Apr 20 2007
01:36 pm
By: rocketsquirrel

Some of the comments related to school rezoning are getting out of hand on this forum.

Before you place fingers to keyboard, you might want to make sure that what you write about someone else's neighborhood or school is not so broad and all-encompassing in its pain and distortion that you wouldn't want it said about your own neighborhood.


Have we forgotten what just happened to the Rutgers women's basketball team, or is it now ok, as one commenter did, to use third hand attribution to get away with tripe like describing Austin East as "a cesspool of young thugs, filled with gangs?"

Frankly, you don't know what the hell you're talking about. No, it's not the best school. But instead of sticking a fork in it, why don't you get off your butt and make it better? Why do gangs form, anyway? It has a lot to do with a community's lack of economic opportunity.

I mentored three young men in credit recovery at Austin East last year because it looked like they weren't going to graduate. Despite some tough personal circumstances, they made it in to the computer lab more often than not. Sometimes I had to go into the neighborhood and find them, give them a ride, but we both stuck with it and they graduated. Each one of them was a nice kid under varying degrees of outward "toughness." But we read Ray Bradbury, worked on Microsoft Excel, got stuck on Algebra problems together, but made it through.

One high school diploma doesn't save a young man or woman, but it is once less risk factor and one less frustrating GED for the same person at age 26.

Maybe the person assassinating the character of these kids needs to go volunteer with some of our less advantaged students. Spend some time lifting kids up instead of disparaging those with few opportunities and almost no role models.

Are you willing to be one? If called, will you serve?

Sandra Clark's picture

Well said

It's always amazed me how quickly we denounce what we don't know.

Central High School is another example of a strong program for kids. Pride and tradition is more than a slogan in the fieldhouse.

How many people yelling about rezoning will be around to support the budget the school system just submitted? Probably none. -- s.

Rachel's picture

How many people yelling

How many people yelling about rezoning will be around to support the budget the school system just submitted? Probably none.

This is what I've been so grumpy about, Sandra. I understand why folks might have some problems with the proposed rezoning.

But if we could get as much energy expended on improving the school system as is being expended on fighting this rezoning just think what we could accomplish!


Bill Pittman's picture

Where we put our emphasis

I couldn't agree with Rachel more...we can pack 100,000+ into a football stadium but you could hear a pin drop during many school open houses and PTA meetings.

The proposed re-zonings are the results of decade’s worth of mistakes. The post World's Fair momentum was allowed to dwindle during one of history's largest economic expansion periods. I don't blame folks in the suburbs for choosing to live in Halls or Farragut...I've lived in both but until recently, our city's leaders seemed focused on making a city that would be attractive to visitors rather than residents and therein lies the problem. We banter about planetariums and Presidential museums, build a white-elephant convention center, and ignore an unbelievable opportunity to remove the valueless location of an interstate through downtown while allowing the creation of a defacto mission district. It is no wonder that residents chose to migrate west and north in droves thereby stressing many of our municipal services. The answer for the longest time was finger annexations as our previous Mayor tried to lasso those folks back into his corral. The use of this quixotic “stick” spawned more sprawl.

Rather than alleviate school overcrowding though, we are building yet another far flung school which will exacerbate suburban sprawl even though the number of Knox County pupils has remained rather constant during nearly 3 decades. Luckily, it appears as though our city leadership is beginning to “get it”. The answer is to build a city that will create pride among its citizens; this will thwart sprawl and minimize costs…both fiscal and social.

R. Neal's picture

Yes, folks need to stick to

Yes, folks need to stick to the zoning issues and take that other crap somewhere else.

Nelle's picture

Sing it, brother!

Oh, and re: your work with the Austin-East students: thanks.

The Dude's picture

I just hope no Farragut kids

I just hope no Farragut kids have to go to horrible, horrible HVHS. Their poor little lives would be over, with no hope for tomarrow.

CathyMcCaughan's picture

The Farragut insult has

The Farragut insult has little to do with this thread. If a student planned on spending 4 years in High School varsity football in order to get a college scholarship, going to HVHS before it has been running for two years would eliminate that possibility. Can we please attempt some modicum of respect for ALL neighborhoods.

bill young's picture

The Blue & White;The Trojan 11

The Blue & White.
The mighty Trojan eleven.
They were good,very,very good.

It was tough to make the
squad.Tougher still to start.

The stories they tell
City-County football game.
30,000 fans pack Shields-Watkins field.
Thousands more listening on the radio.

In the spring 1951
They finally stopped
the Blue & White
mighty Trojan eleven.
Knoxville High School closed.

Knoxville became a community
with 4 new high schools.
East,West,South & Fulton
Which means there were 44 starters
on football teams.
Many more kids got to make the team.

Ever heard of Stair Tech?
or Austin High?
or Rule High?
or Young High?
or South-Young High?
or Holston High?

All closed.
Communties made it thru those changes.
We will again.

MrVolunteer's picture

well said, bill

just like austin, rule, holston, etc., closed, it is time for the school board to realize it's time to close A-E. that neighborhood will improve once it is closed, just like the neighborhood around rule improved after it closed.

Rachel's picture

that neighborhood will

that neighborhood will improve once it is closed, just like the neighborhood around rule improved after it closed.

Closing a school will improve a neighborhood? Your logic escapes me.

bill young's picture

my meaning

First,A-E has good kids & fine teachers
It should not be closed.

My point was
New schools become old schools
Fulton & West & A-E;have been around for nearly 6 decades.

Closed schools become back in the day memories
My parents loved Old Knoxville High School
My cousins the same for Holston High School

The Dude's picture

I'm just saying I don't buy

I'm just saying I don't buy all this crap from Farragut about wanting to keep their neighborhood together and/or community united. It's all crap. These parents want their children to go to Farragut so they can tell everyone "my kid goes to Farragut (and my family is better than yours)." It's an elite issue. I think people in Farragut should keep their mouths shut and be happy they have good schools. Its McMansionville; you know your children are going to get a good education.

And, Cathy, my last comment was not an insult. It was a sarcastic observation. These parents are acting like life is over, when students in other districts, with no overcrowding issues, are forced to move just so Johnny can go to Farragut and help the town from burning to the ground.

Pamela Treacy's picture

Dude -- get a clue

So the people in Farragut can't talk about their community and not wanting to split it up -- but everyone else in Knox County can talk about their community.

Get a clue -- you are putting down people you don't know.

EML's picture

Wow Dude, I guess it's true

Wow Dude, I guess it's true that ingnorance is bliss.......

Bbeanster's picture

Farragutians need to

Farragutians need to understand that Dude's feelings are shared by many Knox Countians. A rezoning for HVHS that didn't affect nearly as many people countywide was scuttled earlier this year when Farragut parents protested, and non-Farragut residents who have been impacted by this new plan are resentful that they are being sucked into a situation they had no part in creating.

Here's how it looks from outside the Farragut area:

Farragut High was badly overcrowded. Parents wanted relief. FHS was already too big, so the only practical way to deal with overcrowding seemed to be to build a new school in the deep west end. Many of us who live elsewhere see the Farragut area as a trendy McMansionville with a heavily transient population, and we are somewhat bemused that people choose to move there and immediately start bitching about overcrowding.

Meanwhile, Mike Ragsdale (AKA "Farragut Mike") was in serious political trouble because of the unpopularity of the wheel tax he'd rammed through County Commission. His downtown library plan was not well-received out in the 'burbs, and a referendum movement aimed at repealing the wheel tax succeeded -- mostly due to the efforts of people who lived in other areas of the county than deep West.

This meant that Ragsdale's tax was about to be repudiated at the polls until he came up with the notion of giving voters a choice -- make the vote an either/or deal-- so he muscled commission into authorizing a property tax increase that would take effect if the wheel tax vote went against him. At the same time, he promised a new high school to relieve overcrowding at Farragut, even though an already-planned expansion at Karns was proceeding full-steam ahead.

The wheel tax, which is regressive and unduly burdens the poor, passed thanks to an overwhelming 'yes' vote in west Knox County, which demonstrated that folks there wanted a new school and didn't want an increase in property taxes. And now, after the first rezoning plan was rejected because of protests from those in the Farragut area, those who live in areas that are not as trendy and developer-driven are being forced to share the pain.

Many, many of those who voted against the wheel tax and are still POed about it being forced on them by the heavy vote out west are now being told they must be rezoned to help populate a school that the people for whom it was built now say they do not want to attend.

And while it's true that rezonings need to happen every once in a while to accommodate natural population shifts, they are always wildly unpopular. This one is even more unpopular because it spreads the misery all over the county, and the hard feelings are magnified because the catalyst was a shiny new school out west that the west-enders now say they don't want.

EML's picture

Beanster, Many of us are

Many of us are painfully aware of Farragut's reputation in the rest of the county. Our kids pay for where they live on the soccer fields and in other activites involving folks from other parts of the county on a daily basis. Most of us fighting this are folks that do not live in the McMansions and are looking to keep a sense of community for their kids just like everyone else in the county who has complained about the proposed plan. Because of forgone conclusions about Farragut, it seems as if no one is willing to listen to our REASONS as to why taking 7 (5 small) neighborhoods out of the mix and putting them at HVHS is a bad idea. (This equates to 150 kids) Lindsey's proposal last fall did not affect the whole county-this one comes out of left field. Robert Bratton says that on January 23rd, the Board announced publicly that county wide rezoning would be looked at. Most of us missed that. I would love for SB meetings to be televised where the ENTIRE county can watch and get this info. The live stream thing online does not work for all and I have been round and round w/the county about that one...but I digress. Our contention is that 10% of our kids will be taken out of a Middle school where they have gone to school w/those kids all of their lives and put in a community where they know no one-and we don't know families. It would be different if they went to school with those kids in elementary school where parents volunteer together and get to know families-but this won't happen until 9th grade where volunteers aren't utilized in the classroom, so parents can't get to know the other kids or parents of those kids. I'm sure that small percentages of schools are split up, just can't get an answer on if there is an instance where it is that small a percentage. We also worry, because of Farragut's perception, that our kids will be targets as they are in extra curricular activites and there won't be many of them to help each other out. That is our reasoning. Like all other folks in Knoxville, we are just trying to be the best parents we can be in a world that is vastly different from what it was when we grew up. I appreciate your honesty about perceptions-we are aware. Sadly, the TOF has had an older generation of leaders in place that don't conduct business in way that many of us like, but because they are the town leaders, we, as citizens get stuck w/the label of thinking like them. A lot of us are transplants, so we weren't around for elections, but we are now. Let me assure you many of us are trying to change that. Again, I appreciate your candor and I just want you to understand I'm trying to be honest about where we are coming from. Hardin Valley is going to be a great school-what a leader that has been chosen to lead it! She's phenominal and we don't discount that. We're already ostracized and just don't want a small portion of our kids to be on a daily basis.

CathyMcCaughan's picture

I'm so pasty white, I'm

I'm so pasty white, I'm practically translucent. I am neither a Farragut resident nor wealthy. The insults and attacks are divisive and unproductive. This re-zoning plan is intended to help with an overcrowded Farragut and under-utilized Austin East. It does neither. Taking students from the parent responsibility zones (prz = walking distance of school) and sending them across town is economically and environmentally ignorant. We need to work together and build doors instead of describing the walls.

Ennui's picture

I saw you Sunday morning on

I saw you Sunday morning on the WBIR discussion. Translucent is being a bit hard on yourself. ;)

Pamela Treacy's picture

What happens when you lump people together


What happens when you lump people together, generalized, and stereotype them?

You create Blacksburg.

Please don't encourage the DUDE or defend him. He is just being mean.

Bbeanster's picture

PT, that is such an

PT, that is such an exaggerated analogy that it's tough to address. The actions of a gun-toting madman came about because he was lumped together, generalized and stereotyped? Thank you, Doc. Good to have that cleared up. I'd hate to be held responsible for turning half of Farragut into spree killers.

Fact is, Dude speaks for a lot of people. Harsh? Maybe. But life's tough that way. Nobody likes being rezoned, but another fact is it has to happen from time to time, and as long as it's done on a rational and equitable basis, most people get over it and move on.
If it's not done on a rational and equitable basis, the fight can go on for a long, long time. Or until somebody blinks, as I suspect the school board will do.

R. Neal's picture

Flag on the play, PT. Tone

Flag on the play, PT. Tone it down or take it elsewhere.

You, too, Dude.

Emotions are getting the better of everyone, and that doesn't help anyone. All sides of this debate have valid issues. Please express them in a civil and respectful manner.

DMD's picture

Addressing some misconceptions

Beanster, The earlier HVHS zoning recommendation wasn't scuttled because Farragut parents protested; it was scuttled because the school board didn't think it made HVHS big enough. Farragut parents DID like the original proposal, although I admit I didn't understand why the Westland Dr/Northshore area was zoned for HVHS instead of Bearden. I assume that the people in that area are happier now. Farragut parents are guilty only of trying to keep their community together, just as we are hearing from Powell, Holston Hills, etc. There are areas that feed into FHS that are not part of the Farragut community. Our main point is why not keep our feeder school progression intact, and fix the feeder school progression in the other areas as well? And I am well aware of areas such as Northwest Middle that feed into multiple schools - my hope is that those can be fixed as much as is possible, as well. We'll never have a perfect feeder school progression everywhere, but there's no point in tearing apart one that works. Thanks.

Pamela Treacy's picture

You got it backwards

Didn't you hear the video tape. The madman lashed out at others because he detested the "rich". Dude described everyone in Farragut as an elitist. My point is that it is uncalled for and unproductive. We all live in Knox County.

Rachel's picture

What happens when you lump

What happens when you lump people together, generalized, and stereotype them?

You create Blacksburg.

Good God almighty. We might have to create a new law (analgous to Godwin's) - whoever mentions Blacksburg first loses.

Get a grip.

Nelle's picture

Yes, I propose we call it "PT's Law"

Tho that might sound too much like yet another crappy David E. Kelley dramedy.

But returning to the topic at hand, I'm not entirely without empathy for Farragut, Powell, and Holston Hills parents who worry about the disruption this rezoning will cause for their families, especially the families that have invested lots of their time and money in individual schools.

But some parents are just bitching that their kids are being rezoned to lower-quality schools, and I wonder how many of them bitched about those low-quality schools when it was just other people's kids who attended them.

All of us in Knox County should take responsibility for the quality of all of the schools, not just the ones that directly touch our lives.

rocketsquirrel's picture

rezone and rename?

Let's rename all of the schools while we're doing all this rezoning. Perhaps that might remove some of the hysteria.

Since Bearden High isn't in Bearden, Central is in Fountain City and distinctly north, not central, West is in Bearden but east of Bearden High, and Austin East is actually in Park City which celebrates its centennial this year, maybe our school names could become more accurate and reflective of history and context.

I was at a meeting recently at Bearden Middle. Not even in Bearden either. More like West Hills.

Pamela Treacy's picture

Community Forum and New School Names

I hope you plan to come to the community forum on Thursday. Six people met today from all over county to work on this forum. We plan to ban together as a knox county community to push our leaders to allow for more citizen input. Maybe that is why I hate all the finger pointing at Farragut. We are part of this community and some want to make us feel excluded

Rocketsquirrel-- I think renaming schools is a good topic for discussion. Maybe post on another thread.

edens's picture

Sorry if Farragut feels

Sorry if Farragut feels excluded. But, when it comes to its course offerings and extra curricular activities, I'd say a lot of parents around the county wish their school was included:


The Dude's picture

Submitted by PT"So the

Submitted by PT

"So the people in Farragut can't talk about their community and not wanting to split it up -- but everyone else in Knox County can talk about their community.

Get a clue -- you are putting down people you don't know."

They have every right to have their opinion, just as much as I. But the overcrowding is out west, correct?

Submitted by EML

"Many of us are painfully aware of Farragut's reputation in the rest of the county. Our kids pay for where they live on the soccer fields and in other activites involving folks from other parts of the county on a daily basis...Because of forgone conclusions about Farragut, it seems as if no one is willing to listen to our REASONS as to why taking 7 (5 small) neighborhoods out of the mix and putting them at HVHS is a bad idea. (This equates to 150 kids)..."

Farragut has won a National Title in soccer in the last 5 years, so I don't see how they pay on the soccer fields, like the refs are out to get them or something. Please! And yes, I do think forgone conclusions do hurt Farragut's cause. I generalized Farragut as "McMansionville," and that was wrong. But Farragut is just as guilty as wanting the impossible to happen, even at the expense of other schools. The situation is what it is. Knox County, in retrospect, should have expanded FHS. But that is not what happened. A new high school was build, and adjustments are going to have to be made. I think these adjustments should exclusively impact the overcrowded areas, not schools zones like Central, AE, or West.

EML's picture

Dude, I agree that this

Dude, I agree that this ridiculous plan need not affect the entire county and I think most people feel that way. There was a plan that only affected out West last fall, but for some reason (we don't know why-I suppose outcry from Farragut zoned people along Pellissippi) it was tabled in December, then THIS ridiculous plan showed up. Granted, Farragut is overcrowded, but the reason the new school was built was to relieve overcrowding at Karns and Bearden as well. The addition to Karns was sold to us as a cafeteria improvement, not classrooms to squash that argument. I think adding on to Farragut was considered, but many were trying to look ahead at the population explosion that is going to happen in Hardin Valley, plus there isn't much room for portables at FHS and building a third story there was a concern for kids trying to get to classes on time. We tried looking at the vacant Kmart building across the street to expand to, but the owners were only willing to lease it for 10 years at a cost of 4 million-not cost effective. So several areas are to share the burden; Farragut is willing to do that, not take sole responsibility. Also, keep in mind this county wide rezoning was asked for by the School Board on January 23rd. I know I missed that one as I"m sure a lot of people did since we were all so focused on the upcoming County Commission fiasco.
As far as the soccer comment-I'm talking AYSO, not high school. I have younger kids, so I don't attend high school games, but I hear that our parents get out of hand too-didn't know and that is an emabarrassment. I just hope I can be a better parent and teach my kids that real grown ups don't behave that way.
Anyway, thanks for being more civil in your last post and I hope I've been able to explain a little about what I know about the course of events as they happened over the last couple of years.

Pamela Treacy's picture

Original New High School Proposal

The original proposal to recommend a new high school as the solution relieve overcrowding was based on overcrowding at FHS, Bearden, Karns and West. The first zoning proposal only moved students from Karns and Farragut. That is why it didn't pass -- it also didnt' align feeder schools.

The affected group is about third of the high schools, but about half the student population.

Parts of the new plan seem to work, but it is hard to tell from the press coverage that focuses heavily on personal issues that are only temporary, until the system adjusts. I have tried to attend several forums to get a feel for what each community likes and dislikes.

It seems all the folks zoned to Hardin Valley are happy but those on the west end who do not like the feeder school split it will create. Splitting a middle school 90/10 isn't good. That is why we are complaining.

Last, I don't agree with EML that the school board was planning for future growth by building in Hardin Valley. I think the decision to build there create a new market for developers and therefore more sprawl.

This is a great case of penny wise and dollar foolish. They should have paid more for the land at George Williams or went for eminient domain. That area is now another subdivision.

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