Dec 16 2007

OK, folks, so what do those obscure German words in the title mean? A German sociologist named Ferdinand Tonnies coined these terms in 1887 to refer to two normal human association types. Roughly speaking, gemeinschaft refers to "community" and gesellschaft refers to "society." What does this mean in theory?

Gemeinschaft is a system of social relations where everybody knows everybody else, decisions are made through informal (as in not written down in law) though traditional and often ritualistic forms. The most important relationships are kinship networks; who your daddy was and what group he belonged to mattered more than what you ever did. Insiders control things; outsiders mean nothing (and the definition of outsiders is strict). Gemeinschafts are often highly inegalitarian, with social structures determined by "organic" notions of economy, family organization and religious grouping. Think small town, pre-industrial, Old South, Appalachian, feudal, high school, etc. These are all different kinds of gemeinschafts - some are more egalitarian (Appalachian) than others (plantation Old South) but they share the same sense of organic "community."

Gesellschaft is a system of social relations characterized more by formalized, bureaucratic, individual-driven processes. Law and money matter more in a gesellschaft than traditional social position or kinship networks. Gesellschafts accept change very easily, but they tend to be more alienating as "nobody knows anybody" outside their small circle of co-workers and friends. Insiders vs. outsiders matters little in a gesellschaft; but there is little sense of local tradition, heritage or pride. It's more possible to achieve success and "move up" in a gesellschaft, but neighborhoods are more likely to be segregated by class, architecture more generic, and people are more likely to be crassly materialistic. Think of a major city, new suburbs, the North, modernity, large university, etc.

These two sociological formulations are not static. And quite often one type morphs into another. After the US Civil War many Southern communities underwent this sort of transformation from plantation-driven gemeinschafts to capitalist-oriented New South cities like Birmingham, Atlanta and Dallas.

But here's where it gets interesting. To smooth the transition from gemeinschaft to gesellschaft, editorialists in favor of the new order - like Atlanta's editor Henry Grady - threw a major cultural bone to the old order in the form of the Lost Cause. The same newspaper that celebrated industrialism in late 19th century Atlanta (the Constitution) printed Uncle Remus stories celebrating the Old South and offered editorials in favor of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. To smooth the way for the new bourgeois order, capitalists had to pay their respects to the plantation lords of the past.

Why do I bring these sociological terms up? Because I think the best way to understand changes in Blount County these days is to think of our community as one changing from Gemeinschaft to Gesellschaft. You can even think of Jerry Cunningham and the County Commissioners as the sort of bridge. They're sold out to the developers who are profiting off the transformation even as they lament the loss of their own traditional authority (think of the complaints about the "new" Daily Times). I see evidence of this painful shift all the time, including: complaints about traffic and "rude" drivers, outsiders not being totally excluded but not sure if they're really accepted either, a pending Director of Schools decision pitting an insider against an outsider, a revitalized downtown received with some ambivalence by old-timers, etc.

Anyway, I wanted to put this out there because I think this website is a progressive response to the tensions over transformation from gemeinschaft to gesellschaft. Some posters here are old-timers who never liked the traditional, Republican power structure, but also don't feel comfortable with the way the county is changing. Others (like myself) are outsiders who want to help the community develop in a progressive direction but are unsure about how hard to push for fear of being labeled an interloper.

I'd love to hear other thoughts on this from BlountViews members. Sometimes it's helpful to step back and look at all the changes from a sociological perspective. At the very least, Cunningham's rants make more sense in this context.



I think you hit the nail on the head. I don't know if I can offer any helpful insight, only hurtful.

I'm a local (duh) for a couple of generations, but in one sense, my people have always been outsiders. Always fighting the powers that were/be. I reckon there has never been a Republican in the bunch, although many haven't been Democrats like you picture today, either. My people scrutinize issues independent of labels. The powers that were/be in Blount County have been pretty nasty to my folks. I'm a fan of the recent changes in population, but saddened at the haphazard manner in which some other locals profit off those developments that doubtless facilitate those very changes. I believe you call that a Catch 22. I don't blame the furriners, ever. I consider them "reinforcements!" Most locals have said to me, upon learning I pay attention to local happenings: "Aw honey, don't fight 'em, they are going to do what they want to do, anyway. Always have."

So I'm always happy when I meet newcomers who see this place as it should be and are not disheartened at how it has always been.

Cunningham's comments do not make sense to me (I mean that I can't justify them), even within this historical context. I knew this about him when he ran for office; why didn't everyone else and particularly those who voted for him??

Hmmmm... Interesting

Hmmmm... Interesting analysis.

To some extent, I like the idea of change from Gemeinschaft to Gesellschaft. Having lived in Florida where nearly (and I do say nearly, not all) everyone is from somewhere else, the merging of the different peoples is quite fun and fascintating.

Regarding Blount County, considering I am a relative newcomer, I highly appreciate the influx of outsiders. I understand the comfort of everyone knowing everyone. I have felt the need for that level of comfort many times. I have also found that Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft can be merged from disparate peoples to build a good community. This is what I hope for in Blount County.

Can we work the Wendell Barry community into this?

Border States Online?

Wow. As a border states historian (Missouri and Kentucky) I need to get familiar with them.

See, I'm country

So when you go talking in German the only thing my brain comes up with is my experience with the Amish keeping the English as outsiders and the rich getting richer on the backs of the poor. If I can mix Wilma Dykeman's The French Broad with all of Berry's writings, then and only then do I get a picture of what is happening in Blount county.

Ich verstehe nicht

Wann ich, die erste mal über deine schreiben geliest, ich möchte nur ein bisschen von diese verstehen. Welches weg sind Capitalism? Gemeinschaft oder Gesellschaft? Eure großte Problem, ich denke, ist mit diese Über-Capitalism--hier in Blount County und eure ganz Land.

viva Evo Morales

Google translated this all wonky!

Can you give us more clues, BeyondLeft?

When I, the first time about your writing geliest, I would like just a little bit of this. What are away Capitalism? Community or society? Your biggest problem, I think, is with this over-Capitalism -- here in Blount County, and your whole country.

Too macro

You've got to look at the culture as a vehicle for understanding and expressing economic change. Sure, all of America is "overly capitalist" and certainly crassly materialist. But the culture of capitalism manifests itself differently in different places. West Knoxville and Maryville are different, for example, even if both are sites of a lot of new wealth. West Knoxville was a newly constructed suburban extension of Knoxville; there were very few old-timers around Farrugut who recall the "good old days" before the fancy car dealers arrived. Maryville, on the other hand, was a sizable community replete with a phone book of old-time surnames like Gamble, Garner, Lambert, Tipton, McTeer, Delozier, Myers or Henry. When newcomers arrived, they not only brought added wealth, but they altered the old cultural connections. That stuff matters a great deal in a place like Maryville. Tangible fights over the Director of Schools, zoning exceptions, highway expansion, corrupt racist judges, and mountaintop development all take place in the context of a county in cultural transition.

Culture vs. Logic

Sure Capitalism manifests itself differently in different areas. Resources or the lack there-of, determines what facets of an area can be Capitalized for profit. One problem, we must all understand, is that Blount County has no Ore Resources that can be sold. Our entire County has depended on the inexpensive Electricity ($0.04 / kW-hr) from TVA and the cheap transportation energy from abroad. These two luxuries are gonna hit us hard, really soon. We used to have an abundance of water here, that's going away as well. As populations rise, the need for development arises. This County has the brainpower to expand intelligently instead of wastefully. If we don't do something for our Transportation infrastructure, then this county will suffer. And I don't mean more pavement. Blount County's culture will change dramatically once our water levels evaporate. We can figure out a way to solve our problems, before change is forced upon us. It wouldn't matter to me what race or culture someone is, if they could solve these problems for us here in Blount County.

viva Evo Morales

cutting to the chaff

So, ole Jerry's responses are in large part due to the fact that changes are coming and he is seeking to retain the old ways however he can?

This we could see when after winning the GOP primary he no longer was running for mayor, he just assumed the title. Remember how he would not debate with Joe? No need because in his mind it was over and he won.

I can almost feel sorry for him. After all, has there ever been organized opposition to anything those old time insiders wanted to do. Right? Then groups like the Raven Society, Save Chilhowee and CAPPE started standing up for the rights of those not on the inside. Three democratic commissioners were elected and they started asking hard questions. At least five of their own GOP commissioners have started asking questions. Each of these groups/commissioners is in someway representing the new outsiders as well as the old time outsiders to county power.

If I understand this all correctly then, for them to retain Gemeinschaft they would need the Raven Society to become the head cheerleader for the Planning Commission and for Save Chilhowee to tell us everything is just hunky-dorie on the mountain top. They would need CAPPE to support the southern loop but could allow CAPPE to continue to to fight the Pelli extension. They would need Proffitt and Reeves removed from the commission but they could leave Ballard on because they can handle one Democrat.

All that would be left to be done is find a way to shut up the five GOP commissioners who don't fall in line with old party thinking then presto! Things will be as they always were. Jerry would have what he thought he was going to be working with when he was elected and that is zero real opposition to what he wants to do. Pardon me, to what the insiders want done.

Mello, I think you got it.

Mello, I think you got it. All the change is hard for us locals to deal with sometimes, but times change. Blount County will nver be the quaint little place we grew up in.
What I don't understand is why the GOP wants to support developers but not except new ideas and cultures that come with it.
There's nothing free and if they want the housing market monies they must except the new arrivals.
Thank goodness for the groups who are fighting for development with thought, not mindless building and building on every corner and byway.

Let's take a stroll to

Let's take a stroll to another part of the country since we can all understand that many folks are not real comfortable with change- especially when they can't control the changes.

In the 60's my hometown had a building boom. New industry came to town and offered manufacturing jobs. Decent jobs. What followed was a very large migration of folks from Tennessee and Kentucky moving north for those same jobs. For the record, this was history repeating itself. Decades earlier many from the south went to Dee-troit to work and save money to come back to Tennessee and buy farms. ( ya know what a jam sandwich is wonder-duck? It is where you yankees jam a slice of bologna between two pieces of light bread )

The boom and influx of southern immigrants caused our local developers to build cookie cutter houses on good farm land. Homes built on top of one another with walls so thin you could throw a cat through them. No, really. Our schools became over crowded with all these southern families moving in so our taxes went up to build new schools to educate the southern immigrants.

Does any of this sound familiar to anyone?

My father went to Detriot to

My father went to Detriot to work about 1951 or 2. He didn't like the north and missed his family so he came back.
Many locals might remember that migration. They went for work in the northern factories.

I heard these stories back

I heard these stories back in the early 80's when we lived in Cocke County. Many of the old timers went to Deeee-troit, lived in boarding houses, ate yankee jam sandwiches and saved their money so that they could come back to KY or TN.

It will be very interesting to read those census reports from 1950. They won't be released until 2020 or so but detailed census reports are wonderful tools to help understand our society.


I lived in Albion, Michigan and there were lots of folks whose grandparents came up from Kentucky and Tennessee. Ypsilanti, Michigan was often called Ypsitucky for that reason. In fact, one of the reasons for country music's popularity in the 1950s was the cultural bridge it provided Southern migrants to home. Think especially of "Streets of Baltimore."


After today, when the Maryville Director of Schools position is announced, I'll give some more evidence along these lines. This whole process has been characterized exactly as you've put it: "We want community input and we're running an objective search...but our fear of change is going to give us the safest mediocre candidate. And we have enough old-timers around who remember the inside candidate's daddy who was one heck of a fine principal."

Directors of School

In Blount County, we've seen 'em vote (without a quorum) and change the number of members of a board it takes to make a quorum (so they'd have a quorum - clear as mud?). This eventually enabled them to get the middle-of-the-road candidate they wanted - with 4 of the 7 board members voting.

Oh, and he's related to the Lamberts!

Really Local?

Are you serious about alvin hore? Is a relative of the lamberts? That I did not know but is interesting.

Newcomers Club

This is a very enlightening discussion. And, on target. One of the "old timers", maiden-name Delozier (whose husband heads the local Chamber of Commerce), is active in the "Newcomers Club" which is touted as one of those groups to welcome the new folks moving in. It might also be argued that the group led by old-timers may be more interested in indoctrinating (or hoodwinking) the newcomers into the "established" ways. In the long-run, it won't work. But, in the short-run, it has clearly put some of the newcomers on a "honeymoon" with the old-timers who are working to find ways to maintain their power structure. They effectively put some of the newcomers on community "committees" to make them feel they are being "included" but in fact, those newcomers often become rubber-stamps to the wishes of the established order. The old-timers know change is coming, but that hasn't stopped them from coming up with creative ways to hold power just a little longer.

And Elrod

I just want to say what a pleasure it is to see that you have time to write again! You have been missed by your groupies at a time when we really need you.


I've been in the midst of final exam grading purgatory. That's over now and I can relax a bit for a few weeks. Also, my wife and I have been really active with other Maryville schools parents in organizing advocacy on behalf of one of the Director of Schools candidates (Hint: It ain't the insider candidate whose daddy made just a fine principal). We're going to lose this battle - as we figured we would in the beginning - but we're starting to create a network of people unencumbered by sentimental attachments to the "good old days." The key, of course, is breaking into the outermost circle of insiders.

Hey Elrod: Sorry some of the

Hey Elrod:

Sorry some of the rest of us did not know there was a group of Murvillians working on the School Director issue. The Education Committee of the Blount County Anti-Racism Task Force tried to find folks who would make an issue of the need for actual experience building an inclusive and multi-cultural school system but did not know you were working in the same pasture, so to speak.

The decision not to do a national search was a tip as to whether anyone really wanted excellent and progressive leadership. I do not know whether the "leaders" in town do not know that BC is actually not the best and most progressive place in the world or that they do not care. Probably the latter. Being one of the three "best" school systems in TN does not say very much except to people who do not get out much.


It's a new bunch and we've only started to organize; my wife is actually most active with it. We're trying to get involved on a whole range of school-related issues, the Director selection being just the first. I'll let you know more about it off line.

Talk to a stranger

Your starting position is incorrect. Just because someone has a long history in Blount doesn't mean their on the "inside". Just like some searches inside the system have yielded poor results, so have some of our outside searches. (One wound up being a thief)

Just because you find Ms. Thompson's work and family objectionable doesn't mean they are. Since you, like I, seem to be capitulating she will most likely get the job, what policy have you heard from her that is to the students detriment?

The key, of course, is breaking into the outermost circle of insiders.

If you don't assume the worst about them and get to know them - you may find there was either no circle or one only loosely existing because no one else had ever been around it. There are many varying thoughts and positions in the circle(s) you see as just having two orbits. If you are going to give a complete sociological perspective, you may want to enlarge your two group sample.

Here's a good litmus. Ask a stranger, "What do you think of Cunningham?" Next ask, "What do you think about Berrong?"

If you get;
"Their great!" - ask why. If the answer to that is because "I'm afraid the Russians" - don't bother. If the answer is "Jerry got my kids out of trouble in Judge Young's court back when" - explain why this is bad government. Explain that in America, the law only working for a few goes against State and Federal Constitutions and thus doesn't work at all.

If you get;
"Don't know" or "Don't care, it's all corrupt anyway" - sit and talk to that person. Agree and disagree, but make it your goal to explain something that person might not have known before speaking with you. Just make sure you can support all claims. Unfortunately, those looking to make change have that burden.

If you get;
"Their crooks!" - go have a beer or dinner with that person, you found a friend. And due to the Sheriff's and Mayor's own efforts, there are more and more of these folks.

Fair point

You make a fair point about multiple orbits. It's much more than just "insider" and "outsider." I've noticed three broad categories of insiders: outer Blount County "hillbillies" who hate taxes, hate furriners, and hate developers for changing things; progressive Blount Countians, generally well-educated but on the outside of the political power structure; and insider elites, sometimes sharing family names with the other two categories but comfortably in the mix at County Commission, City Council, local Republican Party politics, Chamber of Commerce, etc. Of course, there are more variations out there, and many folks probably drift across these groupings.

Of outsiders, there are other East Tennesseans (mostly Knoxvillians) who moved here for the schools or jobs; other Southerners, some who moved here for the jobs, others to get away from the "crime" in Memphis, or the hurricanes in Louisiana; Floridians, half-backers originally from the Midwest or Northeast and very diverse in mentality; Midwesterners, mostly for the jobs and climate; Northesterners, for the jobs, climate, scenery and slower pace; retirees, from everywhere, who come for the low taxes; Westerners, who knows?; Japanese, for the jobs; college faculty, from anywhere.

It's always risky to generalize; as a historian and not a sociologist, I tend to look for exceptions rather than broad-brush social types. But I think social types help to put things in a bit of perspective. There are patterns out there.

As for the schools, Thompson might prove to be a fine Director. But the reason she's the front-runner - even without an advanced degree, no budget experience and little broad vision for the system beyond the status quo - is that she's "familiar" with the system. That just won't cut it, in my opinion. If Maryville City School are so great, why did we have a local search? Funny enough, it looks like the one guy unconnected to Knox or Blount County is the most dynamic candidate of all (Lyle Ailshie of Greeneville). But I guess there's too much fear about going outside the system. Sure, Ailshie could be a bust. But he's proven himself as a Superintendent elsewhere, unlike Thompson or Winstead.

Familiar is now a bad thing?

It's pointed out here "Being one of the three "best" school systems in TN does not say very much except to people who do not get out much." If you are going to grant this backhanded statement, then you should recognize being "familiar" is not a bad thing with those of us who are proud of Maryville's academic achievements. Let your candidates with better ideas go to the county schools (Knox co. paying $240K) and have them get their scores par with Maryville's. When they show us all their magic at the county level, maybe they could be promoted, err, re-assigned to the Maryville system.

To help your children with their education, you should inform us and Ms. Thompson about what programs and strategies has Mr. Ailshie implemented in Greenville that could be of benefit to the Maryville system?

4th in the state

Of outsiders, there are other East Tennesseans (mostly Knoxvillians) who moved here for the schools or jobs;

What schools are you talking about? Why would these Knoxvillians not move to Greenville?

Greeneville is far

Greeneville is far away from Knoxville. If you work in West Knoxville and want a better school system, then you might move to Maryville. It's better and it's still a reasonable commute along I-140. Greeneville is just too far if you have to work in West Knoxville or downtown Knoxville.

Maryville's schools may be good, but why do we have Casteel as the Principal at the High School? Why so little discussion of curriculum in the expansion plans; it's all about facilities. And one mega-high school is a good solution for growth? How about more AP classes at the high school?

We can always do better. Our football team doesn't judge itself by state standards. Neither should our academics. What they do in Knox or Blount County schools by comparison is irrelevant.

Greeneville is just too far

Greeneville is just too far if you have to work in West Knoxville or downtown Knoxville.

Not for some people I know. How far would you drive or what would you give up to make sure your child gets a good education? If Maryville doesn't hire the "right" person, will you homeschool?


Maryville schools don't have to be perfect. And I would never homeschool. I just want to make sure Maryville schools continue to improve and not rest on their laurels as the "best in the region."

Maryville's schools may be

Maryville's schools may be good, but why do we have Casteel as the Principal at the High School?

Hiring Casteel was as bad of a decision as when they went outside the local area and found a principal that robbed the concession stand.

Why so little discussion of curriculum in the expansion plans; it's all about facilities.

In the 21st century, the two shouldn't be separate.

And one mega-high school is a good solution for growth?

No. Do you go East or West? Put that question to a poll here and you'll find 50%-50% or something close.

How about more AP classes at the high school?

How about more AP students?

We can always do better.


That's all?

Your responses show the low expectations I'm talking about. So we had a criminal for a principal before and now we have to settle for a semi-literate former athletic director? Those are our choices? How about vetting another candidate next time?

Can't pick between East and West? Well, they up and decided to build another Intermediate school, which will have just as drastic an effect on zoning issues. Oh, but there's no football dynasty to worry about so it's no big deal...

And are you kidding about not enough AP students? Offer AP classes and students will take them.

It's time to lift the horizons a bit and reach a little higher. Like I said, Stephanie Thompson might be a perfectly capable and visionary Director. I sincerely hope she is. But I just don't want people getting complacent with how great the schools are. They can get worse just as easily as they can get better.

Not kidding

Your responses show the low expectations I'm talking about. So we had a criminal for a principal before and now we have to settle for a semi-literate former athletic director? Those are our choices? How about vetting another candidate next time?

The point was the "correct" answer isn't always somewhere else. Again, I agreed we can do better.

Can't pick between East and West? Well, they up and decided to build another Intermediate school, which will have just as drastic an effect on zoning issues.

I asked you to pick. We have a certain number of dollars, where do you want to put them? If it's a matter of education alone, statistics say those with more affluence typically have better scores. Should we be focusing on the poorest areas?

And are you kidding about not enough AP students? Offer AP classes and students will take them.

So, just offer the classes and students with no college prep will just slide right in? A students preparation for college starts way before he/she would even know the word. The tax on the poor (TN lottery) giving a student with a 3.0 or better a scholarship is just a subsidy for colleges and universities. As stated, typically more affluent children make better grades (like a 3.0 or better). So we take kids from homes that often could pay for higher education and give them one for free? If you want more kids in AP, get them prepared on the elementary level. That's where the tax on the poor should go.

They can get worse just as easily as they can get better.


Fort Craig

I agree completely on your last points. The funding mechanism is dysfunctional in this state. We have to do with what funding we have.

And we must start at the elementary level. Fort Craig School is a model of elementary excellence, and many other schools have followed up on the better practices of FC. Though the competition between FC and the others gets a bit silly at times, with accusations of "elitism" thrown around, the end result is a better school system as a whole. The challenge with Fort Craig is that parents MUST be involved in the school, and there is no bus service. Poorer parents don't have that luxury; there are far fewer free and reduced lunch students at FC than at, say, John Sevier. As an FC parent myself, I can say that the sense of community among parents is very strong - and often reinforced at pickup time. Does that happen at Foothills, Sam Houston and John Sevier? I don't know.

Either way, I hope Director Thompson (just selected, by the way) will continue to build off the successes of Fort Craig and not try to micromanage. Don't introduce flawed Basel readers into Fort Craig, for example; they're a sad product of No Child Left Behind and are totally unnecessary at schools like Fort Craig that have no problem with their scores. I'm quite certain that parents and teachers will be watching Director Thompson's approach on these sorts of curriculum matters very closely.

You're only doing your job - like her

I'm quite certain that parents and teachers will be watching Director Thompson's approach on these sorts of curriculum matters very closely.

I'm quite certain Ms. Thompson would have it no other way.

I think it is interesting to

I think it is interesting to find defensiveness about the Maryville schools (it would be even more interesting if anyone were seriously to claim that the county schools are, as Our Mayor says, "excellent," or even "very good," for that matter).

The Maryville schools are very good for Tennessee and for a relatively small town, but this is a big world and there just may be practices and curricula and ideas "out there" that could make them truly excellent. Looking within a few counties and hiring (probably) quite competent people who are local and went to UT or ETSU reveals either arrogance or complacency.

People here might want their kids to go to Princeton or Stanford, or at least to be able to do so. But then again, if one does not want or welcome furrin ideas....

Help save me from me!

Den y don't u tell dis' unegicated "hillbilly" "Murvillian" leery of "furrin" ideas exactly what Princeton based educational programs are going to miracle our educational system into the flattened world. In 4th grade we match up with the world fine, in 8th we start to trail, and by 12th, our students are certainly no longer world beaters. Many nations that beat us see science as an answer to their social issues while we still want to try John Scopes. The problem is not our kids, it's their parents.

Hillbilly here

And I want to point out that there were/are plenty of locals in the founding boards of the Raven Society, CAPPE, and Save Chilhowee Mountain groups.

I graduated from our local county school system, got accepted to a "furrin" college (and Maryville College), and managed to become a semi-productive member of society, too! I do think it is primarily PARENTS who make the difference in who their kids become and frankly, what kind of education they get. Parents who care about education will make darn sure their kids are going to get a good one no matter where they go to school. Mine sure did.

If'n I had a say in it

I don't understand why learning to read, write, understand, and speak Mandarin is NOT a required subject in Elementary thru High Schools. It would seem to me, that if'n a kid wanted to get into Business, he'd want to be able to communicate in the Language of an Economic Superpower.

viva Evo Morales

Speak'n Mandarin

Round these here parts we just say "Go Big Orange". Most locals understand that just fine. No need to get suphisticated...

Apples and oranges

Moron parents out in the hinterlands might be arguing about creationism and pushing Raymond Finney into the State Senate. Fortunately Maryville City Schools are not poisoned with such ignorance. But, again, that's a pretty low bar to set. In fact, it's all the more reason not to even consider neighboring school districts in comparison, with the exception of Farragut and Oak Ridge.

What are MHS ACT scores on average? How do they rank up with suburban Chicago or schools in other ACT states? Honestly, I don't know. But I'd love to see an answer. ACT scores aren't everything. But they do tell you a lot about the quality of the school system.

or how well a kid takes tests

Sorry. I could not help but say it. I loath testing period. Even with two kidlets who test verra well I loath testing.

Still, I would like to know just what the average ACT score is for MHS- just so I can see where my unskooled kidlets would rank.


I'll bet most of the teachers at Maryville HS live out in the county, where apparently the "moron parents" live. Me, too, coincidentally.

Sorry, Elrod, you're making the fur on the back of my neck stand up with all these vast generalizations.

No offense

I don't mean any offense against all people out in the county. I'm speaking only about people who oppose teaching evolution in the schools. As far as I recall, Randy Neal did an extensive article on this a few years ago. I doubt the MHS teachers living in the county supported this. But unfortunately the school board in the county was beholden to the creationists. And I'm sure we've got a few of these folks live in the city too.


Well, it's great to see such a well educated, progressive thinking person refer to someone as a "semi-literate former athletic director". I happen to have five kids in this school system and pay a large amount of property taxes so they can receive the excellent education the city schools provide. As for Mike Casteel, I have first hand experience with him. He's absolutely great and truly cares about these kids. I do not believe a better choice for that position could be found ANYWHERE in these United States. He understands the kids, parents and dynamics at the high school better than most. And let me assure you, my kids are much better off as a result. Although there are problems within our school system, it is much better than any local alternative I have found, including private schools. And yes, we can always do better, but not by stereotyping and name calling.


Alright, I suppose that's too harsh. I don't know the man personally - though I seriously doubt he's the best choice anywhere in the US (how would you even know that unless you conducted a nationwide search?). I've just heard lots of complaints from parents, teachers and board members elsewhere in the system that he was not the best choice for the job. I'm sure he's a nice man and really cares about the kids in the school.

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