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The whole thing paid off in the May 6 county primaries. Thirteen county commission candidates endorsed by Strong Schools won. Three longtime incumbents the group went after lost.
Sumner County, where parents watched in horror two years ago as the county school board voted to delay the start of school because of a funding dispute with the Sumner County Commission. For nine whole days, mothers and fathers had to make alternate plans for their children while their elected officials dithered.
The truth is, you have to make folks REALLY mad.
Turnout was still fairly dismal, truth be told. Only 10.74 percent of the county's registered voters cast a ballot. But that was more than double the percentage that showed up in 2010, before the county commission made Sibyl Reagan and her little band of parents mad.
So no, what happened in Sumner doesn't Vans Silver Glitter
Sumner parents transform anger into change
indicate the return of democracy as we once knew it. It may not even mean the schools up there will be adequately funded going forward.
that doesn't just lean Republican, but just about falls over in that direction, what happened up there was all the more remarkable.
They even Vans Black And White Shoes formed a political action committee, spending $4,300 in the month of April to push a pro education agenda.
So it's noteworthy when reasonable people rise up out of frustration and demand a change of direction. It just doesn't happen that often around here.
Sibyl Reagan, one of the organizers of the grass roots group Strong Schools, celebrates with Stacey Becker, left, on election night.(Photo: Tena Lee / Gannett Tennessee)
Sibyl Reagan was one of those parents. The mother of three vented on Facebook at first, creating a dedicated page and rallying other parents to work the phones. Then she and her fellow moms and dads formed a group called Strong Schools, a nonprofit dedicated to making sure the school system receives the funding it needs to be competitive.
They don't like it when elected leaders veer too far off the beaten path.
With numbers that low, it would be going too far to say democracy is saved. It's still a given that American voters aren't paying enough attention to what their elected officials do. Sorting through the haze of shrill shout media can be challenging, and most folks these days tend to throw up their hands.
With another election season underway, and cynicism about politics surging, we sometimes forget that Tennessee voters, by and large, tend to be reasonable people.
In a story published last week in The Tennessean, reporter Tena Lee spelled out how Strong Schools began to make the case for, well, strong schools. In a county Vans Yellow
The parents started recruiting candidates last fall. They went after county commissioners who had balked at giving the school system the money it needed to function. They held forums and made candidates answer their questions.
They like their politicians moderate, their taxes reasonable and their government stepping into people's business only in the name of fairness. Or to protect and educate children. Or to keep the air and water clean, the citizens healthy and the roads navigable.
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