Whatís sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander!

By: Pat Hunter


Senator Bob Corker - Sept. 2, 2009 meeting at Loudon High School.

Partisan politics or lessons in civics?

The Presidentís speech to students about setting goals and not dropping out of school drew fire by some conservative groups. But little was said about other U.S. Presidents (Pres. Ronald Reagan, Pres. George Herbert Walker Bush Sr., Pres. Bill Clinton and Pres. George W. Bush) who addressed students.  

Loudon County School Board members usually arenít shy when it comes to sharing their views. At the Sept. 3rd school board workshop, the Knoxville News Sentinel reporter and photographer and WATE TV 6 were present to hear the board's discussion about the proposed camera ban policy aimed at the public. Board agendas are usually prepared by the school director and school board chair however, school board members may add agenda items prior to or at meetings. The President's speech to students was scheduled to air Sept. 8 but the matter of whether to allow or not allow the Presidentís message be heard by students was not on the agenda for open discussion.

Instead, the newspaper reported that the director of county schools and school board attorney decided not to allow the speech to be heard in classrooms until the President's message could be seen and reviewed by school staff. After the speech was reviewed by school officials, a permission slip was sent home for parents of students to decide if the  President's message would be seen or heard. The school board took the easy way out by skirting this important issue.

But it was a horse of a different color when it came to another government official who wanted to convey his message to the public, educators and students. Without hesitation,  Senator Corker received cooperation and the welcome mat. A message appeared on the main page of the Loudon County Board of Education website under the caption, District News and Announcements. The announcement read, ďLHS is pleased to announce that on Wednesday, September 2, 2009, at 4:00 p.m., we will be hosting Senator Corker's Town Hall meeting. The town hall meeting will be held in our newly renovated auditorium. Please pass this information on to your staff and students. Senator Corker's office expressed an interest in seeing students in attendance

Senator Bob Corker hosted a town hall meeting on September 2nd at the Loudon High School and staff and students were encouraged to participate. The planned event coincided at a time when school was letting out, which required additional police to address traffic and crowd control for the planned event. Students with a video camera stood near the auditorium stage recording the political event.

The town hall meeting was attended by county officials, adults and children, school board members, teachers and students, school staff and press. The school auditorium stage was lined with county officials, as well as, school board chair and school director.

It was pretty peculiar when a Corker staffer found a teacher way up in the corner of auditorium balcony, who just happened to be the county mayor's kin. The teacher made her remarks that Congress fully fund education. A student also spoke and shared  concerns. Adding to the health care debate, people who spoke in favor or against that issue. 

Senator Corkerís visit was greeted with enthusiasm and the red carpet by county and school officials. At times, the town hall meeting seemed more like a political pep rally. In stark contrast, the Presidentís message to students was met with suspicion, mistrust and a blockade.

Whatís sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander didnít apply; fair treatment gave way to politics as usual!

Senator Corker Meeting

Back row near flag: (l) School Director Wayne Honeycutt, Judge Bill Russell, Elections Susan Harrison, Comm. David Meers, Comm. Bob Franke, Commission Chair Roy Bledsoe, Comm. Harold Duff (r); Front Row (l) Circuit Court Clerk Lisa Niles, State Rep. Jimmy Matlock, Road Super Sean Giles, Property Assessor Chuck Jenkins (r)

Sitting near podium: Loudon High Principal Cheri Parrish, Loudon County Mayor Doyle Arp, BOE Chair Leroy Tate & Comm. Wayne Gardin.