Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Register to Run KIPP Decision By School Board Dec. 9

Posted By on Wed, Nov 26, 2014 at 8:00 AM

Mark your calendar. After months of agitation over which low-performing school will be the first the district hands over to a charter operator, Director of Schools Jesse Register says he’ll run his decision by the school board, first.

But whether the board will make an acceptance or denial at its Dec. 9, and whether any vote would be a binding decision, is still up for interpretation, according to district officials.

"The board approved a KIPP conversion," Register told reporters after the meeting. "This is pretty late to go back on what the plan's been all along, as far as I'm concerned. But someone can make a motion and it takes five votes to pass it. I feel good about the fact that we are being very deliberate with fitting, with matching a KIPP contract that we have with a school that would benefit from a conversion to a KIPP school. We'll be glad to discuss that and the reasons why at the next board meeting."

Register and his team spent two hours explaining their strategy for turning around 15 area schools the state labeled as worst in the state while defending his administration’s ability to manage school turnarounds although four schools are repeats on the state list.

The director of schools, who has been engulfed with criticism over the plan namely from families in East Nashville where the several low-performing schools are located, said he would bring his recommendation to the board at its next meeting. He said the move will delay his announcement planned for the week before which would have given more time for area parents to decide whether to stay at the schools.

What would happen if the school board rejects his proposal is unknown. Board members regularly critical of Register or opposed to his recent support of charter school total three out of nine members. Should a vote go against his proposal, Register says he’s unsure who has the final say but said Metro's legal department will research the district's contract with KIPP to determine who has final authority.

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Oh, I Guess It Was No Weight

Posted By on Wed, Nov 26, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Remember when I said, "A kid is dead. A man has to live with the weight of taking that life, assuming he's not a sociopath."?

ABC’s George Stephanopoulos reports that Darren Wilson says he has a clean conscience.

All righty then. That makes no sense to me. At all. I don't know any police officers who've taken a life, but I know my share of veterans and the ones who killed people—people who were trying to kill them—live with the weight of it. Even if they know it was justified. I know people who've killed people on accident—in accidents where the person who died was at fault. They still feel... if not exactly guilt... a deep and profound wish that things had gone differently.

I don't understand how you take a life and have no regrets. Even if you believe it was completely justified.

But this, like a lot of things about Darren Wilson's account of himself, seems unbelievable.

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Scenes from Nashville's Ferguson Protest Tuesday Night

Posted By on Wed, Nov 26, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Photographer Martin Cherry was at the Ferguson protests on Broadway last night and shot these scenes for Pith. Several hundred protestors — police estimated 450 at its peak — demonstrated in front of the Metro Police station, marched to Broadway and then east across the James Robertson Parkway bridge before continuing on to I-24 and briefly stopping traffic there.

A diverse crowd walked, rode motorized wheelchairs and cupped candles against the cold under cutouts and posters reading "Black Lives Matter." Though the protest brought traffic to a standstill, the mood was much different than the images that have dominated the airwaves and social media over the past 36 hours, at least early in the evening. At a crosswalk near the police station, a white officer held traffic for black protestors, one of whom said a quiet, "Thanks." When an onlooker told a Metro policeman he was glad to see the police using restraint, the officer shrugged and responded, "You gotta let people do what they need to do."

  • Martin Cherry @martinbcherry

  • Martin Cherry @martinbcherry

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Daily Links: Ferguson, Eminem, and Mockingjay

Posted By on Tue, Nov 25, 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 Grantland: Shady XLII: Eminem in 2014

From The New York Times: Officer Darren Wilson’s Grand Jury Testimony in Ferguson, Mo., Shooting

From The New Yorker: Chronicle of a Riot Foretold

From Rabbithole: Cheating-ass weiner dog will not be stopped

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Bridgestone Paid for Bridgestone Economic Impact Study

Posted By on Tue, Nov 25, 2014 at 10:28 AM

In a speech to the Downtown Rotary Club yesterday, Mayor Karl Dean hailed his administration's recent incentives deal with Bridgestone and cited an economic impact study to validate it.

The study from the University of Tennessee, he said, found that “more than 3,200 direct and indirect jobs will be created by Bridgestone’s headquarters expansion, adding $240 million a year to the local economy.”

By the way: the Nashville Business Journal reports this morning that the study was funded by Bridgestone.

In summary: a study funded by the corporation receiving massive incentives to locate here found that the corporation receiving massive incentives to locate here will be a great thing for the local economy. It may well be true. But has a corporation receiving massive incentives to locate somewhere ever funded a study that said anything different?

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Three Things to Help Understand the Events in Ferguson

Posted By on Tue, Nov 25, 2014 at 9:45 AM

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "Much Worse Than August"

The Post-Dispatch has a running story of events that happened throughout the night in Ferguson as well as a gallery of pictures.

Shortly after 1:30 a.m., St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar spoke with reporters at a press conference after a night of looting and burned-out businesses after the grand jury announcement. He said he was grateful nobody was killed but disappointed at the amount of damage in the Ferguson area.

“What I've seen tonight is probably much worse than the worst night we ever had in August, and that's truly unfortunate,” he said.

He said that there was basically “nothing left” along West Florissant between Solway Avenue and Chambers Road. “Frankly, I'm heartbroken about that," he said.

From the New York Times: An annotated description of Officer Darren Wilson's grand jury testimony

At the conclusion of last night's primetime press conference, a massive amount of grand jury testimony was released, including the shooter's:

Officer Darren Wilson’s testimony before the St. Louis County grand jury stands out both for what he says, and how he describes what happened. He begins by noting his own size — nearly 6-foot-4, weighing around 210 pounds. Then he proceeds to explain why, in his view, the episode with Mr. Brown, whom he compares to a demon and Hulk Hogan, became violent.

There is also a link here to the entire collection of grand jury transcripts and evidence as well as all photos from the scene.

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Email Shows Register Consulted With Charter Lobbyist on East Nashville Plan

Posted By on Tue, Nov 25, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Jesse Register: not the brightest bulb
  • Jesse Register
The East Nashville parents hating on school superintendent Jesse Register have discovered another reason to be pissed off. As part of their public records request, they’ve been given an email from Register that sets their hair on fire.

As they explain on their blog, this email exchange occurred on Aug. 28 — 11 days before Register stepped in it by announcing out of the blue that he wants to turn East Nashville into an all-choice zone with a lot of charters.

Register received an email from school board member Jill Speering — a charter skeptic — asking to discuss what to do about the city's low-performing schools. About an hour later, Register forwarded Speering's email to Drew Kim, a so-called policy consultant and lobbyist for charter school companies, and the superintendent added his own little comment:

On Aug 28, 2014, at 6:26 PM, "Register, Dr Jesse" wrote:

See below! Smile

Sent from my iPhone

Kim replied, "Great. The 9th will be your time!" referring to the date Register made the announcement that enraged the parents.

What this shows, of course, is that while parents were kept in the dark, Register merrily was hatching his grand plan for their children in the backroom with the charter school industry’s lobbyists. That’s a PR train wreck in the making. If Register was surprised at the parents’ reaction, he’s a bigger chucklehead than they think he is. We bet he's not smiling anymore.

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Activists Planning Citizen's Audit of Votes Cast at Cora Howe Precinct

Posted By on Tue, Nov 25, 2014 at 8:30 AM

A group of activists is planning to survey every voter from an East Nashville precinct in an attempt to verify that their votes were properly recorded by electronic voting machines.

Questions about the precinct at Cora Howe Elementary initially stemmed from a poll workers' concerns that the precinct's results on the Amendment One referendum earlier this month were flawed. Now members of the group, called Gathering to Save our Democracy, say they witnessed problems with the machines themselves.

Bernie Ellis, a veteran squeaky wheel when it comes to electronic voting machines among other things, says he voted "No" on Amendment One, but noticed that his vote had changed to "Yes" when he went back to review his ballot. He says he also spoke to another voter who made a selection on every race and amendment, only to go back to review the ballot before submitting it and find that his votes on all four amendments had been erased.

So Ellis and the group are planning to attempt something they say has never been done in the country before — a 100 percent exit poll of the 876 people who voted at the precinct.

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MNPS’ Capital Wish List Includes $203 Million for Next Year

Posted By on Tue, Nov 25, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Renovation projects at three high schools, upgrades in heating and cooling systems and swapping out aging buses are leading costs on Metro School’s capital wish this year.

The school district’s first draft of capital projects officials plan to ask the mayor and Metro Council for includes $86 million between three major high school renovations and classroom additions, according to the first draft of the Capital Improvement Budget released last week. The schools include Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet and Overton High School waiting on a mixture of building repairs and new classrooms to alleviate overcrowding, and Nashville School of the Arts needing building repairs.

As we reported in Part II of our series on the problems facing Metro Schools on this week's cover, three in 10 schools ares overcrowded this year at MNPS. Forty three total schools are teaching more students than they have space for, like Tusculum Elementary which sits at 135 percent capacity, has nearly 200 more students than the building can hold and is home to a city of 21 portable classrooms behind its aging main building.

The top 10 most-crowded schools range from 117 percent to 142 percent of capacity. The city has approved funding to alleviate overcrowding at all but one of those schools, but many students won’t feel relief for at least another year until construction is finished.

The district calculates $130 million in repairs of school and campus buildings this year, and another $73 million for district-wide expenses, such as HVAC upgrades, new buses, and other expenses like window replacements, roof repairs and technology.

The total comes to $203 million. Typically, the city funds a little more than $100 million a year.

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Monday, November 24, 2014

The Daily Links: Odell Beckham, Angela Merkel, and Coca Cola

Posted By on Mon, Nov 24, 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 The Atlantic: The Gospel of Rudy Giuliani

From The New York Times: Calling Out Bill Cosby’s Media Enablers, Including Myself

From Grantland: Odell Beckham and the Catch of the Year of the Century

From The New Yorker: The astonishing rise of Angela Merkel, the most powerful woman in the world.

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