)
“Segregation Now – The Resegregation of American Schools” (ProPublica)
“The Resegregation of American Schools” (The Atlantic Education Summit – video)
“How School Segregation Divides Ferguson — And the United States” (New York Times Magazine)
“Reflecting on the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act” (CBS News – video starting @ 3:40)
“What’s causing the racial segregation in schools?” (MSNBC – video starting @ 3:30)
“Choosing a School When Race Matters” (Video)
“Gentrification Doesn’t Fix Inner-City Schools” (Grist)
“Are Private Schools Immoral?” (The Atlantic)
MORE ABOUT NIKOLE HANNAH-JONES
Nikole Hannah-Jones was named a 2017 MacArthur Genius Grant Fellow (one of only 24 people chosen, globally) for “reshaping national conversations around education reform” and for her reporting on racial re-segregation in our schools. This is the latest honor in a growing list: she’s won a Peabody, a Polk, and, in 2017, a National Magazine Award for her story on choosing a school for her daughter in a segregated city.
Nikole Hannah-Jones covers racial injustice for The New York Times Magazine, and has spent years chronicling the way official policy has created—and maintains—racial segregation in housing and schools. Her deeply personal reports on the black experience in America offer a compelling case for greater equity. She has written extensively on the history of racism, school resegregation, and the disarray of hundreds of desegregation orders, as well as the decades-long failure of the federal government to enforce the landmark 1968 Fair Housing Act. She is currently writing a book on school segregation called The Problem We All Live With, to be published on the One World imprint of Penguin/Random House.
Her piece “Worlds Apart” in The New York Times Magazine won the 2017 National Magazine Award for “journalism that illuminates issues of national importance” as well as the Hillman Prize for Magazine Journalism. In 2016, she was awarded a Peabody Award and George Polk Award for radio reporting for her This American Life story, “The Problem We All Live With.” She was named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists, and was also named to The Root 100. Her reporting has also won Deadline Club Awards, Online Journalism Awards, the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service, the Fred M. Hechinger Grand Prize for Distinguished Education Reporting, the Emerson College President’s Award for Civic Leadership, and was a previous finalist for the National Magazine Award.
Hannah-Jones co-founded the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting with the goal of increasing the number of reporters and editors of color. She holds a Master of Arts in Mass Communication from the University of North Carolina and earned her BA in History and African-American studies from the University of Notre Dame. For the Institute for Advanced Journalism Studies, she investigated social changes under Raul Castro and the impact of universal healthcare on Cuba’s educational system. She was also selected by the University of Pennsylvania to report on the impact of the Watts Riots for a study marking the 40th anniversary of the Kerner Commission report, 2007. Along with The New York Times, her reporting has been featured in ProPublica, The Atlantic Magazine, Huffington Post, Essence Magazine, The Week Magazine, Grist, Politico Magazine, and on Face the Nation, This American Life, NPR, The Tom Joyner Morning Show, MSNBC, C-SPAN, Democracy Now, and radio stations across the country.
In this edition of UnifiEd’s School Board Watch Blog, we will take a look at the agenda for the February 15th, 2018 regularly scheduled session of the Hamilton County School Board Meeting. The meeting will be held in the Hamilton County School Board Meeting Room at 3074 Hickory Valley Road and is set to begin at 5:30 PM. We will live tweet @UnifiEdHC, follow along at #HCSchools.
To see the entire agenda with supporting documents click here.
Recognitions, Presentations, and Delegations:
Board approval is sought for:
Curriculum and Instruction:
Administrative, Business, and Board Matters:
Tennessee Senate Bill 1755 was proposed on January 23, 2018 by State Senator Todd Gardenhire. The bill proposes that all property and assets in a municipality that belong to a county school system would be forcibly transferred to the municipality if it forms an independent school district.
There are a variety of consequences of this bill, if it passes, that run counter to the desires expressed by the Hamilton County community through the recent process of the forming the Action Plan for Educational eXcellence (APEX Project).
That’s why UnifiEd is organizing the community to contact your state legislators and urge them to defeat the Schoolhouse Heist Bill.
“If a municipality creates or reactivates a city school system . . . all real and personal property that is located within the boundaries of the municipality and is owned by the county school system shall be declared surplus property by the county school system, and transferred to the municipal school system.” (Read the full bill here.)
Under this bill, the state would force the transfer of assets from one entity to another without compensation. Taxpayers own their schools, yet this bill would allow for their property to be seized. Historically across the state, and within our own community today, the municipalities that have formed independent districts have been affluent suburbs.
This situation creates a transfer of wealth from lower income neighborhoods to more prosperous communities. It is, in effect, a “reverse Robin Hood” effect — stealing from the poor to give to the wealthy.
For six months in 2017-2018, we collected community input from across Hamilton County to identify issues of inequity across the school system along with potential solutions to those issues through the APEX Project. The 25 most commonly cited issues and solutions were then voted on by the community through the APEX Bus Tour to prioritize the most urgent solutions for achieving equity for every child in our schools. Three of those solutions would be severely obstructed if SB 1755 is adopted.
One of the APEX Project’s solutions states “Funds must be provided to make all school facilities safe and healthy learning spaces, and there must be a long-term plan to keep them that way.” This statement gets at the need for an adequately funded long-term capital plan for our school system. There would be little incentive for the county to fund capital projects, though, if it they could be forced to cede those assets at any time in the future while still being responsible for any debt on the assets. This bill would incentivize municipalities to exit county systems and leave taxpayers continuing to foot the bill of schools to which their students no longer have access to attend.
The passage of SB 1755 would also stifle long-term capital planning efforts because there would be little confidence to assume debt for assets with an uncertain future. Lack of long-term planning leads to inefficient capital spending and creates an environment in which maintenance, expansion, and construction of schools would be gravely deferred.
Two additional APEX Project solutions state that “Community members must demand the end of socioeconomic and racial segregation in our schools” and “A plan must be developed [by the Department of Education’s Central Office administration] to end socioeconomic and racial segregation in schools.” SB 1755 directly threatens efforts to end segregation in our schools, and here’s how.
Receiving school buildings and property for free from the county lowers a primary barrier to municipalities seceding from county school systems. An incentive would be created for municipalities to exit county systems and leave county taxpayers footing the bill of schools to which their students no longer have access to attend.
Municipalities with the resources and political clout to effectively establish independent school systems would be left with an unfair advantage with new budgets free from capital debt that would remain shouldered by the county system. Such communities would be incentivized to segregate themselves while lower-income communities are left at an even greater disadvantage due to ongoing debt service and loss of assets.
As affluent independent districts segregate themselves from their surrounding community, the already grave issue of concentration of poverty in our schools becomes worse.
To illustrate the above position, let’s examine the impact SB 1755 could have on Hamilton County schools. One municipality in our county, Signal Mountain, has recently explored a plan for creating a separate school district. If that plan were to be revived, the residents of Signal Mountain could vote to create an independent school district. Under SB 1755, Hamilton County Department of Education would then be forced to transfer Signal Mountain schools’ property, buildings, and assets to the new district while continuing to pay the debt on those buildings.
Mayor Jim Coppinger has stated that Hamilton County currently owes $17.5 million on the bonds for those school buildings on Signal Mountain. The new school system would not assume that debt and Hamilton County taxpayers would continue paying for the buildings.
In addition, the schools on Signal Mountain were built to serve not just Town of Signal Mountain residents, but also children residing in Walden and unincorporated areas of the mountain. The children and taxpayers residing in these areas would be unfairly penalized by this bill because they would no longer be able to attend schools they paid for and that were designed to serve them.
One of the gravest issues facing Hamilton County schools and negatively impacting student success is the high number of schools of concentrated poverty. One-third of schools in Hamilton County are considered such, meaning that more than 80% of the school’s student population lives in poverty. The community has demanded through the APEX Project that racial and socioeconomic segregation come to an end in our schools, yet the secession of Signal Mountain from the school system would provide a major roadblock to efforts to increase every school’s diversity.
The Schoolhouse Heist Bill would make it all the more easy for that secession to happen, leaving the rest of the county not just with big debt but also even bigger challenges to increasing diversity and student outcomes.
Contact your state legislators and tell them to vote no on the Schoolhouse Heist Bill!
The Tennessee Department of Education announced last week that Hamilton County Department of Education is one of three school districts to be awarded a grant to help increase the number of minority teachers in its schools. This is thrilling news for our community, especially because more diversity among our educators was one of the top solutions identified by YOU – the community – as a solution to inequities facing our children in Hamilton County’s public schools today.
After collecting more than 2,650 surveys on issues and solutions around equity in our schools in the fall of 2017, our research team analyzed responses to identify the most commonly cited statements. Among the top 25 (currently being prioritized by the community through voting on the APEX Bus Tour) was this statement:
This grant is an exciting step toward all students having access to educators with similar identities to them.
As reported in The Chattanooga Times Free Press, the grant money will be used to create a teaching academy program at Tyner Academy, partnering with University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. They will begin with a group of freshmen and add a new class each year. The goal is to increase the number of minority high school students interested in pursuing teaching as a profession.
Simply put, students do better when taught by someone with a shared identity or life experience to them. Research shows that students have better academic performance, higher graduation rates, and lower drop-out rates when their teachers come from a similar background.
When teachers understand their students and where they come from, they can create deeper, more meaningful personal connections. It also helps them develop lessons and approach instruction in a culturally relevant way.
But, in Hamilton County, many minority students don’t have access to teachers similar to them.
In this edition of UnifiEd’s School Board Watch Blog, we will take a look at the agenda for the November 16th regularly scheduled session of the Hamilton County School Board Meeting. The meeting will be held in the Hamilton County School Board Meeting Room at 3074 Hickory Valley Road and is set to begin at 5:30 PM. We will live stream the board meeting on our Facebook page here.
Recognitions and Presentations:
Administrative and Business Matters:
December 21, 2017 – January 3, 2018 – Winter Break