Wed
Feb 10 2016
01:24 pm
By: jbr  shortURL

Looks like he deserves positive recognition

from knoxnews.com ...

A federal lawsuit alleges that Tennessee football players twice assaulted wide receiver Drae Bowles for assisting the woman who accused linebacker A.J. Johnson and defensive back Michael Williams of rape in November 2014.

Lawsuit: UT football players assaulted Drae Bowles for helping rape victim

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5
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Anybody know if this will show in Knoxville?

from CNN …

"National Parks Adventure," a new IMAX 3D documentary narrated by Robert Redford and scheduled for global release on February 12, is shooting for those mega-sized proportions.

U.S. national parks get star treatment in new IMAX film

Behind the scenes

9
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Wed
Feb 10 2016
08:55 am

This AP report via Tom Humphrey quotes the CEO of Measurement, Inc., the vendor contracted to develop and administer TNReady online academic assessments, as saying he is "disappointed" that the state has scrapped the system and ordered paper and pencil testing. He says they have fixed the server errors that prevented more than half of students attempting to take the test from completing it.

The state's education commissioner said she "no longer had confidence in [the company's] ability to administer a new academic assessment test online."

As reported by the Nashville Scene, there were earlier indications that the system might not be ready for rollout this week.

In fact, similar problems were encountered when the state hired the same company to conduct online TCAP testing in 2014. And the problems involved more than just technical issues.

The State of Idaho reported similar problems for the 2014-2015 school year. Their testing was performed by a consortium of contractors that included Measurement, Inc. According to this report, "the state's request for proposals called for a price tag of $17.75 per student test; [the AIR/Measurement Inc. consortium] said it could produce scores at a price of $6.17 to $10.59 per test, depending on grade level and exam topic.

A 2011 report in the New York Times says as many as 7,000 private school admission tests were incorrectly scored "because of an incorrect answer key used by Measurement Incorporated, a Durham, N.C., company hired by the E.R.B. to tabulate the scores."

In 2005, the company faced fines by the State of Ohio after hundreds of the state's required graduation tests were incorrectly scored as "failing."

And who grades the tests? Apparently, Measurement Inc. hires temporary "reader/evaluator" contract workers to score the essay parts of the tests. The pay starts at $11.70 per hour with no benefits (Craigslist ad).

According to employee reviews on glassdoor.com, it's a decent place to work overall. But one reviewer says the company is "losing money," and another said in 2014: "Contracts that represent more than 50% of the company revenue are in their final year. This year management announced that there would be no raises and no cost of living increase, due to the uncertainty about the future contracts. Salaries are on the low-end to begin with and this only makes it worse. Several long-term employees were let go recently."

And a common theme among many "reader/evaluators" seems to be low pay, high pressure, short-term contracts and lack of benefits. Others are happy to get part-time occasional work.

(You have to take all that with a grain of salt, though, because reviews on glassdoor.com are anonymous and there are likely plenty of disgruntled employees with an ax to grind.)

Measurement Inc. was founded in 1980 and headquartered in Durham, NC. They have no doubt successfully conducted millions upon millions of tests for states around the country and perhaps these are isolated incidents. It appears, however, that there is a pattern, and red flags should have been raised by someone during the TNReady contract negotiations.

Which raises the question of whether student testing should even be a multi-billion dollar industry where student/teacher assessment testing is outsourced to the lowest bidder. How many more ways can we find to extract taxpayer money from public education for private profits?

10
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Tue
Feb 9 2016
05:10 pm

Tennessean via WBIR: Six women filed a federal lawsuit on Tuesday claiming the University of Tennessee has created a student culture that enables sexual assaults by student athletes, especially football players, and then uses an unusual, legalistic adjudication process that is biased against victims who step forward.

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16
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Tue
Feb 9 2016
04:56 pm

Citing further declines in sales during the holiday season, Sears Holdings has announced it plans to close at least 50 more Sears and K-Mart stores over the coming months.

According to the report, "Sears’ apparel offering has fallen so out of favor with women, the selection at thrift store Goodwill is more popular."

An analyst who follows the company warned that the company is "no longer viable as a retailer in its current form" according to Bloomberg.

The company has not named the stores to be closed, but CBS is reporting a partial list based on local notifications. It includes K-Mart stores in Cleveland, TN and Bellvue Center, TN.

Sears announced in January that they are closing a Memphis area store that has been there since 1958.

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8
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Tue
Feb 9 2016
11:34 am
By: R. Neal  shortURL

WBIR reports that former Pilot president Mark Hazelwood has been indicted in relation to the rebate scam probe. They are also reporting that as many as eight indictments are expected.

UPDATE: The indictment...

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Tue
Feb 9 2016
09:47 am

Local attorney Brandi Price has announced she is seeking the Democratic nomination for State Representative, District 18. Her announcement after the break...

Continued...

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The Super Bowl extravaganzas get more and more grand.

Super Bowl XIV (1980)
Simple. Inexpensive.

Super Bowl 50 (2016)
Grand. Expensive.

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Tue
Feb 9 2016
12:43 am
By: michael kaplan  shortURL

From Jewish Currents:

Dairy farmer Max Yasgur died on February 8, 1973, less than four years after hosting the Woodstock Festival of August 15-18, 1969 on his land in Bethel, New York. Yasgur was the largest milk producer in Sullivan County in the 1960s, with 650 cows. Although he was a Republican and supported the Vietnam War, he was angered by the opposition of his neighbors to the hippie festival. “If I know my American history,” he told his town board, “tens of thousands of Americans in uniform gave their lives in war after war just so those kids would have the freedom to do exactly what they are doing.” He was also appalled at the opportunism that led vendors to sell water and other basics at the overwhelmed event, and responded by distributing free water in milk bottles and giving away milk products.

17
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Mon
Feb 8 2016
06:50 pm

The State of Tennessee signed a $108 million contract with a North Carolina company to administer TCAP tests to students across the state. Local school districts spent millions more on technology upgrades to prepare. Instructional time was spent teaching students to use the system.

Today was supposed to be the first official day of testing. The on-line system failed and students were unable to take tests. The state now says it's back to pencil and paper for the rest of the school year.

TNReady tests to be given via paper, pencil after tech failure

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Mon
Feb 8 2016
06:15 pm

School voucher bill vote deferred by House 51-34 at sponsor Bill Dunn's request.

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Looks good ...

...could produce enough energy to power over one million homes by 2018 and reduce carbon emissions by an estimated 760,000 tons per year...

World's largest concentrated solar plant switches on in the Sahara

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Fri
Feb 5 2016
03:07 pm

BONUS: Comfortably Numb

(Disclaimer: This apparently went viral five years ago. I'm a little behind. Fortunately they have a sense of humor about it.)

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And vouchers have no place in it...

"Dunn's bill recently passed out of a key committee on an 11 to 10 vote, and now teeters on the verge of passing our Legislature. These bills often go by the name of vouchers, but let's call them what they are — a massive defunding of our public schools, taxpayer subsidies of private and parochial schools, further segregation of America by class, and opportunities for scam operations to tap into taxpayer education dollars."

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from Tennessean ...

Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk is suing a NewsChannel 5 investigative reporter and the station's parent company for $200 million because of a story that aired Wednesday evening.

Nashville DA sues TV reporter Phil Williams for $200M

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Thu
Feb 4 2016
01:58 pm

Mutual Loathing Society

What happens when a group of narcissists and sociopaths invite an even more narcissistic sociopath over for a showdown? Today, Republican members of Congress, who have voted dozens of times in recent years to deny affordable healthcare for poor and middle-class Americans, were infuriated at the smirking presence of Martin Shkreli, the former price-gouging pharmaceutical executive. Shkreli tweeted after his appearance in front of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that the members of Congress were imbeciles. Was he wrong about that? Probably not.

One has to wonder if the majority members of the panel were so upset about the prices of life-saving drugs, or simply insane with jealousy at Shkreli's freedom to not even pretend to care about anyone other than himself.

Really, it's only Elijah Cummings' presence at the hearing that diluted the otherwise perfect irony of today's face off on Capitol Hill.

38
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Thu
Feb 4 2016
01:30 pm
By: R. Neal  shortURL

We are hearing there will be a major development this afternoon regarding the Pilot rebate scam investigation...

Topics:
38
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from NBC News ...

The company on Wednesday began rolling out a program that will provide free, super-fast Internet connections to people who live in public housing. The first recipients: residents of 100 apartments at the West Bluff housing complex in Kansas City, Missouri. They'll be able to connect to gigabit Internet service via Google Fiber, at no cost to them or to the Housing Authority of Kansas City.

Google Rolls Out Free Gigabit Internet Service to Public Housing

38
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Heather Hensley has announced her candidacy for State House of Representatives District 89. Her statement after the break...

Continued...

43
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Lost Medicaid Funding

To date, the failure to expand Medicaid/TennCare has cost the State of Tennessee ? in lost federal funding. (Source)

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