Saturday, April 07, 2012

Gov. Haslam's FAIL in Leadership

Gov. Haslam has a strategy to dodge his lack of leadership - "blame the media".

"Gov. Haslam is not happy with all the media attention on what he calls "crazy" legislation, and wishes they would focus on more important and positive things such as education reform.

If he thinks the legislation is "crazy" why does he keep signing it? He can veto it and make them get on board the crazy train twice. And it would send them a message. As it is, he only encourages them to continue embarrassing our state.

The media is just doing its job, part of which is reporting on state government. If the governor doesn't like the coverage, he should be a leader and encourage better legislation. 

In fact, he should probably be happy that his education "reforms," which are actually the first step in dismantling public education, aren't getting more press. People might wise up. Instead, the media is helping Haslam advance his radical GOP agenda by distracting the public from the more serious damage being done.

Fact check: "We're redefining accountability, and you'd be hard-pressed to find 100 lines of print in any paper of the state," Haslam said. "Now, today in the Legislature there's a conversation about saggy pants and what they should do there." Seriously? In just the last month the KNS alone had approx. 15 articles about teacher evaluations, and only five about "saggy pants." 

A google search for articles about Tennessee teacher evaluations yields hundreds of articles across the state and nationally (including the NYT). Not all of them are supportive, so maybe that's his real problem."

Newscoma calls him out too:

"Now we know that this is what we are dealing with during his time in the governor’s mansion and that we will be the laughing stock of national media. Instead of leading with some common sense, we are told “Blame the Media.”

It doesn’t have to be this way.

I honestly don’t think Haslam is a bad man but he also appears not to have a set of keys to the asylum where there is more talk of sex and perceived debauchery than I’ve ever heard. He is the governor. Leaders just lead.

I would love to see our legislators go out and meet the millions of kind Tennesseans who are just trying to do a hard day’s work and get home to their families. This legislative body appears to think the worst of us at all times. That we are all just a bad lot of people.

We aren’t.

Legacies are important and what I’m seeing is that the legacy of this particular session of the General Assembly will be about treating average Tennesseans with a lack of respect.

Haslam, you do have choices. Quit blaming and start leading because that’s what the people in this state deserve. It’s not hard."

It's all on you, sir. What will you do?

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Schools Reforms: No Science, No Baggy Pants

via The Chattanooga Times Free Press
Gov. Haslam says he'll sign into law a bill about how science is taught in Tennessee ... even though it "changes nothing" about how science is taught in Tennessee.


"Haslam said he has had discussions with State Board of Education officials on “does this affect our curriculum and what we teach regarding evolution in the schools and the answer is no. Does it change the scientific standards that are the ruling criteria for what we teach in schools and the answer is no.”

So what in the heck is this law anyway?

Only one thing is certain - supporters of this law deny it has anything to do with allowing religious and political views to be presented in science classes, even though that is exactly what this law allows:

"These bills misdescribe evolution as scientifically controversial,” the statement says. “ As scientists whose research involves and is based upon evolution, we affirm — along with the nation’s leading scientific organizations ... that evolution is a central, unifying, and accepted area of science. 

“The evidence for evolution is overwhelming,” the statement continues. “There is no scientific evidence for its supposed rivals (‘creation science’ and ‘intelligent design’) and there is no scientific evidence against it.”

Yes, the legislature is deeply concerned with education - at least when it comes to devaluing science and with whether or not students wear baggy pants. That's because a new law about school dress codes apparently was needed even though every school already has dress codes and policies on what is acceptable and what is not. The aim though, is for a State Dress Code:

"The only bit of discussion before the vote last night came from another Memphis Democrat, Rep. Antonio Parkinson, who applauded Towns for bringing the bill, but lamented its narrow scope. He said the prohibition should be statewide and vowed to join Towns in working toward that end next year."

Monday, April 02, 2012

Schools Want Some Words Banned From Tests

Sticks and stones may hurt your bones but words cause permanent damage.
 -- from Talk Radio

The NYC school systems issued a memo to the makers of standardized tests for students in which they urge the banning of some 50 words deemed potentially offensive/distracting to students.

Words and phrases can be both intense and meaningless depending on usage, and surely one could find an enormous amount of variance if the public at large were asked to define the word "education" or to assess the quality of 'standardized testing".

The Staten Island Online notes: "... certain words can elicit unpleasant feelings on the part of students. "Dinosaur," for example, would suggest evolution -- offensive to creationists. even "birthday" doesn't make the cut because Jehovah's Witnesses don't celebrate them."

The list: 

  • Abuse (physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological)
  • Alcohol (beer and liquor), tobacco, or drugs
  • Birthday celebrations (and birthdays)
  • Bodily functions
  • Cancer (and other diseases)
  • Catastrophes/disasters (tsunamis and hurricanes)
  • Celebrities
  • Children dealing with serious issues
  • Cigarettes (and other smoking paraphernalia)
  • Computers in the home (acceptable in a school or library setting)
  • Crime
  • Death and disease
  • Divorce
  • Evolution
  • Expensive gifts, vacations, and prizes
  • Gambling involving money
  • Halloween
  • Homelessness
  • Homes with swimming pools
  • Hunting
  • Junk food
  • In-depth discussions of sports that require prior knowledge
  • Loss of employment
  • Nuclear weapons
  • Occult topics (i.e. fortune-telling)
  • Parapsychology
  • Politics
  • Pornography
  • Poverty
  • Rap Music
  • Religion
  • Religious holidays and festivals (including but not limited to Christmas, Yom Kippur, and Ramadan)
  • Rock-and-Roll music
  • Running away
  • Sex
  • Slavery
  • Terrorism
  • Television and video games (excessive use)
  • Traumatic material (including material that may be particularly upsetting such as animal shelters)
  • Vermin (rats and roaches)
  • Violence
  • War and bloodshed
  • Weapons (guns, knives, etc.)
  • Witchcraft, sorcery, etc.

  • Fun Assignment: make a 'test question' using as many of the words on this list as you can!! Share it in the comments section!!

    UPDATE: Phantom has the winning entry in  the comments below:
    "If a train loaded with weapons, pornography, and a group of Wiccans celebrating Halloween by drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes is going east at 50 mph, and it passes another train loaded with vermin, junk food, and nuclear weapons going west at 65 mph, how many homes with swimming pools will the trains pass before the Jewish engineer and the Baptist brakeman on the first train turn on some rap music and have sex while talking dirty about evolution, and the former NFL Hall of Fame lineman on the second train starts telling fortunes and predicting which passengers on the train are going to die in a natural disaster?

    Please show your work."