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Meghan Mangrum @memangrum
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I'm at Lookout Valley Middle/High School for tonight's District 6 School Board debate hosted by @UnifiEdHC and @chattanooga2pt0.
Here's a recap of last night's debate via the @TimesFreePress.…
Tonight's debate feature candidates Michael Henry and Jenny Hill. The incumbent Joe Galloway is not running to keep his seat.
There's a slight better turnout at tonight's debate. Probably a couple dozen folks here. The parking lot still fooled me - there's also a ball game going on at the school.
Lorean Mays (@loreancmays), a member of @UnifiEdHC's APEX Steering Committee is moderating tonight's debate.
Jenny Hill is introducing herself first. Here's our background on her.…
Hill: "I realize we have HAVES and HAVE NOTS in our school system, and I'm not okay with that.
Hill said she has noticed 3 common concerns in her conversations with community members: that @hamcoschools graduates are not ready for college or career, that they don't trust HCDE schools and that they don't think they're zoned school is good enough.
Hill: "It's time. We need to elevate these issues. We need to elevate our expectations. We need to elevate pride."
Hill: "As a mom, I want my children to be at a school that pushes them to be the best that they can be...and what I know is that every other parent feels the exact same way."
Hill: "As a business owner, there are things that I want out of a Hamilton County graduate...I want them to be able to read, to be able to do math, but outside of that to be critical thinkers and to be lifelong learners."
Hill: "Hamilton County Schools should be our community's crowning achievement."
Michael Henry's next. Here is his campaign announcement.…
Henry: "I'm a proud son of two military veterans. As a student, I completed my MBA at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga...with those combination of skills, I'd like to bring [that] to the school board."
While he was a student, Henry worked at several Opportunity Zone schools in Algebra, Algebra 2 and Geometry classrooms (though the GEAR UP program, if I remember correctly).
Henry: "I'm here because I have been in the schools. I have witnessed lack of resources affecting our students, I've seen students asleep in our classrooms not because they are tired, but because they are malnourished."
Henry acknowledges #TeacherAppreciationDay and thanks educators.
Mays starts with the first question: How much you ensure if you're elected that you will be transparent and accountable to District 6 residents, and all of Hamilton County?
Henry: Hopes to be in the schools every week, and in every District 6 school at least once a quarter.
Henry also says he already posts and blogs about Hamilton County schools and economic opportunities in the community.
Henry: "I'd like to start first with an audit...and then come up with data-driven plans."
Henry: "I want to be able to create with HCDE, the board, these systems that allow everyone in the community to see data, on the website, on social they can understand everything and what it means."
Henry emphasizes his skills as a marketing data analyst and how he could use those skills.
Jenny Hill: "That question to be really focuses on two different things - the first is disconnect, the second is transparency."
Hill: "I am a mom, and I get it. I am a property owner and a tax payer and I get it. I have waited on a bus for over an hour and not know why...I have also seen administrators and teachers pour out their hearts for my children."
Hill: "I have great respect for the work that our teachers and our coaches and our administrators do...and I wish it was that simple."
Hill takes a jab at Henry's proposed solutions.
Hill: "I too have worked with people in poverty." Hill serves as the board chair of the Metropolitan Ministries.
Hill: "I think I have a little bit different concept of the job of a school board member...I think the job of a school board member is to supervise the job of the superintendent, to serve as a guide, but not to actually do their work."
Hill: "I think it's time for the school board to get out of Central Office and into the have meetings each month at different schools."
In regards to transparency and accountability, Hill plans on sending out newsletters, twice-annually community listening sessions and an annual report.
Mays is now asking the candidates about EQUITY, something important to both @UnifiEdHC and @chattanooga2pt0's work.
Mays: We know that 1/3 of our schools are schools of concentrated poverty...historically across the country and in our county, we have struggled to ensure racial and socio-economic integration in our schools.
Mays: As a school board member, what specific strategies will you employ to ensure a plan is developed and implemented to fully integrate our public schools and ensure equity for all of our young people?
Hill: "As parents, we have an expectation of excellence for our child...unfortunately we do have this stresses each and every one of these schools and does not give every child has a fair chance."
Hill: "I do believe every child desires equal opportunity and that's the responsibility of Hamilton County Schools and of Hamilton County."
Hill, apparently the school board ethics policy gave her goosebumps. The first ethical responsibility is to put the child first..."That gets me excited." The second is to ensure every child has equal access...
Hill: "As a school board member of District 6 and of Hamilton County, I will do my best for our children."
Note: Hill is a graduate of Leadership Chattanooga.
Hill: "I'm a pragmatist and I realize that the make-up of our schools is largely dependent on the make-up of our neighborhoods."
Hill would support more schools of choice, open-enrollment and modified school choice model like those in Nashville. Her caveat: transportation.
Henry is pointing out his campaign materials. He has text updates if anyone is interested (I'll get it for y'all later).
Henry was a participant of LeaderShape while he was a student at UTC. He found that his passion was dependent on him having great parents, and that he could be a great mentor.
Henry: "LeaderShape helped me become a leader." He launched an organization focused on social consciousness and taking action.
Henry: "This organization had a two-fold mission...first, we would identify local areas that needed our help and second, we would identify international areas that needed our help."
Note: My mistake, I believe Henry is a graduate of University of Tenneesse in KNOXVILLE.
Henry's strategies for addressing integration and equity relates to the work his organization did in undergrad. He somewhat failed to provide real answers to Mays' question.
Mays notes that only 42 percent of kindergarteners come to school ready to learn. The next question is the candidates thoughts and support for early childhood education.
Henry: "It is not right now, the role of the school board to go into homes and tell families what to do before kindergarten."
Henry: Right now, Hamilton County has 42 classes in about 20 locations offering pre-K. In District 6, Normal Park does have a pre-K's paid for by parents, and use the same facilities cared for by Hamilton County and paid for by taxpayers.
Henry believes early childhood education should be augmented to other organizations that focus on that.
Fun fact: Hill was an English major.
Hill: "It takes a long-time to get someone trained up to do a job that you need them's a lot to get through a significant portion of the year covering things that in some schools are basic and in other homes are not the norm," she says of kindergarten teachers.
Hill: "I think pre-K and early childhood education is important..."
Hill: "Honestly right now we have priorities related to crumbling buildings, to segregation, to lack of strategic focus, to lack of readiness...and we can't make everything our number one priority."
Hill applauds the City of Chattanooga, Chattanooga 2.0 and other organizations that are working toward early education.
Hill: "Right now, if Dr. Johnson was headed to the county commission with a budget that included pre-K, I'm not sure how realistic that would be right now."
Hill also emphasizes that to champion initiatives like Camp K, she would want to see results.
Next question is about building a long-term strategic plan, multi-year budget and one with an equity lens...
Hill: "When boards are put into a situation to make decisions without a strategic plan, they are bound to make decisions that are not informed."
Hill: I have great respect for the budget working group that turned the Hamilton County Department of Eduction budget inside out.
Hill: That plan would be developed by HCDE and I would encourage it to involve community input and other organizations...if the county mayor, the city mayor and other organizations are not involved, then we aren't all playing (the same game? I think is what she said).
Henry's turn.

Henry: "I was part of the budget meeting this morning with the county and got to see that Dr. Johnson and his team are making great strides...I don't want to make the change if it's already being made."
Henry is a part of his church's strategic plan...10 year, 20 year, 30 year and 50 year plans apparently.
Henry comments on questions from county commissioners at this morning's budget meeting.

"Dr. Johnson and his team are only able to do what they can because they have to guess at a number."
We've probably got about four dozen people here tonight...some of the same faces as last night.
Henry plugs the "Ohio Checkbook" that shows every single way every penny is spent in Ohio.
Mays next question of the pre-set questions: It focuses on workforce development.

Q: What do you think about dual enrollment programs, similar to what is already occuring at Chattanooga State in schools that teach specific skills and lead to the students gaining credentials?
Henry: "With TN Promise, I'm hoping we can bring these classes into our high schools...I want to make sure the curriculum that we are bringing to our high schools, are not just getting our students ready for college, are not just credit-based, but are also skill-based."
Henry: "No matter how much money we can give a student in education at schools...they still go home...Teach them a skill they are passionate about."
Henry: "I think the best way to do this is to partner with local universities and business."
Hill: "I agree that the potential for dual-enrollment and expanded career opportunities is just tremendous."
Hill: "About 80 percent of living-wage jobs require some sort of postsecondary credential. That's just the world we live in."
Hill: "I'm really excited about what we're doing here in Hamilton County with the Future Ready Institutes @HCSfutureready"
Hill plugs Lookout Valley's Digital Media Production institute and Hixson High's health sciences-focused academy.
Hill: "I think it is important that we recognize that not one size fits all...not every child is going to try for college, but if they are interested in that, we need to push them."
Hill: "As a business owner, I recognize a lot of the struggles that my clients face...and a lot of the struggle they have is filling the roles."
Hill: "I want cheap labor, but I'm not willing to do it on the backs of students of Hamilton County."
Mays: From 1960s to 1990s, you have District 6 and District 5 and a lot of these schools offered vocational schools (including Kirkman Technical School and The Howard School)...this is when many of these schools were still part of the City of Chattanooga's school system.
Mays: Students across the board in those particular schools were excelling.
Mays: Do you all fill that if we focus more on the total child or the total student and give them those opportunities, do you think that would help with the success and bring Hamilton County back to where we once were?
Henry: "Over time, those resources just vanished...and as we see in our schools, its about constant, consistent focus."
Henry: "I'm so excited we are in this school offers auto, metal working, it offers skills that don't require a college education."
Henry: "I want to continue to bolster the schools that have programs like this...but also we need to focus our resources on the community needs."
Henry emphasizes focusing one essentials and building from there with extra resources.
Hill: That question alludes to a couple trends...siloing children on a college path and testing.
Hill: "I will say there is a danger in relying on technical education and pushing kids toward a technical course because they are struggling in a certain course, or are low-income...and that's something that has certainly happened in the past."
Hill: "I think that our Future Ready Institutes present a fantastic opportunity for our Hamilton County students."
Hill: "There just aren't enough options...but I would point out, that you do need some secondary certificate to make a living in this world."
Hill: "It's a simple band-aid to apply to think you can come out of school with little training and make a living...I want out kids to flourish in this world."
Now we're on to audience questions. First questions is 2-3 action items or goals for the school board.
Henry: 1. For District 6 is continue to do what I'm already doing. District 6 and some of our adjacent districts are more unique than some of the other ones. Parents and students sometimes live in one and go to school in another.
Henry: "My #1 thing is to continue to work with other school board member sin the adjacent districts, and county commission members and city council members, because the school board cannot work alone."
Henry. "#2: One we figure out what those priorities are collaboratively, let's go out and do it."
Henry: "#3...let's see how we spend our money."
Henry proposes contracting transportation and custodial to cut expenses...
Hill's top 3 priorities: 1. Strategic plan 2. Independent building audit 3. Multi-year budget
Hill: "Sometimes you have to spend some money to save some money."
Next question...currently some zones are made up entirely of students in concentrated poverty.
This question is the same as last night's: are candidates in favor of redrawing district lines to increase racial and socio-economic balance in schools.
Hill: "I know people prefer to make a choice, rather than be told what to do..."
Hill: "We need to keep zoning in our back pocket."
Hill: "To achieve equity, we need to live and go to school together."
According to Henry, District 6 pays the most taxes of any in Hamilton County. Currently, Hamilton County draws those lines.
Henry: "Taking the students and putting them in another school, is not the solution."
Henry: "Let's push this conversation forward from talking about it, to taking action."
Mays: On a scale of 1 to 10, where do you feel our schools are in Hamilton County serving as a platform for success?
Hill: "Well, we know that 15 percent of Hamilton County students are college or career ready. If we use that as an measure, then we have 85 percent who aren't."
I missed Hill's number on the scale of 1 to 10. My apologies, folks.
Henry: "It would come down to the're talking about percentage of people who are successful. 4 out of 10, 40's kind of where we're at right now. But we need to and can do better."
Henry: Not to long ago, the state said "we don't trust you, give us these schools, we don't see our return on investment." He's referring to the Partnership Network and the Opportunity Zone and how we got there.
Henry proposed coming up with ways to measure ROI (returns on investments) beyond test scores.
Henry: "Let's put a return on investment of these dollars for our students...let's prove to the state that we are performing better...Let's develop a model that we can show the state, that we do know what we are doing."
Next question is about federal special education law - IDEA.

Hey @UnifiEdHC, these audience questions sound familiar!
Henry references work he's done personally with students with special needs.
And is talking about positive behavior and special education schools that focus on that.
Mays: Last question from the audience focuses on budget...what experience have you had managing large budgets for an organization or community?
Hill: "I have been part of a growing publishing company...In was employe number 7 and when I left we were nearing 50."
Hill: "My husband and I own a 17-year-old business that employs 10 people. Budgets are something that is on our mind of a daily basis."
Hill is also board chair for Metropolitan Ministries and part of that responsibility involves looking at the budget and managing an endowment.
Hill: "Budgeting is something I have experience in and have done for many years."
Henry refers to his involvement and president of a university housing organization at UTK during undergrad. The organization had a $50K budget.
Henry: "I saved more money than any of our advisors had ever seen because that's something that I was focused on."
Henry: "That was something I loved to do...and I feel blessed that I have the opportunity and am in this role."
Henry: "I own my own company, it's just me...I am the treasurer for my campaign, it's just me."
Henry: "A business has way more math than you would have expected."
Henry: They taught us that you have to have good numbers going in to have good numbers coming out, whether that's dollars or students or success indicators.
Henry: "In running my own campaign, in running my business, I feel alone sometimes and that's how many of our students feel...and I thank you for being here."
Henry: "I try to be a resource of knowledge, that's why I'm here for you," he closes. Henry has a large number of supporters here tonight (clapping and whistling).
Hill: "i wouldn't be up here running if I didn't feel like we had an opportunity right not to effect change...there are good things happening in Hamilton County."
Hill: Our community is ware of the needs that wbe have in our schools...and I believe that the next step to move us forward is to have elected leaders who are forward in their thinking and are ready to make education their priority."
Hill: "With all of us together, we truly can make a difference."
Our debate is over.
Natalie Cook of @UnifiEdHC is wrapping up with reminders about future debates...(visit the @TimesFreePress for information on those). District 5's debate has yet to be scheduled. You can also find the video of tonight's debate on @UnifiEdHC's Facebook page and Youtube Channels.
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