Controversial Ideology, Religion, Poor Student Discipline Paving Way For Education Savings Accounts And Public School Exodus

Second in a series of reports

Image Credit: Skyler Ewing / Pexels

By David Seal [Special to The Tennessee Conservative] –

Religious beliefs and gender-based ideology are contributing to the exodus.

When it comes to religion, parents are generally divided between two groups, the group that wants Christian values and organized prayer back in classrooms, and a group that will not accept any school system delivering religious instruction to their children.

Public schools can’t win the favor of both groups.


This issue dovetails with the well-documented transgender ideology and mental health services that are now part of many public schools and their quest to provide Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and “whole-child services.” Transgender ideology runs contrary to certain religious beliefs and SEL is viewed by many as socialism/Marxism.

This situation is likely to get worse in the upcoming legislative session with the push for “mental health” liaisons in every public school.

The Jefferson County School System was one of the first in Tennessee to adopt the ultra-liberal whole-child service model, SEL, and mental health intervention strategy.


Dr. Shane Johnston, then director of Jefferson County Schools, stated on February 10, 2022, in a school board meeting, “We are light years ahead of lots of districts” …. “We are no longer just about the three Rs, we are largely social services as well.” With his statement, Johnston made it clear that the Jefferson County School System was departing from the priority of academics and heading into the realm of state-controlled parenting. Jefferson is typical of rural counties in Tennessee.

The result was predictable with “mental health” services replacing student discipline.

Administrators, and the school districts they work for, are becoming more impotent in dealing with the disruptive and criminal behavior of students, mainly because there are too few seats in costly alternative education programs.

Another contributing component is the enormous pressure placed on school systems by state and federal regulators to increase graduation rates, or to maintain inflated ones. It is difficult to maintain a high graduation rate if academic standards are high and student discipline is effective. High, or increasing, graduation rates make good public relations propaganda but falls short of explaining the 2023 statewide assessment scores for Tennessee students: English Language Arts 29%, Math 24%, Science 34%, and Social studies 34%.


Parents are seeking educational alternatives for their children that provide relative safety, a more structured environment, and higher academic standards.

“The government and county’s tight controls diminish teacher’s creativity to the point that we feel like robots delivering an extremely dry curriculum. And, in our county in particular, [Jefferson County] they are throwing money at a behavioral issue and putting the results in a third party’s hands. It’s not working! In the school building is not the proper place for psychological counseling and there desperately needs to be a behavioral classroom and/or consequences for criminal behavior in the classrooms. Students who are there to learn and teachers who are there to teach have no rights anymore.”  Said Janet Norton, former Jefferson County teacher.

For additional information and resources on educational freedom, a link to the Beacon Center of Tennessee is provided here.

The first report in this series is linked here

Author’s note: This report, the prior report, and the series of reports to follow, are based on 32 years of public-school teaching experience, conversations with parents, students, and exit interviews with teachers that are leaving public education.

About the Author: David Seal is a retired Jefferson County educator, recognized artist, local businessman, 917 Society Volunteer, and current Chairman of the Jefferson County Republican Party. He has also served Jefferson County as a County Commissioner and is a citizen lobbyist for the people on issues such as eminent domain, property rights, education, and broadband accessibility on the state level.

3 thoughts on “Controversial Ideology, Religion, Poor Student Discipline Paving Way For Education Savings Accounts And Public School Exodus

  • January 22, 2024 at 7:04 pm

    Jefferson County, majorly Republican, has sadly, let lucifer’s dimmercraps get in charge of pubic ejikashun.
    “Educators” are producing dimmercraps in red areas.

  • January 23, 2024 at 1:38 pm

    Thank you for your insight! There are many plagues in public education that are rooted in cultural Marxism and critical pedagogy. Parents are waking up. Keep shinning a light on it!

  • January 30, 2024 at 12:09 am

    Thanks good article.


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