Tue
Mar 3 2015
09:40 pm

Wow. This is unbelievably crass:

The letter from Emerald Academy came during the snow days and was addressed to the parents/guardians of children zoned to Knoxville’s urban elementary schools and signed by Emerald’s director, Dr. Jon Rysewyk.

Five of the recipients were Christenberry Elementary School faculty members who bring their children to school with them. One faculty member said reading it was like a slap in the face.

It began like this:

“You have a choice – Emerald Academy! Do you know the grades for the school your child is zoned to attend next year and how they compare with Knox County Schools’ overall grades?”

Read the rest here.

It's shaping up to be a cage fight...

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Tue
Mar 3 2015
03:29 pm

The News-Sentinel had an editorial today on the proposed voucher program that is pending in the state legislature.

What was interesting to me was the comments. A reader "SeekTruth" challenges the local media outlets to a "compare-and-contrast" assignment to spend a week with the students at a low-performing school such as Lonsdale Elementary and then at a high-performing school such as A.L. Lotts and write a story about whether the problem at Lonsdale is the teachers or the administration or the equipment, or if (gasp) the problem isn't the school at all.

Further, SeekTruth challenges an investigative reporter to find a local real world example of how it will all work - whether the local private schools around town are ready to take on students from low-performing schools and to nail down the details of entrance requirements, fees, and academic/behavioral performance criteria.

Continued...

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An ad showed up here yesterday for SAVETNVA.ORG, a website advocating to keep the Tennessee Virtual Academy open. The site warns that "some policy makers opposed to virtual schools want to shut down TNVA and deprive Tennessee parents and students of a choice in their child’s education."

They are apparently referring the state's 2011 "Virtual Private Schools Act," which authorized virtual schools in the state and is set to expire in June 2015.

Rep. Harry Brooks (R-Knoxville) has introduced a bill to extend the authorization through 2019.

There's another bill by Rep. Billy Spivey (R-Lewisburg) that would require a school board to "close a virtual school that demonstrates student-achievement growth at a level of 'significantly below expectations' for three consecutive years.

Both bills are sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville).

The SAVETNVA.ORG website has some "facts" and graphs showing a remarkable, off the charts "rate of academic growth" at TNVA v. the state average.

In July of 2014, then Ed. Commissioner Kevin Huffman ordered the school closed at the end of the upcoming school year. According to the Tennessean, Huffman said "If somehow this school manages to defy the odds of its past performance and get adequate results, we would of course rescind that decision. That just makes sense. But there is nothing in their data from the first three years that would indicate to me they are going to be able to achieve that level of performance."

Nowhere at the SAVETNVA.ORG website do they mention that the Tennessee Virtual Academy is operated by K12 Inc., a publicly traded for-profit virtual school company in Virginia.

(For those who may not recall, here's a refresher on K12 Inc.)

There's no info at SAVETNVA.ORG regarding who they are. There is a link to a Facebook page for the Tennessee Chapter of Public School Options. That Facebook page has a link to the national organization, PUBLICSCHOOLOPTIONS.ORG.

PUBLICSCHOOLOPTIONS.ORG is a 501(c)(4) organization based in Virginia. According to their most recent Form 990 (2013) "the coalition advocates for public school options, educating policymakers about the need for expanded access to school choice options" and "engages media to generate news coverage about public school options." They reported $1.4 million in contributions and grants from unnamed sources, and $1.2 million in expenses, mostly for "management."

The SAVETNVA.ORG domain was registered in January 2015. The contact info is hidden and private.

The PUBLICSCHOOLOPTIONS.ORG domain was registered in Oct. 2008 by Midland Strategies, a political consulting firm in Iowa.

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Mon
Mar 2 2015
05:28 pm

Knoxville Mercury Editor Coury Turczyn announced today that the new alt-weekly will launch on March 12th. Here's the announcement, including staff introductions.

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24/7 Wall Street: The Best (and Worst) States for Business

To determine America’s best states for business, 24/7 Wall St. identified nearly 50 measures that contribute to the business climate and reviewed them in each of the 50 states. The measures were classified into eight larger categories that independently measured various risks and benefits of doing business in each state.

Unfortunately, Tennessee was ranked as the 10th worst state in the U.S. for business. Factors included a poorly educated workforce, lack of economic growth (one of the lowest), and a high crime rate (one of the highest).

Thanks, TNGOP and Gov. Haslam. Go Vols!

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News Sentinel

Knox County Schools finance director Ron McPherson is leaving his job to join the Emerald Youth Foundation as chief financial officer, he confirmed.

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Mon
Mar 2 2015
11:00 am

From Cameron Brooks:

The Knox County Democratic Party will hold its convention on Saturday, March 28th at the CWA Union Hall, located at 1415 Elm Street, Knoxville, TN 37921. Doors open at 9 for registration and the convention starts at 11. Delegate meetings will happen throughout the 9 districts prior to the 28th. Those dates and times will be finalized today.

UPDATE: List of district meetings with dates/times...

Cameron also announced his candidacy for KCDP chair, along with other officer candiates making up the "Knox County 2015 Democratic Unity Team Platform." Announcement after the break...

Continued...

Topics:
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Mon
Mar 2 2015
10:32 am

Yesteray's Knoxville News Sentinel had a couple of articles about the growing demand for senior services, particularly housing, transportation and health care.

Knox Co. Mayor Burchett is quoted:

Asked about the growing needs of the senior population, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett said government should stand back and let the free market meet the demands of seniors.

The only government role should be in providing infrastructure for business and transportation. "To say ‘we need to build more senior centers now, and get ahead of that,'— that's not the reality of where we're at," Burchett said. "I do think the market will decide."

I guess I can see where a county government can't be expected to provide services on the scale of Social Security and Medicare, but they can coordinate and provide services such as Knox County CAC Transit, Mobile Meals and adult day care.

According to their website, the public non-profit Knoxville-Knox County CAC was founded by the Knoxville and Knox Co. governments. Its annual funding of more than $29 million comes from "federal, state, and local governments, as well as private foundations, businesses, churches, individual donors and contributions from individuals receiving services."

I'm not clear on how free markets will meet these needs. At any rate, wouldn't most of the funding for "free market" senior services will come directly or indirectly from Social Security and Medicare, i.e the government?

Topics:
21
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Sat
Feb 28 2015
08:36 pm
By: Stick  shortURL

Top 25

Tenure and post-tenure review process: To be conducted by UT System Administration and with involvement by the Faculty Council, to look at awarding of tenure, post-tenure compensation and enacting of a de-tenure process.

Topics:
21
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Fri
Feb 27 2015
06:30 pm

No, pretty sure they won't be playing at Bonnaroo.

But, I've pretty much completed my collection of the 2014/15 Jimmy Page remaster CDs with today's arrival of Physical Graffiti, rounding out previous acquisitions of I, II, III, IV, and Houses of the Holy. I'll probably stop here. Not sure how anything later can top this run of albums.

Continued...

Topics:
26
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Fri
Feb 27 2015
01:54 pm

Earlier this month, Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) released its 2015 Organizational and Performance Audit performed by local firm McConnell, Jones, Lanier and Murphy, LLC.

The lengthy (12 chapter) review covers a number of topics and includes a 43-page chapter, Impact of Charter Schools, that confirms recent complaints from the school system's Board of Education about costs associated with its charter schools eroding the MNPS operating budget.

Some highlights from the chapter are as follows:

Continued...

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from NBC News …

NASA scientists are showing off some of the first results from a fresh crop of satellites and space station sensors designed to track the factors behind climate change and extreme weather on a near-real-time basis.

NASA Satellites Start Tracking Down the Sources of Climate Change

Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet

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Thu
Feb 26 2015
03:51 pm

FCC votes for net neutrality, a ban on paid fast lanes, and Title II

Government shutdown, UN takeover of internets imminent...

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Is there one place that keeps an exhaustive, up to date, list of Knoxville breweries. If they serve on premises, serve food, etc?

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Interesting use of parking garage.

Vertical Harvest — a multi-story greenhouse built on the side of a parking lot

Vertical farm can make 44,000 pounds of tomatoes on the side of a parking lot

Vertical Harvest

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Thu
Feb 26 2015
10:12 am

Didn't get my paper today, understandably, so I called circulation to request an adjustment. While I was doing that, I recalled that I had two other missed deliveries that I had reported via their automated system (since they were missed on the weekend), so I thought I would log into my account and see if the credits had been reflected.

Nope. Nada.

It being a weekday today, I was able to reach a human being who agreed that the credits didn't get applied by the automated system, but who was happy to add them. "Thanks," I said, "but it shouldn't be my job to log in every month, check my account, and bird-dog your failing automated system."

Then I noticed that my subscription period had strangely been reduced by 5 days. I asked her about that. She said it was because there is an extra $2 charge for the extra advertisements in the Thanksgiving paper.

HUH? Subscribers have to pay for the extra printing? Why aren't the advertisers footing that with their $500 per page ads? (you can opt out of this, but you have to call in.. they should ask you when you subscribe to agree to the extra charge, since the subscription rate info doesn't show this). In fact a Google Search found nothing on the knoxnews web site about it .

Even so, the math doesn't work out: $2 charge / $17 per month x 30 days = 3.5 day adjustment. Even if you round up, that's 4 days, not 5 days. Fuzzy math. She said she had no explanation. I had one, but it wasn't her job to listen to my accusation of fraud.

So, I just told her to cancel the entire account, explaining again that my life is sufficiently busy that I don't have time to audit my account every month.

Lesson#1: don't screw your customers on billing.
Lesson#2: If you find out your system is screwing customers by accident, FIX IT immediately.
Lesson#3: Thank the customer who pointed this out by, say, offering a free month as an apology, and you might actually keep them.
Lesson#4: Empower your employees to do #3.

26
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Wed
Feb 25 2015
08:02 pm
By: R. Neal  shortURL

Pith in the Wind

“It’s time for a Council of Christian Relations and a NAAWP in this Country,” reads a comment posted by House Majority Floor Leader Sheila Butt on Facebook last month.

OK, then.

Topics:
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Wed
Feb 25 2015
06:25 pm
By: R. Neal  shortURL

The latest round of snow showers has arrived over here. It just started coming down. The NWS predictions as to when and how much have varied throughout the day. They have dialed it in to a 100% chance of snow tonight. Up to 2" to 4" they are saying now.

Hazardous Weather Outlook

Topics:
24
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Wed
Feb 25 2015
01:14 pm

For the children

In case this is behind the subscription wall, a quote:

"It is likely new schools will spring up to siphon off the best and brightest students, leaving the public schools poorer as a result. Rather than spending the money to educate all the students, we propose to put a select group of students in a lifeboat, leaving the mother ship to sink.

If you don’t think a lot of public money will be involved in the future, think about the hundreds of thousands of dollars the voucher proponents spent in the last election to defeat voucher opponents. Do you think they did that just to benefit low-income minority students?

Yeah, right. They’re just doing it for the children."

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