Affordable Housing in Williamson County

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By Maddie VanHorn
(10/19/17)-The population of Williamson County has grown dramatically in the last decade. While the county has accommodated for the growing population by building new schools and expanding roads, it has neglected to provide for the lower classes. Many of the low income families that reach out for help from organizations, like the Franklin Housing Authority, do not receive it, as it currently has “ a waitlist of about 100 people for its properties” (Buie). Not only does the county have an insufficient number of affordable housing units, but many historically poor neighborhoods in Franklin have begun the process of gentrification, the renovation of homes to raise their values and make them more suitable for middle class families. Gentrification causes higher property values and subsequently higher property taxes. Therefore, many underprivileged families can no longer afford to live in Williamson County. To ensure these low-income residents do not lose their homes or their jobs, the county should provide more public housing opportunities.
According to Steve Murray, the Executive Director of Community Housing in Williamson County, it is not only minimum wage earning families that are struggling to find homes, but also “people earning up to 60 percent of the median household income, which in Williamson County is $104,367, the seventh highest median county household income in the country” (Buie). It is unacceptable that even some middle class families cannot afford to live in the county, let alone the lower class workers that we need to fill job positions. In order to preserve our low-income workforce, we must provide more opportunities for these workers to live in the county.
This is becoming increasingly difficult, as higher property taxes are a result of the gentrification of disadvantaged communities and the scarcity of undeveloped land. Residents in communities experiencing gentrification may experience higher taxes than their incomes may be unable to support. If unable to pay, they will likely find cheaper homes in surrounding counties. Nonprofit organizations such as the Community Housing Partnership, Habitat for Humanity, and the Hard Bargain Association, have struggled to buy old houses to remodel due to high competition with builders. The county must step in to help these organizations, as they can more easily compete with these builders buying land.
It is unfair that because of the growing population, families can no longer afford to live in the home that has so much sentimental value to them. Not only do these people have to leave the homes their families have owned for generations, but they must also leave their schools and churches. For people that have lived in Franklin their entire lives, moving may mean a loss of identity, and a hard transition into their new environment.We must provide a more diverse selection of housing options to accommodate for all classes to live here. The number of public housing units in Franklin must be increased to adequately serve the population.
In what ways have you been affected by population growth in Middle Tennessee?

Buie, Jordan. “Williamson Affordable Housing Crunch Hits Working Class Hard.” The Tennessean. The Tennessean, 29 June 2017. www.tennessean.com/story/news/local
/williamson/2017/01/10/non-profits-affordable-housing-almost-non-existent-working-
class/95966648. Accessed 24 September 2017.

Smaller Class Sizes

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By Noa Pope
(10/10/17)
School is the first step into the real world, the first extended time away from home, the first experience without the comfort of parents. School is the place where teens learn who they are and find their place in society; it is where they learn the majority of lessons needed to live their life away from home. Parents trust that their teen is getting the care, protection, and attention he or she needs to thrive and have the best possible experience in school. However, many teens, including myself, have found themselves feeling neglected and almost invisible to the people who are supposed to be helping them grow and thrive in their new environment. For the most part, this neglect does not come from poor teachers. In fact, I found that despite the invisibility I felt, my previous high school teachers worked very hard and were overall some of the best teachers I have ever had. This shows that the neglect comes from an overpopulation of schools and classrooms that leads to teachers being incapable of providing sufficient attention to each individual student. Counties with high schools with thousands of students in one school, such as Williamson County, need to decrease class sizes in schools to allow better student-teacher relationships that will lead to a better education and ultimately a better life after graduation.
Independence High School, a Williamson County school consisting of 1413 students, is one example of a Williamson County School (“School Facts & Figures”). Like myself, many of these students are quiet and shy. Without the appropriate attention, these introverted teens struggle to learn how to be confident, ask questions, or reach out for help. Being at a school with over 1000 students and up to 35 students per classroom made me feel overwhelmed and too nervous to even raise my hand in class. I felt as if my teachers did not know my personal learning needs and did not give me the attention I needed to find confidence in myself. This unintentional neglect can lead to dropping grades and poor self esteem that follows students into their adult lives. Often times “[w]hen a child has low self-esteem they tend to avoid situations where they think there’s risk of failure, embarrassment or making mistakes. These can involve school work, making friends, and trying new activities” (“Self-Esteem and Teenagers”). Unattended teens struggling with low self-esteem can end up feeling anxious and angry, have a negative view of their bodies, and may even turn to “alcohol and drugs to feel better about themselves” (“Self-Esteem and Teenagers”).
The shy students are not the only ones who feel the effects of overpopulated classrooms; students suffering from attention disorders, such as ADHD, or even students that simply have a hard time staying motivated and on task in class are also affected. With too big of a class teachers are unable to control all of the students at once, meaning those who struggle to stay focused have noone to bring their attention back to their schoolwork. It has been found that “[s]tudents behave better and pay more attention in smaller groups” because it is more difficult for students to get off topic and get distracted, when the instructor has less students to handle (Higgins).
Surprisingly, it can also be the gifted, intelligent students who do not get sufficient teacher attention. Teachers feel as if they do not need to dedicate as much time to the gifted because they will do great in school regardless. What teachers do not realize is “that those who [are not] challenged in school [are] less likely to live up to the potential indicated by their test scores,” and “under-stimulated gifted students quickly become bored and frustrated” (Crawford). Because gifted students have unique learning needs, it is common for students to have lower grades than what they could potentially have when teachers are unable to meet these needs.
Class sizes need to be decreased to allow teachers more time to give each individual student personal attention. Smaller classes will allow students the attention they need to excel in school, both with their academic studies and their ability to empathize with others and find success after high school.

Works Cited
Crawford, Amy. “The Poor Neglected Gifted Child – The Boston Globe.” BostonGlobe.com, 16
Mar. 2014,
www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2014/03/15/the-poor-neglected-gifted-child/rJpv8G4oeawWBBvXVtZyFM/story.html. Accessed 25 Sep. 2017.
Higgins, John. “Does Class Size Matter? Research Reveals Surprises.” The Seattle Times, The
Seattle Times Company, 28 Oct. 2014,
www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/education/does-class-size-matter-research-reveals-surprises/. Accessed 25 Sep. 2017.
“School Facts & Figures – High Schools.” Williamson County Schools,
www.wcs.edu/schools/school-facts-high-schools/. Accessed 25 Sep. 2017.
“Self-Esteem and Teenagers.” Reachout.com,
parents.au.reachout.com/common-concerns/everyday-issues/self-esteem-and-teenagers.
Accessed 25 Sep. 2017.

Do you think smaller class sizes are an effective way to improve education? Why or why not?

Chip.

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Chip monument in Downtown Franklin

By Noa Pope

(9/27/17) One-hundred eighteen years ago a statue named Chip was erected in the middle of Downtown Franklin’s square. Chip is a Confederate statue that was built using the money the United Daughters of the Confederacy raised to build a statue honoring the Confederate Soldiers who died in battle. For 118 years the statue has been relatively ignored and has caused no dramatic controversy. On August 12, 2017, however, the attitude towards the statue changed drastically. In Charlottesville, Virginia a ““Unite the Right” rally [happened as a protest] against the removal of a statue of Confederate icon General E. Lee.” This white supremacist group, led by Jason Kessler, killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injured 19 other anti-racist protestesters protesting against the white-supremacist group (“Charlottesville Attack”).
This tragic event has caused heated debate all over the country, including our hometown, Franklin, TN, about whether or not Confederate statues should be removed. These recent events have divided the citizens of Franklin about what to do with the Confederate statue that stands in Downtown Franklin. Should it be destroyed? Should it be moved to a museum? Or should Chip stay where he is?
Through a series of tweets made on August 17, 2017, President Donald Trump said, it is “[s]ad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments. You can’t change history, but you can learn from it.” While it is true that history cannot be changed and needs to be learned from, having statues erected in the middle of town is not the way to teach people; instead, it makes a statement that racism, hatred, bigotry, and everything the Confederacy stood for is what our town, our county, is made of today.
The claim that “it is part of our history and history will be forgotten if we rid towns of reminders of it” is a mask white-supremacists put on to hide their racism. History will not be forgotten if these statues are removed; in fact, removing the statues is the real way to show our country HAS learned and HAS grown from history. Having a statue that represent racism in the center of town surrounded by the court house where lynchings and corporal punishment happened many years ago shows that we, America, are still built on these immoral beliefs (“Williamson County Convention and Visitors Bureau”). If history preservation is the true reason for these statues, then why do we not see statues of heroic slaves, such as Nat Turner? Why do we not see Martin Luther King Jr.? Why do we not see the side of the oppressed, the side who ultimately won the war? The Confederate statues littering the U.S is a sign that although the Confederacy lost the war in 1865, they are winning today.

Question: What do you think about the removal of the statues? Do you think they are an appropriate representation of U.S history?