“I CAN NOT and WILL NOT continue to work in an environment that covers up gross negligence among multiple Principals and Senior and Junior District Level supervisors who participate in sexual relationships with teachers/employees/support staff whom they supervise, which directly violates Tennessee law and requires revocation of their license and termination from supervisory positions. This is a common and accepted practice.”
With its headquarters located in The Home of the Blues, the Shelby County Schools system has been singing the blues lately, and for good reason.
It was back in June of 2017, when the trouble really kick-started. Trezevant High School principal, Ronnie Mackin, released a head-turning, six-page resignation letter in which he outlined a series of complaints against Shelby County Schools, including, among other things:
- grade-changing (which a three-lawyer panel investigation proved to be systemic);
- sexual improprieties between faculty, staff, and district supervisors (an issue reported in another area high school as well);
- breaches in security at the school (one incident was later uncovered on surveillance footage);
- racist conduct by school system administrators, supervisors, and other district officials;
- financial mishandlings and possible theft of school funds (SCS later opened a separate investigation into this matter);
- and pay-to-play for certain athletes.
Mackin closed his resignation letter with a series of powerful declarations, several of which I have included throughout this article in italicized form.
Back in August of 2016, Principal Mackin – brand new to Trezevant High School – approached Shelby County Schools (SCS) district leadership after uncovering wide-spread grade-changes. Students’ report cards did not align with their official transcripts.
Some students’ grades were changed from failing to passing, while others received credit for courses not taken. This, according to Mackin, put 121 out of 145 seniors at risk of not graduating.
“I CAN NOT and WILL NOT continue to work in an environment where it is common knowledge that certain schools have cheated to attain “other than normal” achievement gains.”
Trezevant High School’s 2015-2016 graduation rate was 49%, which improved 16% in the 2014-15 school year which remains well-under district, state, and national averages.
As Mackin later elucidated, “Changing grades from failing to passing, artificially raising graduation rates, and falsifying college transcripts have become part of a big business,” noting the compensation structure within the school system which are “based on a mythical system of accountability,” and which ultimately encourage unethical behavior.
An internal district investigation by Shelby County Schools was begun.
“I CAN NOT and WILL NOT continue to work in an environment that promotes dishonesty, fraud, and misrepresentations of academic progress in order to promote athletic success.”
Because a large number of the grade-changes effected football players, Trezevant’s football team was forced to forfeit all games until the investigation had been completed, which prompted protests from students.
The Trezevant High School football team won the state championship the prior school year.
Over the course of the remaining school year, Principal Mackin’s car was vandalized with racist language (“white boy b**** a**”), and a whisper campaign against him ensued within the community, which according to Mackin’s resignation letter, was instigated by several SCS district officials.
Such incidents included:
- the implication the Mackin, as a white man, was culturally illiterate and ineffective at his post;
- a voicemail on a parent’s phone by Mackin’s supervisor encouraging that parent to seek legal action against Mackin “under false pretenses”;
- and district officials instigating parents to perform a background check on Mackin (which ultimately found nothing).
“I CAN NOT and WILL NOT continue to work in an environment where district level supervisors are not only allowed to bully and harass school level Principals, Teachers, and Support Staff, they are encouraged.”
The district’s internal investigation had concluded in October of 2016:
“We have identified 131 students currently enrolled in the district whose transcripts were altered by a staff member of Trezevant . . . All these students were previously enrolled at Trezevant at some point during their time in high school. 92 of these students are still enrolled at Trezevant, 44 of whom are seniors. The remaining 39 (of the 131) are now enrolled in 22 different high schools. Of these 39 students, 15 are seniors. (Other schools will be contacted as needed.)”
The incident was settled and swept aside.
But not for Ronnie Mackin.
“I CAN NOT and WILL NOT continue to work in an environment that allows District Leadership to collude, interfere, and influence DUE PROCESS in order to protect employees tied by long standing acquaintance, sexual relationships, and fraternal/sorority affiliations from being disciplined fairly and according to policy.”
After Mackin’s fiery resignation letter was made public, a full 10 months after he had first uncovered and reported the grading discrepancies to the school district, SCS appointed a panel of lawyers to investigate the incident.
Now, the panel’s findings have been released, and the picture painted by the findings is bleak.
As the Commercial Appeal reported:
“At least 53 students graduated from Trezevant without earning their diplomas, according to findings from the report released Tuesday. That increased the graduation rate 14 percent over a four-year period from 2012-2016. During that time, 461 grades at that school were changed from failing to passing.
Kirby High had 582 failing grades changed to passing grades.
After Trezevant, Raleigh-Egypt High had 429 such changes.”
The report called for even further investigations, indicating Trezevant was merely the tip of the iceberg; a recommendation which the SCS board subsequently encouraged. Eight different schools are now undergoing audits.
The state Department of Education also urged the district to investigate further, ordering expansive audits for all Shelby County Schools for the next three years.
In addition, the State has requested the names of all who were involved in altering students’ grades.
“The Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury’s office is investigating Trezevant at the request of Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich. Those investigators have the freedom to expand their investigation as necessary,” the Commercial Appeal reported.
Shelby County Schools accreditation is even on the line. As Fox 13 Memphis reported, it’s the damning findings found in the panel’s report “that now has AdvancED, the agency that issues and oversees important school accreditations, wondering what’s going on inside SCS?”
The board has also moved to fire Trezevant’s head football coach, who had since been moved to a different area high school.
In a January op-ed in the Commercial Appeal, Mackin put the practice of grade-changing into full perspective:
“Students have become commodities (priced at around $11,500 per student) to some educators who are willing to promote them and get them out of school in hopes for big returns in the future.
This is child exploitation and abuse.”
“I CAN NOT and WILL NOT continue to work in an environment where students are the last priority…”
Had it not been for the actions of one brave (and royally ticked off) principal, a man who chose to sacrifice his own 19-year long career for the betterment of our community’s youths and who has continued to speak out, the improprieties within the school system would have never been uncovered, nor addressed.
We may never find out the degree of rot within the adult culture of Shelby County Schools, or just how many bad actors we have employed.
It has only been a few years since Memphis schools were rocked by a teacher licensing-exam “cheating ring” that spanned three states. The mastermind was a 23-year employee, having served as a teacher, an assistant principal and a guidance counselor for the school system. Multiples teacher were indicted.
Dorsey Hopson, who serves as the superintendent of Shelby County Schools, said at the time, “It would be unfair to let what may be 50, 60 or 100 teachers who did some wrong stain the good work of the large number of teachers and administrators who get up every day and go by the book.”
Sadly, there is one thing of which we can be certain: where there is one bad actor, there are many.
Fallen apples don’t rot far from the tree.
Hidden History: Colonial Rebellion Against Corporate Oppression
Was “The Boston Tea Party” truthfully all about taxation?
It started with a famine-
Eight years after the Battle of Plassey in 1757, when British Major-General Robert Clive defeated the Nawab of Bengal (India), Clive granted British governmental powers of civil administration to the British East India Company in Bengal (BBC History Magazine, 2010).
As the functioning government over Bengal, the East India Company imposed taxes on goods, land taxes, and trade tariffs. A monopoly over tea and grains was achieved (Cambridge Forecast, 2006).
Laws were also passed prohibiting the Bengalese from “hoarding” goods, such as rice. “This prevented traders and dealers from laying in reserves that in other times would have tided the population over lean periods,” (Cambridge Forecast, 2006).
When a semi-regular dry spell, causing a decline in crop production, came upon the region in 1769, the peasantry’s surplus of staple crops proved inadequate for sustaining the population (Strasser, 2010).
Famine struck in 1770, “killing at least 1.9 million people – this was equivalent to half the population of the 13 American colonies at the time” (BBC History Magazine, 2010).
A plethora of bad press soon haunted the British East India Company.
The horrified public of Great Britain rightfully cast blame upon the East India Company for the man-made disaster.
Horace Walpole, the 4th Earl of Orford, wrote:
“The oppressions of India…. under the rapine and cruelties of the servants of the company, had now reached England, and created general clamour here,” (BBC History Magazine, 2010).
The American Colonies were slated to be next-
In 1773, the Crown devised a plan to aid the now economically flailing British East India Company in ridding itself of 17.5 million pounds of excess tea (BBC History Magazine, 2010).
The Tea Act was passed by Parliament in May of 1773.
The act imposed no new taxes.
Rather than imposing a new tax on tea, the Tea Act merely reinforced the taxes already in existence, put in place years before with the passage of the 1767 Townsend Revenue Act. Instead of imposing a new tax, the Tea Act of 1773 granted a full monopoly on the import and subsequent sale of tea in all American colonies.
This monopoly was granted to the British East India Company.
Americans feared that they too would suffer the fate of the Bengalese under the ruthless, corporate despotism of the East India Company.
“As Americans were well aware, the East India Company had turned itself into the actual government of east India, and there, the Company‘s irresponsible, ruthless, and inhumane greed had been directly responsible for millions of deaths in the Bengal famine of 1770” (Charleston Law Review, 2012).
In an impassioned objection against the East India Company, John Dickenson, a Pennsylvania lawyer, wrote:
“Their Conduct in Asia, for some Years past, has given ample Proof, how little they regard the Laws of Nations, the Rights, Liberties, or Lives of Men… cast their Eyes on America, as a new Theatre, whereon to exercise their Talents of Rapine, Oppression and Cruelty. The Monopoly of Tea, is, I dare say, but a small Part of the Plan they have formed to strip us of our Property. But thank GOD, we are not Sea Poys, or Marattas, but British Subjects, who are born to Liberty, who know its Worth, and who prize it high,” (BBC History Magazine, 2010).
For Americans, the issues at hand were quite simple:
“Would they allow England to press down upon America the corrupt class of royal toadies who would rule America by force, as they did east India? Would they allow England to siphon off the productive wealth of Americans and gladly watch Americans die in order to enhance their own corrupt profits?” (Dave Kopel, Charleston Law Review, 2012).
Their answer? No!
And so, on the evening of December 16, 1773, approximately 100 Bostonians –“supported by a crowd of thousands who safeguarded them”- boarded three ships filled with East India Company cargo and dumped 46 tons of tea into the waters of the harbor (Charleston Law Review, 2012).
- “Bengal Famine of 1770,” Richard Melson, Cambridge Forecast, October 2006, Retrieved at http://www.cambridgeforecast.org/MIDDLEEAST/BENGAL.html
- “British East India Company and the Great Bengal Famine”, Strasser, 2010, retrieved at https://strassers.wordpress.com/2010/02/01/british-east-india-company-and-the-great-bengal-famine/
- “Defiance of The Patriots: The Boston Tea Party & The Making of America”, Benjamin L. Carp, (2010).
- “How the British Gun Control Program Precipitated the American Revolution”, 6 Charleston L. Rev. 283, 2012, Retrieved at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1967702
- “The global origins of the Boston Tea Party”, BBC History Magazine, 2010 (Christmas Issue), Retrieved at https://www.historyextra.com/period/the-global-origins-of-the-boston-tea-party/
Hidden History: The Disarmament of Boston
The first shots were fired in the American War for Independence on April 19, 1775, when 700 British Redcoats, led by Major John Pitcairn, attempted to seize American arms at Lexington and Concord (American Bar Association, 2012).
The patriots, however, had already moved their supply of arms to safety.
After an initial, successful battle against the patriots at the bridge at Lexington and Concord, the Redcoats were ambushed and eventually outnumbered 2:1 by American re-enforcements arriving from surrounding towns (Charleston Law Review, 2012, p. 310).
While some American fighters had arrived organized – illegally-formed local militias – a large number arrived and fought on their own, even taking up sniper positions whenever possible. Patriots who joined the fight even included a number of women and the elderly. Before long, the armed Americans harried Pitcairn’s Redcoats back into Boston (Charleston Law Review, 2012, p. 310).
“One British officer reported: ‘These fellows were generally good marksmen, and many of them used long guns made for Duck-Shooting.’ On a per-shot basis, the Americans inflicted higher casualties than had the British regulars” (American Bar Association, 2012).
Boston, where the Royal Governor, General Thomas Gage’s Red Coats were stationed, was now surrounded by armed American patriots.
Since their attempt to seize American’s arms at Lexington and Concord had gone badly for the British, and now finding themselves surrounded by armed patriots, Royal Governor Gage devised an alternate plan for disarmament.
On April 23, 1775, General Gage made an offer to Bostonians trapped within the city: turn in your arms and you can leave Boston.
“The Boston Selectmen voted to accept the offer, and within days, 2,674 guns were deposited, one gun for every two adult male Bostonians,” (American Bar Association, 2012). Arms collected included: “1778 fire-arms (muskets or rifles)… 634 pistols… 973 bayonets (bayonets attached to the long guns)… and 38 blunderbusses (short-barreled shotguns),” (Frothingham, 1849).
However, after “having collected the arms, Gage then refused to allow the Bostonians to leave. He claimed that many more arms had been secreted away than surrendered,” (American Bar Association, 2012). While inhabitants of Boston were supposed to receive certificates permitting departure from Boston, this rarely occurred in practice. Indeed, before long, “passes to leave issued by Gage quickly dried up,” (Halbrook, 2008).
Further complicating the matter was the fact that those Bostonians who were permitted to leave, were prohibited from taking any belongings with them (Halbrook, 2008).
The situation for Bostonians worsened over time, as food shortages began to take effect.
As one Bostonians wrote, in a letter to an acquaintance in Philadelphia (New England Historical Society, 2014):
You request my writing freely, which I must be cautious of, for reasons which will naturally occur to you. As to the inhabitants removing, they are suffered to go out under certain restrictions. This liberty was obtained after many town meetings, and several conferences between their Committee and General Gage. The terms mutually agreed to were, “that the inhabitants should deliver up all their arms to the Selectmen.” This was generally done, though it took up some days. On this occasion the inhabitants were to have had liberty to remove out of Town, with their effects, and during this, to have free egress and regress. But mark the event: the arms being delivered, orders were issued by the General, that those who inclined to remove must give in their names to the Selectmen, to be by them returned to the Military Town Major, who was then to write a pass for the person or family applying, to go through the lines, or over the ferry; but all merchandise was forbid; after a while, all provisions were forbid; and now all merchandise, provisions, and medicine. Guards are appointed to examine all trunks, boxes, beds, and every thing else to be carried out; these have proceeded such extremities, as to take from the poor people a single loaf of bread, and half pound of chocolate; so that no one is allowed to carry out a mouthful of provisions; but all is submitted to quietly. The anxiety indeed is so great to get out of Town, that even were we obliged to go naked, it would not hinder us. But there are so many obstructions thrown in the way, that I do not think, those who are most anxious will be all out in less than two or three months — vastly different from what was expected, for the General at first proposed, unasked, to procure the Admiral’ s boats to assist the inhabitants in the transportation of their effects, which is not done, and there are but two ferry-boats allowed to cross. They have their designs in this, which you may easily guess at. We suffer much for want of fresh meat.
“After several months, food shortages in Boston convinced Gage to allow easier emigration from the city,” (American Bar Association, 2012).
In the end, it was the “seizure of these arms from the peaceable citizens of Boston who were not even involved in hostilities,” which ultimately “sent a message to all of the colonies that fundamental rights were in grave danger” (Halbrook, 20008).
- “How the British Gun Control Program Precipitated the American Revolution”, 6 Charleston Law Review, 283 (2012), Retrieved at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1967702
- “History of The Siege Of Boston And Of The Battles Of Lexington, Concord, And Bunker Hill”, Richard Frothingham, 94 (Boston, Charles C. Little & James Brown 1849)
- “May 21, 1775: General Gage has broken his engagement with the People of Boston, after they had delivered up their Arms.”, The New England Historical Society, 2014. Retrieved at http://www.newenglandhistoricalsociety.com/may-21-1775-general-gage-broken-engagement-people-boston-delivered-arms/
- “The American Revolution against British Gun Control”, Administrative and Regulatory Law News (American Bar Association). Vol. 37, no. 4, Summer 2012. Retrieved at http://www.davekopel.org/2A/LawRev/american-revolution-against-british-gun-control.html
- “The Founder’s Second Amendment: Origins of the Right to Bear Arms”, Stephen P. Halbrook, 2008.
Betsy DeVos praises Trump and his anti-Second Amendment measures in the Omnibus
In a Washington Examiner opinion piece written by pro-Common Core Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, she let America know that the disastrous Omnibus Trump signed into law will make schools safer, thanks to the anti-Second Amendment provisions included in the bankruptcy-inducing law.
According to DeVos, Congress included the Fix NICS Act and the STOP School Violence Act in the Omnibus at Trump’s request as a display of his commitment to bring an end to what he claims is over 40 years of failure to confront school violence in America.
You know, hearing how willingly Trump disregards the Constitution reminds me of something George Bush once said during the economic meltdown near the end of his presidency when he told America that he had “abandoned free-market principles to save the free market.” Trump is apparently willing to abandon Constitutional principles to save the Constitution, or at least his version of it.
However, when Bush said, “save the free market,” he really meant save Republicans in Washington. Trump’s motivation is exactly the same.
In her editorial, DeVos completely ignores Constitutional concerns as she sings the praises of Donald Trump and his so-called safety measures, but she’s also making claims that are simply untrue.
For example, she brags about the STOP School Violence Act and how 700 million dollars in grants will be available for the Department of Education to pay for so-called mental health services. Yet, in an interview with Conservative Review, Rep. Thomas Massey (R-KY) points out how STOP SVA essentially nationalizes the defense of public schools and how a lot of the grant money will go to liberal gun-control groups and other local causes. The STOP SVA also specifically states that no money can be spent for gun safety training
Near the end of her diatribe, DeVos also reminds us that Trump is urging every state to pass laws creating Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO). As I have written before, ERPO gives law enforcement the authority to seize guns from individuals without due process, by force if necessary, in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Trump has openly stated that he favors seizing guns first without due process.
The Omnibus spending law is a disgrace because it fails to deliver on GOP promises, but it’s also a disgrace because it fails to protect our Constitutional rights.
Originally posted on The Strident Conservative.
His daily radio commentary is nationally syndicated with Salem Radio Network and can be heard on stations across America.