Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Post comments

Well, the comment spammers have discovered this little corner of the blogsphere. I've enabled the 'word verification' feature in an effort to keep that from happening again. I apologize for the inconvenience that may be on legitimate particpants. I do appreciate YOUR comments and hope that step won't prevent you from continuing to provide your insight and experience on these topics.

Thanks for your understanding.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Middle schoolers conspire to murder teacher.

More from Dandridge (Jefferson County). I thought this was some boys fooling around and a gun accidentally discharged and one of them got hurt. According to officials they had conspired to kill a teacher that had disciplined them and that's why they had the guns in the first place.

In shackles and in silence, two of the boys head back to the Bean Juvenile lockup until their parents can pay $100,000 bonds.

The third goes home with his parents, but only until a doctor pulls a bullet out of him.


We understand, two guns found their way into the school that day, in court Tuesday, one boy's uncle, his legal guardian, admitted they were his. One, he kept his truck, the other, in a junk drawer. Prosecutors haven't decided whether he'll face any charges. From WVLT.

I don't have a problem with folks owning guns. I have a huge problem with people treating them so casually as to have them available in a truck or a junk drawer for immature and angry boys to get ahold of. These boys were 12 and 14 years old. Old enough to know better but still needing the adults in their lives to keep them from doing stupid stuff.

The judge was exactly right:

...they belong in custody, saying only by the grace of God, the teacher in question happened to be off that day. Otherwise 'we could have been looking at another Columbine.'

Walking FOR schools vs. TO schools.

BellSouth takes on obesity by way of a new program

This press release explains that

More than 30 elementary schools and approximately 13,000 students will participate in the program aimed at improving children's health by encouraging physical activity during the school day with a simple activity--walking. Pilot sites supported by the Tennessee Coordinated School Health Program include schools located in Gibson, Henry, Macon, Monroe, Tipton, Washington and Warren counties. Cheatham and Davidson counties also have schools participating in the pilot. The program will roll out to all public K-4 schools in Tennessee during the fall of 2006 and will eventually expand to grade 5, impacting more than 220,000 students.

All this because:

An estimated 19 to 30 percent of Tennessee school students are overweight and 25 to 43 percent of Tennessee students are at risk for being overweight, according to the Tennessee Coordinated School Health Program.

That 'at risk of' phrase is being used way too often now days and we all have been astonished at the recalibrating of the weight charts. Pres. Bush has been deemed overweight by the health charts and yet the fittest president as well.

If we spent money on sidewalks (in lieu of--oh say municipal computer networks) so that children could safely walk to school and parents could accompany their children on one of those old-fashioned after dinner walks on a safer street maybe we'd all be healthier.

Memphis Mayor washing hands.

Memphis Mayor is said to be washing his hands of the consolidation issue.

From the Memphis Commercial Appeal comes this:

Without Herenton in the picture, the fledgling task force will try tackling the pros and cons of consolidation at its next meeting Sept. 21. It will be inviting other Tennessee superintendents from Chattanooga and Nashville to discuss their experiences merging districts. It will also be looking for studies that break down whether joining school districts helps save money, or helps improve student performance.


Some of the greatest concerns have come from county school officials and suburban residents who fear a unified district would dilute the quality of the higher performing county schools. They also worry a mammoth bureaucracy with a chancellor and five regional superintendents would gum up a system that's already struggling to be more family-friendly.

BOE members in Classrooms?

An interesting suggestion comes out of Bedford County.

Each member of the Bedford County School Board ought to substitute for randomly selected teachers this year to show their appreciation for their work. From the Shelbyville Times-Gazette.

While I'm not sure it would automatically translate into appreciation for the work of teachers I do think it could certainly give them some serious insight into what's going on in the schools. That is if they're not escorted around, kept in a protective bubble and actually have the opportunity to see things from a more honest point of view.

High School & College at the Same Time.

Dual enrollment is a popular option among homeschoolers. It may become more popular for all students now that the lottery is willing to pay for some of it. Though lottery architect Sen. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis) isn't enthusiastic:

"The purpose of the (HOPE) scholarship was to give them an incentive to make good grades in high school and then hopefully give them a reason to go to school in Tennessee … so we'd have better and more high school graduates," Cohen said.

"By giving kids dual enrollment … you're basically giving away money, and while the kids are good students to be able to go to college while in high school, there's no reason to believe that that's going to make them more likely to go to Tennessee colleges." From the Tennessean.

I had to laught at that objection--'we're basically giving away money'. Considering some of the contortions that the legislature went through to keep the qualifying grades as low as possible, despite the "Best and Brightest" advertising pre-lottery vote, that seems like a pretty funny phrase to me.

I don't find any details on the state's website, or a search feature. You can get contact info for TSAC here. According to Brian Noland, head of TSAC, in this WVLT report, parents should pay the costs up front and seek a reimbursement.


Count me among the stunned.

The Tennessee Education Lottery Corp. spent a combined $50,000 as one of the sponsors of the Wilson and Williamson county fairs — an advertising blitz that included numerous firework shows.

Some area residents who visited the fairs say they were stunned to learn that a corporation whose job is to raise money for college scholarships invested thousands in fireworks, advertising or not.


The lottery collected $844.3 million last year in lottery ticket sales, she said. About 30% of it went to create the HOPE college scholarships, as dictated by lottery rules. From the Tennessean.

I want another 50% to go to the children. I'd let them have a generous 20% for expenses. If a charity asked you to donate to them and spent 70% on administrative costs you'd consider them a abysmal manager of the funds would decline to hand them your money.

Other posts regarding the lottery:
The Odds Always Favor the House
Lottery Numbers (Cleaning out the In Basket)

Also stunning:

Metro Nashville shaming us into a sales tax increase but seriously considering providing a municipal computer network to our homes. Forget the chicken in every pot--notebooks for everyone! Dells of course.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Go read Creative Liberty

Creative Liberty has the e-mail from Dr. Pedro Garcia encouraging our employees to call us and encourage us to vote for a tax increase. Shouldn't this sort of politicking have gone by the way with the incarceration of Fate Thomas or--what was the name of the County Clerk that had everyone wearing their re-election stickers?

Creative Liberty is a Metro school teacher and with nonsense like this going on s/he needs to remain anonymous so we can benefit from their point of view. CL is livid and says vote against the tax increase

My suggestion is you answer the phone this evening and keep them on the line as long as possible.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Saturday 8/27/05

Steps in the right direction.

Some of us have known for a long time that it doesn't take a lot of college teaching classes to be qualified to pass on what you know to others AND that having taken those education classes doesn't ensure that you CAN pass on what you know. From Oak Ridge, a place where a lot of people know a lot, comes this more reasonable idea in light of our teacher shortage. From Greene County Online.

Another policy development urged by the Niswonger Foundation that [ Oliver “Buzz”] Thomas [Niswonger Foundation director] noted was that of a rule change by the state Department of Education that will “enable talented scientists to get certified” to teach in their area of expertise by taking only 50 hours of pre-service training, instead of two years of college.
Few scientists who retire are likely to want to go into teaching full-time, Thomas said, but they might be willing to teach one advanced placement (AP) course in chemistry, physics or mathematics “to help the local school system out.”

And this group has impacted the "Teacher of the Year" award and they're putting cash where their mouth is.

The main criteria that the Niswonger Foundation asked for and got was that teachers be selected whose students’ scores on value-added tests have improved consistently.

“We need to pick teachers whose kids learn,” he said, and Tennessee has a tool for measuring this in the value-added scores, he said.

As an incentive to get more teachers to apply for the award, the Niswonger Foundation offered, for the first time, “big cash prizes,” specifically, $5,000 for the top teacher in each of the state’s three major regional divisions (east, middle and west) and $1,000 each to the three top finalists in each division.

The prizes go directly to the teacher as “money in your pocket,” not to their school systems, he said.

What's going on in Dandridge?

School bus driver charged with drug trafficking

DANDRIDGE (AP) A school bus driver in Cocke County supplemented his income with a thriving side business selling cocaine and other drugs, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said Friday.

Dewey Lynn Phillips, 50, is charged with possessing 12.5 kilograms, or about 27 pounds, of cocaine, 33 pounds of marijuana and assorted paraphernalia. From the Southern Standard.

3 students charged in restroom shooting

All three students involved in a shooting in a school restroom have now been charged, according to Jefferson County Sheriff David Davenport.

Two seventh-graders had been taken into custody after a third student was shot in the leg while they were handling a gun in a school restroom. The student's wound was minor, and he was the student charged yesterday. From the Tennessean.

If that wasn't enough the front page of the Southern Standard shows a woman beating another with a chair at a local soccer match in nearby Shelbyville.

So candy is more valuable than privacy?

Knox County school officials say several hidden cameras have been used in schools in circumstances similar to the one discovered in a teacher's lounge at Gresham Middle School, a room where both teachers and cheerleaders changed their clothes.

School administrators say they used the camera at Gresham in an attempt to catch a candy thief. From WATE.

Check the article for one lawyer's opinion about hidden cameras in schools.

Two questions about this private security guard at a recent high school football game. How much are we paying this coach that he can afford a private security guard and why does this coach need this protection? Details, but no answers to my questions, at the Fayette County Review.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Friday 8/26/05

A bit too quiet.

Monday's Tennessean contains an article titled "Quietly, tax fans and foes make their pitches" which was just about what I have been thinking. Quietly, for sure. Too quiet. When the folks that will get the pay raises from this tax raise and the folks that know more intimately than anyone else what's wrong with the public education system aren't talking I can only wonder why not?

Color of their skin.

Does it really matter to children what color the skin of their teacher is? And if it does we still have big problems. Is it really important that the math teacher understands a child's culture or that they know math well and know how to impart those skills to their students? Monday's Nashville City Paper's article, "Wanted: Minority teachers" relates the concern by a community activists that Metro Nashville isn't hiring enough African-American teachers. In these days of teacher shortages can we really afford to ignore any qualified teachers?

Thankfully, Dr. June Keel, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, has the right approach:

“The most important thing in the education world is we find qualified teachers, regardless of race or gender,” Keel said. “If we have an opening we will hire the best-qualified teacher that comes through our door.”

Beyond the core mission.

We have come to expect schools to do everything, especially those things parents can't or won't do. That's not fair. Parents are supposed to handle the parenting. Teachers are supposed to teach. If every child came to school with encouragement, food in their bellies and enough sleep, the job teachers do would be infinitely better and easier. And we wouldn't get so down on public education and our unreasonable expectations of it. Editorial from The Mountain Press of 8/22/05

“When you’re talking about the impact of education on creating a Children’s Agenda for Tennessee, you’re not talking about just education for children,” Metro Councilwoman Diane Neighbors said. “You’re talking about education for parents, education for caregivers, education for teachers, school board members and policy makers.” From the Nashville City Paper

I've said it before: Pay excellent teacher excellent wages.

[US Education Secretary Margaret] Spellings also participated in a discussion with local business leaders and school board members. She expressed interest in an incentive program for teachers that offers bonus pay for high test scores and student attendance.

"She was really interested in the incentive pay for urban schools," Hamilton County Board of Education chairman Chip Baker told the Chattanooga Times Free Press. "There was a lot of discussion about it being a model for the nation." From the Southern Standard.

And where does that federal money come from?

Former "Education" Governor and current Senator Lamar! Alexander visited Memphis.

And help with the increasing price tag on college tuition in Tennessee he says has to stay at the forefront in Washington. "The state hasn't been able to continue to fund education as it should be so the federal government will have to step in with some scholarships and loans." He also touted works on a Head Start Re-Authorization Bill., which he says would give Head Start curriculums a boost, something County Mayor A-C Wharton says he's keeping a close eye on. From WREG.

About that fee, er free, public education:

Rhonda Thurman in Hamilton County has a few things to say about school fees. She includes citations to the Tennessee Code, a letter from the Hamilton County Chief Financial officer and some sad stories about what happens when parents do not pay the fees.

Parents wishing to pay school fees can pay them. They can even pay more if they wish. However, those who chose not to pay should not have to be in fear that their child will be embarrassed or punished at school. From The

Attendance costs.

From today's Nashville City Paper comes this article about the request for more money for attendance personnel. I didn't think much of it until they quoted Mr. Marvin Flatt an Attendance Officer from Weakley County.

Back in 2002 he and Rep. Mark Maddox (also an LEA employee) put forth a piece of legislation to require homeschoolers to report to the LEA where their children were being educated if they left a church-related school. The problem, according to these men, was that 'homeschoolers were running amok' in their county and this was their solution. It eventually came out that those 'running amok' homeschoolers were actually public schoolers utilizing the phrase 'homeschooler' as a get out of jail free card. That's not something that either homeschoolers or attendance officers appreciate but further regulating homeschoolers wouldn't fix that problem. Thankfully, the legislation failed on a floor vote.

Back to Mr. Flatt and his request for $6 million dollars to fund an additional attendance officer in each of Tennessee's 136 school districts.,

Flatt, who made the request as chairman of Tennessee’s Attendance Steering Committee, said the need stems largely from the added responsibility of working with the new state student management system and related reports.

Attendance officers, many of whom he said lack the needed technology skills, often find their time consumed by gathering and reporting previously uncollected data to the state, leaving insufficient time to enforce truancy laws.

Based on my previous experience I've no doubt there is a truancy problem in Weakly County. It's a problem in many area. And I don't think that herding up the children and forcing them back into schools is really the answer.

A couple of questions about this request seem reasonable. Why are we employing officers that don't have basic technology skills in the year 2005? Why aren't they required to upgrade their skills in order to keep their jobs? Shouldn't additional personnel requests only be granted in districts where they can prove they have too many truants and not enough personnel? I would think that the needs of rural schools and urban ones may not be the same and there needs to be some flexibility for various situations.

This is the kicker quote:

He said the committee is seeking state dollars because local dollars are stretched providing needed instructional personnel, which he said should be the priority.

Yes, local dollars are stretched. I'm the local dollars as are the people in Weakly County and Shelby County and White County. I'm also the state dollars and the federal dollars. From the point of view of this bill payer in our home--it's taxes that are running amok.

Giles County still has freedom of speech.

This is an astonishing account of how a School Board handled two elderly citizens who attempted to address the meeting concerning the extension of the superintendent's contract.

Barrett said he attended the meeting with the intention of reading from a state attorney general's opinion, questioning the legality of extending a school director's contract. He said he made every effort to be placed on the meeting's agenda.
When an item on the agenda came up that would extend Jackson's contract one year, Barrett asked to speak. Gonzales, who is chairman of the Giles County School Board, did not recognize Barrett to speak because Barrett was not listed on the meeting's agenda.

In response, Barrett asked why he could not speak.

"Mr. Gonzales called a recess and left the room to call the police," Barrett said.
From the Maury County Daily Herald.

I've been in a few public meetings in my life, including a couple that got ugly, but I cannot imagine an incident where the best option was calling the police instead of letting two citizens (elderly at that!) speak their piece.

Ben Cunningham reports they were found not guilty by the jury. I should certainly hope so.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Potpourri: Sunday 8/21/05

Since we began our own school year this week I've necessarily been otherwise occupied. I'm glad to have discovered that other bloggers have been posting educational items of interest. I'll post a few links to them as well as some news items that I've been meaning to comment about.

Metro Nashville Public Schools: If you have an interest in what's going on in this system I suggest that you check regularly. It does have an RSS feed for your convenience.

Their mission statement:

MNPS's mission is simple. We strive for predictable education for all children. Our site is committed to charting the progress of Metro Public Schools and bringing attention to issues pertaining to out school system. We encourage parents to post their opinions and articles.
They're also looking for a webmaster to help keep this valuable asset running and up to date. Not only does it include links to various MNPS offices but also a school by school discussion board which I think could be very handy. No action yet but I hope folks will seriously consider utilizing these and/or replicating something like this in their own district.

High School Survey of Student Engagement. Ben Cunningham gave me the heads up about this the other day. I'm glad he posted it to the South End Grounds blog he's been 'pinch' blogging at. While Tennessee students weren't specifically included in this survey students from 19 other states were and I think we'll find some tremendously valuable information here if we'll take the time to digest it. Hopefully, Tennessee students can benefit from this work. From the article Ben linked to at the Indianapolis Star:

A surprisingly high number of teenagers fear for their safety at school, believe teachers don't care about them and feel their classes lack demanding challenges, according to an Indiana University study to be released today.
One of the remarkable things about some of the most successful urban schools is that they do challenge their students, demand that they work hard and don't coddle them because of some misplaced empathy of their life circumstances. What's the old saw about getting what we expect? If we expect excellence children can rise to the challenge.

Sarah Moore has an entry regarding the 4th of July convention of the NEA and the sort of resolutions this body deems important enough for their annual national convention. Sarah's right. More and more of the NEA is made up of support people and 'non-classroom' teachers and so it's no wonder that their resolutions regularly wander from education issues.

I've discounted these worth of these resolutions since I found out years ago that their annual resolution against freedom from regulation for homeschoolers wasn't based on any facts or research:

"Spokesperson Kathleen Lyons, after admitting that the organization does not have an "expert on home schooling," and that the issue is "not something that we track," nevertheless said the statement has been the "long-standing position of the association." From
Isn't the definition of dogmatic or fundy (that derisive term for fundamentalist religious folks) --holding a position regardless of the facts?

And speaking of unions:
From the Nashville City Paper:
Representatives of the teachers’ union say the agreed-upon contract included a 3 percent raise, but the board of education has said that raise was contingent upon “available funding” — defined in budget documents as $561 million.
Is none of this clearly written out? This may explain why the union is fighting so hard to remind us that educating children is the most important thing a community does (firefighting and police protection apparently, not exempted.)

Metro Nashville Tax Sales Tax Increase (for the children and seniors--or so they say): Bob Krumm asked a great question
In light of your past support for a reduction or elimination of Tennessee’s sales tax, what is your position on the proposal to increase the sales tax rate in Davidson County to 9.75%?
and isn't getting a lot of clear answers from the anti-income tax folks. I imagine these folks feel a lot like those homeschoolers that usually vote Democrat but have to face the fact that the staunchest defenders of their education choice are almost always in the Republican Party. And along that same taxes line, folks may want to read Mark Rose's comments.

And today's Tennessean contains six essays regarding the sales tax vote. Oddly all the women are for the increase and the men are against. I'll get to those in another post. But you really should read all six.

And where does the money come from? An article from the Tennessean of 8/13/05 tells us that schools are having to do without because of the increase cost of care, transportation, utilities and mandatory salary increases for teachers.
Ummm...count this taxpaying family among those that are also suffering from an increase in the cost of our healthcare, transportation, utilities and, I'll add property (and perhaps sales) tax. Where do we get in line for that 'mandatory salary increase' to pay for it all?

Leadership care: Dave Shearon had an interesting article called "Caring for the Leader". It got me to thinking and I agree with his premise that:

...leadership is tough, and yet most of us give little thought to the care and feeding of leaders. They have to do it themselves, and, what's more, they virtually never get even a suggestion that they need to do that, much less guidance in how.
I spent too many years complaining about how things were done and too few handing out 'atta boys' when things were done right. Some say I'm still not recognizing enough of the good jobs being done. I probably won't ever get it right 100% of the time, neither will our leaders. BUT, in the meantime, consider this encouragement to let your leaders know when they've done a good job, how much you appreciated even the small acts of consideration, communication and cooperation. It does make it easier to come into work the next day when you know their is a chance, albeit small, that someone will appreciate your work. Take a minute to ask them how they're doing and if they need any help in getting the vision accomplished and then be willing to help. Yeah, that being willing to help part may be the toughest part.

Oh, and leaders, that street does go both ways. If you find yourself alone, maybe there is a reason for that. I had a boss whose highest compliment was "Ya still got a job doncha?" I moved a 1000 miles away.

Dress and undress: As the mother of daughters I'm often appalled, as are my daughters, at what passes for suitable public clothing now days. Yes, I'm a prude and raising more than my share of 'modest' girls. I'm with this kid who commented on the recent Lebanon County dress code protest :

At least one student didn't seem to mind the dress code. A student changing classes from the vocational building to the main building proudly displayed a sign reading "Dress Code Lover" taped to the front of his tucked-in orange polo shirt. On the back, above jeans that weren't dragging on the ground, was a sign reading "And I was in school at 7:45."
I understand the need to protest some societal injustices, however, I don't think dress codes make the list of things worth the effort. It's a free public education. The price of admission is obeying the rules. If you don't like the rules--get your own education. In the meantime: tuck in your shirt, wear a belt, cover that cleavage and quit taking teachers and administrators away from job one: actually teaching willing students. If this is all you've got to complain about--you've got a really good life. Be thankful.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Tennessee Waltz: Love resigns

Yesterday Hamilton County School Board member Charles Love pleaded guilty yesterday for conspiracy to commit extortion and conspiracy to commit bribery charges. Today the Knox News reports he has resigned from the school board.

Hamilton County Commission Chairman Fred Skillern said commissioners will decide how to choose Love’s replacement at Wednesday’s meeting. He said he expects the earliest possible vote on a replacement would be during the commission’s Sept. 1 meeting.

Commissioner Greg Beck, who represents Love’s district, said he will assemble a group of constituents to sort through resumes and make a recommendation for a successor.

Previous blog posts about Mr. Love include:

More Waltzing
Thanks for your support but...
What was on his laptop?

Speaking of SAT's

One of my favorite articles is one from New Yorker Magazine called "Examined Life: What Stanley H. Kaplan taught us about the S.A.T." by Malcolm Gladwell in their 12/17/2001 edition. It used to be online but I'm having trouble locating it now. I did locate an audio copy here:

It runs 35 minutes. I think it's worth the time to discover more about the history of this test.

UPDATE: The WayBack Machine to the rescue: Try this link for an online version.

What's missing from this press release?

Verifiable facts.

I received this, this morning:


Contact: Woody McMillin
Public Information Officer

ACT Scores Show Improvement – Again – In Metro Nashville Public Schools

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (August 17, 2005) – Metro Nashville Public Schools received another indicator of recent academic progress – the 2005 ACT assessment program scores – and the results bring more good news for the district. MNPS students scored slightly higher in every measurable category this year, and MNPS composite scores continued their upward trend.

The five-year results show:

“We are certainly pleased with the continuing progress made by our students in all areas of the testing,” said Metro Nashville Public Schools Director Pedro E. Garcia, Ed. E. “This year our composites increased .2 points. We do not have national figures yet, but we know the previous year (2003-2004) the national average increased .1 point. It takes time to make ACT scores increase, so we’re pleased to see the trend in upward scores.”

The ACT assessment program, started in 1959, is a curriculum-based testing program used by many colleges and universities to determine acceptance. The test includes time-measured, individual examinations in English (45 minutes.), math (60 minutes.), reading (35 minutes) and science (35 minutes.).

Metro Nashville Public Schools provide a range of educational opportunities to nearly 73,000 students in Nashville and Davidson County. The governing body for MNPS is the Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County Board of Public Education, a nine-member group elected by residents of Metropolitan Nashville. For more information, please visit # # #
So where are those 'five year results' so that we mere voters, who are seriously considering a sales tax increase where the money is 'supposed' to go to schools, can see for ourselves this 'continued upward trend'? The length of the test was more important than providing that vital information? You won't find those scores here: In fact you won't even find this latest press release on that page of press releases. The 'most recent' press release there is dated July 17, 2005.

Sarah Moore is on to something.
It is parental/community interest, not money, that is going to help our schools. By not providing updated information on ways for people to get involved, Nashville schools are just telling us they aren’t interested in help.
The MNPS still has a long way to go in providing really usable information for taxpayers, parents and, as Sarah points out, ready, willing and capable volunteers.

If the education reporters finish the job MNPS started with this press release you may want to compare what they come up with to this NYTimes article on ACT scores.

"It is very likely that hundreds of thousands of students will have a disconnect between their plans for college and the cold reality of their readiness for college," Richard L. Ferguson, chief executive of ACT, said in an online news conference yesterday.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Fight apathy.

I came across this editorial at The While it's written about the Hamilton County system much of what is written could fit situations across the state and I hope you'll read it with an eye toward getting involved in your own public school system. An important snip:

The majority of the School Board has refused to keep the superintendent accountable for the spending of taxpayers’ money. They have shown us a lack of good judgment when it comes to the curriculum, control of tax money, and oversight in the manner in which academically challenged students are treated.

In short, these same School Board members have failed their constituents in regard to accountability, the budget, etc. However, we have seen in the past that the voter is either not interested in voting or is apathetic in regard to the representation of the School Board. The individuals on the School Board, including Charles Love, have been controlling millions of tax dollars on an annual basis.
The author, Don Drennon-Gala, Ph.D., goes on to say:

In the interim, the good people of Hamilton County, Tennessee need to be aware of what is going on in local politics,...

I know that it's tremendously time consuming to follow politics. I know that family and job take up huge amounts of time and there is precious little left for the fact finding, analyzing and communication needed to hold politicians accountable. But if we don't do it the cost can be tremendous. It's being penny wise and pound foolish, imo. People who have the authority to take your hard earned money, to make laws that impact what, how and when you can do things, and most importantly how many of our children will spend the greater part of their preciously short childhoods must know that we are paying attention. They must know that they will be held accountable for their decisions and inactions. Every dollar they demand from you ought to be absolutely necessary because it's a dollar your own children must do without. It may be those dollars they demand from you that require even more hours at work and make it even harder for you to spend time with your children and keep an eye on what these politicians are doing.

This morning's e-mail contained a note from someone concerning the upcoming referendum in Nashville about raising our sales tax. They commented on how hard folks who derive their paychecks from the public education system, were pushing the members of their groups, to include scare tactics and misinformation, in order to encourage them in the strongest possible ways to vote for this referendum and to get them to get others to vote for this referendum.

As my morning went on I came across Bob Krumm's comments about NCLB. And I found myself completely agreeing with his comment:

I hope that the lesson learned is not that federal government control is a good thing for education, but that local government control and accountability would offer even better results.
I've always believed that it was local control of schools (and I mean neighborhood) is best. Maybe, I begin to think, what may be bothering so many and what has them in a bit of a panic, is that the public is becoming more involved in public education. They seem to have had pretty free reign for a long time. I dearly hope that the public is becoming more involved. I think that it ought to be so and I hope my efforts here make that involvement a bit easier.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Creative Common Sense

If you haven't been checking in on the blog of "Creative Liberty" you may want to visit and visit regularly.

As far as the information and statistics that she [Ruby Payne] gave it seemed as though a lot of it was fluff. Fluff built around a common sense approach to dealing with children.


As an educator I will not be voting for any sales tax increase. I have enjoyed Mayor Purcell’s vision for Nashville but it seem as though either he or those behind him can’t see that vision for Nashville without raising taxes. Creative Liberty
There are several entries there about the recent Ruby Payne in-service day including what it probably cost for that 'common sense'. You might want to catch up.

Salaries or math books?

It happens all across the state. Negotiated salaries and benefits trump school supplies for the children. The most recent instance comes from Clarksville and County Mayor Douglas Weiland is letting everyone know.

Weiland contends school officials falsely stated the commission's action would prevent the system from buying math textbooks "when in fact it would actually transfer money from the textbook account in order to increase the salary and benefit accounts." From the Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle.

I don't expect anyone to work for free and I believe that great teachers earn great wages. I, and a lot of other taxpayers, do expect our school boards and administrators to be honest about where the money goes and not play a political shell game with the finances.

(Thanks Ben.)

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Justice Sunday II

No doubt we'll hear plenty about this pep rally from all quarters. For what it's worth here's my take on it. You don't have to believe me. You can buy your own copy of the DVD via the Family Research Council web site and hear and see exactly what the speakers said and determine for yourself if it was as you'd heard. Oh, the DVD has a 'suggested donation' of $15.00. But like all Focus on the Family materials if you ask, they'll send it to you for free.

When I arrived at about 4:40 p.m. there were just a handful of protestors on McGavock Pike across the street from the main entrance. For photographs see: Bill Hobbs' site.

The pre-event warm up included several worship songs and then a bit of instruction by Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council which included encouragement to be enthusiastic and supportive of the speakers. We were very cooperative. Every speaker got a standing ovation and hearty applause. There was a lot of amening, and other verbal agreements with speakers over the evening. Tony said the purpose of the meeting was for us to discover what our role is in this whole process and what we can do. He closed by praying that God would use this broadcast to 'make a difference'.

And so the broadcast begins and I'll include the name of the speaker and my best recollections of their comments.

Tony Perkins: [We] don't claim the right to speak for every American but do claim the right to speak."

Jim Daley (President, Focus on the Family): We, like everyone else, have a right to speak in the public square.

Dr. James Dobson (Focus on the Family) via video. He apologized for not being able to be there in person. He and his wife are in France. He didn't say why. But I found it interesting that he fussed about some Supreme Court justices being 'inspired by leftist influences in Western Europe' and he was in a country that is pretty darn leftist, imo. He called some Supreme Court decisions 'government by the few". Said that (nominee) John Roberts 'looks like a strict costructionist' and that 'time will tell' and reveal if that was true. "For now he looks good." Dobson went on to say that "5 or more justices will define marriage' and that 'we dare not sleep through this point of decision. Future generations depend on it.'

Tony Perkins used a baseball analogy. He said that for some things the Supremes had made the plate (and so the strike zone) larger or smaller depending upon the issue. He actually had what had to be about a 3 1/2' plate vs. a normal size plate that he broke into smaller bits when describing all this. Nice use of a visual.

Tom Delay (House Majority Leader R-Texas): talked about seperation of powers and checks and balances. Saying that it was intended that no one branch could completely trump the other and asserted that 'without balances there can be no checks'. He went on to say that 'all wisdom doesn't reside in nine persons in black robes' and they we 'were here to protect the Constitution so it can protect us.'

Chuck Colson: He said we weren't here looking for power or prestige and 'may the Church never be a special interest group'. He quoted Amos 5 reminding us to "let justice roll on like a river and righteousness like a never-failing stream." He reminded us not to get mad at our opponents.

Tony Perkins: A brief commerical to remind folks that if they call 1-877-RFRC-4545 they can get their own "Save the Court Kit". He went on to say that this was a 2 1/2 to 3 year effort. Reminded folks that they had about 21 days until the Roberts hearings.

Bishop Harry Jackson (Sr. Pastor Hope Christian Church): talked about the new black church, how lady justice was 'sitting down on the job', that Justice wasn't blind she noticed race, and age and gender and that some consider 'conservative' a code word for racist. He recounted an incident where he and his brother were traveling, got a flat tire and were surrounded by several squad cars. It became obvious to the police officers that they had a flat and the officers went on their way, without any apology. Bishop Jackson stated: "I'm not black alone, I'm American and beyond that I'm a Christian." [This may be the statute he referenced in his comments and here's a link to an article of his on this same subject. ]

I have to admit that I considered Bill Donahue, President of the Catholic League my favorite speaker. He had passion, an ear catching accent and a forthrightness that I appreciated. He pointed out that when folks ask him what he's doing associating with evangelicals he reminds them that he has more in common with evangelicals than some of the very politically left leaning Catholics in Congress. He credited Chief Justice John Marshall with suggesting that no act of Congress could be overturned without a unanimous decision of the Supreme Court. I'd never heard that before. He even quoted Bob Dylan: "The times, they are a changing."

Intermittently, they showed video clips from various speakers. This allowed them to prepare for the next live speaker. Robert Bork was featured several times. At this point they viewed a clip from him where he opined that the decisions of the Supreme Court had come 'to reflect the moral views of the elites."

Zell Miller D-GA (retired): "Enough" was his point. "Our enemies came in while we were asleep." And he urged everyone to "cover this confirmation with a blanket of prayer."

Jett Williams sang "I saw the light", bless her heart.

Next up was Phyllis Schlafley of the Eagle Forum: She was the first to mention former President Clinton by name reminding us of some of the things his nominees had done. She also picked up on Tony Perkin's baseball analogy saying that we need umpires but umpires cannot change the rules of the game and decide that it's 2 strikes and your out. The fans wouldn't stand for it. And she asked if we were going to be 'governed by elected representatives or supremicist judges."

Featured in this next video clip were Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID), Jordan Lawrence of the Alliance Defense Fund and Robert Bork again. Mr. Lawrence took issue with the idea of the Constitution being a 'living document'. Mr. Bork and Mr. Lawrence discussed the fact that judges don't have the latitude in any decisions regarding contracts that the Supreme Court has taken in regard to the Constitution.

Cathy Cleaver Ruse of the Family Research Council: spoke and specifically encouraged the ladies. She was the second to use the name of former President Clinton reminding us that he twice vetoed the ban on partial-birth abortion and told us that the pro-choice folks had never won a 'legislative victory of consequence' and so they chose to utilize the courts instead.

Ted Haggard of the National Association of Evangelicals: asked if politics and the local churches go together and answered his own question with an emphatic "YES!". He reminded us of Martin Luther King's comments about what a 'God intoxicated' generation could do. (That quote is from MLK's "Letter from the Birmingham Jail". You may want to read through that again.)

[Oh, heck, here's a taste:

There was a time when the church was very powerful in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being "disturbers of the peace" and "outside agitators"' But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were "a colony of heaven," called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God intoxicated to be "astronomically intimidated." By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide. and gladiatorial contests.]

Back to JSII. Ted Haggard finished by urging us to 'be the salt and light God has called you to be."

Two River's Baptist Church Pastor Jerry Sutton brought it home with a passionate few minutes and 5 short phrases that we could use. Unfortunately, he threw them out there so fast I couldn't get them all down.

It's a new day.
Liberalism is dead.
Count on us to show up.
Let the Church rise.
Rebeccas St. James finished with a song I'd never heard before and I didn't write down any of the lyrics.

Hope some of that was helpful. Regardless of your views send them to your Senators. Let 'em know how you want them to represent you. I know I will.

Friday, August 12, 2005

What is Nashville voting on?

Let's go to some original documents and figure out exactly what Nashvillians will be voting on. Please note I've put some of this in BOLD in order to help you find what I think is the pertinent information.

Let's start with the actual ballot available at

It says:

"Shall ordinance number BL2005-665, passed by the Metropolitan County Council, which increases the local sales tax rate from two and one-fourth ( 1/4) percent to two and three-fourth (2 3/4) percent, become operative?"

And then you vote for FOR or AGAINST it.

But what does BL2005-665 say? That you'll find at and it's way more reading than that deciptively short sentence above. I really urge voters to take a few minutes and read this ordinance. I can't say this strongly enough: if you vote based on what you're reading in the papers, or what your neighbor said or what any advocacy group said you've failed in your responsibility.

Take some time and read this for yourself. I'll make it easier. I'll include it below. Print it out, highlight the questionable parts and feel absolutely free to question your council person about it. Here's the council's brand spanking new website. It's really an improvement on the previous version. If you don't know the name of your councilman (and you really ought to) click on the map link on the left and find out.

So here we go. Here's the ordinance mentioned in the ballot.


An ordinance amending Ordinance No. 65-464, as amended by Ordinance No. 68-525, as amended by Ordinance No. 080-294, relating to the levy of a local option sales and use tax by the Metropolitan Government in accordance with the provisions of Tennessee Code Annotated, Sections 67-6-701 through 67-6-716.

WHEREAS, the Tennessee General Assembly pursuant to Chapter 329 of the 1963 Public Acts and subsequent amendments thereto (T.C.A., §§ 67-6-701 through 67-6-716), has authorized local governments to levy a local option sales and use tax; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to referendum election held in 1965 and again in 1968 and again in 1980, the Metropolitan Government has levied a local option sales and use tax pursuant to the terms and limitations contained in T.C.A., § 67-6-701, et seq.; and

WHEREAS, T.C. A. §67-6-705 and §67-6-706 provide that the operation of the ordinance levying the local option sales tax shall be subject to approval of the voters of the Metropolitan Government by referendum; and


SECTION 1. That Ordinance No. 65-464, as amended by Ordinance No. 68-525, as amended by Ordinance No. 080-294 of The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County (Metropolitan Government), levying a local option sales and use tax as authorized under the provisions of Chapter 6 of Title 67 of the Tennessee Code Annotated is hereby amended by levying in the same manner and on the same privileges subject to the Retailers Sales Tax Act under T.C.A., §§ 67-6-101 through 67-6-608, which are exercised in the General Services District of the Metropolitan Government, a tax on all such privileges at a rate of two and three-quarters (2 ¾) percent; provided the tax so levied shall apply only to the first one thousand six hundred ($1,600) dollars on the sale or use of any one article of personal property. Further, the operation of this Ordinance shall be subject to the approval of the voters as required by T.C.A., § 67-6-706 and to the other provisions of T.C.A., § 67-6-701 through 67-6-716.

SECTION 2. If a majority of those voting in the election required by T.C.A., § 67-6-706 vote for the Ordinance increasing the tax pursuant to Section 1 hereof, collection of the tax levied by this Ordinance shall begin upon the effective date of the change in the local tax rate pursuant to T.C.A. §67-6-716.

SECTION 3. It having been determined by the Department of Revenue of the State of Tennessee that it is feasible for this tax to be collected by that Department, the Department of Revenue of the State of Tennessee shall collect the additional tax imposed by this Ordinance concurrently with the collection of the state tax in the same manner as the state tax is collected in accordance with the rules and regulations promulgated by said Department. The Finance Director of the Metropolitan Government is hereby authorized to contract with the Department of Revenue of the State of Tennessee for the collection of the additional tax by said Department and to provide in said contract that said Department may deduct from the tax collected a reasonable amount or percentage to cover the expense of the administration and collection of said tax.

SECTION 4. In the event the tax is collected by said Department, suits for the recovery of any tax illegally assessed or collected shall be brought against the Finance Director of the Metropolitan Government.

SECTION 5. A certified copy of this Ordinance as passed by the Metropolitan County Council and signed by the Metropolitan County Mayor shall be transmitted to the Department of Revenue of the State of Tennessee and the Davidson County Election Commission by the Metropolitan Clerk. This Ordinance shall also be published one time in a newspaper of general circulation in the area of the Metropolitan Government prior to the election called for in Section 2 hereof.

SECTION 6. If any one or more of the provisions of this Ordinance shall ever be held by any court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, the remaining provisions of this Ordinance shall not be affected thereby, it being the intention of the Metropolitan County Council to enact the remaining provisions of this Ordinance, notwithstanding such provisions which may be held invalid.

SECTION 7. When submitting this Ordinance levying a local option sales and use tax in the area of the Metropolitan Government to a vote of the people in an election as provided in TCA, § 67-6-706, the Davidson County Election Commission shall present the question on the ballot in substantially the following form:

Should the Ordinance of the Metropolitan County Council
increasing the local option sales and use tax in Davidson County
to two and three-quarters (2 ¾) percent become operative?

FOR SAID ORDINANCE ________________________

AGAINST SAID ORDINANCE ___________________

SECTION 8. This Ordinance shall take effect from and after its passage, the welfare of The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County requiring it.

Sponsored by: Diane Neighbors

Oh, what? You say it doesn't say anything about schools, or senior citizens or propety taxes? I didn't see it either.

So I asked Ben Cunningham for help. He was able to provide a link to the ordinance to provide tax relief to seniors. It's at

And here is that ordinance.


An ordinance establishing the Seniors Tax Relief Grant Program for the purpose of providing assistance to elderly resident tax-payers of Davidson County and to allocate and appropriate the additional sales tax revenue that will be received if the voters approve an increase in the local option sales tax.

WHEREAS, Nashville's strong economy produces increasing values of residential and other real property in Davidson County; and

WHEREAS, this economic strength is expected to continue further increasing property values; and

WHEREAS, this often results in aged persons who purchased real property in Davidson County years ago facing increased tax burdens; and

WHEREAS, aged citizens are often limited in their sources and amounts of income; and

WHEREAS, it is in the best interest of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County that its aged residents are able to remain in their residences, remain in their neighborhoods, and continue to contribute to diverse communities; and

WHEREAS, the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County can maintain the diversity of age of its residents, and preserve the role of aged persons in the County's myriad neighborhoods, by ensuring that aged home-owners' net tax burdens do not exceed such persons' ability to pay them; and

WHEREAS, it is anticipated that the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County will enact an increase in the local option sales and use tax, with the same to be approved by the electors, to take effect on or before January 1, 2006; and

WHEREAS, the Metropolitan Government anticipates using twenty percent (20%) of the funds resulting from such tax increase to fund a program for assistance to elderly resident tax-payers of Davidson County and eighty percent (80%) of the funds resulting from such tax increase to be allocated to Metro Schools.


Section 1. There is hereby created a program known as the "Seniors Tax Relief Grant Program" for the purpose of providing grants of assistance to elderly resident tax-payers of Davidson County.

Section 2. Program Structure

A. Eligibility. An individual is eligible to participate in the program who:
1. Is at least sixty-five (65) years of age as of December 31 of the year in which the tax is owed;
2. Resides in Davidson County by July 1 of the year in which the tax is owed; and
3. Applies for and receives any tax relief for which they may be eligible from the State of Tennessee, and
4. Pays real property taxes on the individual's primary residence to the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County.

B. Amount. The amount of the grant received by an eligible participant will be:
1. The Sum of:
a. The total amount of property taxes, not including penalties and interest, paid by the eligible participant and any co-owner(s) on the primary residence, not to exceed the property taxes due on a property with an appraised value of $200,000;
b. Plus the estimated amount of local sales tax paid by the eligible participant and any co-owner(s);
c. Plus the amount of the motor vehicle regulatory license fee paid, not to exceed the tax paid on one non-commercial vehicle for each eligible participant and any co-owner(s), and not to exceed a total of two vehicles;
2. Less the sum of:
a. Five percent (5%) of the eligible participant's income, and
b. The amount of any other tax relief the eligible participant receives from the State of Tennessee.

C. Income and Co-owners.
1. Eligible Participant's Income. For the purpose of this grant program, the eligible participant's income shall be the income of the participant and any co-owner(s) from all sources, including but not limited to: Social Security (after Medicare is deducted); Supplemental Security Income (SSI); retirement or pension benefits; Veterans Administration benefits; worker's compensation; salaries or wages, interest or dividends (including tax exempt income that may be excluded from adjusted gross income) and any other income that is included in adjusted gross income for federal income tax purposes.
2. Co-owners. A co-owner is one who owns the property with the eligible participant and who also uses the property as his or her primary residence. Having an ineligible co-owner does not prevent an eligible participant from receiving a grant with the amount of such grant calculated as set forth above. In the event both or all co-owners are eligible participants, each eligible co-owner shall receive an equal portion of the grant amount; however, if the eligible co-owners' ownership interests are unequal, each shall receive a portion of the grant amount in proportion with his or her ownership interest.
Section 3. Distribution of Increased Sales Tax Revenue.
A. Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 2006. If prior to January 1, 2006 the voters of Davidson County approve an increase in the local sales tax from 2.25 percent to 2.75 percent, the Director of Finance shall allocate for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2006, the first $12 million in additional sales tax collections to the Senior Tax Relief Grant Program created pursuant to this Ordinance. However, in no event may the portion of total local option sales tax revenue distributed for school purposes be less than 50%, as provided by Tennessee Code Annotated Section 67-6-712(a)(1). Said additional funds shall be combined with appropriations for tax relief included in the approved budget ordinance for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2006 and are appropriated for the Senior Tax Relief Grant Program created by this ordinance. All funds received in additional sales tax collections resulting from the increase in the local sales tax to 2.75 percent shall be allocated to the GSD General Purpose School Fund.
B. Subsequent Fiscal Years. For all subsequent fiscal years, it is the intent of the Metropolitan Government to allocate funds received pursuant to this increase in the sales tax rate (exclusive of funds not retained by the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated Section 67-6-712(a)(2)(B)) as follows:
1. 80% for school purposes; and,
2. 20% for grants to senior residents.

Section 4. It is the intent of this ordinance that the Senior Tax Relief Grant Program grants be made during the first calendar quarter of 2006 to assist Seniors in meeting their tax obligations for 2005.

Section 5. The Trustee of the Metropolitan Government is directed to administer the Senior Tax Relief Grant Program in accordance with the provisions of this ordinance and such rules and procedures as the Trustee may establish as provided in this ordinance.

Section 6. The Trustee is authorized to establish such rules and procedures as the Trustee may deem necessary and appropriate for the implementation of the Program, so long as the rules and procedures are consistent with and in furtherance of the foregoing provisions. Rules and procedures adopted pursuant to this provision shall be subject to approval by resolution of the Metropolitan Council.

Section 7. The provisions of this Ordinance shall be subject to annual renewal pursuant to the provisions of Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 5-9-112.

Section 8. All applicable penalties, fines, and interest requirements established by local, state, and federal law, both criminal and civil, shall apply to representations made in order to receive a grant pursuant to this program.

Section 9. The provisions of this ordinance shall take effect upon the certification by the Election Commission that the increase in the local sales tax to 2.75 percent has been approved by the voters of Davidson County prior to January 1, 2006.

Section 10. This ordinance shall take effect from and after its final passage, the welfare of The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County requiring it.

Sponsored by: Diane Neighbors, Amanda McClendon, Brenda Gilmore

What makes me real nervous is the use of the words "anticipates" and "intent". I've read enough legislation to know that bills say will and shall for a reason. I'm assuming that " intent" is used for a reason also.

It does say "shall" in the bold section above that says it "All funds received in additional sales tax collections resulting from the increase in the local sales tax to 2.75 percent shall be allocated to the GSD General Purpose School Fund."

Would anyone be surprised if the general budget amount that had usually gone to schools was subsequently reduced because the schools will be getting this increased sales tax revenue? Would anyone be surprised if that mean't we couldn't ever really reduce the sales tax amount because the school budget would be impacted?

Finally, would you be surprised to learn that according to Elections Administrator Ray Barrett in today's Tennessean that it's going to cost $450,000 to hold this election? It's enough to make you re-consider a poll tax. Everyone bring a dollar for the collection jar when you go to vote so we can pay for maneuvering by politicans who don't want to be blamed for failing to lead and for pandering to voters and special interest groups.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Keep Nashville Growing

Another group is getting into the Metro Nashville sales tax increase 'for the children' fight. Keep Nashville Growing has set up a website and introduce themselves with:

Founded by Nathan Moore, a local activist and attorney in Nashville, Keep Nashville Growing! is a grassroots organization created to keep taxes low in Metropolitan Nashville / Davidson County.

and further explain:

Keep Nashville Growing! is not an effort to avoid taxation - it is an effort to ensure a fair level of taxation that will not hinder our city's growth, and will not make a future Nashville unlivable for us and our children. From their Accountability page.

and here is their education page which starts with this:

Proponents of the sales tax increase guarantee that 80% of the tax increase will go toward education. What they do not tell you is that under the charter of Nashville's metropolitan government, this is simply not true!
Check 'em out. I always encourage voters to be well-informed. Also make sure you're registered in time and know where and when to vote. Keep Nashville Growing also provides a link to that information here.

Monday, August 08, 2005

In-service to whom?

Pointing out that there is some disconnect between a Metro Nashville's mandatory teacher in-service on poverty and wasting dollars Creative Liberty goes at it with both barrels. Take a minute and ask yourself if you agree this could be done better.

I am sure Ruby Payne has some good things to say about poverty. I can’t imagine that she can hold the attention of the teachers for eight hours…with a few breaks here and there. So, here is what I propose…to fight poverty…don’t support expensive in-services. How much did it cost Metro to get Ruby Payne? How much will it cost for the material to be given to all the teachers? How much will it cost bussing teachers back and forth to this event? How much will it cost on Monday morning when teachers don’t have their classrooms ready to start school? From Creative Liberty.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Sometimes humor is the only thing that gets you through.

Humorist Dave Berry's daughter has just entered kindergarten in Florida and with his first column on the subject containing:

Among the children who will be trudging into Miami-Dade schools on Monday is my 5-year-old daughter, who enters kindergarten this year. When my wife told me the date our daughter would start school, my fifth question was: ``Why?''

(My first four questions, in order, were: ''Aug. 8?'' ''Did you say Aug. 8?'' ''You mean, like, the eighth day of AUGUST?'' ``Are they INSANE??'')


Last year, school started in the third week in August; this year it's the second week. If this keeps up it's only a matter of time before we're starting the school year around Memorial Day, which means parents will have to go on their family vacations without taking their actual families, keeping in touch with their children by postcard. (''Dear Dylan -- Disney World is great! Wish you were here! How do you like second grade?'') From the Miami Herald.

I can hardly wait to see how long he manages to put up with it.

(Thanks Elizabeth.)

Just think what's she'd say if she was in Memphis.

A Hamilton County taxpayer and mother sounds off about the public school system there. Flame retardent clothing recommended before you head over there to read the whole thing.

Accountability is what the taxpayers want and deserve. Defending the status quo will no longer be acceptable. I am tired of watching the deplorable graduation rate continue from this system. I am tired of watching kids graduate from this system only to be told that they have to take remedial courses in college. Any elected official who admits that the system is mismanaged but needs more of your hard-earned tax dollars, should be remove from office. Also, Dr. Register, it is time that you quit gaining wealth off of the taxpayers of Hamilton County while our kids pay the ultimate price. Enough is enough. From The

(Thanks to Ben.)

Jabbermeisters, Politicians & Pens

Tennessean columnist Larry Daughtrey's Sunday column seems to maintain that an income tax is not ever going to happen and any attempt at making legislators commit to that is a waste of effort and worse, just a cheap way to raise radio ratings and ensure job security for talkers and their staff. I'm all for making legislators put things in writing for all to see and for accountability purposes later on when, for some reason, they changed their minds. Despite the state Supreme Court ruling an income tax unconstitutional they've made several attempts and I've no doubt they'll attempt it again.

But back to Mr. Daughtrey's column: I couldn't help but drop my jaw at the odd phrase he used at the end of his essay. It does seem to me that this is part of the problem.

Members of the legislature take an oath to "vote without favor, affection, partiality or prejudice" to promote the welfare of the state.

Actually Article X Section 2 of the Tennessee Constitution says the oath shall be:

"I ______ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that as a member of this General Assembly, I will, in all appointments, vote without favor, affection, partiality, or prejudice; and that I will not propose or assent to any bill, vote or resolution, which shall appear to me injurious to the people, or consent to any act or thing, whatever, that shall have a tendency to lessen or abridge their rights and prvileges, as declared by the Constitution of this state."

Mr. Daughtrey is mistaken--their job is not 'to promote the welfare of the state' it's to avoid injuring the people foremost. Too often politicians think it's their job to protect the government. If it takes signing on the dotted line to remind them why they're in Nashville--bring on the pens.

Well, it's about time!

Isn't this part of what taxpayers and parents have been fussing about for a loooooong time?

They're evaluating the "business" side of their schools — how their funding, staffing and programs are allocated — and sharing information about students across departments so everyone knows what the students need and what's in the works to help them improve.

The goals are simple: get everybody in the school working on the same page, cut out waste and earmark more resources for the teachers and students in those classrooms. From the Tennessean.

And didn't we all know this was required:

However, the new way requires different groups to check their egos at the door and work together.
Another DOH! forehead slapping comment:

One of the side effects is that change can come quickly. The group that looked at needs in Knox County Schools quickly discovered that reading needed to be taught in some high schools but not in all, so it's now offered in the schools that are struggling most.
This is a most welcome change.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Spelling Power

Our children use a spelling curriculum called Spelling Power. It looks like there are a few educators who need to consider utilizing it themselves.

From Bob Krumm (who credits Tn Lib) comes this link to photographic proof that either someone cannot spell or has a very twisted sense of public relations. Like Tn Lib, I doubt it's a clever object lesson. This is the sort of teacher that the union should help to vigoriously retrain or remove from the teaching ranks. The sign is clear and well written, perhaps they should consider sign painting as a new career.

Union v. County Commission & BOE

The Putnam County Education Association sued the Putnam County Commission and School Board over some contract items that the Commission objected to and the State Appeals Court has agreed with the Commission and issued their opinion August 1 of this year.

The Putnam County Educational Association filed this declaratory judgment action contending that Putnam County Commission exercised a line-item veto over the Putnam County Board of Education’s budget, thereby usurping the authority of the Board of Education to administer the schools. The Association also alleged that the Board of Education, by allowing the budget to be implemented without said line-item expenditure, breached its agreement with the Association. The purpose of the action was to restore $30,000 that had been allocated to fund medical insurance premiums for retired teachers to the 2000-2001 budget, which allocation the Association and Board of Education had agreed upon pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-5-612. From the Appeals Court decision.

Those of you with interest in who controls the money will want to read the overview at the Cleveland Herald-Citizen and the actual ruling from the Court of Appeals.

I'll copy a bit of the Herald-Citizen overview here:

Among other statements in the court's written decision are these:

* "The county commission is obligated to levy such taxes as are necessary to properly fund the operation of the county schools; however, it is not required to adopt the school budget as submitted."

* "While the Commission does not have the authority to veto line-item provisions of the school budget, it has the power and jurisdiction to 'alter or revise the proposed budget' by adopting a smaller school budget than submitted."

*"Though the (Putnam) Commission rejected two proposed budgets, it never rejected one part of a proposed budget while adopting the remainder of a proposed budget. A line-item veto occurs when one or more parts of an appropriation bill or proposal is rejected, while the remainder of the appropriation bill or proposal is adopted."

* "The items negotiated (in the teacher contract), which included among other negotiated items the disputed insurance for retired teachers, required funding. The Commission did not appropriate the requisite funds and, therefore, the agreement was never binding."

* "The judgment of the trial court is affirmed in all respects, and this matter is remanded with costs of appeal assessed against Appellant, the Putnam County Education Association."

(Thanks to Ben.)