Friday, November 23, 2007

Paying to get the job done

From Dr. Martin Kennedy's editorial in the 10/7/07 edition of the Tennessean:

When considering how best to improve educational outcomes, what we pay teachers is not nearly as important as how they are paid. In 19th century England, the treatment of prisoners became a matter of great concern. Too many were dying on voyages to penal labor camps. The clergy called it a scandal. Parliament questioned the morality of ship captains. Then came a small policy change. Instead of being compensated per trip for transporting prisoners, ship captains were to be paid according to how many live prisoners were delivered. Problem solved.

Teacher compensation should be driven more by merit, productivity, and less on the level of education and seniority.

Clergy have already called the outcomes for poor and minority students a scandal. Hopefully, we'll recognize the need to make the next step.

Martin frequently comments on MNPS at his blog. I encourage you to visit regularly.

Hang on to this quote

The context for the quote below, which is just too good that I don't want it overlooked, is the TEA's (Tennessee Education Association) concern about the budget in Murfreesboro schools.

The Tennessee Education Association, an organization representing teachers, requested the audit to determine if the system was using the new money to replace local funds needed to pay for existing positions, said Graham Greeson, a TEA manager for its research division.

"You can't do that," said Greeson, a Murfreesboro resident. "As you look at the (school system's) accountability budget, there is a question as to whether they are funding new positions or funding positions they already had. We're not saying anything is wrong. We just don't know." Tennessean

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Highly qualified database

The Tennessean provides us with a database of highly qualified teachers that may have been overlooked in the sidebar of their "Federal teacher quality measure doesn't tell all" article in Monday's paper. It still doesn't tell us WHO isn't highly qualified, or if your child is in their class, but it's a start.

Teachers typically receive the designation by using college transcripts, test scores and career portfolios to demonstrate their expertise. Those who haven't passed a national teaching exam in the subjects they teach have to sign up for the test.
In Metro, Middle Tennessee's largest school district with close to 5,000 teachers last school year, 95.7 percent of core classes were taught by highly qualified teachers like Gilmore, according to state data. The number has been climbing over the years, with 65 percent of core subjects being taught by highly qualified teachers two years ago.


Educating children is the most important thing a city can do.

Teaching is as life saving as cardiovascular surgery.
The first statement was, and in some places still is, planted in the yards of hundreds of homes and intersections around Nashville when the begging for a sales tax increase (for the children) was being debated (it failed miserably). The later is a paraphrase of Metro Nashville Education Association President Erick Huth in this morning's Tennessean.

Let's make it absolutely clear---teaching is important, very important. Good teachers are a valuable asset to our city and we need to pay great teachers well. However, it is not on par with saving someone's very life. To insist that such is the case is foolish and demeaning to both the life saving professions and the teaching profession.

It doesn't take a teaching degree or union membership to pass on fundamental reading and math skills to the majority of our children. Like it or not it is being done successfully by tens of thousands of parents and private school teachers across our nation, our globe, every day.

If I were a firefighter, a policeman or a surgeon, I'd be offended at the comparison that what I do is on par with teaching. Like it or not different jobs, while honorable and fulfilling, do not have the exact same value and when Huth begins his protectionist apology for not allowing anyone into the teaching club with:
Imagine going to a cardiovascular surgeon who became qualified to perform surgery by attending a six-week 'intensive institute.'
it's an outrageous comparison. Does he actually speak for the majority of his union's members when he makes this comparison?

He goes on further to say that people accredited by what he calls 'quick-fix programs' have a lower retention rate and do not produce comparable results on state assessments. Little wonder they don't stay long---they've been out and about and understand that they have options and are less likely to buy into the very system that Huth spends his days defending.

Further, we'll have to take his word on the quality of the teachers since mere parents and taxpayers aren't privy to teacher value added scores in order to evaluate their effectiveness. In the meantime Becky Kent (executive director of the Teach Tennessee program) reminds us that these new teachers "must still pass the same professional exams required of all teacher candidates. " She also points out that "Principals who hired fellows ranked them higher than the average first-year teacher on a performance survey."

An interesting question: what percentage of these Teach Tennessee fellows join the TEA (Tennessee Education Association) or the MNEA vs. teachers on the usual track?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

We were not patient enough

There are moments like this IPS (induced pluripotent stem cells) discovery today when my faith it in science is renewed.

Researchers in Wisconsin and Japan have turned ordinary human skin cells into what are effectively embryonic stem cells without using embryos or women's eggs -- the two hitherto essential ingredients that have embroiled the medically promising field in a nearly decade-long political and ethical debate. Washington Post

Another crucial vote of confidence came from James Battey, vice chairman of the National Institutes of Health's stem cell task force, which oversees decisions about funding stem cell research.

"I see no reason on Earth why this would not be eligible for federal funding," Battey said. "I think it's a wonderful new development."

I would hope that everyone on all sides of this political hot potato can embrace this new technique.

"We were not patient enough," [Yamanaka] said. Great quote. Some were insistent that we had to kill babies to get what we 'needed' now. Their lives were less important than ours and so they must be sacrificed. Not so.

And, thank God, this better way was accomplished by two different teams.
"Apparently there are various ways to get to Rome," said Rudolf Jaenisch, a stem cell researcher at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Mass.
What a great way to start Thanksgiving week.

Hillary is pro-uniforms

In comments to Iowa teachers recently:

[Hillary Rodham Clinton] supports implementing a school uniform policy so students, particularly girls, can focus on school and not peer pressure over what they wear. "Take that off the table and put the focus on school, not on what you're wearing," she said. Associated Press

Her views on teacher pay straddled the fence. Merit pay bad. Incentive pay good.
Merit pay for teachers "could be demeaning and discouraging, and who would decide" who would receive it, she said in a meeting with teachers at Cunningham Elementary. "It would open a whole lot of problems."
Clinton said Monday she does support incentives for teachers who work in geographic areas and on subjects where there are shortages. And she has said she supports "schoolwide pay for performance programs because I think that the school has to be viewed as a whole unit with everybody working together."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

B is the new N

AC at Volunteer Voters links to a short video of a woman asking John McCain about Hillary Clinton. "How do we beat the b****?" she asks. Apparently, this crossed the line for some. Because McCain responded that it was an excellent question it proves that he hates women. Please. The question is valid. It could have been worded more elegantly but this is politics. McCain doesn't have to own the words of everyone on the campaign trail that speaks. He doesn't have to correct them when they cross someone else's line. His initial response is to turn away (presumably to take a moment to gather his wits) and then responds "May I give the translation?" He knows it could have been worded better. It's after some crowd laughter (this very mixed group of men and women realize it's a dicey moment) , and a comment that most of the divorced men in America have made, before he says "That's an excellent question." He's not saying it was worded well. He's saying that the question about how to beat Clinton is excellent. Unfortunately, this clip doesn't really show him answering the question.

Is the B word going the way of the N word? Only certainly people can use it? Or are some going to insist we ban the use of the word in this fashion entirely? It seems to me some of the people howling the loudest about THIS use of the word haven't had a problem using it themselves when it suited their purposes.

The other story, and perhaps the more important one, here is that the questioner was a woman and she seems a bit pleased with herself at the asking. Clinton's problem is that there are lots of women out there who may not use that same rough language, but do agree she's not a nice person and she's got to be beaten. Clinton isn't getting the 'woman's vote' by default. She's going to have to earn it. Throwing down the feminist card isn't going to do it for me, or a lot of women I know. These are women who've had to earn their positions in the world, women who've made choices that the feminists don't approve of (despite being pro-choice), women who don't believe you have to be a woman in order to represent women well in our republican form of government, women who are legitimately concerned about the sort of world Clinton wants to create, women who've had to work around the radical feminist baggage that focuses on the use of a word vs. the world Clinton would create if given the power she wants.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Fundamental duh

Isn't this what the majority of Metro parents and taxpayers expected from MNPS all along?

Nashville’s public school district may soon consider adding principles of “fundamental schools” to its growing palette of educational options.
According to Garcia’s letter, fundamental schools are defined as family oriented schools with an “updated” back-to-basics approach — this can include increased emphasis on student personal responsibility, more stringent dress codes, and close working relationships between parents and teachers. City Paper
OK, maybe the dress code thing isn't on everyone's wish list, but certainly we can all agree on back-to-basics, student personal responsibility and parents and teachers partnering in the child's education as what should be normal for MNPS, not just another option.

And we could learn a lot more from the education reforms former Gov. Jeb Bush brought to Florida's public education system. Now there was an education governor. Don't stop at replicating Florida's fundamental schools. Throw open the doors and give parents some real choices.

It's Your Job

As we become more and more dependent upon the Nanny State it's inevitable that someone has to push back and tell parents what THEIR job is.

[Referee J. Michael] O'Neil deals with a teenager who just had a baby. Her mom is by her side and the baby is strapped to her chest. She left school to have the child but was supposed to receive at-home services. According to mom, the teacher never showed up.

"That's your job, mom, you should have been on that," O'Neil says. "Pedro Garcia should have tripped over you every day until your child got the homebound teacher she needed.

"If she had cancer, you'd be breaking down the door at Vanderbilt," he says, now yelling. "This is cancer of the mind. She didn't get a homebound teacher and you didn't do anything about it." Tennessean

This really is fundamental and it's a sad day when it's not obvious to mom that she should have/could have dunned MNPS about her daughter's home bound teacher. It's YOUR job parent, to make sure that your children get an education. It's time consuming. It's inconvenient. It's frustrating to beat all---but YOU brought them into the world you've got to ensure they get the skills they need to live well.

If you don't know how to work the system, don't know where Garcia's office is so he can trip over you---ask for help. Put your pride down for their sake. Talk loud and often about what isn't happening for your child and ask how their needs can be met. Don't take no for an answer. Often, no is just the quick and convenient answer. Respond to no with questions about who is next up the authority ladder, who can make it happen.

Don't know what your child isn't getting? Start with some frank discussions with their teachers and other adults in their lives. Find someone who is familiar with the system and has used it successfully for their children. Ask them to mentor you---and then be sure to mentor another parent when you get your head above water and your child is successfully launched in a better educational path.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Good for them

The 451 MNPS students who took the SAT and boosted the MNPS average higher certainly deserve some credit, but it's not them, it's MNPS that's getting the good press.

We're told in the headline (and that's all that most people will read) that the SAT scores 'jumped' above the national average but past SAT data isn't provided. We'll just have to take their word for it.

“That indicates that our top students can compete with top students anywhere,” [Paul] Changas [director of assessment and evaluation for the district] said. “Over the last five years, we’ve gone on the SAT from being below the state average to being above the state average. … Demographically, this group should be comparable to groups across the state.” City Paper 2007-11-12 "Metro’s high-achieving SAT-takers among the nation’s best, district says" (no link thanks to their new and improve "e-paper")

Good for them. Really. They managed to do what too many of our students cannot. Twice as many students likely will not even graduate. (See counter at top right.)

Friday, November 09, 2007

How has this been demonstrated?

We are also fortunate to have a mayor who considers this issue a top priority. Karl Dean made the reduction of our dropout rate a pivotal issue in his campaign and continues to make the improvement of education an overall priority. (Sydney Rogers, Executive Director of Alignment Nashville) Tennessean
Frankly, I wouldn't expect much from any mayor at this early point in their tenure and so I'm surprised that Ms. Rogers considers this one of his top priorities. I don't doubt Mayor Dean sincerely wants to improve our public education system and has staff going through his options---but, ummm...other than going on a listening tour... how has our new mayor made improving education an overall priority? It would have been more helpful if Ms. Rogers had enumerated the ways in which Mayor Dean has proven this to her.

She also writes:
These students need extra tutoring and help with things such as how to study for college entrance exams. They need access to computers, because their families generally cannot afford them at home. Many need to be taught English.
They don't need computers. They need classrooms with adequate electricity to handle computers first and clean water and air conditioning for those early August school days. They need reading teachers--through high school. They do need tutors and counselors and their families need the freedom to pick a program that works for their child regardless of the status of the school. They need ordinary voters and taxpayers to go to bat for them and demand that the system account for itself.

Rezone reschedule

A bit of scrambling with the schedule for the rezoning public hearing previously scheduled for November 15 at East Literature. It's been moved to December 4. Also, they're making people sign up before speaking so if you've got something to say, show up early and sign the speaker's sheet.

MNPS reschedules public hearing on student assignment

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Nov. 9, 2007) – Metro Schools has delayed a planned public hearing on the proposed student assignment plan for 2008-2009 to allow for additional community meetings and input.

The hearing, originally scheduled for Nov. 15, will now be held Tuesday, Dec. 4, at East Literature Magnet, 110 Gallatin Road. The hearing will begin at 6:30 p.m., with sign-ups from 5-6:15 p.m. for those wishing to speak. The original date for the public hearing, Nov. 15, will now be a Board work session on the plan, to be held at 6 p.m. at the Central Administration Building on Bransford Avenue.

“It is important to every member of the Board that we provide as many opportunities as possible for our communities to review and respond to this proposed plan,” said Board Chair Marsha Warden. “While we have already held numerous meetings, it became apparent that Nov. 15 was too soon for us to have a public hearing when we had community meetings scheduled after that date.”

Still no meeting hosted by 22 year BOE member Ed Kindall whose term expires this August. No response to my e-mail asking if he was going to host one at all.

Here's the current schedule snipped from the website.

October 22 – Antioch High School at 6:30 p.m. - hosted by Karen Johnson, Jo Ann Brannon
October 25 – Hillwood High School at 6:30 p.m. - hosted by Marsha Warden
October 29 – Madison School at 6 p.m. - hosted by Mark North
October 30 – Stratford High School at 6 p.m. - hosted by Gracie Porter
November 1 - Napier Elementary at 6 p.m. - hosted by Steve Glover
November 5 – John Early at 6 p.m. - hosted by Marsha Warden
November 6 – Bass Middle at 6:30 p.m. - hosted by George Thompson
November 8 – Brick Church at 6:30 p.m. - hosted by George Thompson

Monday, November 12 - Maplewood High at 6 p.m. - hosted by Gracie Porter
Thursday, November 15 - Board Work Session at 5 p.m., Central Administration Building
Monday, November 26 - J.T. Moore Middle at 6:30 p.m. - hosted by David Fox
Tuesday, December 4 - Public Hearing to be held at East Literature Magnet at 6:30 p.m. Those wishing to speak should sign-up prior to the hearing, from 5-6:15 p.m.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Romney ed comments

He wasn't going to get the NEA endorsement anyway.

''I also believe parents who are teaching their kids at home, homeschoolers, deserve a break, and I've asked for a tax credit to help parents in their homes with the cost of being an at-home teacher,'' he said.

Romney supports giving parents more educational options, through charter schools or vouchers, but he said legislation should be done on a state level.

''I really hesitate to have the federal government become too involved in local schools,'' he said.

Romney also said teachers are underpaid and better teachers should be rewarded with more money.

''I'd like to see there be a relationship between the pay of the teacher and their performance, their career track, their ability to mentor other students,'' Romney told more than 100 people at a children's museum in this early voting state. ''We need to treat teachers like the professionals they are and not like people manufacturing widgets on an assembly line.'' NY Times

This tax credit for homeschoolers doesn't really fly. There are too many people in society that contribute to the funding of public schools that don't have children in the system to allow it. Additionally, there are all sorts of concerns in the homeschooling community about qualifying for something like this. When you've got some states that highly regulate homeschooling and others that don't even have it codified---it gets sticky pretty quickly. It doesn't bring me a millimeter closer to voting for him at all. It does make me wonder who is counseling him about the issue though.

Shearon shares his POV

Dave Shearon (a former MNPS BOE member from 1998 to 2001) made some very helpful observations in two recent posts to the NashvillePTOTalk list. I think they deserve broader publication and he has generously given me permission to post them here as he's no longer including MNPS issues on his blog.

I've been a little confused by MNPS getting "A's" on value-added even though we are losing ground to the state. So, I did a little investigating.

An "A" only means that a school or system is not doing significantly worse at helping students make gains than the state average from 1998. That's right, 1998 is the measuring stick, so it makes perfect sense that, with the vast majority of schools getting better, MNPS could be doing a poorer job of improving and still make A's.

Of course, this means that our students -- at all pre-achievement levels -- are losing ground to their peers across the state. For example, the 25th percentile for 3rd graders in 2002 for MNPS corresponded to the 22nd percentile for the state. Today, those students are at the 16th percentile. Our 50th percentile was the state's 44th, and today it's the 36th. Our 75th used to

Members of the public can only see this data at the system level. Board Members, Dr. Garcia, and anyone to whome he gives a password can see similar data (and much more) for individual schools. Thus, if our leadership wanted to, it is possible for them to report on many additional views of our performance. For example, they could report, if they wanted to, on how zoned schools are doing compared to the academic magnets at helping high-achieving students to gain knowledge and skills in exchange for the time they spend sitting in class. This could be similar to the study I produced in 1999 ( or they might find a better format. But it could be done relatively easily.

There are other interesting results that can be pulled from the online data available to Board members and the administration. For example, they could look at the effect of high concentrations of beginning or ineffective teachers in some feeder patterns. ( When I did my study, it meant requesting paper copies of a thick bundle of school-level reports, entering that data into spreadsheets and doing the anlysis. Today, it's just a password and a few clicks for any Board member.

In fairness, I should note that any Board member who undertook such an effort would open themselves up to attacks on three fronts.

First, they would be accused of not being supportive of the system. Many in the system and many parent and community supporters treat hard but fair questions as "attacking public schools."

Second, although I think access could be given to a Board member only down to the school level, for example, the system available to Dr. Garcia and those he designates (other administrators, principals for their own schools, etc.) goes to the teacher and even the student level. This leaves the Board member as a possible suspect if confidential data becomes public. Note: the kind of performance analysis I am suggesting is not confidential.

Third, some analyses would leave the Board member subject to accusations of mis-placed priorities. This line of attack sounds like "As long as low-achieving students are struggling, how can you be concerned about whether we're wasting the time of those who are already doing well?" For "low-achieving", feel free to substitute "minority", "poor", "ELL", "special-education" or any other categorization. The truth is that ALL parents want their children to be engaged, happy, and learning at school and Board members SHOULD represent ALL parents.

To me, the political risks to Board members are the price of leadership. We should have better information on how ALL our students are doing than we do today, and the fact that we don't is the responsibility of the Board.

David N. Shearon, JD, MAPP
Nashville, TN
Contributing monthly to

and Dave continues in this second post:

I think it is fair to say we have not made the stunning gains that the PR campaign of MNPS has tried to claim and that we have made NO WHERE NEAR the jaw-dropping gains that Dr. Garcia claimed for his former district when he was being recruited.

Further, the data suggests that, at least through 2005 (the last year this study was updated), we weren't helping students learn as much between grades 3 and 8. Now, does this apply to every group of students, or is it weighed down by group differences such as increased ELL. Or, put another way, are early high-achieving, non-FARM students doing as well now as they were in 2008? Impossible for us to determine, but Dr. Garcia or his staff or a Board member could provide the answer.

Yes the state standards for proficiency are weak, and thus AYP under NCLB is weak, though we're not even achieving it. Remeber that AYP is based on a minimum cut score that creates no pressure to be concerned about high-achieving students (or those so far below the system determines they won't make it).

David N. Shearon, JD, MAPP
Nashville, TN
Contributing monthly to

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

It's all about them

I'm pigging backing on Ben's post of yesterday where he pointed out the Davidson County Clerk's website.

Ben's highlighted a couple of political office holders that seem intent on making sure you know their name come election time and I've fussed about the Court Clerk website that contained more information about him than the court. I really do think that the title of the office should always get top billing and be in a much larger font than the name of the office holder. I'll grant you the days of being encouraged to write the personal name of the County Clerk on your checks has passed but we've still got a way to go, obviously. Perhaps we should insist that half the cost of signs like this come from the office holder's campaign funds.

UPDATE: Well, them and their friends. This shot of a County Clerk's window with business cards for a muffler repair shop, a junk car buyer and an auto detailer. It pays to have friends in the right places.

Is the city getting reimbursed for providing this advertising space?

Spelling Bee mulligan

After publicly declaring that they will no longer sponsor the local spelling bee which resulted in a call for someone to step up, and the Nashville Scene being right there to do so, the Tennessean has recanted and is now going to host the spelling bee. This e-mail to coordinators yesterday:

From: "Spradlin, Melissa"

November 6, 2007

After much thought and evaluation, The Tennessean has made the decision to continue our sponsorship of the Middle Tennessee Regional Spelling Bee. This means that schools in this area will have the opportunity to participate in the Middle Tennessee Regional Spelling Bee and the winner of that bee will participate in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Belmont University will co-sponsor the bee with The Tennessean this year, as they did last.

I have notified Scripps National Spelling Bee of our decision and that I am in the process of notifying our local contacts in this region. They have reopened registration for this region. If your schools want to participate in the Scripps National Spelling Bee eligibility and qualifying structure, then they need to register with Scripps at as soon as possible.


Ann Zangri, 615-259-8397 or, and Thom Storey, 615-460-5447 or, will be coordinating this yearʼs Middle Tennessee Regional Spelling Bee.


Melissa J. Spradlin

Monday, November 05, 2007

Report cards

I encourage everyone to take the headlines and MNPS quotes with a grain of salt. Both the state and MNPS have had months for their staffs to go over the latest report card information and frame the data in the best possible light to meet their needs. The rest of us are now getting our first look at it and are working hard to analyze it and compare it to previous years as well as with current statements from system administrators. Not all the information is being presented in the same format as last year which makes it more difficult to find and compare apples to apples.

Need to upgrade MS Office?

Check out the MS Office Ultimate 2007 absolute steal (link corrected).

There are only two rules:

You must hold a valid email address at a U.S.
educational institution ending in
(for example,
Be actively enrolled with at least 0.5 course load.

If you can qualify you pay about $60 for Access, Excel, Groove, Info Path, Outlook, Power Point, Publisher, and Word.

It expires April 30, 2008 so you've got some time to get yourself enrolled somewhere and save some $600.00.

David Fox Rezoning meeting

Just got a note from David Fox saying he's hosting a Hillsboro Cluster rezoning meeting on November 26 at 6:30 pm in the JT Moore auditorium.

October 22 – Antioch High School at 6:30 p.m. - hosted by Karen Johnson, Jo Ann Brannon
October 25 – Hillwood High School at 6:30 p.m. - hosted by Marsha Warden
October 29 – Madison School at 6 p.m. - hosted by Mark North
October 30 – Stratford High School at 6 p.m. - hosted by Gracie Porter
November 1 - Napier Elementary at 6 p.m. - hosted by Steve Glover

November 5 – John Early at 6 p.m. - hosted by MNPS BOE Chair Marsha Warden
November 6 – Bass Middle at 6:30 p.m. - hosted by George Thompson
November 8 – Brick Church at 6:30 p.m. - hosted by George Thompson
November 12 - Maplewood High at 6 p.m. - hosted by Gracie Porter
November 15 - East Literature Magnet at 6:30 p.m. - Public Hearing
November 26 - J.T. Moore Middle at 6:30 p.m. - hosted by David Fox

Still no word from Ed Kindall

View the proposed plan in discussion by clicking here.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Mazel Tov

Ben's right, it was obvious that something serious was getting in the way of Blake's blogging (and we've really missed those video blogs). Great news! I wish them much happiness.

He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD. Pvb. 18:22

Friday, November 02, 2007


Some folks have learned just how far their support for public education goes. It stops at the green line.

"It has always been school property...The district does not mind neighbors using the greenspace, but now the district must use it for parking for a facility that will advance education for the entire community." MNPS Director of Schools Dr. Pedro Garcia (City Paper)

It'll be interesting to see how this plays out. What every neighborhood wants is assurance that their quality of life cannot be thrown into a tailspin by any Metro entity without due process and reasonable consideration.

Press Release
Hillsboro - West End Neighborhood Association

- For immediate release -
Neighborhood Sues for Specific Plan Zoning at Historic Eakin School Property

The Hillsboro - West End Neighborhood Association (HWEN) has filed a lawsuit in Chancery Court to challenge the legality of the building permit for the Martin Professional Development Center at 24th Avenue
and Fairfax Avenue (Eakin School). The center is being developed by
the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County as a teacher training

On September 23, the board of HWEN voted to request Metro Schools to
collaborate on Specific Plan (SP) zoning for the historic Eakin school
property currently being renovated for the Professional Development
Center. Specific Plan zoning provides a means to craft a legal and
enforceable agreement meeting the needs of Metro Schools while
addressing the concerns of neighbors regarding traffic, parking, and
the preservation of green space.

Metro Schools has informed HWEN that they do not believe it is in
their best interests to collaborate on rezoning of the property at
this time. HWEN has filed the lawsuit prevent this project from
setting a precedent that could affect other neighborhoods and to
prevent changes to the Eakin site without due process now and in the

The property is currently zoned for residential use, which allows
residential development or the construction of a school for
kindergarten through twelfth grade students. The use of this property
for professional adult education is not consistent with the zoning.
The Eakin School building is also protected by Historic Landmark
Overlay zoning.

Metro Schools developed the site plan for the Martin Professional
Development Center without following required legal procedures for
rezoning. Existing zoning and historic preservation ordinances were
ignored or bypassed. Only after the building permit was issued were
neighbors given the opportunity to review the plans.

A group of neighbors has recently been involved in intensive
negotiations with Metro to resolve these questions. As a result of
these talks, significant design changes have been made by Metro to
preserve a well used playing field. Important issues remain
unresolved, including a new driveway and parking lot at the front of
the site, limits on the amount of traffic coming into the
neighborhood, and a traffic and parking study of the project.

Several years ago, when the historic Eakin School building was
threatened with demolition, the Hillsboro - West End Neighborhood
Association encouraged Metro to find a creative re-use of this
structure. Metro Schools proposed a teachers' training center for
this property, and the neighborhood welcomed this development. At
that time, Metro Schools and the Nashville Alliance for Public
Education agreed to collaborate with the neighborhood to resolve
issues related to traffic and parking and preservation of green
space. This agreement was not fulfilled.

The Hillsboro West End Neighborhood Association has successfully
negotiated zoning changes with private developers such as Harris-
Teeter on 21st Avenue and with merchants in Hillsboro Village and
hopes that it can ultimately do so with Metro Schools. HWEN has
brought this matter to the attention of the court only because Metro
Schools has ignored the law and the need to collaborate with the
community. HWEN continues to support the training center as a
valuable asset for Metro teachers and welcomes an appropriately-sited
and legally permitted facility in the neighborhood. The neighborhood
association is committed to resolving this issue without undue delay
or budget increases to this project.

For more information, please contact:

Skip Hindman - phone 473-9098

Not in Your Back Yard

The problem with Phil Bredesen and wife, Andrea Conte's plan to install the Bredesen Bunker in the front yard of the governor's mansion is that well, it's not their home, it's not their front yard and it's not their neighborhood. They're just 'renting' if you will and neither she nor the Governor should make such a drastic change in a neighborhood they're not invested in. The house comes with the job and they, apparently, got the job, took one look at the government digs and said, "No, thanks. We'll stay in our own home."

I'll grant you that the mansion needed major rehabbing. I'm thankful that she's taken on the task. However, if the house isn't large enough for state functions--take them elsewhere. Nashville is loaded with facilities that could be utilized instead. I haven't yet heard any sort of convincing explanation as to why those commercial spaces or other state facilities are inadequate.

It'll take 16 months to complete, we're told. By then the Bredesen's will be short timers and Tennesseans will be seriously looking for the next 'renters'. Even if they're not living there, the Bredesen's need to be good neighbors and give up "Conservation Hall".

Build a better shelter

Here's another group of people that it's forbidden to criticize without bringing down the wrath of the social engineers. Again, some basic common sense seems to be lacking.

On Wednesday the Nashville Homeless Power Project, a homeless advocacy group made up almost entirely of men and women who remain homeless, sent out a press release blasting the Nashville Rescue Mission, the single largest homeless shelter in the city, for what it called “horrible” conditions those seeking shelter at the mission are subject to. City Paper

Two comments:

1. Why are they still homeless? Shouldn't these homeless advocates lead by example? "Yeah, we used to be where you are, but here's how we improved our lot. You can too."
2. Why don't they start their own shelter and show us how it's done? Apparently they have the experience and know how---let's see them do it better.
“But our organizations have a different starting point. They are saying that those things are rights and entitlements, that they should be given to every homeless person, and the way to solve homelessness is to build houses at taxpayers’ expense. (Cliff Treadway of the Nashville Rescue Mission)
And taxpayer compassion will only go so far. Just a quick reading through the City Paper comments section will reveal that. I believe most taxpayers don't mind providing a hand up---it's the perpetual hand out that wears thin.
“So I would say that if we are successful, as some other cities have been, the mission will have some soul searching to do about can they transition away from programs that are shelter-oriented to be more long-term supportive housing type programs.” CM Erik Cole
Why can't we have both? Why can't the Rescue Mission continue its spiritually based emergency program and the NHPP create a 'long-term supportive housing type program'? If the NHPP model works better---then I expect the Rescue Mission folks are smart enough to recognize that and change accordingly. Or maybe, there's room for both.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Who is in charge here?

One day, [Frank] Gibson [currently with Tennessee Commission on Open Government] said, two newspaper reporters refused to leave when the Legislature was discussing the regulation of lobbyists.

The chairman tried to find a sergeant at arms to remove the two reporters, but was unable. The committee adjourned, and the following day, the Senate banned The Tennessean from reporting on the floor. It instead had to cover the legislature from the gallery.

The Tennessean sued in federal court, which ruled that the Senate’s ban on the newspaper was unconstitutional.

A public meetings law followed soon after in February 1972. Chattanooga Pulse

Let's hope that sort of action isn't required again. The difference between now and then--streaming video, You Tube, cell phones (with cameras), BlueTooth and WiFi and plenty of laptops (not to mention old fashioned pens and pencils) are at the ready. It's not just a couple of print reporters anymore. The Tennessean may buy ink by the barrel but Blogspot gives pixels away for free.

Gentlemen, we don't want to go there. Do the right thing.

See Regressive Government post.