Tennessee Political Morons
It’s been a while since I riled up friends and readers with something I’ve written. However, when I look at some of the work of the Tennessee legislature in its 2011 session, refraining from making comments on the absurdity of some of its bills becomes impossible.
The most embarrassing bill presented this past session came from Bo Watson, a Republican representing portions of Hamilton County. Bill 893, nicknamed the “anti-evolution” bill, would suggest “effective ways to present the science curriculum as it addresses scientific controversies.” Those topics include cloning, global warming, and yes, evolution. Watson might possibly have missed the news from Dayton, a nearby county, where the Scopes Monkey trial was held almost 100 years ago. That trial brought about the ground swell for the teaching of evolution even though fundamentalist tried to legislate the idea out of schools. Sen. Watson should get over it. Too many other problems in this world exist for him to be wasting the state’s time and money on an issue that was settled long ago.
Next came the most ridiculous bill, sponsored by another moron, Stacey Campfield. This individual is widely known for his propensity to bring to the floor absurd bills. This year’s version is unofficially known as the “Don’t Say Gay Bill,” which prohibits the teaching of homosexuality in the classroom. This publicity-seeking half wit doesn’t even know that homosexuality isn’t even taught in the grade school curriculum. Of course, this bill passed 5-4, and it brought national attention to Tennessee for all the wrong reasons. Hey, remember this nitwit is the same person who introduced legislation to replace taxes on food with taxes on pornography and requiring the state to issue death certificates for aborted fetuses. He is also the same person who was booted from a UT football game for allegedly being drunk and refusing to remove a Mexican mask from his face. He probably wore the thing to keep people from recognizing him and horse laughing him out of the stadium. Somehow, the people in his Knoxville district continue to send him to office where he makes a fool of himself and them as well.
The biggest faux pas of the year came when the legislature one-upped Wisconsin and killed teachers’ collective bargaining rights. Supposedly, teacher unions (TEA, NEA, etc.) were hurting students and the state’s educational system by representing teachers at the bargaining table. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In Knox County, the Knox County Education Association has been the recognized spokesman for teachers. Over the years, the organization has done little to help teachers. How could they have done otherwise? Teachers don’t have a right to strike, and without any kind of leverage to use, the KCEA told the school board what it wanted, the board said “no,” and KCEA said, “thank you so much.” That doesn’t sound like much of a threat to education.
The truth is that Tennessee ranks 46th in its spending per student and 41st in student achievement. However, local systems such as Knox County score much higher in achievement than the state. That doesn’t happen because of administrators or board members or union representatives. It’s a reality because teacher here do a tremendous job for some of the lowest pay of any system. Every time a raise for them is voted down, it shows how important education is to the people of Knoxville. Some of the state’s politicians want to run the schools, even if their ideas are archaic or harmful. It’s that old idea that “I know what to do about schools because I was a student.” Yeah, right!
In too many cases, we, the citizens of Tennessee, have elected clowns as our state’s leaders. They’ve shown their incompetence time and time again, but for some reason, we still ship them off to Nashville, where they waste time and resources with obnoxious legislative ideas that make our state and its people look like fools to the rest of the world. Hasn’t the time come for us to send them packing and to at least try to elect a senate and a house that care more about the state and its people than they care for party politics and self aggrandizing?