Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Chattanooga Free Press: Take your jobs plan and shove it, Mr. President

In case you missed it, here is the Chattanooga Free Press editorial welcoming President Obama:

 Take your jobs plan and shove it, Mr. President
 President Obama,

Welcome to Chattanooga, one of hundreds of cities throughout this great nation struggling to succeed in spite of your foolish policies that limit job creation, stifle economic growth and suffocate the entrepreneurial spirit.

Forgive us if you are not greeted with the same level of Southern hospitality that our area usually bestows on its distinguished guests. You see, we understand you are in town to share your umpteenth different job creation plan during your time in office. If it works as well as your other job creation programs, then thanks, but no thanks. We’d prefer you keep it to yourself. (continue reading)

Good editorial! I agree. I am pleased that no Republicans dignitaries were on hand to greet the President. Congressman Jim Cooper and Nashville's mayoral candidate Councilman Megan Barry were there to welcome him.

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School Choice: Part of the Solution to Our Broken Education System

by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, Sens. Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Tim Scott and Lamar Alexander, July 29, 2013 - One of the most important things we do as a society is educate our kids. Opportunity in education is the gateway to opportunity everywhere else -- in our economy, in our society and in our democracy.

All children, no matter who they are or where they live, deserve an equal chance to develop their skills and intellect. But today in America, too many kids don't get that chance.We have a system in which politicians and bureaucrats have too much control, parents have too little, and students' needs get lost in the shuffle. Big Government, even at its best, is inherently inefficient, and too easily distracted from core missions by special interests.

Every decision made by bureaucrats in Washington is a decision taken from the people who actually educate -- principals, teachers, and especially parents. And as usual, those most vulnerable to the unintended consequences of bad education policy are those most vulnerable, period -- the poor, the disconnected, and most of all, their children.

Where the current system hasn't worked -- school choice has.  In a growing number of school systems throughout the country, voucher and charter school programs that allow public education dollars to follow the student to the school of their parents' choosing are greatly improving student performance and giving children an opportunity for a better life. Voucher programs provide scholarships that let students enroll in private schools, while charter school programs allow educators to create public schools of choice free from the constraints of school district bureaucracies.

Edna is a common example. A fifth-grader growing up in Milwaukee, Edna couldn't even speak English. Through a state voucher program, she attended private school, a Catholic high school, went on to college and eventually got a job as a patent engineer for a law firm. Her middle school principal said, "Edna is a miracle, and we couldn't have done it without school choice."

Edna was one of the first voucher students in the country. Tried and tested successfully for two decades now, school choice programs have offered hope to thousands of children and families in underprivileged communities.

Why is it that in this day and age, such children remain the exception, and not the rule? Why, in any country, let alone America, should equal opportunity depend on the bounce of a lottery ball?
A recent evaluation of the school choice program in Washington, D.C. found that using a voucher to attend a private school significantly improved students' chances of graduating from high school, increasing graduation rates by 21 percentage points.

School choice is a way out of the poverty cycle for low-income families.  As the Wall Street Journal noted in 2010, 2,000 of the nation's 20,000 high schools produce roughly 50 percent of all dropouts, and African-American children have a 50/50 chance of having to attend one of these so-called "dropout factories."

According to the Census Bureau, in 2011 a typical dropout over age 25 earned just $18,796 while a typical high school graduate without a bachelor’s degree earned $26,699—a full 42 percent more. A high school graduate who goes on to earn a bachelor’s degree will earn more than 150 percent more, on average, then a high-school dropout.

Choice breeds competition -- which is the best way to improve schools. It creates a powerful incentive for schools to get better, while at the same time creating much-needed options for children trapped in less than satisfactory schools. That is exactly what we see when public charter schools are allowed to expand.

In Washington, D.C., the 41 percent of students who attend charter schools learn the equivalent of 72 days more in reading and 101 days more in math each year than similar students attending district schools, according to a Stanford University study.

In short, school choice has given poor, mostly minority families the hope that government has not. Young boys and girls, who might not have otherwise had the opportunity to excel, have become successful men and women leaders in their communities--due to receiving a better education than they otherwise would have.

Despite its overwhelming success -- and basic justice -- many bureaucrats defend their broken status quo, and see school choice not as an opportunity, but as a threat. Our children deserve better than a system that puts bureaucrats' wants before students' needs. Parents deserve better than being forced to pay for policies that trap their own children in failing schools, while denying them the equal educational opportunities that better paid politicians and bureaucrats enjoy.

Great schools are born in communities, not bureaucracies. At Boys Latin in Philadelphia, kids are taught Latin for four years. They are taught discipline and citizenship. This year, over 95 percent of their graduates will go on to college.

The current 20th century, centralized bureaucratic model has dropped American education to 17th in the world, even as the international economy turns toward technologies and industries that depend of education more than ever before in human history.

We need a new direction. To succeed globally, we need to educate locally. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said: "Intelligence plus character, that is the goal of true education." Dr. King's definition of "true education" is reflected in the types of young men and women that parent-driven, locally controlled school choice continues to produce.

It's the student's job to work hard to achieve their hopes and dreams. It's our duty to give them every possible opportunity to achieve them. Our education system is broken. School choice is an important part of the solution.

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The Metro Council agenda for August 6th is now available.

The Metro Council agenda for August 6th is now available. If you will wait, I will read it for you and point out the important stuff and tell you what to think about it. If you just can't wait, here it is: August 6th Council Agenda.

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McCain: I would have "a tough choice" in a presidential election that pitted Mrs. Clinton against Sen. Rand Paul.

WHAT? Did McCain really say that? Yes he did.

"She's a rock star"
I have not been as harsh in my judgement of John McCain as some on the right.  When he was our party's nominee for president I contributed money and time to his election and had a bumper sticker on my car and a sign in my yard.  He was not my first choice but I got behind him.  In some policy disputes, I have made excuses and said there are issue about which reasonable people could disagree and I have not joined those who have denounced him as a RINO or a sell-out.  Now, however, John McCain has crossed the line. He has betrayed his party and the conservative movement.  He has attacked the conservative leaders of his own party, and praised Hillary Clinton.

In a wide ranging interview in The New Republic, in response to a question asking him to evaluate Hillary Clinton's job performance as Secretary of State, he said of Clinton, " I think she did a fine job. She’s a rock star. She has, maybe not glamour, but certainly the aura of someone widely regarded throughout the world."  This is said of the Secretary of State who allowed Benghazi to occur and took part in the scam that tried to say it was the result of  outrage over a Youtube video rather than a terrorist attack and who continues to be part of the cover up of Benghazi.

Later in the interview, there is this exchange:
IC: When Hillary Clinton versus Rand Paul occurs in 2016, I guess you are going to have to decide who to vote for, huh?
JM: It’s gonna be a tough choice [laughs].
Now, I myself am not totally comfortable  with Rand Paul.  The more I hear from him, the more I like him. However, some of his grassroots supporters are extreme isolationist and I need to be reassured that Rand Paul would not endanger American security by disengaging from the world in a reckless manner that would benefit our adversaries.  I, however, think we may be overextended in the world and some strategic retrenchment may be called for and I think the military can be as wasteful as any other agency of government. I also think the invasion of Iraq was a mistake and unnecessary. In any event, I do not think that if Paul proves himself to be a reckless isolationist he could win the nomination, so if there is a match-up between Hillary Clinton and Rand Paul, I could not imagine it being a "tough choice."

In addition to not liking Rand Paul, McCain is critical of Ted Cruz and Mike Lee and when asked who is his favorite Senators are he names Democrat Senators Chuck Schumer and Carl Levine. H also says, "Lindsey Graham is like a son to me."

I am kind of late getting here, but I am over John McCain. 

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A rational policy on gun control

There is a problem in this country with political assassinations, attempted assassinations and mass killings.  These acts of violence are committed with guns. We should calmly examine this violence and come to a rational policy to curtail it.

  • In 1863 a Democrat shot and killed Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States
  • In 1881 a left wing radical Democrat shot James Garfield, President of the United States who later died from the wound.
  • In 1963 a radical left wing socialist shot and killed John F. Kennedy, President of the United States . 
  • In 1975 a left wing radical Democrat fired shots at Gerald Ford, President of the United States ..
  • In 1983 a registered Democrat shot and wounded Ronald Reagan.
  • In 1984 James Huberty a disgruntled Democrat shot and killed 22 people in a McDonalds restaurant.
  • In 1986 Patrick Sherril a disgruntled Democrat shot and killed 15 people in an Oklahoma post office.
  • In 1990 James Pough a disgruntled Democrat shot and killed 10 people at a GMAC office.
  • In 1991 George Hennard a disgruntled Democrat shot and killed 23 people in a Lubys cafeteria.
  • In 1995 James Daniel Simpson a disgruntled Democrat shot and killed 5 coworkers in a Texas laboratory.
  • In 1999 Larry Asbrook a disgruntled Democrat shot and killed 8 people at a church service.
  • In 2001 a left wing radical Democrat fired shots at the White House in a failed attempt to kill George W. Bush,        President of the US .
  • In 2003 Douglas Williams a disgruntled Democrat shot and killed 7 people at a Lockheed Martin plant.
  • In 2007 a registered Democrat named Seung - Hui Cho shot and killed 32 people in Virginia Tech .
  • In 2010 a mentally ill registered Democrat named Jared Lee Loughner shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killed 6 others. 
  • In 2011 a registered Democrat named James Holmes went into a movie theater and shot and killed 12 people.
  • In 2012 Andrew Engeldinger a disgruntled Democrat shot and killed 7 people in Minneapolis .
  • In 2013 a registered Democrat named Adam Lanza shot and killed 26 people in a school.
One could go on, but the conclusion is clear. Clearly, there is a problem with Democrats and guns. No NRA member, Tea Party member, or disgruntled Republicans are involved.
The conclusion: It should be illegal for Democrats to own guns.

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tennessee Welcomes Obama With Hundreds of Protesters

President Obama visited Chattanooga, TN today where he visited an Amazon distribution center to announce his new jobs plan. If Obama was expecting an army of supporters- he was surely disappointed. Organizers for the protest originally intended to hold the rally in the parking lot of the distribution center. However, after plans for the protest made headlines the area was closed to the public. Only Obama supporters were allowed in. Not only did citizens act by taking to the streets, but the entire state took action.
Chattanooga Times Free Press, a local news paper, ran a story welcoming Obama to the state. It reads:
 ”President Obama,
Protesters Line Lee Hwy in Chattanooga, Tennessee as Obama Drives by.
Protesters Line Lee Hwy in Chattanooga, Tennessee as Obama Drives by
Welcome to Chattanooga, one of hundreds of cities throughout this great nation struggling to succeed in spite of your foolish policies that limit job creation, stifle economic growth and suffocate the entrepreneurial spirit.
Forgive us if you are not greeted with the same level of Southern hospitality that our area usually bestows on its distinguished guests.”
The Tennessee Republican Party ran television ads in the Chattanooga market  to welcome Obama. One commercial states:
“We’re succeeding in Tennessee. Not because of your liberal policies, but in spite of them.”
Tennessee’s most prominent GOP politicians were sure to stay away from Obama during his visit to the state in an attempt to distance themselves from the President. US senators Bob Corker (R) and Lamar Alexander (R- up for reelection), have been under the gun for voting in favor of the Obama’s policies more than 60% of the time and being named the most liberal GOP senators in the South. Governor Bill Haslam (R) has also been under extreme scrutiny from his constituents for not blocking all aspects of Obamacare in the state when state senators and representatives attempted to nullify it.  

Obama also spoke in favor of the Marketplace Fairness Act, which would tax sales on the internet. This is why President Obama chose to speak at the Amazon warehouse. Senator Alexander, Senator Corker and Governor Haslam are supporting the President’s push to increase taxes on the American people. In fact, Alexander co-wrote the legislation.

The event was coordinated by Matt Collins with Tennessee Campaign for Liberty. Collins says, “Working families just can’t afford another new tax. It’s sad to see Governor Haslam and Senator Alexander pushing President Obama’s agenda by supporting the Internet sales tax.”

The above is reposted from, in full, unaltered, with an assumption that the editors will not object. Rod

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TNGOP Statement on President Obama's Visit

NASHVILLE, Tenn.--Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney released the following statement regarding President Obama's visit to Chattanooga today:

"Today's visit by President Obama is a great opportunity for him to see the successes of Republican principles in action. While America's slow recovery continues, Tennessee is outpacing much of the country with stronger GDP growth and stronger personal income growth. Job creators have taken notice of what is happening in Tennessee and have continued to rank Tennessee as one of the best states to do business in. We hope that the President is able to take Tennessee's current blueprint for success back to Washington because this is what America should look like."

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Corker Statement on President Obama’s Visit to Tennessee

U.S. Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., released the following statement in advance of President Obama’s visit to the distribution center in Chattanooga today:

“I hated for the president to come to my hometown and not accompany him, especially because it would have provided an opportunity for us to talk more about our country’s fiscal challenges. But ultimately, with only three days left in this work period and several scheduled hearings and votes today, it seemed best to stay in Washington and do the work Tennesseans elected me to do. I have no doubt the president will have a good visit to one of the greatest cities in the world,” said Corker.

Corker served as mayor of Chattanooga from 2001 to 2005.

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Rand Paul: "I am very supportive of Senator Alexander. I hope he does not get an opponent. I really do. I hope he wins re-election."

"I am very supportive of Senator Alexander. I hope he does not get an opponent. I really do. I hope he wins re-election."

He didn't say the words, "I endorse Senator Alexander's reelection," but if that is not an endorsement, I don't know what it is.

Will this help Alexander? Will it hurt Rand Paul? Some of Rand Paul's supporters can be pretty dogmatic and they may feel Paul has sold them out. They may think Paul is just another politician and not their knight in shinning armor. On the other hand, Alexander may think, "I owe you," and when presidential primary season rolls around Alexander may repay the favor. This association may make Alexander more acceptable to the grass roots and may make Rand Paul more acceptable to establishment Republicans.

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Facebook Rumble: School board member Will Pinkston and Charter School leader Ravi Gupta make news.

If you read this morning's Tennessean or The City Paper on Saturday, you may have noticed a story that reported that School board member Will Pinkston and  charter school leader Ravi Gupta had engaged in a heated Facebook name calling exchange. This is what is behind it all:  

It started with an attack on charter schools by board member Amy Frogge. Frogge is the School board member's leading opponent of charter schools who earlier this year let the fight to defy the State Board of Education by denying Great Hearts a charter which resulted in the State withholding $3.4 million from Metro Schools.
In a recent attack on charter schools she said she had had, “an evolution in her thinking” on the problems that plague the school district  which she said are  too many standardized tests, a “culture of fear” among school personnel and unhappy teachers and administrators.

“Over the course of a year in office," she said, "I have come to put a name on these problems, and that name is the national ‘reform’ movement.”  She said most parents don’t realize that this movement is “heavily funded and driven by people who want to make profits from our children.” This is her complete post:
 If you have followed my posts since my election, you have witnessed an evolution in my thinking. I ran for office recognizing that something was not quite right, but I did not understand the full scope of the problem. What I knew was that we have too many standardized tests, that our teachers and school administrators are unhappy, that there is a culture of fear in our schools, that there seemed to be a disconnect between education policy makers and the people who actually run our schools, and that my own neighborhood school, where my children have thrived, seemed severely underfunded and under attack.

Over the course of a year in office, I have come to put a name on these problems, and that name is the national “reform” movement. I initially believed that perhaps those who speak out loudly against the movement are a bit too conspiracy-minded and that perhaps the truth is really somewhere in the middle. I no longer believe this.

What most parents don’t understand is that this movement is heavily funded and driven by people who want to make profits from our children. (I should clarify that not every person who buys into parts of the reform movement has ill intentions or is motivated by profits. That certainly is not true.) Parents don’t understand that the insane numbers of standardized tests our children undergo are also linked to charter school expansion, vouchers and persecuting our teachers and neighborhood schools. Because the national “reform” movement is so well funded, groups that promote reform have fantastic PR. To get what they want from politicians (less regulation, less accountability, and more opportunities to profit), these groups quickly marginalize anyone who speaks out against their measures as “defenders of the status quo” or “enemies of innovation”- ludicrous language indeed. The rhetoric is so convincing that even those who don’t fully understand what is happening unwittingly adopt this language and buy the absurd idea that market-based “reform” is the only way to improve our schools.

Here is what I want my fellow parents and community members to understand: What is happening in TN is happening around the country, and ultimately, it HURTS KIDS. Parts of the reform movement may help a few children, but overall, the school “reform” movement is BAD FOR SCHOOLS. Don’t fall prey to the fancy rhetoric and expensive PR ploys.
Amy Frogge accusing someone of being a tool of special interest having loyalties other than what is best for children is like the pot calling the kettle "black."  Amy is the candidate of the SEIU.  On the SEIU webpage, they praise her and take credit for her election (link)
Many people were outraged over Amy's attack on charter schools and the school reform movement. One of those was Ravi Gupta. Ravi Gupta is the Founder and Executive Director for Nashville Prep. He has been a leader of the school choice and the school reform movement. Mr. Gupta, like Frogge and Pinkston, is a liberal with impeccable liberal credentials. He was a speech writer and Special Assistant to U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice and had previously spent two years working for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.  He responded to Amy Frogge's attack on the charter school movement by this post:
I was struck by this post from our School Board member, Amy Frogge.
The corner of the ed reform movement I’m around is full of community volunteers who serve on nonprofit school boards, hard-working teachers who have different ideas about how to educate kids, and parents of all income levels who send their kids to schools that set high expectations, hire great teachers, and hold themselves accountable. These are owners of coffee shops, TSU professors, barbers, cupcake chefs, technicians on the Music City Center, police men and women, prison guards, homeless families and even great-grandmothers like Francis Jones.

We need better schools, yes, but we need to get beyond the ALL CAPS Facebook posts blaming vague, profit-driven conspiracies and demonizing those (except you folks in the parentheses, not you) who have a different perspective on how to educate kids.
I’m sure there are consultants and companies trying to make money off of charter schools.  Some of them will succeed.  I know this because I have watched many of those same companies rip off school districts for decades with expensive, unaligned textbooks, high priced consultants, and redundant data systems.

The reform I know involves long-neglected communities raising expectations for their schools, working to ensure their children get the education they need and deserve.  When results come in, no matter how imperfect the measure, our families need someone to communicate the way forward.  Let’s stop throwing tomatoes and start taking responsibility.
Then school board member Will Pinkston weighted in attacking Ravi Gupta. I thought Gupta's remarks was quite moderate and a resonalble response, but Pinkston thought Gupta was out of line in expressing an opinion and told him so. Pinkston takes the position that only elected school board members should be allowed to express an opinion about education policy. It went down hill form there with Raji calling Pinkston's comments "a drunken rage." Below are excerpts from the Facebook post on Pinkstons site:
Will Pinkston shared a link. Friday near Nashville. Disappointed in Ravi Gupta. Just one month after my Nashville School Board colleague Amy Murrell Frogge voted to green-light Nashville Prep's second charter school, Ravi now is publicly criticizing Amy's widely shared views on public education reform. My advice to charter and traditional principals: Be educators, or be activists. But don't try to be both.

Ravi Gupta. I get it. Vote for our school and you get to say and advocate for whatever you want. Friday at 9:06pm via mobile · Like · 1

Will Pinkston Wrong. Get elected by Davidson County voters and you get to express your opinion. Fancy that. Who elected you? Friday at 9:09pm via mobile · Like · 5

Ravi Gupta. No one. Didn't realize getting elected was the only path to communication Friday at 9:10pm via mobile · Like

Will Pinkston Communicate all you want. Just make clear what's most important: Educating kids or staking out your political positions. Friday at 9:13pm via mobile · Like · 1

Ravi Gupta Right back at you brother Friday at 9:15pm via mobile · Like

Will Pinkston Are you seriously questioning my commitment to public education? Friday at 9:19pm via mobile · Like

Ravi Gupta Are questioning mine? Friday at 9:27pm via mobile · Like

Will Pinkston Yes. Every minute you spend on policy debates is a minute you're not spending focused on the kids of Nashville Prep. Everybody has a role to play. Is your role running a school? Or playing politics? Friday at 9:30pm via mobile · Like · 1

Ravi Gupta False Choice. I don't think you or I have stayed out of policy debates prior to election.. That's what civic life is all about. Strange position. Friday at 9:39pm via mobile · Like

Will Pinkston You are a school leader. Lead your school. I am a school board member. I'll work on policy and stay out of the school buildings. If you want to trade places, then let's talk with the voters. In the meantime, let's recognize our unique roles and get to work. Friday at 9:41pm via mobile · Like · 2

Ravi Gupta Seems like a very top down way to view policy debate. You lead.
We follow. Ps. I don't live in your district. Friday at 9:44pm via mobile · Like

Will Pinkston Ravi: Good. I'm not asking for your vote. You report to your board and Bransford. I've been grinding it out in the reform trenches in TN for more than a decade. I don't need or want your support. The only thing I regret is that I accidentally created an environment for arrogant people like you to swoop in and lecture everyone else about the path forward. I think we've got it figured out. Welcome to Nashville. Friday at 9:51pm via mobile · Like · 2

Ravi Gupta Great, Will. I speak for many (reporters, politicians, parents and citizens) when i say that there is nothing scary about your drunk rage Friday at 9:55pm via mobile · Like

Ravi Gupta You have tried to intimidate your way through this town, and your sloppy finger pointing is tired Friday at 9:55pm via mobile · Like

Ravi Gupta No one is scared any more Friday at 9:56pm via mobile · Like

Will Pinkston Ravi: I think you've overstepped in multiple ways tonight. Attacking a school board member for a legitimate policy views. Attacking another school board member with libelous claims. You should seriously consider whether you belong in this community. Officially, I regret having served on the board of Nashville Prep and regret having helped hired you to. Friday at 10:12pm via mobile · Like · 7

Will Pinkston shepherd the school Friday at 10:13pm via mobile · Like · 1

Rich Richards With or without Frogge, our second school passes. What have you done for a child or teacher today in Nashville? What makes you an expert in creating opportunities for our kids? Stand proud of our scholars, stand proud of our staff-- Nashville Prep is a beacon of hope for North Nashville and for the state of Tennessee. Our scholars will make dramatic gains and reach college, regardless of your tentative stance. I wish you all the best and look forward to the day that you thank Ravi Gupta for revolutionizing education in the city that you were elected to serve. Friday at 10:23pm · Edited · Like · 1

Will Pinkston Rich: I helped create the education reform atmosphere in Tennessee that allows charter schools like Nashville Prep to exist. Without my support, your second school may or may not have passed. What's clear to me now is: The Nashville Prep crowd has no respect for the Nashville School Board and that we need to be more introspective before approving new schools or growth in existing schools. Friday at 10:38pm via mobile · Like · 5

Francie Hunt Oh my. Well, this is bound to make the news. Friday at 10:48pm via mobile · Like · 4

Thomas Weber I just want to make one last statement. Mr Gupta, your comments are indicative of the reform movement as a whole. It's bred a certain arrogance. Think about the really quality teachers that you know. They are usually a humble lot with the majority of their focus on their students and their daily gains. No matter how small. The reformer movement has created an environment of go big or go home. We need to shift our focus back to the students and their progress, no matter how small or large it is and remember that we are public servants. Friday at 11:11pm via mobile · Like · 3

Krissa Smith Barclay Ravi, you have crossed a line you will soon regret. My condolences to you. Friday at 11:11pm via mobile · Like · 3

Will Pinkston I'm proud of the work Nashville Prep has done to advance student achievement. But I'm ashamed of the arrogant attitudes of Ravi Gupta and others. Collaboration is the hallmark of reform. We can't achieve scalable reform without broad-based commitment to improvement. Saturday at 12:07am via mobile · Like · 1

Ravi Gupta Will - I apologize for saying your posts above were out of drunk rage. It was a terrible thing to say, and I feel terrible for that. I still believe you are trying to bully me and others, but we can have a debate about that on the merits without me throwing ad hominems at you. Saturday at 6:33am · Like

Ravi Gupta Everyone - I am signing off of this post. Fire away. Saturday at 6:36am · Like

Will Pinkston It's clear to me now: Ravi Gupta is good for Nashville Prep, but bad for Nashville. Anyone can create a small island of excellence for a few hundred kids (and that's admirable). What's harder is to operate effectively in a larger system of public education. Ravi is a symptom of what's wrong with the charter movement. A few big egos, with a small percentage of students, that basically have turned their backs on public education. It's not just an inefficient approach to reform; it's immoral. Saturday at 7:44am via mobile · Like · 13

Thomas Weber Well said Will Saturday at 7:52am via mobile · Like · 3

Will Pinkston Let me acknowledge that Ravi, despite his self-aggrandizing personality, worked hard to keep every child in the building. Some kids make it, some don't. But as Jen points out: The difference between charter and traditional schools is ... Charters can exit kids when the going gets tough. Traditional schools - neighborhood schools - must be committed to every child, every day. Ravi should be thanking people like Amy Frogge for their commitment to scalable improvement, not responding with petty attacks. Saturday at 10:52am · Like · 3

Matt Pulle So Ravi's comments last night were inexcusable. I think we can all agree on that. But I think what he has done at Nashville Prep is laudable and has earned him the benefit of the doubt this one time. The fact is that both of you guys are smart, dedicated and hard-working and while you each play different roles, you're both major assets to the district. So I'm hoping for peace. Saturday at 11:36am · Like

Jennifer Croslin Smith I want to personally and publicly thank Will for standing up for Amy. Her views reflect those of many in Nashville and we are tired of being dismissed and marginalized every time we express an opinion that differs from those in the reform movement. We are not part of the status quo. We just happen to think change can be attained in a manner different from that proposed by those in the reform movement. There is a large group of parents who are proud of Will and have his back. And you can bet that, even though I do not live in Will's district, I will be knocking on doors for him in 3 years. Saturday at 2:21pm via mobile · Edited · Like · 4

Laura Prestwood Briggs I don't have a dog in this particular fight, but I will say this: I would worry about any leader at any school who would speak like that - calling someone's disagreement with him a "drunk rage". As an educator, I would never speak such a thing. And apologizing is all well and good, but I have to wonder: does this type of berating go on in the halls of his school? Toward the teachers? Toward the students? Once hurtful words are put out there, they can NOT be taken back. These are the types of lessons we teach at my school. I would hope that the students and staff at Nashville Prep are treated in a manner that is much more civil than what I have read here. I work at a school in the southeast part of the county, so again, I do not know this many from Adam; however, I can most assuredly say this: from this point onward, when I ever see or hear anything about Nashville Prep in the media, my immediate thought will be, "Oh, yes. They are the school with the leader who hit WAY below the belt with Will." Not a good lasting impression to leave, no matter how passionate he is in his stance. Saturday at 3:30pm via mobile · Like · 3

Will Pinkston An unnamed high-profile charter advocate just called me saying that Ravi's comments seemed focused on his own "drunk rage (Dr)." Hence, my new monicker for my former employee will be Dr. Gupta. Saturday at 4:35pm via mobile · Like · 1
Wow! I am at a loss for words. 

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Monday, July 29, 2013

The Tennessean's video and report on Ron Paul at Jack Johnson's fund raiser

Rand Paul in Tennessee says Republican Party must expand its base

by Caleb Whitmer, The Tennessean, Jul. 29, 2013 - U.S. Sen. Rand Paul said the Republican Party must expand its base if it’s going to succeed in future national elections.

Paul, a Kentucky Republican who is considering a run for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, sowed some neighboring-state good will at a fundraiser in Franklin for state Sen. Jack Johnson on Sunday afternoon. Paul used his speech to pick out examples of government waste, criticize the Obama administration and preach the need for a more inclusive Republican Party.

“I think things like liberty, things like your privacy, things like defending the Fourth Amendment, I think these are important things and they can help us grow the party,” Paul said. (link)
The short video includes a press interview in which Paul defends his defense record.

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Report from the Jack Johnson fund raiser featuring Rand Paul

I really enjoyed the Jack Johnson boots and BBQ event last night. There was a big crowd there, but when people are spread out at tables in a large hall it is difficult to estimate the number. When knowing I am going to write about an event like this, I usually go through a process of estimating, the crowd, but I didn't plan on writing about the event, so I did not do it this time, so my unscientific estimate is maybe 500. 

Rand Paul was very impressive.  The more I see of him, the more I like him. He gave a great explanation of just how bloated the Federal Government really is. He gave shocking and humorous examples of somethings the Federal Government spends our money on.  He explained how the government has drastically expanded the number of  medical billing codes (seven for being bitten by a Macaw. two different codes for walking into a lamp post) He gave great examples of unbelievable government waste. ($x to create a robotic squirrel to determine if a snake would strike a squirrel that did not move its tail. It will strike a robotic squirrel that does not move its tail .)

I liked Paul's comments that we must strive to make the Republican Party more inclusive and that we must be welcoming to all colors and people with tattoos and people with pony tails. He said we can make the party more inclusive and grow the Party while being true to our values, but that for poor people or young people who have no wealth and pay little taxes, that our message of opposing high taxes and excessive regulation, may not resonate with them. He said our message of being the party that advocates for liberty and privacy and staying out of peoples lives will resonate. I liked Paul's comments that we must care as much for the 1st amendment and the 4th amendment as we do the 2nd amendment. I could not agree more.

As some of you who know me or are regular readers of this blog know, my lovely wife, Louella, has Alzheimer's and has had it for several years. I can't go as many places as I used to and if I do go somewhere, it takes more planning and entails some risk and challenge. Louella did just fine last night and she enjoyed herself.  I enjoyed  seeing lots of political friends, some good Bluegrass music, good barbeque and good table conversation.

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sen. Rand Paul to appear with Sen. Lamar Alexander at events to promote charter schools

Senator Rand Paul, a tea party and libertarian-Republican favorite, will be joining Lamar Alexander in Nashville on Monday at a Nashville charter school, KIPP Academy, for a roundtable discussion of federal legislation to benefit charters. They will be joined by Tennessee Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman. 

With the eighteenth charter school to open in Nashville next month, Nashville is becoming a center of charter school activity despite the cool reception the local school board has given charter schools. Thanks to our Republican governor and Republican-dominated legislature and Commissioner Keven Huffman, charter schools are permitted in Tennessee and cannot not be locked out of consideration even if opposed by local school boards.  By way of comparison, in the Democrat-dominated State of Kentucky, there is not even a law that allows publicly financed, privately led charters.

Both Senators Alexander and Paul are on the Senate Education Committee. Alexander, who served as Secretary of Education under George H. Bush, has been a long-time proponent of  charter schools.

In speaking about the upcoming event in Tennessee, Alexander said, "Charter schools liberate teachers to use their own good judgment to help children and give parents more choices of good schools. Tennessee has become one of the national leaders in creating new charter schools, and so we want to learn about it, number one, for the federal legislation, and the second thing is, Sen. Paul wants to encourage Kentucky to do more of what Tennessee is doing.”

On Tuesday, July 30, Sen. Rand Paul will be at another event with Sen. Alexander promoting charter schools and school choice. At this event they will also be joined by another tea party favorite, Mike Lee of Utah. Also on the program will be Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina.  This event will include three panels composed of parents and students, and representatives of Washington D.C's top performing charter and private schools.

For source material and more information see here, here, here, and here

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Obama protest in Chattanooga on Tuesday July 30th

President Obama Plans to Visit Amazon Facility in Chattanooga Tuesday, July 30.
Chattanooga Tea Party will hold a Rally to Protest the Disastrous Policies of Barack Obama.

When: Tuesday, July 30, Noon - 2:00PM
Where: Amazon Fulfillment Center
What: Bring family friendly signs, flags, water...
Who: We will have several guest speakers
WHY: "...the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Stay tuned for additional updates as situation is fluid. For more information follow this link

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Report from the "NashvilleNext Mayor" planning event

I attended the last of the NashvilleNext public community meetings today. I was disappointed to see only about 25 people in attendance, not counting the dozen or so people either with the planning department or an art project that was part of the activities. I spoke to someone with the art project who had attended all of the public "NashvilleNext Mayor" events. She said one of them had about 75 people in attendance and one had as few as maybe a dozen people.

We set at tables grouped by regions and drew up "campaign planks" to reflect what we wanted as part of our vision for Nashville. There was one planner and four other people beside myself at our table, included my old friend, environmentalist Burce Woods. We had lively discussion on a variety of issue. 

In a discussion of homelessness, I pointed out that we already had an aggressive policy to combat homelessness and pointed out that it was a complex problem to solve.  I suggested that some government policies such as financing downtown development or strict codes enforcement that prohibited large homes from being subdivided, contributed to the problem.  I was of the opinion that we could not make substantial headway in doing much more about combating homelessness than we are already doing.

In a discussion of "affordable living," I argued that to keep Nashville affordable we needed to keep taxes low and argued that raising taxes could drive people across the county line to live and reduce the tax base.

I got included in our table's "transit" plank language that called for transit choices that avoided price-fixing, used market forces, and welcomed entrepreneurs.

While these public input session have concluded, one can still contribute online.  One my make their own suggestion or "like" the suggestion someone else has made. I have probably made about a dozen suggestions.

Do you want charter schools? Do you want to keep the fair grounds? Do you prefer more bike lanes and fewer traffic lanes, or making our streets user-friendly for drivers? Do you want to preserve the honky tonk row on lower Broadway? Do we need to add more parks and greenways as Nashville grows?  Do you want to hold the line on taxes? Go to "NashvilleNext by MindMixer" to join the discussion and make your suggestions. To read the background papers and hear the expert guest speakers that have been part of this process, go to this link.

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Senator Rand Paul at Jack Johnson's Boots and Jeans and BBQ, Sunday

Senator Rand Paul will be the special guest at Senator Jack Johnson's 7th Annual Boots & Jeans, BBQ & Beans on July 28th, along with Congressman Marsha Blackburn! Tickets are $50 per person. Please RSVP by email

The event will be at Liberty Hall at the Factory (map) from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm.

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Are we implementing Agenda 21 with NashvilleNext?

Why are all those fine citizens who are concerned about Agenda 21 not taking part in the NashvilleNext planning process?

Actually I do not think zoning and planning is part of a diabolical plot to take away private property rights and golf courses and  kill 96% of the worlds population by poisoning them with aspartame and fluoride, but some people do.  A lot of conservative grassroots activist bought into the Anti-Agenda 21 hysteria. Our State legislature passed a resolution condemning Agenda 21. Now, here we are with a major planning event going on in Nashville, and none of the people who attended all of those John Birch Society training sessions on Agenda 21 are taking part. Why? Where are they?

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One more chance to participate in planning the future of Nashville

The people who want to hold the line on taxes, who may favor auto-friendly streets, who want to maintain traditional suburbs, who want to protect property rights, who think ending crony capitalism should be a priority, who want to advance school choice, who think the way to combat poverty is to reduce incidents of single motherhood, and those who hold any number of other opinions that differ from those who want to see Nashville as a hip, progressive, liberal city sort of like San Francisco or Paris on the Cumberland have been absent from these meetings.

You have one more chance to have your voice heard. 

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How Republicans can give a Senate seat to the Democrats on a silver platter.

It seems one of the favorite Republican games is the circular firing squad. Republicans love to shoot each other. Republicans at every opportunity seem determined to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. There are too many Republicans who think they are the only real Republicans and all other Republicans are RINO's.  They would prefer ideologically pure candidates who cannot win or govern over less perfect candidates who could give Republicans a governing majority.

I sometimes disagree with some of the votes cast by Lamar Alexander. As an example, I disagree with the Internet income tax bill he is pushing. However, I am not going to fall out with someone over a single vote or over several votes if I agree with their record most of the time.  Now, if Alexander was being challenged in the primary by an accomplished, viable candidate who was more conservative than he, I could be persuaded to vote for the other candidate. I would consider voting for Ron Ramsey, or John Duncan, or Marsha Blackburn if they were challenging Alexander. I am not, however, going to support someone who cannot win a general election. I am not going to vote for a nut just because I sometimes disagree with Lamar Alexander.

Tennessee is about as red a state as there is now and  I suspect no viable Democrat will run against Lamar Alexander.  However, if a nominee like Kane the pro wrestler, or Lenard with her background and record, or Kooky Kookogey take the nomination away from Alexander, we will be handing this state over to the Democrats on a silver platter.

Greg Johnson, writing at makes this same point:

Republicans could win the Senate in 2014. But if the right puts up candidates like O’Donnell and Angle or Lenard or Kookogey, the reign of Reid and Obama will continue and conservatives will have squandered another opportunity. (link)

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State Senator Mark Green to Speak in Wilson County

Please join Senator Mark Green as he speaks to fellow conservatives at the Logan's Steakhouse in Providence, TN this Saturday at 9:15 am.

Dr. Green will discuss his military experience with special operations, including his encounter with Saddam Hussein as well as the current state of the GOP in Tennessee and the country. Senator Green will have copies of his book and sign them for anyone interested. Please join us!

Directions: Logan's is on the south side of Interstate 40. If coming from Nashville, take exit 226B to Providence way and go right on Belinda parkway/Providence Way.

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Video of Lamar Alexander's Voting Record protest, Ben Cunningham, J. Lee Douglas and more.

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Lamar Alexander Dismisses Tea Party Protesters: 'I Didn't Hear Anything They Said'

The Huffington Post, By Chris Gentilviso,07/25/2013 - One month removed from his decision to vote for immigration reform, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) does not appear to be fazed by his Tea Party critics. In an interview with Politico posted Thursday, Alexander dismissed protesters who invaded his fundraiser last weekend, sporting "you betrayed us" signs over the immigration decision.

“I didn’t hear anything they said," Alexander told Politico. “They were a mile away. They were enjoying their First Amendment rights, and I was enjoying playing 'Johnny B. Goode' with Mike Huckabee.”  (link)

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How our Representatives voted on the NSA secret collecting of phone records

The 217-205 roll call Wednesday by which the House rejected a challenge to the National Security Agency's secret collection of hundreds of millions of Americans' phone records.

A "yes" vote was a vote to halt the NSA program; a "no" vote was a vote to allow the program to continue.

Voting yes were 111 Democrats and 94 Republicans.

Voting no were 83 Democrats and 134 Republicans. (link)
You will note that the vote did not follow party lines. Most Democrats voted to halt the NSA program and most Republican voted to continue it.  Our Tennessee Republicans all voted "yes," voting to halt the program.

Here is how our Tennessee delegation voted: 
Democrats – Cohen, Y; Cooper, N.
Republicans – Black, Y; Blackburn, Y; DesJarlais, Y; Duncan, Y; Fincher, Y; Fleischmann, Y;   Roe, Y.
Several notable conservative Republican representatives voted "no":  Ohio's John Boehner voted "no," Virginia's Eric Cantor voted "no," Wisconsin's Paul Ryan voted "no," Michelle Bachmann of Wisconsin voted "no."

Among notable Democrats, Nancy Pelosi voted "no," Waxman voted "yes," Dingle voted "yes."

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Protesters to greet Obama in Chattanooga

With President Obama visiting Chattanooga next Tuesday, citizens from across the region are gathering to Protest Obama's Policies. One of our featured speakers will be Ben Cunningham, chairman of the Nashville Tea Party and Chairman of Tennessee Tax Revolt. 

The Tennessee Campaign for Liberty will be leading the protest against President Obama's push for an Internet Sales Tax (known as the Marketplace Fairness Act) during his visit to the fulfillment center on Tuesday the 30th. is also pushing the new Internet Sales Tax, which was written by TN's own Senator Lamar Alexander.


Tuesday, July 30th
7200 Discovery Dr, Chattanooga, TN

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MNPS Public Hearing on the school calendar

Public Hearing held by the Metro Nashville Public School Board on July 24, 2013

Below is what the Tennessean had to say about it: 

Parents question Nashville schools' balanced calendar 

Jul. 25, 2013 - The sparse crowd that showed up Wednesday for a public forum on changes to the Metro Nashville school calendar mostly was opposed to the current balanced calendar and wants a return to the traditional school year.

About 30 parents in all attended the hour-and-a-half-long meeting where they could comment and ask questions about proposals for the 2014-15 school year. (link)

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Last Saturday of each month 
SATURDAY, July 27, 2013 
8:30 am - Breakfast &Social (Dutch Treat)
 9:00 am - Meeting 
546 Donelson Pike 37214 

Guest Speaker Rick Williams 
Spokesperson for Public Information 
"5th Avenue - West End AMP Project" 

 Presented by: Alex and Kathyrn Stillwell Chairmen of the Donelson-Hermitage Conservative Group or 773-2775

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The Tennessee Charter School success story and Matt Throckmorton bids farewell


Dear Friends,

As Executive Director of the Tennessee Charter Schools Association (TCSA) since 2007, I have had the honor to work side-by-side with many of you to strengthen Tennessee’s charter school environment.  However, while I am excited about what the future holds for Tennessee students, the time has come for me to pass the baton to new leadership.

It is gratifying to look back over the past six-plus years and see just how far we’ve come together in our campaign to increase Tennesseans’ access to high-quality public charter schools.

When I came to Tennessee in 2007, there were only 12 charter schools, and the state had one of the most restrictive charter laws in the nation.  At that time, charter schools could only be introduced in school districts where academic failure was present, and a sunset clause posed a threat to the program’s future.  By building partnerships with legislators, community leaders, and educators, in 2009 we were able to expand access to charter schools to all free-and-reduced lunch students.

We continued to fight for all students to gain access to quality public charter schools, and in 2011, we successfully worked with legislative leaders to pass legislation that opened charter schools to students of all academic and economic backgrounds, and removed the cap which had previously restricted the number of charter schools.

In addition to this progress, I am proud of the additional ways TCSA has advocated for stronger quality options and opportunities for students across the state in my tenure.  We worked with education stakeholders from across the state to help Tennessee win the first Race to the Top funds, which had a significant impact on the expansion of charter schools in Memphis and Nashville.  We lobbied for high academic accountability, worked to ensure fair and equitable funding, and successfully defended charter schools against dozens of proposed pieces of harmful legislation. Along the way we managed to make many improvements to our law, and even secured nearly a dozen opinions from the Attorney General, all of which were favorable.

Due to these legislative and legal victories paired with the incredibly hard work charter school leaders and teachers are doing across the state, this month the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University published a study highlighting Tennessee’s charter schools as some of the strongest performers in the country. Thanks to this progress of our high-quality movement, this fall more than 16,500 students across the state will take their seats in more than 70 excellent charter schools.

Moving forward, I am excited about the collaboration between TCSA and the Tennessee Charter School Incubator to create the new Tennessee Charter School Center. During the strategic planning process, I will be serving as an advisor to the new Center as we work to create an even stronger voice for excellent educational opportunities in Tennessee. As the plan is established, TCSA will continue to serve as a resource to the parents, schools, and policymakers of Tennessee. TCSA has always had a strong working relationship with the Tennessee Charter School Incubator, and with each organization bringing their core initiatives under the umbrella of the new Center I am more encouraged than ever about the bright future of charter schools as Tennessee’s most impactful public education reform.

Through The Voice, our dynamic grassroots advocacy program, you and other supporters will continue to have a larger, louder forum to bring continued change and progress to public education. In addition, I am proud to have been your partner to build the Tennessee Charter Schools Association, and I look forward to the continued growth of excellent educational options in our state. It has been inspiring to work with so many leaders dedicated to making a difference for Tennessee families, and I know that the movement will continue to be in good hands.

Matt Throckmorton

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