Ritchie Patton

Candidate for CMCSS School Board District 2


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Ritchie Patton, a US Army veteran and Clarksville native, is a graduate of Northeast High School and has three children attending Clarksville-Montgomery County schools. While he has worked with multiple organizations in the Middle Tennessee area, Ritchie partners with his wife of 18 years, Amy, to grow within the community through their small business and farm, the Sunday Morning Flower Farm, and their annual vendor fair, the Natural Living Fair. Since leaving the military, he has worked in retail, restaurant management, and healthcare facilities while raising his family in Clarksville. He has also earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Sports Medicine and a Healthcare-focused Master’s of Business Administration from Belmont University in Nashville. Ritchie currently works to develop new therapies for serious, rare, and life threatening conditions like PTSD and cancer.


What is your motivation to be on the school board? What makes you a qualified person for this position?

As a Clarksville native and father of students attending CMCSS schools, I envision a community where the school system, educators, and students exist in harmony. I am running in hopes of bringing stability to our currently divided system. I hope to avoid constantly putting bandaids on the ‘topic of the day’ and instead focus on the current and future needs of our students and educators. I have a unique education, family needs, and work background that gives me a fresh approach to the role of the school board. I grew up with parents in the military and spent 8 years serving in the Army, so I understand the unique challenges of our military families. As a parent of a child with an IEP, I am acutely aware of the extra support that can be required to students and their families. A healthcare-focused Master’s degree and 16 years of healthcare experience represent my dedication to patients. That same passion and experience are what I will bring to CMCSS, its staff, and its students. I want to focus on the stability of the local schools through ensuring appropriate student capacity, financial security, and retention of quality educators.

What do you see as the biggest challenge for CMCSS?

The explosive growth of the local community is the biggest challenge facing CMCSS schools. This growth has put strains on the current schools and created a need to re-plan for additional schools. Teachers and school administrators are having to handle more students with the same space and resources which will lead to burnout and turnover within our well-qualified staff. We are at the edge of a potential downward spiral if the school system can not keep up with the growing demand while faced with the constant threat of losing funds to schemes that would instead fund private education.

What is your opinion on vouchers?

School vouchers are marketed as filling an opportunity gap in education, but they do not work as intended. In practice, students that qualify and utilize vouchers are overwhelmingly from families that already have the ability to attend private schools; voucher systems tend to work as a government subsidy for wealthy families as opposed to increasing access for the underprivileged. These systems do more harm to students and public school systems by diverting public education funds to private schools. The lack of educational standards and the lack of a transportation requirement are just two of the many reasons why voucher systems create imbalance and should be avoided in Clarksville additional information can be found at epi.org

What is your opinion on charter schools?

I do not support charter schools. Charter schools are disruptive to the community and outcomes have shown that there is no advantage for students in attending a charter school when pursuing a trade or degree-based career. Research has shown that, when compared with public school graduates, there is no meaningful increase in employment rates or lifetime earnings by charter school graduates. Charter schools also serve to create an imbalance within the community and divert public education funds from our public schools. Additional information can be found at uchicago.edu

What is your opinion on magnet schools?

Magnet schools are a different story since the definition of a magnet school varies from school to school and district to district. Magnet schools have been shown to increase access when they are targeted at an appropriate local industry or underserved study population. In CMCSS, the highschool academies are great examples of magnet schools that fulfill a valuable role in our community with minimal disruption to our facilities, staff, or students. They create specialized tracts for interested students that are invaluable to their future education and professional career. While there is still work to be done to ensure these academies are diverse and inclusive, this type of specialized option is something I would want to see more of, since they set students up for success in their specific areas of interest. Additional information can be found at cmcss.net

How can or does a district attract and retain quality teachers?

CMCSS is pushing to meet new minimum education salaries ahead of requirements and ahead of required timelines. While salary should continue to outpace inflation,a salary is only one piece of job satisfaction. Beyond growing salaries, the two areas of focus should be creating new pipelines for our students to rejoin the district as educators, admins, or support personnel and ensuring the reputation of our school district is one of an open, inclusive work environment where the educators are the decision makers. Ensuring a positive culture and work environment based on balance & growth both personally and professionally starts with strong leaders which CMCSS should continue to invest in. Additional information can be found at nber.org and cibgp.com

What is your vision for education in this community?

I want to see the nonstandard forms of public education be expanded, both to provide additional access to students who otherwise would go without and to ease the burden of Clarksville’s growth on our classrooms. Academies, career pathways, virtual school, and the adult high school are all examples of nonstandard forms of school that increase access and would benefit the school system if expanded. For traditional classrooms and for educators across the entire system, I want to ensure educators are empowered to be the decision makers on how their curriculum is built and are able to cater to the needs of the individual student. I want to see increased parental engagement & involvement in the schools and in their own children’s education. Our schools and our families should be partners in developing our students into our future neighbors

How well do you believe funding is distributed within CMCSS?

There seems to be a vast inequality within the school system with more funds being focused on schools in the Rossview and Sango areas while other schools constantly deal with broken equipment, damaged buildings & infrastructure, and underserved staffing. There are lots of platitudes about rising tides or weakest links, but the fact is that we should be focusing our efforts on equitability to ensure the schools that need the most attention receive it timely. It's been this way for decades; I remember having to carve out a place to wrestle in NEHS while CHS and Rossview had facilities dedicated to their teams. We are building award-winning new schools while other schools are conducting classes in portables. We still have schools with tornado damage while neighboring businesses have been operating for months. Some schools get new equipment and other schools are forced to manage with outdated hand-me-downs from those same schools getting the new equipment.

What’s the best way to address overcrowding in schools?

Looking back, we should have been planning for this growth, both as a community and as a school district. It seems we keep trying to run our public education system more like an industry and less like a school. We need to focus on future growth & security; build schools big enough to be expanded. Stop giving away district land meant for expansion to build things like tennis courts. We need to ramp up alternative educational approaches, virtual school, the academies, and adult highschool programs, just to name a few.

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