What: SPEAK movie showing "STANDARDIZED - Lies, Money and Civil Rights"
When: Saturday, March 7, 2015 - 1:00pm
Where: Bearden Library

STANDARDIZED - Lies, Money and Civil Rights
How testing is ruining public education

Review by Jaime Franchi in the Long Island Press

The documentary Standardized: Lies, Money, and Civil Rights: How Testing is Ruining Public Education, the brainchild of producer and former teacher Daniel Hornberger, is a powerful artistic translation of this both cerebral and passionate battle. It stars real-life parents, teachers and experts from across this country testifying as to how schools are being destroyed by this federal education mandate—the Obama Administration’s answer to predecessor George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act. The groundswell of protest from parents and teachers is quickly reaching critical mass, causing politicians who had previously dismissed critics of the reform to reconsider their positions. In New York, State Education Commissioner John King faces a vote of “no confidence” by the teachers’ unions for implementing the program. Standardized’s cinematic examination of the effects of high-stakes standardized testing on schoolchildren and the multi-billion-dollar industry perpetuating it comes as the battle here on Long Island is really heating up.

The inspiration for the film comes from the book Making the Grade, by author Todd Farley, who spent his career working in the standardized testing industry and confirmed Hornberger’s suspicions that high-stakes testing not only stifles the creativity of teachers and is harmful to students, but it’s ultimately fraudulent, too.

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Tue
Feb 24 2015
07:46 am

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We were almost rid of the last ice and snow. It's back. Maybe this will be a 24-hour snow.

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Mon
Feb 23 2015
07:34 pm

Folks, he probably wrote this dreck on his work computer on the taxpayer's dime too.

Science fiction writer Robert Heinlein, in his famous novel Starship Troopers, envisioned a society where voters, too, had to demonstrate their patriotism before being allowed to vote. In his fictional society, the right to vote came only after some kind of dangerous public service — in the military, as a volunteer in dangerous medical experiments, or in other ways that demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice personally for the common good. The thought was that such voters would be more careful, and less selfish, in their voting.

So when the five-day wonder of questioning Barack Obama's patriotism is over, perhaps we should address another question: How patriotic is the electorate? And how long can we survive as a nation if the answer is "not very"? And we should proceed from there

More about Heinlein: he espoused a "social credit" philosophy to a great degree. Social credit thinkers wanted to apply engineering principles to society at large. If you didn't say "Oh, shit," then just assume that classic social credit thinkers like C.H. Douglas didn't blink an eye at things like "the right people having children" and "pure human races." And, Douglas was a rabid anti-Semite who thought Jews were keen on communism because of their proclivity to abstract thought.

Ah, yes. Another fun bit of Reynold's logorrhea to finish off your day. Why on earth such a vaunted individualist and libertarian "thinker" gives a fig about the survival of a nation is humorous in one sense, but telling in another....

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Mon
Feb 23 2015
06:37 pm

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(Southern Living, March 2015.)

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Mon
Feb 23 2015
05:02 pm

Former KNS business reporter Josh Flory has launched a new blog at his new home, commercial real estate outfit NAI Knoxville:

Bricks and Mortar

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Sun
Feb 22 2015
11:21 pm
By: Tamara Shepherd  shortURL

Via Tom Humphrey:

Cohen’s concerns start with the way Tennessee Promise was funded — by taking millions of dollars in reserves from the lottery-funded Hope program. Stripping the money from Hope leaves those scholarships with no room for growth and eventually will kill the program, said Cohen, who as a state senator shepherded the legislation paving the way for the Tennessee Lottery and the Hope program.

What’s more, Cohen argues, Tennessee Promise essentially punishes students who have made decent grades by taking scholarship money away from Hope and giving it to students who haven’t distinguished themselves academically and who are unlikely to complete their degree.

Yep, Haslam has now cut Hope funding to my younger student with the 4.0 pretty much the same way he did to my older student with the 4.0--although he cut my older student's Hope funding completely after seven semesters, when he established that 120 hour cap three years back Then gave her "merit" scholarship to students among whom 47% were washing out academically as freshmen.

And what Cohen didn't say is that tuition costs at TN public colleges have risen so rapidly since the advent of Hope scholarships a decade ago, the Hope wasn't enough help even before Haslam cut proceeds to freshman and sophomores this year.

Spot on, Rep. Cohen. You conceived of the Hope as a merit scholarship. Don't let up.

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Sat
Feb 21 2015
02:12 am

From Knoxnews.com ...

.A group of local developers are hoping to turn the sprawling, 84-year-old Kern’s Bakery into a food and entertainment destination in South Knoxville.

A brewery, music venue, coffeehouse, restaurant and bar were all among the ideas tossed around Friday as Dewhirst and his partners toured the 65,000-square-foot building..

.Restaurants, venues eyed for Kern's Bakery

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Fri
Feb 20 2015
07:05 pm
By: Mark Harmon  shortURL

Did anyone else notice it earlier this week when Jeb Bush referred to Boko Haram as “Beau-coup Haram?" At one point he seemed inches away from advocating war on Procol Harum.

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Fri
Feb 20 2015
03:20 pm

Have there been any bills in Tennessee attempting the same thing?

From CNN ...

That's essentially what some Oklahoma lawmakers aimed to do this week. You may have read about it: An education committee in my home state -- a place with plenty of historical blemishes and oodles of modern-day screw-ups -- actually approved a bill that would rewrite advanced placement U.S. History classes, potentially eliminating them. The cause? They paint America in too negative a light.

Is Oklahoma scared of AP history?

Oklahoma bill would make AP U.S. History history

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Interesting (link...)

A special enrollment period will begin March 15 and end April 30 to help consumers avoid tax penalties for not obtaining health insurance coverage this year, Andrew Slavitt, principal deputy administrator at CMS, said during a news briefing Friday.

To qualify for the exemption, people will need to self-attest that they had to pay a penalty for not having coverage in 2014, they cannot be currently enrolled in a plan on HealthCare.gov, and claim that they only found out they were going to have to pay a tax penalty when they filed their income tax forms. CMS had no estimates on how many people fall into this group.

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Rep. Jason Powell (D-Nashville) and Sen. Steven Dickerson (R-Nashville) have introduced a bill enabling the "For-Profit Benefit Corporation Act" (HB0767/SB0972).

This legislation would create a new category of corporate legal entity known as a "for-profit benefit corporation," also known as a "public benefit corporation." Companies registering under this designation state in their articles of incorporation a purpose of public social and/or environmental benefit. The law then allows the board and officers to prioritize the social and/or environmental benefits along with or superior to the traditional fiduciary duty to maximize profits for shareholders.

As written, the legislation defines social and/or environmental benefits as (A) Providing low-income or underserved individuals or communities with beneficial products or services; (B) Promoting economic opportunity for individuals or communities beyond the creation of jobs in the normal course of business; (C) Protecting or restoring the environment; (D) Improving human health; (E) Promoting the arts, sciences, or advancement of knowledge; (F) Increasing the flow of capital to entities with a purpose to benefit society or the environment; and (G) Conferring any other particular benefit on society or the environment.

The law provides for a company to appoint a benefits director (required for publicly traded companies) and also to designate a benefits officer. The company must prepare an annual benefits report measuring the public benefit provided against an independent third-party standard according to the purpose stated in its articles of incorporation and bylaws.

The benefit corporation designation does not provide any special tax benefit or treatment. The IRS treats the company the same as a C corporation and S corporation designation is allowed.

Nationally, more than 20 states have passed public benefit corporation laws, including Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

The national movement is spearheaded by B-Lab, a Pennsylvania non-profit that has developed model legislation and works with states seeking to pass benefit corporation legislation. The company is also the leading provider of independent third-party standards by which benefit corporations are measured.

B-Lab also works with companies seeking to become "Certified B-Corps" by meeting certain social responsibility standards. This creates some confusion, because a "Certified B-Corp" does not have to be a registered benefit corporation, and a registered benefit corporation is not required to be "certified" beyond stating their purpose and filing annual benefit reports measuring their performance.

A couple of notable registered public benefit corporations are Patagonia (California) and King Arthur Flour (Vermont). Ben and Jerry's is an example of a B-Lab "Certified B-Corp" that is not a registered benefits corporation (they are a wholly-owned subsidiary of Unilever).

There is some controversy as to whether benefit corporation legislation is needed, because companies can simply declare their intentions to provide a public benefit. Corporate legal experts, however, argue that courts traditionally fall back to a corporation's primary fiduciary duty to maximize shareholder profits, and that public benefit corporation status provides flexibility and legal protections for officers and directors of companies committed to being socially responsible as well as profitable.

Anyway, the proposed Tennessee legislation appears to have bipartisan support, judging from its sponsors. It will hopefully pass and put socially responsible companies in a better position to value people above profits.

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Thu
Feb 19 2015
12:16 pm
By: R. Neal  shortURL

So apparently, rock salt doesn't work below about 15 degrees.

According to the google, an alternative is calcium chloride, which will work down to 15 below. But, it can be harmful to pets. Same for magnesium chloride.

It's probably best to keep you pet away from treated streets and sidewalks, even if it's just salt or if you don't know. If that's not practical, you should wipe or rinse your puppy's paws when you come inside.

Perhaps a better alternative for pet owners is a product called Safe Paw. It claims to be 100% pet safe, works down to 2 degrees below, and is available at home improvement and hardware stores. (Note: There are a bunch of bad reviews on Amazon saying it doesn't really work.)

Another possibility is Morton Safe-T Pet ice melt, but it only works down to 10 degrees. (It also has some bad reviews on Amazon, and some people say both products can damage concrete.)

The forecast says we will be back up in the 30s by tomorrow, so I can probably wait. But I might get some pet safe ice melt to have around for the next time.

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Wed
Feb 18 2015
09:11 pm
By: R. Neal  shortURL

We were watching a Seinfeld episode where Jerry and George walk in to a meeting with NBC executives to pitch their "show about nothing."

The Mrs. laughed and said "that brings back memories," because when we started our little company 20 years ago, we had some similar core principles. Three actually.

Me: Yeah, "We don't care," right? (As in, You don't want to buy our software do you? Because we don't care. We think this is how it should be done. We hope you agree and and get on board. Or not. Whatever.)

Her: Oh yeah. And don't forget "James Brown." (As in, we played "Cold Sweat" really loud on the car stereo every time we drove up to some place for a pitch meeting.)

Me: And do you remember the corollary to "we don't care?"

Her. "We're the pros from Dover*."

Me. Hahahaha. Exactly. This is why I married you.

(*As in, we came in, made stuff happen, and got the job done in time for cocktails. Bonus points to anyone who remembers the movie reference.)

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Wed
Feb 18 2015
03:41 pm

Still 25 degrees, though. Taken in the back yard by the Mrs. a few minutes ago...

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Wed
Feb 18 2015
03:07 pm
BE15_Logo_1.jpg

The Big Ears schedule was announced today, plus news of three more artists added to the lineup. Weekend passes are on sale now, daily tickets go on sale this Friday, February 20 at 12pm ET.

The eclectic three-day festival of unique concert performances, along with "installations, exhibitions, film screenings, interactive workshops, informative talks, surprise collaborations, and unexpected connections" kicks off Friday, March 27th at 5:30 PM at the Knoxville Museum of Art.

Event venues include the Tennessee Theatre, the Bijou Theatre, the Square Room, the Knoxville Museum of Art, and the Standard.

Big Ears is a critically acclaimed event that brings international attention to Knoxville and its lively arts scene. It's a labor of love for the creator, our friend and Knoxville's own Ashley Capps of AC Entertainment.

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Wed
Feb 18 2015
01:37 pm

With temperature reaching near or below zero for the next couple of nights, TVA is expecting record peak power demand reaching nearly 33,000 megawatts Thursday morning.

They are asking all customers to conserve energy, and offer the following suggestions:

• Opening the blinds on the south side of your home during sunny days, but keeping the blinds closed on cloudy days and at night.

• Postpone using electric appliances such as dishwashers, dryers and cooking equipment during peak power use times early in the morning and early in the evening.

• Turn off nonessential lights, appliances, electronics and other electrical equipment.

TVA Asks Consumers to Help Conserve Energy During Cold

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Wed
Feb 18 2015
11:52 am

Press release: The City of Knoxville has received the final report from an Urban Land Institute advisory panel that visited the city last October to study several public properties in and around downtown.

City staff are reviewing the report. There will be a public meeting on Thursday, March 19, at 5:30 p.m. to discuss next steps. (Location is still being confirmed.) In the meantime, anyone wishing to comment on or react to the report can email the City’s Office of Redevelopment at ULI@cityofknoxville.org.

The ULI panel visited Knoxville from Oct. 5-10, 2014. During their time here, panel members made site visits and conducted interviews with dozens of public officials, developers, residents, business owners, nonprofit organizations and other stakeholders.

###

Here's a summary of the recommendations:

• Transform the Henley Street corridor by introducing onstreet parking and activating the street with retail and a pedestrian-friendly environment.

• Redevelop the State Supreme Court site with active uses, such as a mixed-use development with a performing arts component, and ensure that any future requests for proposals (RFPs) clearly guide design and program mix.

• Preserve the World’s Fair Park’s green space as an amenity for current and future Knoxville residents, and activate adjacent underused sites and additional infill sites with synergistic uses, such as homes for existing cultural organizations seeking new space.

• Relocate those existing uses currently at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum to downtown, and engage in a public master-planning process to envision and create a vibrant, desirable, mixed-income community that includes diverse housing types and households.

• Consider a master-developer approach to ensure successful and contextual redevelopment (i.e., redevelopment that relates to existing development) for 400 and 500 West Jackson Avenue.

• Extend Knoxville’s greenway connection north from World’s Fair Park.

Link to the full report....

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from NBC News ...

"The $1.25/ person surcharge added to all checks provides full benefits for our hard-working staff." The extra charge provides 32 employees of the San Francisco French bistro with full health and dental insurance and paid sick leave. No employee is exempt, even those who work only one day a week, said owner Jennifer Piallat.

Employees are also provided with 401(k) plans, with a 4 percent match. The restaurant might be able to raise prices a bit if not for the surcharge, but Piallat doesn't look at providing benefits as a cost, but rather as an advantage.

Recipe for Success: Calif. Eatery's Way to Give All Staff Benefits

Zazie Restaurant

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Tue
Feb 17 2015
02:58 pm
By: cafkia  shortURL

Your first minutes in boot camp are when it begins. You and those with whom you arrived all line up in some semblance of a formation in whatever clothes you made the trip in. Your Drill Instructor though, is resplendent in an immaculate uniform. So is his superior officer and so are his subordinates, all of their uniforms look like a carefully photoshopped advertisement for perfection. You are part of a rag tag, shoddy group of nobodies but they, they are the ruling class and you can immediately see that they are and why. You have barely arrived and your indoctrination has begun with a bang.

Continued...

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Mon
Feb 16 2015
11:47 am

Lydia McCoy at the KNS yesterday Adding up absences: Knox teachers average four days out of classroom

A deeper look at the numbers — a review of the schools' total number of classroom teachers and total days taken — showed in the first semester of school, teachers were out of the classroom an average of about four days, at 3.4 days. A further breakdown showed that trend continued at the school level.

Continued...

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