Tag Archives: Chattanooga

Results of PEF’s plans for Chattanooga/Hamilton Co. schools?

The partnership between Public Education Foundation, headed by Steven H. Prigohzy, and the consolidated public schools in Chattanooga and Hamilton County, Tennessee continues. So, how have all those great plans for improving education worked out?

First, let’s look at PEF’s own History webpage,

In 1994 Chattanooga city voters voted to turn responsibility for education over to the county, requiring the two systems to merge. At the request of the Hamilton County School Board, PEF surveyed 3,300 area residents and convened 135 community members – educators, civic and government leaders, residents, parents and students – to help shape the vision for the new school system. When the newly consolidated system emerged in 1997, the partnership with PEF continued.
Interestingly, Prigohzy is no longer listed as board or staff with PEF. Maybe we should ask them why….

So, what came of all this consolidation in Chattanooga? It must be great, considering PEF’s Board Approved 2005-2010 Strategic Plan for Great Public Schools,

In the years 2005 – 2010, Hamilton County Public Schools will meet or exceed national benchmarks for excellence with continuous, measurable improvement in reading, mathematics, and in the numbers of students who progress smoothly from grade to grade, graduate from high school and go on to college or career-path jobs. Because of this sustained progress, Hamilton County will be recognized among the very best mid-sized public school systems in America. The community will be justifiably proud and more and more people will understand and support the investment necessary for great public schools. The Public Education Foundation will be instrumental in these achievements as a champion of school transformation and will devote its expertise and fundraising capabilities to the Hamilton County Public Schools as a catalyst for bold ideas that create real and positive change.
Sounds great!

But an outside study shows a different result. Kontji Anthony wrote for WMCTV, 23 January 2011, Study offers glimpse at possible impact of school consolidation, Continue reading

Steve Prigohzy, guru of Chattanooga-Hamilton Co. school consolidation

We’ve seen that Steve Prigohzy’s magnet school, CSAS, was started in 1986. Chattanooga school consolidation with Hamilton County, Tennessee was in 1995. And look who was waiting to tell them what to do: Chattanooga, 1995: City Referendum on Consolidating Schools, and No Legislative Interference, by Smart City Memphis, 1 January 2011, quoting Education Week 2 August 1995,
A month after the election, the board voted to ask the Public Education Foundation to help frame the new system. The move was partly on the advice of educators in Knoxville, who faced a raft of problems after consolidating rapidly with Knox County eight years ago.

The foundation, one of the wealthiest local education foundations in the country, has worked closely with educators in both the city and county. Its president, Steven H. Prigohzy, is a dynamo with a clear vision of where he’d like to take education in the new system.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a county

Continue reading

Steve Prigohzy’s magnet school

CUEE’s paid expert from Chattanooga, Steve Prigohzy, started and ran a magnet school in Chattanooga, much like the one in Troup County that is still causing extra costs and consternation eighteen years after unification. Prigohzy’s school also used prison labor to avoid spending on local labor.

After reading Barbara Stratton’s piece about Steve Prigohzy screening a movie about magnet schools, I wondered, who is this Steve Prigohzy, anyway? CUEE never showed us his resume, as near as I can tell, and they’re a private organization, so they don’t have to. But his tracks are all over the Internet.

Cynthia M. Gettys and Anne Wheelock wrote for The New Alternative Schools in September 1994, (Volume 52, Number 1, Pages 12-15) Launching Paideia in Chattanooga,

With the board’s approval and support from the Lyndhurst Foundation, a committee outlined the necessary steps to develop a Paideia school for Chattanooga students. First, the group hired Steve Prigohzy as the school’s planner, promoter, and educational leader. Prigohzy looked for teachers who were lifelong learners themselves. “I would ask teachers to talk to me about a book they were reading that I shouldn’t miss. I wanted people who were acting out their curiosity about the world,” he said. Prigohzy also sought teachers whose appreciation for discourse would sustain the school as a community of learners. Limited public confidence, especially in the city’s middle schools, influenced the planning.
They must have liked him, because he was hired as its principal, according Jessica Penot and Amy Petulla in Haunted Chattanooga, Continue reading

CUEE demolishes its own case

CUEE still doesn’t have a plan for improving education. When asked for any concrete examples of education improving because of school consolidation, not one person could come up with one: not CUEE, not the Chamber, not their invited experts. Their invited experts established that consolidation in Troup County not only didn’t save money, it required a bond issue. And it took four or five years of the hardest work they’d ever done, even though they couldn’t give any evidence that it improved education. It was like that on almost every point: the Chamber and CUEE either couldn’t answer the simplest questions, or even more frequently demolished their own case.

The last question asked to give an example of any company that had declined to come in because of multiple school systems. Not only could nobody give an example, but someone, I believe it was Walter Hobgood, stood up at the podium and said when he was working for a large company he had never encountered a case where they looked at the number of school systems.

Early on Chamber Chair Tom Gooding went on at great length about Continue reading

Bright flight visualized

Lanier County gained more than 30% in children under 18. Lanier looks like the exurbs around Atlanta, except it’s even more striking. Also visible on the map is Hamilton, County, Tennessee, home of Chattanooga, CUEE’s favorite example of school unification: Hamilton County showed a loss of children while just across the state line Catoosa County, Georgia gained 15-30%. If school unification doesn’t cause bright flight, it doesn’t seem to stop it.

Haya El Nasser and Paul Overberg wrote in USA Today 3 June 2011, Census reveals plummeting U.S. birthrates

Because families with children tend to live near each other,

the result is an increasingly patchy landscape of communities teeming with kids, and others with very few.

Even in counties where the percentage of children grew, only 49 gained more than 1 percentage point — many of them suburbs on the outer edge of metropolitan areas such as Forsyth, Whitfield and Newton outside Atlanta and Cabarrus and Union outside Charlotte.

So that makes Lanier County one of only 49 Continue reading