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The Price of Freedom

The most prosperous and innovative countries in the world have one thing in common and that is a very strong educational system. Our national security, economic power, opportunity for advancement, and personal liberty are directly correlated with our educational system.

Our American way of life is facing some great challenges and it is in jeopardy. We see it in the eyes of our parents, grandparents, and veterans along with the decreased buying power of an American dollar. With China, India, Eastern Europe competing against us in today’s global market, there should be some concerns. These competitors are producing graduates with excellent capabilities in mathematics, science, engineering, and business and offering them to the world’s economy at rock bottom prices.

So, what does this mean to us? It means that we need to immediately transform the way we educate our children. The very best way to impact our children’s future is to do it locally. That is, our best chance to positively impact our children’s future and the future of America is [to] do [it]right here in Knox County through our own school system.

It is reckless for a community “not to be in the school business.” It is [inconceivable] for a community not [to have] an existing and working relationship with its entire school board and superintendent. It is dangerous for a community not to be proactive in planning for growth or not to be proactive in meeting the educational needs of our children today in order to guarantee their success and freedom for tomorrow. The philosophy of “good is good enough” has no place in our community.

The ongoing situation with building and funding the Hardin Valley High School and the current controversial issue of “school zoning” could have been easily avoided by being proactive in community planning and meeting the educational needs of the community’s students. The westward growth of Knox County did not creep upon us! It has been moving this direction since I remember from the 1980s. The poor leadership that has brought this among us is found in all of our past and some of our current local town of Farragut elected leaders and our Knox County 5th district commissioners. County Mayor Mike Ragsdale and town of Farragut Mayor Eddy Ford are also accountable.

Much of the local community rallied with me two years ago to place a referendum on Mayors Ford and Ragsdale by sending the message that “yes, we are in the school business” in order to prevent this unfortunate “perfect storm” of educational, zoning, and planning issues that we currently face. By doing nothing to plan for schools and allowing uncontrolled growth, the town of Farragut is going to be split by zoning. Whether it is a little today or a lot tomorrow, it is going to happen. Likewise, there is plenty more growth and development coming our way in the southwest corner of Knox County, south down Pellissippi Parkway, and of course, the Hardin Valley area.

Nobody likes rezoning and there is a lot of FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) associated with it. The primary truth is that it will be an inconvenience to some who do not deal well with change. It is unfortunate that the town of Farragut is going to be rezoned now or in the near future since it could have been easily prevented, but that should not be a surprise since the town “is not in the school business” nor has the required working relationships with the entire school board and superintendent.

Property values of those rezoned will not go down. Other communities such as Germantown, Collierville, Brentwood, Franklin, etc. have not had their property values decrease with rezoning and it will not happen here in Farragut. If my wife and I had children in high school, we would immediately sign them up to attend the NEW high school for the new buildings, new opportunities, and not being in an overcrowded school.

I also appreciate and support all the hard work and fresh ideas that our school board member and global business executive, Thomas Deakins, brings to the table. Likewise, I want to recognize Farragut’s Dot Lamarche for all her efforts for Farragut schools and being the only official from the town of Farragut to join us at the critical Aug. 28 county commission meeting about the Hardin Valley High School.

Farragut High School will remain a top school and Hardin Valley High School will be excellent as well. Once the zoning issue is determined, our immediate focus should be on transformation of both of these fine schools to compete in the global environment and allocating additional property in the southwest part of the county for future schools. It is a large commitment, but then again what is the price of ensuring an American future for our



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