Thursday, July 28, 2005

A step in the right direction

About time, imo.

Tennessee school directors could lose their jobs if they fail to report teachers who are let go or resign amid serious allegations of wrongdoing.

The state Board of Education is expected to consider that penalty and other tough steps next month to increase efforts to get rid of troubled educators.

The state wants to track why teachers are released and keep them from moving unchecked from one school system to another.


The state doesn't track the number of educators who resign amid controversy, are denied a teaching license or voluntarily give up a license as part of a conviction or plea agreement.
From the Knox News.

I understand there are probably some fine legal issues to be considered. We don't want to unfairly blacklist anyone. But I'm all for making sure that these folks don't replicate their bad behavior in other districts. Money can be replaced. The safety, innocence and well-being of children will be gone forever. Let's make sure we don't enable these folks to slip back into the system.

The Odds Always Favor the House

It is gambling so we shouldn't be surprised when the House gets to keep most of the money. This morning it's Lottery CEO Rebecca Paul and not Tennessee students that stand to get a huge chunk of change. No nickel slots for her.

The new pay plan covers the fiscal year that started July 1. Paul will have a chance to earn a 65% bonus, meaning she could raise her pay from a $364,000 base salary to just over $600,000 if the lottery's net proceeds increase by 8%. Net proceeds are transferred to the state to pay for scholarships.


Meanwhile, the lottery's executive vice presidents can earn as much as 30% of their base pay if the lottery meets its scholarship fund-raising goals. Vice presidents can earn up to 15% bonuses, and most other eligible employees can earn 5% to 10% of their salaries. Members of the lottery's sales staff are paid commissions instead of bonuses.
From the Tennessean.

Maybe if we gave these sorts of incentive bonuses to excellent teachers we'd have even more students actually graduating with solid skills AND attending colleges via scholarships earned the old fashioned way.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Education Reporters

Here's an interesting article from Jay Matthews who managed to get over the initial sting of the criticism and recognize that he could do a better job as an education reporter.

Unfortunately, there is a new study by the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute in Herndon, Va., interrupting my treasured solitude and making harsh judgments about how education reporters like me are doing our jobs. (You can find the study by going to one of the institute's Web sites and looking for the link to Society's Watchdogs.) It says we are leaving readers ignorant of interesting innovations in schooling because we spend too much time and space on the minutia of school board, county council and education department action.

They counted the sources in all those stories and found 95 percent -- 1,364 citations -- were from "government/public school-affiliated sources" and only 5 percent, or 74 citations, were not tied to government or public schools. In 261 stories on school funding, the report said, individual taxpayers were quoted only six times and taxpayer advocacy groups were never quoted.
And something we saw in Nashville just recently:
"If the tax collectors choose to raise taxes, tax payers finally learn what the school budget, developed months earlier, means to them. By this time, tax payers also face a united lobby of both tax collectors and tax spenders ready to portray tax payers as the grinches who stole Christmas if they object."
The essay is two pages--so don't miss the second one.

OK, the study was done in VA, but I'm thinking that doesn't let TN ed reporters off the hook. My experience with education reporters has been excellent. I cannot think of one time when I was misquoted or the reporter wrote a story that I had any involvement in that contained serious errors. BUT I have read many education stories where someone should have called me or SOMEONE else to get the other side of the story or some additional perspective.

So I was wondering why it is that these reporters do tend to rely on the government sources? So are these reporters lazy, inexperienced, or resentful that they only got the education beat and so lack the passion that might drive them to do more indepth stories? Not the one's I've spoken with. Are these reporters constrained by editors, time, resources, corporate policy or their own prejudices? How can we "help" them overcome those obstacles so that we all get more complete information?

Visit Nashville Files

Consider clicking over to, reading The Reformation of Education in America and adding your thoughts to those already there.

It's a conversation that needs to be held. And I'd appreciate reading the thoughts of folks on this subject.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

More bits and pieces from the backlog.

It’s not fair! More pouting from school districts over money. This time instead of the small districts whining it’s the big districts.

Davidson County and Memphis City together account for roughly 50 percent of the ELL students in Tennessee.


More than 80 percent of students in Memphis City are at-risk, according to Lillard, as are more than 20 percent of students in Shelby County schools.

From the Nashville City Paper

And all this might actually be worth the time and effort IF money were really the answer. It’s not. It’s a tough job, I’ll grant that. But many poor, urban, immigrant flooded schools have proved that it can be done without all the money in the world. Life is not fair. Let's accept that and move on.

Can we agree that there are finite funds? So instead of putting those funds in a classroom we have this discussion about spending $30K communicating with (no not parents or taxpayers) other politicians.

Metro Schools is trying to take a lead in communicating with the public officials responsible for policy that impacts how the system functions and what requirements it must fulfill.


However, she [Metro Council education chair Lynn Williams] said, it is important for Nashville’s schools to have a presence on Capitol Hill to make sure the school system is protected, particularly regarding state funding.

From the Nashville City Paper.

I think they’re communicating with the wrong folks. Let’s take that $30K and reinstate the All Schools event, let’s get that customer service office up and running well, let’s institute a system for communicating with parents that reflects the 20th century better than a crumpled note in a backpack under the gym shorts. Once parents understand what is going on and have them on board they’ll do the work of making sure that legislators and councilmen understand what is needed.

Taking Care of Business:

Using that catchphrase as his theme for a kick-off session that continues today, Schools [Metro Nashville] Director Pedro Garcia urged his administrators to make sure teachers are teaching and students are learning.


"Taking care of business means being visible in the classrooms every single day. Taking care of business means you've got to evaluate your teachers. Get your strategic plan ready to go.

"Invite your parents in. Invite the city council into your school," he said. "Let them see what you do, what happens in your school every day. I believe if we take care of little details and be tough every day, we'll have a great year. I'm looking forward to it."


"If you want to stop discipline problems in school, then do not allow a kid to get away with anything," Garcia said. "Sometimes it's easier to just look the other way when somebody wears the wrong clothes. Sometimes teachers look the other way when somebody does something in the hallway they know is inappropriate. The reality is, if we follow the broken window policy, we nail every single person. You don't let anybody get away with anything. You deal with the smallest infractions, upfront and right away."

From The Tennessean

I’m not expert, and I’m only wrangling four children, but what I do know is that consistency is important. If you tell a child what you expect and then don’t follow up when they fail to meet that—what you’ve taught them is that it doesn’t really matter at all. When you make excuses for them, don’t expect the best from them, don’t help them to see their value by investing in THEM you’ve taught them that they don’t really matter. They’re not stupid. THIS lesson they pick up very quickly. I hope these principals manage to pick up what Dr. Garcia is putting down and follow through with gusto.

Thought that the numbering of students in Denver was an anomaly? Apparently not. From the St. Louis Today comes this additional information.

"All states in the country are in the process of putting in place a student identification system," said Leigh Ann Grant-Engle, data manager for Missouri's education department.

I don’t recall hearing of this sort of plan in Tennessee. If you do—please speak up.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Cleaning out the inbasket

A potpourri of stuff that I've been meaning to comment on but real life keeps calling me away. :-)

Number Please: The federal government would assign every student in America a number, then follow them from kindergarten to college to work. From Denver Post. (Thanks Ben.)

I thought they already had--it's called a social security number. But apparently, in a admirable effort to actually track our money the feds give students they're considering creating a huge database. Privacy folks should be up in arms. Parents, as advocates for their children should be
up in arms. But what do I know. The few times I've ever been to Starbucks and they've wanted my name I've responded "23".

Lottery numbers: Is there a reason that reporting lottery numbers has to be so confusing? There is no way you can read this Tennessean article and figure out what money went where. All I know for sure is that we're supposed to be pleased that 40% of the ticket revenues went to schools. I don't mean to appear greedy but just where did the other 60% go? Is there anyway for Joe Voter to understand whether or not the bureaucracy wasn't eating up too much of this? Wonder how this scholarship scheme would rate at Charity Navigator.

Graduation numbers: At a recent meeting of governors it was agreed by 45 govs that they adopt a standard formula for reporting graduation rates. About time.

Alluding to what many governors said needs to come next, a universal definition for dropout rates, Gov. Phil Bredesen of Tennessee, a Democrat, said state calculations were so incomplete that they often led to "vast disparities," even within a state. From NY Times.
Parents need info. Too bad, so sad. Metro Nashville has decided not to hold their All Schools event leaving a lot of parents in the dark at the very time they need the most illumination--enrollment time. From the Nashville City Paper.

If my own experience in trying to get a hold of Metro Nashville Public School spokesman Woody McMillan is any indication I think the new "Customer Service Center" is long overdue. Communication has been a sore point with this system for some time. I was transferred twice, dumped once and eventually given wrong information. Let's hope this effort works. But it wont' even be up and running until well after school starts, in 'late August'. Try 259-INFO then, In the meantime, you can contact Woody at: 615-259-8404. From Nashville's Channel 5 and the Tennessean.

Numbers enrolled in Catholic schools is up. There's a clue in here for public school proponents.
However, Broekman said that, based on conversations he's had with the families of new students and surveys he's read nationally, students choose a Catholic education for reasons of academics, discipline and safety, and not just faith and character development. From the Tennessean.

Not quite done...but life calls again.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Charles Love: What was on his laptop?

When the "Tennessee Waltz" indictments first came down I pointed out that Hamilton County School Board member Charles Love, a registered lobbyist, could hardly have avoided violating the TSBA (Tennessee School Board Association) code of ethics. Now, Adam Groves at Simply I points to yet another conflict in that, according to reports, Love was using his school board issued computer to do his lobbying business and political campaigns.

Charles Love used his Hamilton County school board-issued laptop computer and his district e-mail account in his private lobbying business, to help with political campaigns and to search for a new job, records show.
The Hamilton County Board of Education e-mail policy states that messages sent from school district e-mail accounts "shall pertain to legitimate board/district business" and shall not be used to "promote illegal or unethical activity." The policy also prohibits using e-mail for political campaigns."
The analysts also found evidence showing the use of a program called Disk Cleaner, a program that allows users to erase files and other evidence of work on a computer. Mr. Love said he believed the program might have come installed on his computer. From the Chattanooga Times-Free Press.

Did it come installed on his computer isn't the question. The question is did he use the program to hide activities which violate the Hamilton County School Board e-mail policy and the code of ethics for the TSBA?

According to the Times-Free Press article, Mr. Love doesn't plan on resigning from the school board and is looking for employment. Good luck with that. I can't imagine hiring anyone with all this hanging over their head. Once your trust has been tarnished, it takes years and a mountain of effort to earn it back.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Still on simmer: election of superintendents

The election of superintendent's is still simmering.

State Senator Rusty Crowe has received up to 10,000 signatures and countless emails, letters, and phone calls regarding superintendent problems in the Elizabethton, Johnson City, and Washington County school districts.


Crowe says he can't ignore his constituents concerns, so in February, he plans to introduce legislation that would allow school board members to choose three candidates and let voters elect who they want to run their school system. From

As I wrote back on June 29, legislation was introduced but not even given a hearing.

Maybe this time around the voice of the people will at least be given a chance to be heard.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Theft or fiscal irresponsibility?

Back on June 10 I blogged about the audit that Metro Nashville Schools failed in regard to keeping track of money:

Apparently, the system's culture of lax accountability has filtered down and this morning's Tennessean is reporting that an audit by the State has revealed that some 25% of the schools are keeping such poor financial records that tens of thousands of dollars are missing and unaccounted for. "Poking the Hornet's Nest."

MNPS apparently isn't the only system that needs to spend summer in Fiduciary Responsibilities 101.

The Anderson County district attorney general must determine whether to pursue criminal charges against a former school bookkeeper after two separate investigations by the state Comptroller's Office and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

However, Anderson County Director of Schools V.L. Stonecipher said this week he's not sure what will happen in the matter - even though more than $1,000 is missing from the coffers at Norwood Middle School. From The Oak Ridger

It's hard enough to persuade taxpayers that you need more money. It's nearly impossible to do so when you can't even keep track of what we've already provided. If a system cannot be relied upon to be 'faithful in small things' I don't know how it can justify asking us to trust in much larger things--like our children.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Dead tree prejudice

Yesterday I blogged about the new Tennessee history website saying it was a good start.

Today the Jackson Sun reveals their lack of understanding of the value of the web when they write:

Tennessee's history is too broad and too diverse to be contained in one Web site. Contained within our history are major figures like Davy Crockett - a well-known politician on the national stage who died fighting for Texas independence - and Andrew Jackson - a renowned Indian fighter who eventually became president of the United States. Everyone knows who these people are.

But what about lesser known figures like William Blount? He played a major role both in the founding of Tennessee and of the United States. Or what about major institutions like the Highlander School? That school helped train civil rights leaders in the mid-20th century, including Rosa Parks. These are things that deserve more coverage than can be contained in a single Web site.

It's the dead tree version that cannot possibly contain the depth of information about our state that would allow teachers to access the information they believe their students need to comply with the state curriculum mandates. It's the web version that isn't confined by publishing deadlines and costs, political correctness or lack of funds to purchase new texts. It's the website that can be updated continually and 24/7 to ensure that students and teachers have access to the most current and accurate information every day, not just every 5 years when the new version comes out. It's the web version that can be most conveniently and quickly added to and reviewed by folks who live in the area and know the subject best. This sort of online curriculum and resource for our students should be encouraged, not quashed, by short sighted editors who 'print' a publication for their livelihood, and based on my use of their website, have very little understanding of how to utilize the tool that is the world wide web.

Monday, July 11, 2005

New Tennessee History Resource for Teachers

Many educrats fuss about unfunded Federal's a State mandate that until recently teachers had to meet by their own devises.

When the Tennessee Department of Education ended mandatory semester-long Tennessee history courses for middle school students a few years ago, most history teachers got a lesson in supply and demand.

The state still requires bits of Tennessee history be taught to students at all grade levels, but many teachers are lacking the materials they need to fulfill that requirement.


In November 2004, [Bill] Carey joined forces with Web designer Tim Moses and state Rep. Rob Briley, D-Nashville, to lay the groundwork for the Tennessee History for Kids Web site. Carey began gathering information for the site, Moses created a basic design, and Briley promoted the site to state lawmakers.

From the Jackson Sun

I'm glad to see someone take this in hand and provide a logical solution. The site is no where near complete with another 24 of 95 counties unfinished. The counties that are covered are light on information but if folks will consider this a cooperative effort, this could really be a wonderful resource for all Tennesseans. I'd like to encourage this effort. And if I know anything about history and webmastering, it will probably never really be 'finished'.

Of course another resource readily available and tremendously indepth that many Tennessee homeschoolers have been using for years is the Notgrass Company's "Exploring Tennessee". I've known these folks for years and heard them speak. They know their stuff. Yes, it comes from a Christian perspective, but schools are used to excising that so that shouldn't be an insurmountable problem. ;-)

Fundamental schools

I don't think there is a state with more education choice than Florida. And from Florida comes another idea that I believe most taxpayers and many parents can get behind. They're called 'fundament schools'. It's a sort of no nonsense delivery system that requires parents, students and teachers to focus on the core mission--learning.

TAMPA - The elementary school with the top student test scores in the state, located in Tarpon Springs, uses a strict approach. Parents must be involved. Students must behave.

If parents and students don't play by the rules at Tarpon Springs Fundamental School, children can be transferred out.

The school led the state this year in test scores - outpacing more than 1,600 other schools in Florida. Its performance - 100 percent of its kids made the highest scores in writing - makes many schools drool with jealousy.

Now, Hillsborough County public school educators plan to duplicate some elements of the school's unique approach this fall at three elementary schools being converted to fundamental academies.

From the St. Petersburg Times.

The problem with our current system is we have compulsory attendance laws because compulsory learning laws are impossible to enforce. However, attendance alone doesn't begin to guarantee that the child or the parent will do their part and do the work of learning. We've allowed too many excuses for not getting the work done, too often.

It's one thing for the state to provide a free public education. It's another thing for a family to waste the gift by not doing their part. I think lots of parents would welcome the opportunity to place their children in schools that really are focused on the core task and will remove students who obviously are a distraction and worse to this very important mission. Children and family that are serious about the education of their children should not have to put up with those that are not taking their responsibility seriously and inconsiderately sabotaging the education of other children.

When Bay Vista converted from a traditional neighborhood school to a fundamental campus, about 60 percent of its students chose to go elsewhere, Kizner said. The first year Bay Vista was a fundamental school, he said it went from one of the worst schools in Pinellas to one of the 10 best.

That's a powerful testimony about what can be accomplished when you allow folks who don't want to be there to leave. They stop hindering the education of those that are working and the result is that those who appreciate the opportunity for a free education and are willing to work at it are unshackled fromthe dead weight of families and students that cannot or will not cooperate. It is not right, it is not fair, to hamper any child with the baggage of another. Let's consider allowing parents the option of fundamental schools.

(Thanks to Ben.)

Friday, July 08, 2005

Before or after 'health' class?

Right on the heels of the finale of "Dancing with the Stars" where clothing was nearly optional and some of these moves could have resulted in much more than first prize comes this press release from Metro Nashville Public Schools.

Ballroom Dancing Among Physical Education Choices
In Some Metro Nashville Public Schools

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (July 8, 2005) – Students in five Metro Nashville public high schools can foxtrot, rumba, cha-cha, and tango their way through physical education classes this upcoming school year thanks to a partnership with The American Dance League of Tennessee, Inc. (ADLT).

The Dance League’s professional instructors will start providing free ballroom dance lessons this fall, teaching classes during regular school hours. These will be integrated into the physical education curriculum as an option to other athletic courses. The program will also extend to after-hour instruction for students interested in advanced and competitive ballroom dance classes.

“We are always looking for ways to make physical education more interesting for students,” said Scott Brunette, MNPS athletic director and PE coordinator. “We want to instill the importance of a healthy lifestyle -- and ballroom dancing will definitely assist with that effort.”

ADLT focuses on grades 6-12, but will work specifically with high school students in Nashville. The program will be piloted at Maplewood High in August and extend to McGavock High, Nashville School of the Arts, Pearl-Cohn Magnet High and Whites Creek High by the end of the 2005-06 school year.

I'm all for encouraging lifelong physical activity but somehow I think the teens will be anticipating more Kelly & Alec than Fred & Ginger.

Time to clean schools or house?

It seems, from over here in Nashville, that the Memphis area has a lot of cleaning up to do. I know those without sin... That being understood they could probably start with the cleaning chemical contract that was awarded outside of proper channels. Thaddeus Matthews has details and this admonishment for the Memphis City Schools Superintendent.

Since no one wants to say it, I will, Carol Johnson you screwed up, you have allowed your administration to break the law. District policy REQUIRES board approval for purchases of more than $5000. State law also REQUIRES competitive bidding in such instances. So when our children don't follow the rules, what do you tell them? Don't do as I do, do what I say. Maybe its time for the city of Memphis to investigate what really going on in the system, and find out why some teachers are calling Memphis City Schools, The Minnesota Mafia.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Why can't Johnny walk to school?

There it is on page 16 of the 23 page Metro Nashville Public Schools Fiscal Year 2005-2006 Proposed Operating Budget dated May 3, 2005: $29,783,200 for transportation

That's just this side of: Thirty Million Dollars.

I couldn't believe it when I read it. According to the TN DOE Metro Nashville has 69,445 students. That's and average of $431 and change for every single one of them to just get to the door. That's about 20% of the budget and not one bit of academic learning has occurred yet. OK, I'll grant you there were probably plenty of lessons in socialization going on.

With that $30 million in mind I was interested in this press release from the Tennessee Preservation Trust that contained the phrase: Why can't Johnny walk to school.

As you may know, the National Trust placed Historic Neighborhood Schools on the list of the nation's 11 Most Endangered Places in 2000. In A Community Guide to Saving Older Schools and Why Johnny Can't Walk to School: Historic Neighborhood Schools in the Age of Sprawl, we addressed the myths about renovation of existing schools and that America's older and historic schools are being abandoned due to policies that encourage consolidation and new construction over renovation and continued use.


CEFPI's updated guidelines incorporate many community-friendly changes
advocated by the National Trust and others, including significant changes to acreage standards and siting recommendations.

This spring, the National Trust partnered with CEFPI, the National Center
for Preservation Technology and Training, and the US Environmental
Protection Agency to promote the new guidelines to governors, state
departments of education, state historic preservation officers, and
statewide and local historic preservation organizations. CEFPI's web site ( describes the new materials, which will help local citizens, elected officials, school boards, and land-use
planners make informed decisions about school renovation and construction.

I loved the turn of the century school I attended for my elementary education. It had character and personality. It was grand and castle-like--just perfect for a young child's imagination. And was actually just three blocks away from my home. There was a small mom and pop corner store where we'd go to buy candy and soda after school. And the neighborhood was small enough that "Mom & Pop" knew us and our families.

I think it has cost us a great deal more than we realize when children are warehoused in efficient and cost effective boxes with tiny windows. When we don't utilize every available building possible. When we only see the money and time involved in rehabbing our history. $30 million is a lot of money. I can't help but think that some of that could be saved if we decided that instead of buying gasoline we invest in neighborhood schools where children can actually walk to school. Call the walk PE and it's a win-win.

Patting themselves on the back.

The local Stand for Children group is patting themselves on the back for their work in pushing through an increase in the education budget for Metro Nashville schools. The following is from their July 1, 2005 newsletter just released.


In recent months, Stand for Children members wrote over 4,000 postcards and made hundreds of phone calls to Metro Council members, pressing them for a public school budget of no less than $540 million. Members distributed 3,000 yard signs, and gave presentations to PTOs, neighborhood associations, and churches. We helped organize a well-attended rally at city hall and turned out in impressive numbers to seven public hearings and Town Hall meetings.
They also credit their coalition partners:
Congratulations to Stand for Children members and leaders, and to all of the coalition partners advocating for increased funding for Metro Schools: Community Impact, Democracy for America, MNEA, Parents Advisory Council, SEIU, Steelworkers, Tying Nashville Together.
Stay tuned. I predict this was only one battle in a much larger effort that's really only begun. Both parents and taxpayers are beginning to exhibit their frustration at the current public school system and this debate, like a zit before prom, is going to come to an ugly head if school boards and administrators don't get serious about submitting to real accountability and remembering that they are servants not bosses.

Parents are not selfish in seeking the best education possible for their children. They have embraced the educrat mantra that education equals freedom and opportunity and so in the face of a system that isn't meeting their needs they're going to do what they feel they must to ensure their children obtain those freedoms and opportunities. They're not going to continue to accept that if they'll just wait a bit longer the system will improve. They know their children don't have that much time.

Taxpayers are tired of being told that they're selfish when they put the needs of their families ahead of the needs of other children. That only goes so far. Those who are paying taxes to support the public education system and paying for a private education--are not going to tolerate it much longer. They're paying twice and that ain't cool.

Finally, I suggest that those 'coalition' partners that make their money off of the education system tone down there rhetoric, be thankful for jobs at all and actually encourage paying employees based on merit. Great teachers deserve great pay.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

This brings to mind the problem with a monopoly. They are not naturally encouraged and so not used to adjusting to market forces and so are stuck with outdated or unnecessary equipment, facilities and even personnel that can be tremendously wasteful but still must be maintained at, sometimes great expense.

[Commissioner Curtis Adams] said some schools should be closed to deal with declining enrollments. Also, he said he thinks too many magnet schools have opened.

''They have started too many programs,'' Adams said. ''What I know is they don't handle the money properly. We need some old-fashioned, tough management.''

Hamilton commissioners and county school board members have openly bickered over county funding for schools.

''We catch a lot of h***, when you talk about raising taxes of 115,000 property owners,'' Adams said.


[Joe Dumas, of Signal Mountain, is a member of the Nashville-based Tennessee Tax Revolt], a computer science professor at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga, said Hamilton County schools are not underfunded. He said funding has increased and enrollment has dropped.

''I think they are poorly managed,'' Dumas said. ''I think a majority of the citizens just don't trust the people who are running the schools.'' From the Jackson Sun.

I think Mr. Dumas is correct. Until schools start providing clear and unbiased information it will remain very difficult for taxpayers and parents to correctly discern what the problems are, let alone figure out solutions. Until schools quit giving lip service to accountability and embrace their responsibility to prove their needs and accomplishments parties are going to remain at odds.

The power of first person testimony.

Do I need to begin by saying that I believe the Holocaust along with other atrocities such as what is taking place in the Sudan, took place in Uganda and Cambodia and other such places are despicable and are important subjects for students to know about? I think students should be encouraged to stand up for injustice and freedom. However, to spend three and a half weeks on this subject complete with visuals that will imprint in their minds and may be quite traumatic seems very excessive to me. My mother's heart says these are just 12 year old children and this information is overwhelming for adults let alone the tender minds and hearts of children to be focused on for nearly a month.

"Teaching a three-and-a-half week unit on the Holocaust to seventh graders has been Newman’s passion for nearly 20 years." Smyrna Middle School teacher Linda Newman.


Reactions to the activity become the first entry in a daily journal they must keep as an outlet for their feelings and thoughts throughout the Holocaust study. From Nashville City Paper.

I pity the child who cannot process this information and the attendant emotion through the written word. I certainly hope that parents will be pre-warned that this discussion will take place so that they can aid their children in working through the horrors of man's cruelty. I hope the next class they go to after these lessons is aware that these students may still be deeply distracted by what they've heard and seen and make accomodations for what may be an altered state.

Recently my children (ranging in age from 17 to 8) and I attended a lecture where a couple of holocaust survivors and a liberator shared their testimony. They didn't have any audio visual backup to jazz up their testimony. They didn't bring in any artifacts for show and tell. However, the simple sharing of their own personal experiences was tremendously powerful and impacting and something I don't think they'll every forget. This is a subject that has come up regularly in our home and I've had the opportunity to share with them the stories of heros of the effort. I've had the chance to let them ask why and how. They've had a chance to process all of this information slowly and piece by piece. They've had the advantage of having a guide through this maze of information and emotions that knows them and knows how much they can absorb without harming them in the effort. They can freely ask questions that won't be hindered by what classmates may think. I'm very thankful for that opportunity and I believe they understand "never again."

A resource we'll be using this summer is a radio theatre production of Corrie Ten Boom's "The Hiding Place" produced by Focus on the Family.

This is not a job for the schools or our children.

Maybe I'm missing something here but it seems to me our children have enough to worry about just getting a basic education in math and reading without putting on their shoulders the health of the planet.

Public Works Director Billy Lynch told the Council’s Budget and Finance Committee in June that Public Works intends to beef up its recycling program.


Lynch wants to specifically focus on education programs in schools, according to [Public Works Spokeswoman Gwen] Hopkins-Glascock.

“Mr. Lynch believes we need to be more actively involved in our schools, working to educate students about how to recycle and ways they can directly impact their neighborhoods,” Hopkins-Glascock said. “Initially, Mr. Lynch plans to evaluate the role of our recycling coordinators to determine what has been done with school education programs, how effective those efforts have been, and how they can be improved.” From the Nashville City Paper.

Mr. Lynch, may I suggest that you focus on the adults. OK, yes around here the children pull those behemoth trash and recycling containers to what is completely misnamed the 'curb' of our street. BUT it isn't their responsibility to make sure the trash is recycled and to use them as pawns in this effort seems wrong. And what is a child to do when they are caught between two authority figures--one saying we must recycle and the other saying don't bother?

Maybe we need to examine why the adults aren't acting like...well...adults and taking on this responsibility. Why aren't they participating? Is it still not convenient enough? Maybe we need to be charging extra for 'trash' and giving a credit for 'recycling'? Maybe citizens still aren't convinced of the need. It's the adults that need the education and encouragement in this effort. This is not a job for children.