Thursday, February 11, 2016

Let's Get This Revolution Started! ...Buzz for 2-11-16

Say you want a revolution….

State Senators Adopt Anti-Gay Counseling Bill

Tennessee Promise: You can't build success on failure

Rep. Fitzhugh: Exclude TNReady scores from teacher evaluations

The leader of the Tennessee House Democrats is calling on the state department of education to exclude this year's state test scores from teacher, student and school accountability.
The request comes after Monday's failed rollout of the state's new online test, TNReady. After technology failures from the test's vendor, Measurement Inc., schools will now take the paper version of the test.
"I am not saying we need to stop testing, but we need to make sure that the failures we saw on Monday — whether they are the fault of a vendor or the Department of Education — do not unfairly affect the evaluations of our schools," Rep. Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, said in a news release.
"It is not fair to have teachers and students prepare for one type of testing and then switch the method after testing has begun," Fitzhugh said.
State test scores, particularly student growth scores, usually count as a portion of teacher evaluations, student final grades, and school and district accountability. State legislation passed last year reduced the weight of this year's TNReady scores in teacher evaluations.
TNReady scores will count for 10 percent of a teacher's evaluation this year, but can count for more if the scores benefit the teacher. Local school districts will decide how to factor student achievement data into employment decisions such as promotion, retention, termination and compensation. Tennessean/Subscription

State Senators Adopt Anti-Gay Counseling Bill

We are proud to report our courageous state lawmakers today have struck another blow in defense of religious liberty.

This time, briefly setting aside their belief in limited government, they have rewritten the professional code of ethics for mental therapists and marriage counselors to allow discrimination against gay people on religious grounds.

The vote in the Senate Health Committee was 7-1 with only Nashville Democrat Jeff Yarbro in opposition. The bill lets counselors tell prospective patients who happen to be gay to get the hell out of their offices.

The legislation was adopted even though the Tennessee Association for Marriage and Family Therapists is against it.

“This bill is in direct opposition to the ethical code of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy and potentially harmful to clients. Our mandate to do no harm to the consumer, we believe, would be violated,” the association said in a statement. Nashville Scene

Say you want a revolution….

Over the next 20 days, 13 states will have Democratic primaries. Some of those states, like Alabama, Arkansas, and Texas will also have primaries for US House and Senate at the same time. Regardless of who wins the nomination, or the upcoming Presidential primaries, its going to be critically important that those volunteers from the Clinton and Sanders camps refocus their energies to those local races…helping them get the word out about the candidates, and using their experience to propel them to Washington.
You don’t have to completely abandon the Presidential contests, but you should try to make contact with the people running for these seats, and get involved in some way, if you really want to change the country.
Because neither Hillary or Bernie can do it by themselves. They need a team. And the people who would be on that team, need a team too.
The most discouraging thing I see every four years is a huge base of volunteers that show up for the Presidential contests, who then disappear for four years, which leaves us high and dry in the off years.
Democrats can have the whole pie if we decide to focus on it, rather than just the prettiest piece.

Now a word to those who would run

So, you want to be a candidate for US Senate, US House, your State Legislature, or some other political subdivision? Here’s some free advice. Pay attention to the activists in the party (from both the Clinton and Sanders camps).
You’re going to need these people. They are plugged in and want to change the country.
But its not on them to find you (even though I just told them to). Its on you to find them.
That means you have to have a message that will draw them to you (you know, not some bullshit political speak). And you have to build a machine to identify them, and keep them when they come.
You may not have the ‘fuck it, I’m saying what I want’ charisma that Sanders has, or the political instincts and connections the Clintons have, but by virtue of being the nominee, you have a voice.
Use it.
Don’t hide your campaign away until Labor Day then expect people to give a fuck about you when the Presidential campaign really heats up. Get ’em now, while they’re hot.
Go meet with leaders of the Sanders and Clinton camps in your district before the primary. Make contact. It doesn’t matter who you’re voting for.
Talk to them about your vision for the country, and the people you are serving, or hope to serve.
Listen to them about their concerns, and what’s important to them. You will win more hearts by listening (the hardest thing for a politician to do ever), showing empathy, and talking about how you will support the candidates proposals.
You don’t have to be on board with the gory details of every idea, but don’t hedge…be authentic. People respect that more than base pandering…which is the currency of too many politicians. Steve Ross

Environmentalists say Gov. Bill Haslam and a do-nothing TDEC are letting polluters contaminate Tennessee's waterways 

In Like Flint

Gov. Bill Haslam is under fire from environmentalists who say he's failing to enforce clean water laws and looking the other way as the state's rivers and streams are contaminated.
While the rest of the political world has watched as Haslam struggles to act on more high-profile fronts, such as expanding health insurance and privatizing state property, the Tennessee Clean Water Network has been quietly investigating why his administration isn't cracking down on polluters.
The resulting study, released last week, found enforcement orders issued by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation's Division of Water Resources have plummeted since Haslam took office.
In 2015, in fact, only 15 enforcement orders were issued across the state — down from a high of 219 in 2007. That's the low mark of a fairly steady decline under Haslam, who took office in 2011. In that year, 91 orders were issued. That dropped to 53 in 2012 and 50 in 2013. There were 53 orders in 2014.
"The question is why?" TCWN executive director Renee Hoyos said. "According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, there are 255 permittees in Tennessee in violation of their permits. And out of that number, TDEC only issued 15 enforcement orders to clean up the rivers and lakes. That is unacceptable.
"We have seen drinking water crisis all over the country in recent years. Many of these have resulted from lack of oversight from the state. God forbid something like that should happen here in Tennessee. When the state is managing the regulated community diligently, drinking water mishaps are less likely to happen."
Perhaps surprisingly, Haslam administration officials acknowledge their laissez-faire attitude toward polluters but contend it's the best way to protect the environment. Nashville Scene

Tennessee Promise: You can't build success on failure

Promise will not benefit the poor because it is a last dollar scholarship.  The state will cover only the tuition costs left after a student applies for financial aid, such as a Pell Grant or the Hope scholarship. The federal need-based Pell Grant provides up to $5,700—nearly $2,000 more than the cost of full-time tuition at a community college in Tennessee.  So the neediest students will not benefit at all and the highest achieving students will receive little or no benefit from Promise.
There are legitimate fears, mine included, that ill-prepared students will receive Promise and then fail to complete community college.  Only 7.7 percent of Tennessee community college students graduate in 2 years. It’s a safe assumption that many of those who graduate are HOPE scholarship recipients whose high school academic performance and ACT scores were predictors of their success. Tennessean/Rep. Steve Cohen

Crockett Policy Institute

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