Friday, October 31, 2014

Register: Churchwell Can Turn Itself Around With District Support

Posted By on Fri, Oct 31, 2014 at 11:37 AM

In the last four years, four principals have lead Robert Churchwell Museum Magnet Elementary and nearly the entire teaching staff has turned over. About three-fourths of students are below grade level in reading, math and science, and statistically, 38 out of 100 children will not spend their full school year there.

Metro Schools Superintendent Jesse Register says he believes the North Nashville school “priority school” in the Pearl Cohn cluster can turn itself around and adds he doesn’t see a need to close the school or hand it off to a charter.

“I think we’ve got things headed in the right direction here. We’ll see what else we need to do to make it fly,” said Register. Asked about the prospects of converting the school into a charter school, he said, “I don’t think that’s practical here. I do think there are some indicators that this school can be a successful turnaround.”

One of his goals is to figure out how to get teachers to stay at the school, he said, a challenge he hopes will be easier with the current principal in place who he says he’s confident in.

About 30 parents attended Register’s parent meeting at the school, staying for a student poetry recital and chili supper immediately following the director’s remarks. Parents at the open Q&A said they want more tools for being effectively involved in their child’s education and know what standards their children have to master, and see leaders from their school come out to the homes of struggling students. They also said they want to see more diversity at the school which is more than 93 percent black.

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The Front of the Book: Juana Villegas, Gotto-Jernigan 2, The Royals, and More

Posted By on Fri, Oct 31, 2014 at 7:00 AM

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On the cover this week, Heather Lyn Wood with an update on Juana Villegas and a look at how the government deals with immigrant women.

Villegas garnered national attention in 2011 when she sued the department for shackling her hands and legs during labor with her son Gael. Based on Villegas' description of the events surrounding Gael's birth, federal Justice William Haynes found prima facie evidence that Villegas was the victim of a crime — conspiracy by the sheriff's department to deprive her of civil rights under color of law — and signed an order recommending the approval of her U-Visa petition.

According to Villegas' attorney, immigrant rights advocate Elliott Ozment, this was the first case in history in which a federal judge entered an opinion certifying a U-Visa for an immigrant based on prima facie violations of that immigrant's civil rights and conspiracy to violate those civil rights.

Recent headlines have illuminated the plight of migrant families detained at the U.S. border with Mexico. But controversial treatment of immigrant women and children by the United States government is nothing new. Cases like Villegas' show that Immigration and Customs Enforcement has not always adhered to its own policies in regard to nursing mothers — a group of immigrants the government claims to want to protect.

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Daily Links: Matt Taibbi, Tim Cook, and #TechnologyAndStuff

Posted By on Thu, Oct 30, 2014 at 5:25 PM

Every day we read a lot of stuff. If it's interesting, thought provoking, funny or being shared by everyone we know on the Internet, we share some of it with you. Happy reading.

From The Intercept: The Inside Story Of Matt Taibbi’s Departure From First Look Media

From Grantland: The Curse of ‘Crash’: The Narratives That Doom Oscar Movies

From Bloomberg Businessweek: Tim Cook Speaks Up

From ESPN: Chevy makes most of execs' gaffes

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Diana Cuellar's Master Cleanse

Posted By on Thu, Oct 30, 2014 at 1:45 PM

Here's the problem when you use stock photos for your political sites:

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Democrats 4 Diana is the Facebook page for Democrats who support Diana Cuellar, the Republican running against Jeff Yarbro in the District 21 state senate race. Apparently all of the Democrats — an amazingly perfect array of sexes and races — walk around with their hands in pockets or crossed at all times. (There are also 11 of them, which is 3 more than have actually "liked" the page.)

They're also all part of the Master Cleanse (which is NOT, as it sounds, some proto-Third Reich thing):

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Tennessee, We're Politically Apathetic

Posted By on Thu, Oct 30, 2014 at 1:16 PM

I have a nagging suspicion that most folks here in the United States would prefer living in a dictatorship—let some dude far removed from your life make a bunch of decisions you can't do anything about other than complain. We pride ourselves on being the defenders of the free world, but we don't do the simple things we can do to ensure our freedoms here at home—like voting.

Tennessee is among the worst states for just sitting back and letting other people make decisions for us. Over at the Nashville Business Blog, they're reporting that we're the sixth least politically engaged state. They report that we're:

No. 38: Percent of registered voters in 2012 presidential election
No. 50: Percent of citizens who voted in the 2010 midterm elections
No. 46: Percent of citizens who voted in the 2012 presidential election
No. 38: Total political contributors per adult population

I have thought about doing a post where I put up a picture of some random Republican legislator and ask, "Do you want this guy in your vagina, your wife's vagina, or your daughter's?" and then make the point that, if you don't want some guy you don't even know, can't even name when you see his face, to have as much or more say in your family's difficult medical decisions as you do, you should vote No on 1.

But, here's the scary part. Some of us, a very small amount of us, are already in the process right now of deciding how much control we should have over Tennessee women's bodies. Do we get to poke further in or do we stay where we're currently relegated? This is an enormous question about whether we should curtail the rights of women for the good of the community. And most of you are letting us make it. You're not going to vote on 1 at all.

You put your hands over your hearts at sporting events and you tear up when veterans march by in parades. You say you think this is the greatest country on earth. And then you don't vote. You don't do the one thing you need to do in order to be a good citizen.

It's both embarrassing and mystifying. All over the world, people struggle for the right to vote, for the ability to make their opinions heard. And here we are, basically acting like it's too much trouble. Leave it to other people.

There's not much difference between "don't vote" and "can't vote" in the end. Both mean that you don't get a real say in how you're governed. It's unamerican to not have a say in how you're governed. And it's unamerican not to vote.

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Mike Krause and Bill Haslam Need to Get on the Same Page

Posted By on Thu, Oct 30, 2014 at 6:00 AM

On Monday, Bill Haslam was down in Chattanooga discussing the Tennessee Promise, which is the program that provides two years of tuition-free community college to all of Tennessee's graduating high school seniors. According to the Times-Free Press, he seems really excited that the program is much more popular than the state had initially figured:

About two-thirds of Tennessee's graduating seniors have applied for Tennessee Promise, which guarantees to cover the cost of a two-year college degree. Saturday is the application deadline.

Haslam said the 43,000 high school seniors who've signed up for the scholarship program is more than double the original estimate of 20,000 students.

The governor said the scholarship program is critical to the state's manufacturers.

"If you talk to manufacturers, they love everything about Tennessee, but they're concerned about the depth of talent that's here long term," said Haslam, who was awarded the group's C.D. Mitchell Award, its top recognition.

He said that in a decade, 55 percent of all jobs will require a two- or four-year degree or technical certificate. Now, only about a third of Tennessee adults have the needed education.

"That's why we rolled out Tennessee Promise," Haslam said. "It really can be a game-changer for our state."

I don't often give credit to Governor Haslam and I am concerned that, unless the state brings higher education costs under control, the Tennessee Promise doesn't make four years of college any less expensive, but just shifts the costs to the last two years, but I completely agree with him here. It is exciting to see that so many kids are signing up for it. It is important that we get our young people educated and trained if we want to attract and keep good jobs. And giving kids a way to go to school after high school has real, long-lasting positive effects for society as a whole. Kids whose parents go to college are more likely to also go to college. People with any kind of post-high school degree earn much more money in the long run over people who only have high school educations. We're setting a state-wide expectation that you can go to college. It's not out of your reach.

This is some great stuff.

So, I'm not sure why Bill Haslam's own man, Mike Krause, head of the Tennessee Promise program, decided to piss in the soup, so to speak, but his comments to WPLN sure leave a bad taste in the mouth:

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Daily Links: Amelia Earhart, Steve Carell, and Reese Witherspoon

Posted By on Wed, Oct 29, 2014 at 5:00 PM

Every day we read a lot of stuff. If it's interesting, thought provoking, funny or being shared by everyone we know on the Internet, we share some of it with you. Happy reading.

From Discovery: Amelia Earhart Plane Fragment Identified

From The New York Times: Stepping Into Eccentricity’s Darker Side: Steve Carell Plays a du Pont in the Drama ‘Foxcatcher’

From The Toast: We Regret To Announce That Your Request Of “Gotta Hear Both Sides” Has Been Denied

From SB Nation: Can Ray Rice Go Home Again?

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Tennessee Ranks Near the Top in Felony Disenfranchisement

Posted By on Wed, Oct 29, 2014 at 2:06 PM

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  • The Sentencing Project

An estimated 341,815 voting-age Tennesseans will not be able to vote in next week's elections because of the state's highly restrictive felony disenfranchisement laws, according to a report from the Sentencing Project.

Tennessee is one of 12 states that restrict voting rights after a person has served their sentence, and as the graphic above shows, that contributes to one of the highest felony disenfranchisement rates in the country. The effect of these policies is disproportionately strong in the African-American community. In Tennessee, an estimated 18.9 percent of black adults are not able to vote this year as a result.

The numbers are just as staggering on the national level, where the Sentencing Project estimates that 5.9 million voting age Americans will be kept from the polls by disenfranchisement policies, 38 percent of whom are African-Americans. You can read a state-by-state breakdown of the total disenfranchisement numbers here and estimates of African-American disenfranchisement by state here. The estimates are based on the Sentencing Project's 2012 study on felony disenfranchisement.

(H/T The Washington Post)

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Caption Contest: Shoney Bear for Mayor!

Posted By on Wed, Oct 29, 2014 at 10:31 AM

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  • @daviddavoudpour

The best caption will receive a property tax break from the next bearoral administration.

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Five Things to Know From Last Night’s School Board Meeting, What’s Next

Posted By on Wed, Oct 29, 2014 at 7:00 AM

School board members spent two and one-half hours diving deep into an outside report rekindling a years-long debate about the role of charter schools in Nashville and discerning what advice the district took from a two-year-old Tribal report. Here’s a breakdown of the major takeaways, and then some.

1) Gentry favors a narrowed charter school policy. After avoiding the fray of pro-charter-anti-charter school fights, School Board Chairwoman Sharon Gentry came out in support of dictating to charter applicants specific needs the board wants met in the next application cycle instead of freeing charter school hopefuls to pitch any type of school they want, wherever they want.

"I would not have a vendor come to me with their own idea of what I need. I would paint the needs for my vendor,” said Gentry, adding the board should also annually assess other needs, such as for pre-k vendors and groups that can help with wrap around services at schools. "It's bigger, bigger, bigger, bigger than this one topic.”

The comments came in light of presentation of a report commissioned this summer to determine a charter fiscal capacity model, ultimately recommending the board set parameters for future charter school applicants. The school board needs to define those needs together based off district data/ Expect the board to dive into this topic shortly, ahead of the next charter school review cycle that starts when proposed operators file letters of intent on Feb. 1.

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