Letter to the Editor.. The State of Anderson County Schools

WYSH radio invites listeners to share information they have about this situation or anything else. We will keep your identity anonymous if requested. However, we need your name and contact information. Here is an email we received this morning.

Whether or not it’s criminal I hope parents of Anderson county understand the outcomes if things don’t change. You walk into a school where kids know they don’t have to work for grades, and state they can just do edgenuity (credit recovery), and you see what low standards and expectations are given and the result. The true way you get to earn the status of reward school is having high quality educators that are competent to teach content. That doesn’t happen at CHS.  They hire many who are not credentialed. Clay Turpin was hired for the 22-23 school year as a science teacher. He did not even have teaching credentials the entirety of that school year and being paid as a certified teacher, yet had never taken one teaching course and was not enrolled on a college program to obtain teaching certification. This would make a difference of 15,000-20,000 since he was paid as certified when he was indeed not. This can be verified by going to TN Compass Public Search and you can see he only got a “permit” given in the summer of 2023. Nothing prior to 2023 so he was an unlicensed teacher teaching a science course for a whole year.  Darell Keith taught history in the 21-22 school year and does not have the credentials to do so. He has no high school endorsements, only “middle grades.” Keith was given the certified position after 1 year of teaching history so poorly as the “Advanced Learning Program” teacher. This was where some of “bad kids” were sent to the fieldhouse to work on edgenuity. They were not being taught in any way and many students claim they didn’t even see him some days and were not supervised. How people didn’t see this was not a “Free and Appropriate” education is truly mind boggling. Keith, Turpin, Jones, and all counselors have “SBE” on their teaching licenses right now which means the state board of education is investigating and could completely revoke their license to teach. 

Some can try and play this up to “it was to help students out,” it was not. Maybe for certain kids who had “important parents” or  some athletes who got scholarships to elite schools that students claim used credit recovery to get higher grades, but these kids were allowed to stay at school because they were deemed worthy. They got to enjoy things like school games, prom, and graduation. For the “bad kids” who this affected more than anyone, they were pushed through and used for nothing more than data points and made to believe CHS was doing them some grand favor because you had a whole system of people who were not bothered in the slightest by taking advantage of kids and parents that didn’t know any better. Maybe if Anderson County schools created a culture of high expectations in both students and staff they wouldn’t have to give grades for them to get a reward status school and obtain that dishonestly. Thousands of youth have walked away from Clinton high school and Anderson county schools with a joke of an education and the mindset you do not have to work hard for success. These students will not go on to college or vocational programs and be successful because they do not have the education or soft skills that would have been learned from high expectations. This community will see the effect of this down the road. So many kids have been failed by a system that is run on nepotism and putting more emphasis on hiring people for who they are related too or know or  sports they can coach, rather than a high quality educator that would prepare the youth of Anderson County to be successful. Reward school status is reached honeslty when you invest in students and teachers both. Again, maybe it’s not criminal. However,  how anyone can look at what has been allowed and not realize and question what the outcomes of this will be, must have had their credits given to them because it’s pretty obvious. Others will see the light slap on the wrist for ignoring the needs of thousands of students and see that it is not “criminal.” Youth will see that you get given grades without having to work for them. Teachers will lose all validity in grading and will lose student engagement and care in the classroom. Why would you give effort if you know you can get a grade given and it’s viewed as fine. It’s easy to sell a junker like a Mercedes when you have the skill level of TN Used Car Salesman of the year. It has been pitched this was for students,  it helped them, these kids wouldn’t have graduated without it happening. That is a joke. The only reason kids were given grades was so the high school could improve graduation rates. It did not come from a place of care or concern for students. I have been told by people high up the chain in Anderson County Schools that when Dan Jenkins was given his job as principal at Clinton high school, it was discussed they would need someone to make CHS look better by “hook or by crook.” They knew who Dan was when they hired him and  they let it get to this point.  school registration catalogs show the changes from the 21/22 school year to the 22/23 school year as to what would allow a student to be an “early graduate.” Another person in a leadership role stated they told someone over testing for the district that Dan was telling certain kids (low performing ones) not to come to school on EOC testing days. It was stated by another principal in the county that this was due to “what Dan was doing.” Kids had to have higher ACT scores and meet certain requirements to graduate early because so many students were getting done 1-2 years early. If you really cared about preparing students you would have sent them to vocational training or something that would have helped them be successful, not pushed them out as fast as you can because kids were nothing more than percentages to some. Schools get money based on attendance and students were “coded” on attendance certain ways and students in credit recovery were told they could leave the school after only being there a mere hour or two, yet these students were marked present for the day. Some kids were told they could even do it at home and log in to get attendance. It was also stated administrators made jokes and said why did Dan get a leash so long with what he was allowed with. Another principal stated that they directly asked Tim Parrot “what are you going to do about your boy Dan” so to claim certain individuals didn’t know is not just false, it’s an outright lie. If you had a doctorate degree and were trained in data evaluation, a school that was deemed low by the state magically becomes a reward school within a year of a new principal that came, would you not question how and look at this? Maybe it’s because having truly competent people isn’t a priority for Anderson County since it is a rumor that Carrie Jones mother who was a principal practically did Tim’s Doctorate dissertation for him and this was also a reason that played into how we got here in this mess and how we had so many related to one another in a school. Makes sense considering grammatical errors in Twitter post alone do not seem to showcase doctorate level education. To quote that dissertation “There is an old Appalachian saying that if a turtle is on a fence it didn’t get there on its own.” In this case, that turtle wasn’t the most vulnerable students of Anderson County that needed adults that cared more than anyone. That turtle was an idiot who was allowed and embraced to ruin a whole generation of education and expectations for students and was honored for it. Kids were failed by teachers. Teachers were failed by administrators. Everyone was failed by those sitting on that 5th floor and Board of Education. I hope as some sit and enjoy their soon to be retirements, they sit and think on what could have been for so many. the morning cup of coffee with the newspaper read will surely contain information on unfortunate outcomes for so many youth in Anderson County due to a inadequate education and skills that would have given some kids a chance to have a chance at a better life. When you don’t come from the other side of the tracks, it’s hard to know exactly how much an education and good caring teachers can change things for a kid. For many kids in Anderson County, Anderson County Schools was their last hope. Their last chance to have a chance. You don’t make a town and community better by focusing on the high achieving kids who have support. You make it better by loving, educating, and investing in those who need it most.  More often than not we see those “bad kids” need love the most and show it in the most unloving ways. I hope things change in the school system for the kids of Anderson County. 

What Russel barker stated with grade changes with students taking so many test- that is not what CHS was doing. I have personally seen a students edgenuity coursework- they were skipping all the instruction so students weren’t even being taught. That falls on “Educational Malpractice” in my opinion. How can you test students on material they were never even taught. 

I would like to be kept anonymous with email address. Thank you. I appreciate you and giving people true information and being a voice for the students of Anderson county and not sweeping this under the rug like many are trying to do. 

About Jim Miller

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One comment

  1. Why publish an anonymous letter?

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