Monday, April 09, 2007

I thought he was running for mayor

Some months back the Tennessean had a full page spread with all the mayoral candidate photos and under each was a quote about public education. It seemed, at the time, these guys were running for school superintendent--not mayor.

That focus on education continues in the Tennessean's fuller interviews with the candidates. Today's edition highlights Bob Clement. It's headlined "Fight Crime with Education". In addition to increasing vocational training in the schools:

Clement's education plan also would make in-school suspension programs stronger, make truancy a priority and expand pre-kindergarten programs, among other goals.

His public safety plan addresses truancy in more detail. It would set up "attendance review boards" in every elementary and middle school to try to correct chronic absenteeism. Police would conduct more truancy sweeps.

I'm all for him offering to partner with the BOE and Dr. Garcia as they carry out their plan for MNPS. But I'm not voting for mayor based on what he thinks he can do for education--frankly, that's not his job. We have a school board. It's their job to oversee MNPS and be accountable to the voters, taxpayers and parents.

These are the sorts of things a mayor ought to be running on:

Clement said he also wants to fill at least 70 funded but vacant positions in the Metro Police Department and fix what he sees as morale problems, possibly by giving police officers and firefighters incentives to live in Davidson County. He said he would set up a "rapid response program" to deal with abandoned cars and other "public nuisances."

Those 'public nuisance' issues are huge. I'd like to see one of these candidates advocate for codes and health inspectors to 'own' a section of town and be able to work flexible hours so that they get to know the area, the troublemakers, the neighbors themselves and can respond when the situation occurs. Too often the situation only occurs on the weekends, or only in the evening, when inspectors aren't on the clock. It might not be a bad idea for an inspector to ride with a patrolman on occasion.

So, let's hear more about what these candidates are going to do about the city's condition and future and leave the education plans to the BOE.

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