Friday, January 31, 2014

Alexander Campaign Reports $3.18 Million Cash on Hand

Campaign Raises $4.66 Million in 2013

Press Release, NASHVILLE, TN – Senator Lamar Alexander’s re-election campaign today announced that the campaign began 2014 with $3.18 million cash on hand, bringing the total raised for 2013 to $4.66 million.

“As senator and governor, Lamar Alexander has been standing up for Tennessee and we are ready to stand up for him. We’ve raised money from thousands of donors across our state and are grateful for their support,” said Alexander for Senate Finance Chairman Steve Smith.

The campaign raised $768,353 in the fourth quarter of 2013.

The Alexander campaign is chaired by Congressman Jimmy Duncan, with co-chairmen Governor Bill Haslam, U.S. Senator Bob Corker, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, Speaker Beth Harwell, as well as Congressmen Blackburn, Roe, Black, Fincher, and Fleischmann.

The campaign’s Honorary Co-Chairmen include former U.S. Senators Howard Baker, Bill Brock, Bill Frist and Fred Thompson, as well as former Governors Winfield Dunn and Don Sundquist.

Serving as Honorary Co-Chairs of the Statewide Committee to Elect Lamar Alexander are all 13 living former state Republican Party chairs.

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February political get-togethers!

From Stephen Clements

Hi everybody,
February is a stacked month for political get-togethers! To help you plan your month, here are some of them:

  • Saturday February 1st - Bellevue Breakfast Club, this month is focused on us talking and plotting how to take over the world in 2014!
Where: Shoney's 7745 HWY 70 SOUTH
When: Breakfast 8:00 am  Meeting (9:00 am - 10:00 am)
  • Saturday February 8th - Madison Breakfast Club, a brand new group helping to spread the opportunity for those on the Right to get together, and this month they have Rick Williams from the Stop AMP campaign, and trust me, he is a great speaker.
Where: Skyline Medical Center 3441 Dickerson Road (Dickerson Rd. & I-65) Lower level next to the cafeteria
When: Breakfast/Social (8:30 am - 9:00 am); Meeting (9:00 am - 10:00 am)
  • Tuesday February 18th - Tennessee Firearms Association monthly meeting, and I always have a good time at these.
Where: Golden Corral 315 Old Lebanon Dirt Rd, Hermitage
When: Eat at 6 pm; Meeting at 7 pm
  • Saturday February 22nd - Caffeinated Conservatives Double-Header!
1) Monthly Coffee Talk with returning Metro School Board Member and Budget Chairman Will Pinkston
Where: Bagel Face Bakery 700 Main Street, East Nashville
When: 12 pm - 2 pm

2) Phil Valentine presents his anti-global warming documentary "An Inconsistent Truth"! Meet one of talk radio's greats, ask questions, and watch an excellent movie.
Where: The Cave 600 9th Avenue South in Downtown Nashville
When: 5 pm - 8 pm
My Comment:  Thanks Stephen. Also don't forget First Tuesday and Liberty on the Rocks. Check back for notices of those events. Also, there is the Southeast Breakfast group and the Green Hills Breakfast Group. Also, Family Action Council is having a legislative briefing. There are lots of opportunities for conservatives to get informed and network and socialize.

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What prevents poor children from becoming middle class adults?

From Family Action Council of Tennessee:

What is the greatest obstacle in the U.S. to upward intergenerational social mobility, that is, what's the primary factor preventing poor children from moving up the economic ladder as adults?  Is it income inequality?  The quality of their schools?  Racial and economic segregation? Much to the dismay of liberals, the answer is ... none of the above.  It is family structure. Children living with married moms and dads have the greatest chance of moving up the economic ladder, according to a new study by researchers at Harvard and University of California at Berkeley.

The study of more than 40 million children and their parents found that "the fraction of children living in single-parent households is the strongest correlate of upward income mobility among all the variables we explored...."  While liberals believe the answer is throwing more money at supposedly underfunded government programs, we believe the solution is public policies and societal support for encouraging and strengthening marriages that provide children with both a mother and a father.  As we recently observed, 40% or more of births since 2008 in the U.S. have been by unmarried women, and the percentage of all babies born who are born to unmarried women has more than doubled since 1980.
My Comment: This truth is almost universality ignored by popular culture and the mainstream press. There can be big conferences and lengthy reports addressing the issue of poverty that never mention the fact that the primary factor contributing to poverty is unmarried women giving birth to children. We need to change the economic incentives that encourage single women to have children and we need policy changes that support families.  However, we need a cultural shift. Instead of single motherhood being something that is to be celebrated and single mothers being treated as noble heroes, they should be pitied and having a child out of wedlock should be condemned and be a shameful event. Public condemnation can influence behavior. Women are not having children out of wedlock because they don't know what causes pregnancy. Women are not having children out of wedlock because they don't have access to birth control. They do it primarily because it is the norm and not condemned. When something is socially condemned you will have less of it.

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Sen. Alexander and 4 TN Congressmen co-sign brief supporting Hobby Lobby

From Family Action Council of Tennessee:

Five members of Tennessee's Congressional delegation have co-signed a brief supporting Hobby Lobby in its legal battle, now in the U.S. Supreme Court, against the contraception mandate in ObamaCare.  The Christian company already offers 16 forms of birth control in its health insurance plan but is objecting to having to provide the morning-after pill and other abortion-inducing drugs.  The "friend of the court" brief primarily argues that the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) was enacted to protect a wide range of religious activity and beliefs; it applies to for-profit entities like Hobby Lobby; and the government's arguments do not satisfy the "high bar" set by the RFRA before a governmental regulation can overcome RFRA's protections.  Oral arguments before the Supreme Court are scheduled to take place on March 25.

Among the 86 bipartisan signatures on the brief were Tennessee's Senator Lamar Alexander and Representatives Diane Black, Marsha Blackburn, Scott DesJarlis and Stephen Fincher.  A total of 81 "friend of the court" briefs were filed in the case, of which almost 70% support Hobby Lobby's position.

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Anti-Obama protesters turn out to greet the president.

I attended the anti-Obama protest today across the street from McGavock High School.  I arrived at about 1PM and had to leave to get back to work about 2PM, so I did not get to stay until President Obama arrived. I don't think I missed much however. The Presidents motorcade did not go past the protesters. Protesters were required to protest on McGavovk and the President entered the school grounds from Two Rivers Parkway and was protected from seeing the protesters.

Ben Cunningham talking to the press.
The announced start of the protest was 1PM, so I doubt the crowd grew after the time I left.  There was a brief program: Pray, pledge, brief remarks by organizer Ben Cunningham, remarks by State Rep Joe Carr who is running against Senator Lamar Alexander and someone else who I do not recall. I mingled and chatted with people and enjoyed the camaraderie. There were about, maybe 150 anti-Obama protesters, and about maybe 30 generally pro-Obama demonstrators, and about 30 or so Hispanics demonstrating for amnesty and chanting, "keep families together."   Here are some pictures I took and a YouTube video I found and chopped.
For news reports on the President's visit follow these links: here, here, and here.

For news reports on the Presidents visit follow these links: here, here, and here.

Here is Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey's Facebook comment on the Presidents visit:

I would like to welcome the President to Tennessee. Tennessee balances its budget, pays its debts, cuts taxes and saves for a rainy day. President Obama vehemently opposes these concepts. I hope the President doesn't just speak when he touches down in our great state, but looks, listens and absorbs the lessons of conservative government.

Obama's liberal vision forced conservative Democrats to flee their party and join the GOP. The contrast between Tennessee's conservative success and President Obama's liberal failure could not be more striking. I appreciate this opportunity for voters to see this comparison up close and personal.
Tennessee Watchdog U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis, (in the car) had an up-close
 encounter with the Tea Party in Nashville today while stalled in traffic to see President Obama.

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Wine in Grocery Stores passes the Senate

After seven years of trying it looks like we are going to be able to buy wine in grocery stores. The State Senate today voted 23-8 to approve the bill.  It will allow wine in many convenience stores and in big-box stores and it will allow liquor stores to sell ice, beer, and some other items. The bill however bans Sunday sale of wine and will not take effect until 2016.  Small convenience stores of less than 1200 square foot will not be permitted to sell wine.  The bill must still pass the House and then must go to conference committee to work out the dependencies between the two versions of the bill.

Below is how our Senators voted: Republicans in red; Democrats in blue. 

Voted "yes":

  • Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R.
  • Sen. Mae Beavers, R.
  • Sen. Janice Bowling, R.
  • Sen. Stacey Campfield, R
  • Sen. Rusty Crowe, R.
  • Sen. Steven Dickerson, R
  • Sen. Mark Green, R.
  • Sen. Dolores Gresham, R
  • Sen. Ferrell Haile, R
  • Sen. Douglas Henry, D.
  • Sen. Jack Johnson, R
  • Sen. Brian Kelsey, R
  • Sen. Bill Ketron (Senate bill sponsor), R.
  • Sen. Becky Duncan Massey, R
  • Sen. Randy McNally, R
  • Sen. Frank S. Nicely, R
  • Sen. Mark Norris, R
  • Sen. Doug Overbey, R
  • Sen. John Stevens, R
  • Sen. Jim Summerville, R
  • Sen. Reginald Tate, D
  • Sen. Jim Tracy, R
  • Sen. Bo Watson, D

  • Voted "no":

  • Sen. Mike Bell, R
  • Sen. Charlotte Burks, R.
  • Sen. Lowe Finney, D
  • Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R.
  • Sen. Thelma Harper, D
  • Sen. Joey Hensley, R
  • Sen. Steve Southerland, R
  • Sen. Ken Yager, R

  • Passed :Sen. Jim Kyle, D
    Not Present: Sen. Ophelia Ford, D.

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    Today! Jan. 30th 1PM, Rally to Protest President Obama's Policies during his Visit to Nashville

    Today! Please join the Nashville Tea Party and many other groups this Thursday, January 30th at 1:00PM on the public sidewalk in front of Donelson Fellowship Church:
    We will assemble on the public sidewalk in front of the Donelson Fellowship Church across from McGavock High School. The address of the Church is: 3210 McGavock Pike, Nashville, TN 37214. Map Link:

    The protest will start at 1:00PM, of course if you would like to come earlier, that's fine too. The Nashville PD requests that we park on Knobdale Rd which is on the side of the church. Please be careful not to block any driveways and please note McGavock Pike will be busy with school traffic and guests arriving for the speech. The temp is forecast to be 40 degrees so bundle up.

    Please be respectful of those who must use the sidewalk. And PLEASE take care with signs. The more signs the better but please no profanity or tasteless images. Let's get our message across with class and a clear message focusing on the State of the Union Speech topics, Repeal Obamacare, run away spending and debt, Unconstitutional actions and abuse of power by the President, IRS and NSA abuse of power, thanks.

    Two Rivers Parkway may be closed. If so, the best way to get to our McGavock Pike location will be starting from the Opryland Hotel area or from Donelson Pike.
    See you there!!
    Google Street View showing the sidewalk in front of the Church

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    Latinos for Tennessee Welcome Back Legislators

    with Ron Ramsey
    On January 21st, Latinos for Tennessee hosted a wonderful dinner event to welcome back Tennessee's state
    legislators to the 2014 legislative session.  Over fifty legislators from across the state were present as our special guests, and both Governor Bill Haslam and U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander were present for the event as well.  Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and Speaker Beth Harwell were presented with awards to recognize their outstanding efforts as elected officials to protect and promote Faith, Family, Freedom and Fiscal 
    with Bill Haslam
    Responsibility.  Former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales delivered a timely keynote address that challenged attendees to carefully consider the issues at hand as they ponder the direction in which to carry this great nation, both as legislators and as voters. 

    Guests also heard moving personal stories shared by Chairman of the Board Tommy Vallejos and Treasurer Diana Cuellar that inspired hope and patriotism as they spoke of the enormous pride they feel at being Americans of Latino heritage.  It was a wonderful evening of celebration of American values and the principles that are so dear to the hearts of Latino families.
    On the heels of such a motivating and powerful event, Latinos for Tennessee could not be more hopeful and optimistic about the prospect of educating and empowering the Latino community in Tennessee.  With the help of our committed supporters, we are eager to fulfill our goal of promoting Faith, Family, Freedom, and Fiscal Responsibility among the Latino community in our great state

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    Wednesday, January 29, 2014

    The Black Alliance for Educational Options launching "Tennessee BAEO." To locate in Memphis.

    From BAEO:
    The Black Alliance for Educational Options is pleased to announce the launching of “Tennessee BAEO” in the great city of Memphis, TN.

    “We’re thrilled to be able to have the opportunity to bring the parental choice conversation to residents of Tennessee, in particular to Black families who are so often left out of the discussion” said BAEO President, Ken Campbell. “Tennessee, and the city of Memphis in particular, are growing hubs for the discussion about transformational education reform and parental choice.  We believe it is imperative that Black leaders and low-income and working class Black families in the state are represented in that conversation.” 

    Tennessee BAEO State Director, Jennifer Littlejohn and Family and Community Organizer, LaShundra Richmond will be leading the new BAEO office.

    Jennifer Littlejohn comes to BAEO with 15 years of experience in advocacy, communications and public affairs. LaShundra Richmond has made a significant impact working in community relations and policy analysis for several organizations in the city of Memphis.

    “We are very excited to launch an organization in Tennessee that empowers and equips parents, teachers, students, legislators and community members with information to participate in the broader education reform conversation,” said Littlejohn. “Our plan is to build capacity for this work in Tennessee by organizing parents and community members, informing legislators on parental choice policies and how they can help our children achieve, and by partnering with key education reform organizations to maximize success.

    “In the coming months, we plan to meet with key stakeholders in an effort to better understand how BAEO can contribute to the work of educating children in Tennessee and to continue making progress with Black children in low-income and working class families gaining access to high quality educational options.”

    The Tennessee BAEO staff may be reached at (800) 378-4065.

    My Comment:  The greatest victims of poor performing public schools are African American students.  Liberals who claim to represent the interest of the downtrodden and especially Black Americans almost always oppose education choice. The arguments against education choice is that it leads to resegregation in education. Liberals also seem to reject excellence, preferring mediocre equality. Some of the most astounding successes of charter schools are in the Black community where young boys are going to college rather than prison and young girls are going to college rather than dropping out of school pregnant at the age of 15. 

    In Memphis, 88 percent of Memphis charter school seniors have been accepted to post-secondary institutions, earning more than $19 million in scholarships and grants. (link)  Most of these students are Black. In Nashville, among the top performing Metro Schools, the majority are charter schools. At Soulsville Chater School in Memphis, which is an all Black inner city school, among the first graduating class of 50 students, every single one was headed to college.

    It is good to see a group made up of Black parents speaking for themselves about education and what is best for their children rather than letting white liberals speak for them. Liberalism keeps the poor, poor and dependent on government. It is encouraging to see that some African Americans are realizing that their best interest and the interest of the White liberal establishment are not the same.

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    Alexander on State of the Union: President Should “Liberate the Free Enterprise System” from His Own Regulations

    “I would have preferred to hear the president give a real answer to income inequality, and the first real answer is to liberate the free enterprise system from Obama regulations so it can create more good new jobs. The second real answer is to give parents more freedom to choose a better school for their child…” – Lamar Alexander 

    WASHINGTON, Jan. 28 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said the president failed to “give a real answer to income inequality” in his State of the Union speech.

    Alexander cited his Scholarships for Kids Act – which he introduced in the Senate today (VIDEO Below) – as an example of a policy that would address income inequality by giving “parents more freedom to choose a better school for their child.” Alexander introduced his legislation at the American Enterprise Institute alongside Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.), who has introduced legislation that would create similar scholarships for children with disabilities.

    Alexander attended the State of the Union with Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey as his guest. The senator’s full remarks on the president’s speech are below:

    “I would have preferred to hear the president give a real answer to income inequality, and the first real answer is to liberate the free enterprise system from Obama regulations so it can create more good new jobs,” Alexander said. “The second real answer is to give parents more freedom to choose a better school for their child, and today I introduced legislation to do just that by allowing $2,100 federal scholarships to follow 11 million low-income children to the schools they attend.

    “Each state would make the decision about how much school choice to allow, but these scholarships for kids would redirect up to $24 billion in existing federal school funding that right now is often diverted to wealthier schools. 'Scholarships for Kids' would only benefit children from families that fit the federal definition of poverty, which is about one-fifth of all schoolchildren.

    “Allowing federal dollars to follow students has been a successful strategy in American higher education for 70 years, and my proposal would allow the same opportunity to attend a better K-12 school that we have allowed in higher education. ‘Scholarships for Kids’ is the most ambitious proposal ever to use federal dollars to expand school choice. If the president wants to address inequality in America, he should do so by helping all children have the same starting line.”

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    Wine in Grocery Stoes close to passing but anti-competition price-fixing bills leaves bitter taste.

     Dear Red White and Food Members,

    Yesterday was a great day for the wine in retail food stores campaign.

    Members of the House Local Government Committee voted to pass the bill. The bill was amended during the committee meeting to be solely about the referendum to give communities that already allow liquor-by-the-drink and/or retail package stores the right to vote on wine sales.

    The House State Government Committee also passed a bill, adding amendments during the meeting to include items that have been agreed on by retail food stores and liquor stores, such as liquor stores' ability to sell additional merchandise.

    These are huge wins for Tennesseans, and we hope the momentum continues tomorrow as we turn our attention to the Senate.

    The wine legislation will be put to a vote on the Senate floor tomorrow, Jan. 30. If you have not already done so, please take the time to email your senator and encourage him or her to vote YES on the wine in retail food stores bill. We cannot emphasize enough how important this is! Click the link below to easily draft and send an email to your senator.

    The Red White and Food Team

    Click the link below to log in and send your message:

    My Comment: I am extremely pleased to us get this close to having wine in grocery stores.  While I hope it passes, this is not a perfect bill. In some ways, it is a very distasteful bill. It still bans Sunday wine sales. Why? You can buy beer on Sunday. Why not wine. I know why. It is politics. It is a deal to put together to get enough votes to get the bill passed. 
    Another thing wrong with this bill is that it mandates a 20 percent markup over wholesale price.  What?  Yes, a retailer can not set his own price.  I am not sure how this will effect the big-box stores like Costco and Sam's Club that have their own supply chains rather than use local whole sellers.  Will they be required to use whole sellers? I don't know. If so, and they must have a 20% markup, then we will not get the benefit of lower prices.
    Mandating a minimum price or a minimum markup is to protect some providers of a product or service from competition. That is wrong. Whether it is requiring Black Sedans to charge a $45 minimum for a fare or requiring a store to mark their wine up by 20% it is price-fixing and it is not to benefit the consumer but it is to screw the consumer to benefit the politically connected. My celebration of wine in groceries will be tempered by the anti-free market component of the bill which leaves a bad taste in my mouth. 

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    Tuesday, January 28, 2014

    That pen he bragged about doesn't seem so mighty

    President Barack Obama will sign an executive order setting the minimum wage for workers under new federal contracts at $10.10 an hour, the White House said Tuesday. The president will announce the increase during his State of the Union address.

    The increase from a national minimum wage of $7.25 an hour will not affect existing federal contracts, only new ones. Moreover, contract renewals will not be affected unless other terms of the agreement change.

    The order would be one of the biggest examples in the State of the Union of Obama’s vow to use presidential authority to push for policies by circumventing Congress. (link)
    That pen he bragged about doesn't seem so mighty if that is all he is going to do. It looks like I got all worked up over nothing. From his macho bravado about having a pen and not afraid to use it, I was expecting rule by executive fiat. I was expecting a real constitutional crisis and a need for massive resistance.  Based on the way he has already violated the constitution by not following the Affordable Care Act, by failing to not enforce immigration laws, and by making recess appointments when congress was not in recess, I expected escalated constitutional violations.  If this is his first shot at using his mighty pen, then I am pleasantly relieved. 

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    A new deal is in the works for wine-in-grocery stores.7-11s and Wallmarts in; Sunday sales out.

    A new deal is in the works for wine-in-grocery stores. It is an improvement over the previous version but still disappointing. It would allow convenience stores and big-box stores to sell wine. That is an improvement. Great! However it would prohibit grocery stores from selling wine on Sunday and from selling high gravity beer. What? Why must this be so complicated?  Why not just treat wine like beer? I know that to get enough votes to pass something that the liquor lobby has to be placated. Something is better than nothing however, so maybe this is as good as we can get and it is deal that the pro-wine legislators should take. I am glad that the supporters of wine held out to get convince stores and big-box stores included. I wish wine in grocery stores could be purchased on Sunday, but if giving up Sunday purchase is the compromise we must accept to get wine in stores, then accept it. At this point it is purely a political calculation and I am not the one counting the votes. If they can get wine on Sunday, hold out and keep trying. However 90% of a loaf is better than nothing. I would not let wine in grocery stores get killed for another year holding out for Sunday sales.

    Here is the Tennesseean's report on the development: Lawmakers release new wine-in-grocery stores deal.

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    Gov. Bill Haslam Named Policy Chairman Of The Republican Governors Public Policy Committee

    “Governor Haslam has emerged as a true pioneer in the public policy sphere over the course of his first term in office,” said RGA Chairman Chris Christie. “Under his leadership, Tennessee is thriving. The state’s economy is strong, job creation is up, taxes are down, the workforce is growing, and more than ever, a great education is within reach for all Tennesseans. The results Governor Haslam has achieved are a striking example of what can be accomplished when states take the lead and his insight will be invaluable to the organization as many of our governors prepare for re-election this year.”

    “Just as we’ve done in Tennessee, Republican governors across the country are drawing on conservative principles and applying creative solutions in order to reform government and reinvent their states,” said Governor Haslam. “While the federal government balloons in size, gets in its own way and fails repeatedly to implement its policy priorities, states are flourishing. I am honored to serve as Policy Chairman at a time when Republican governors are widely recognized as standard bearers for truly meaningful reform, and I am eager to encourage and enable the kind of innovation and experimentation that yields state-level success.”

    The Republican Governors Public Policy Committee (RGPPC) is the policy arm of the Republican Governors Association (RGA) and the official policy organization of the nation’s Republican governors. With a strong majority of 29 governors, the RGPPC is working to impact public policy on both the state and national levels.

    Since taking office in 2011, Governor Haslam has worked diligently to improve education in Tennessee. Accomplishments include eliminating enrollment restrictions for charter schools; overhauling teacher tenure; and implementing a leading edge evaluation system for teachers. These efforts and others resulted in Tennessee becoming the fastest improving state in math and reading in 2013 as measured by National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

    Business Facilities magazine recently named Tennessee the State of the Year citing its creation of jobs and success in diversifying sector growth. Additionally, Governor Haslam has improved the overall business climate through significant tort reform and an overhaul of the state’s worker’s compensation system.

    Through comprehensive civil service reform, Haslam has created a more efficient and effective state government, and with conservative, business-principled management, has reduced the government footprint in Tennessee.

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    Republican Jim Tracy Raises over $1 Million in 2013 to Unseat Embattled Incumbent DesJarlais

    Murfreesboro, TN- The Jim Tracy for Congress campaign announced raising more than $150,000 in the 4th fundraising quarter, raising over $1 million in one year. With the primary election a little over 6 months away, Tracy’s war chest shows growing support across the 4th Congressional District.
    “The 4th quarter fundraising numbers clearly show Jim Tracy’s momentum in the 4th District,” said Tracy for Congress Finance Chairman Shane Reeves. “The Tracy for Congress Campaign is focused on the issues and the people of the 4th District. This is reflected in the large number of individual donors and the amount of support we have received.”
    Tracy ended the quarter and the year with more than $840,000 cash on hand.
    “My wife Trena and I could not be more appreciative of the amount of encouragement we are receiving,” said Tracy. “As I travel throughout the 4th District I have more and more people asking how they can help. I am excited about the opportunity to represent them in Washington.”
    To learn more about Jim Tracy visit

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    Monday, January 27, 2014

    Man Faces Federal Charges For Foreclosure Fraud. Don't be scammed. Let me help you.

    Politics and blogging is my hobby and what I do because I care about about my country and my community. It doesn't pay the bills; it cost me. What I do for a living is work for a HUD-approved, non-profit housing counseling agency as a housing counselor helping people avoid foreclosure and save their home.  I deal with a lot of people in crisis. Many people I can help. There are a variety of options for avoiding foreclosure.

    People facing a possible foreclosure should not try to navigate the crisis alone.  Thee are some options people don't even know about and some solutions are more complex than they first appear.
    If in default on your mortgage, seek help. Also, start early.  If you wait until you have a foreclosure sale date, it may be too late to help you. Don't be too prideful to seek help.

    Please, please do not pay anyone to help you avoid foreclosure. You see these advertisement for help avoiding foreclosure everywhere: on the back of buses, on cable TV, and print media.  Once you become late on your mortgage you will start getting enticements in the mail and by phone to engage the services of people who tell you they can save your home. Many of these are lawyers.  Tennessee is a "non-judicial" foreclosure state, meaning it does not require judicial action to foreclosure.  There is almost nothing an attorney can do for you.  The attorneys are seeking bankruptcy clients.

    Other solicitation are from real estate agents seeking to do a preforeclosure are short sale. Sometimes that is an option but should not be your first option. Most of the solicitation are out and out scams.

    One of the saddest thing I see is people who could have saved their home if they had not given money that could have went toward saving their home to a scam artist. Not only did they lose money but they also lost precious time thinking someone was doing something for them, when they were not.

    If you are facing foreclosure or falling behind on your mortgage, call me for a phone consultation. I am good at what I do and I have helped hundreds of people save their home. There is no charge for my services.  If after talking to you, I think I can possibly help you, I will schedule you an appointment. My work phone number is 615-850-3453. One of the most generous and helpful programs is ending soon, so don't delay.

    Below is story of how a local scam artist scammed people out of million of dollars.  It looks like he is being brought to justice. I hope they throw the book at him and he spends a long time in jail. | Nashville News, Weather
    News Channel 5, by Jennifer Kraus, Consumer Investigator
    NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A former Wilson County man who told struggling homeowners he would help save their homes from foreclosure now faces federal fraud charges.
    This comes nearly five years after NewsChannel 5 Investigates first exposed Charles Jones and his company during the height of the foreclosure crisis.(link)

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    An emotional plea for Medical Marijuana from a Grandmother seeking help for baby grandaughter.

    The following is reposted from the Tennessee Federation of Republican Women Facebook page.

    Mawmaw goes to Nashville!!
    I am here today for the Medical Marijuana Lobby.

    Date: January 27, 2014

    To: Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey
    Fellow TN Republican Legislators

    Re: TN Medical Marijuana Bill HB 1385
    Chloe Grauer
    Our Family’s Face for Medical Marijuana

    I am writing to ask for your support after seeing the touching interview this week about the personal story of Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey and his grandson, Briggs. I was so moved by the deep emotion in Ron’s voice about his personal experience as a grandparent in the face of the unthinkable.
    I saw Ron’s faith, his hope and his ability to accept God’s will while all the time knowing he would do everything in his power to save his grandson. However, as he admits, the situation was out of his hands. He could not personally fix or negotiate a fix, nor would money make it go away. Thankfully his story had a happy ending because his family was fortunate to have access to medical treatments that could heal his grandson.

    I am a grandparent that knows and feels those same deep emotions each and every day since October 2012. Ron and his family have found peace but my family fights everyday to find a medical therapy to keep our Chloe alive and to ease her suffering. Our struggle is not from a lack of faith, but one of politics. There is a therapy that might help Chloe but we cannot have access to it in the State of TN.

    Chloe has a rare neurological condition that causes her to have 100-200 seizures a day. When Chloe was born we had eight glorious days of joy but then the seizures began. She has only been alive 461 days and with a conservative estimate has had over 45,300 seizures. There are so few words to adequately express the helplessness we feel after watching her cluster seizures last more than an hour to just start up again as soon as they end. We have tried every medication cocktail available but it is not without a price, the toll of the side affects of these medicines steal almost any hope from us that Chloe will ever have a better quality of life.

    Sadly Chloe is not unique in the sense of being a rare medical anomaly, there are thousands of other special needs children that live in TN that are being denied access to the medical oil (Charlottes Web Oil) from the marijuana plant. The medical grade CBD oil is not intoxicating, does not produce a high and therefore has no street value. Unfortunately my grand daughter’s life is caught up in a debate over “pot”.

    I understand what a complex issue this is as it regards to medical marijuana but Republican Allen Peake in Macon, GA has written a bill that will focus only on the oil in an attempt to offer compassionate care for children like Chloe. When a parent sees a news story like the one Dr. Sanjay Gupta did on CNN this past August it is hard not to have hope that the Charlotte’s Web oil might help their child. With a 99.9% success rate in reducing or eliminating most seizures in the children featured in the documentary it makes you want to whisper ‘what if’….

    Lieutenant Governor Ramsey, won’t you please extend the blessing from the healing of Briggs to consider how your support might help your fellow Tennesseans that find themselves at a very similar cross road as your family? I never imagined that I would be an advocate for medical marijuana but if you spent just one day with our sweet Chloe you would understand why I would move Heaven and Earth to ease her pain and suffering if I could.

    Thank you for your consideration, I pray you will support the effort of our family and all those other children desperate for a chance to try this new medical therapy.

    Gail Grauer
    Gail Grauer , Memphis, TN
    C: 901-517-4664

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    President Obama to speak at McGavock High on Thursday

    The Tennessean - President Barack Obama will speak at McGavock High School when he visits Nashville on Thursday, the White House said Sunday night.

    The White House didn’t provide any other details about the speech or about the president’s visit to the city, which an Obama adviser announced in an email to supporters Saturday.

    McGavock, one of the largest high schools in the state, is among the Metro schools that began using the “career academies” model several years ago, grouping students by their career interests and partnering with private industry for donations of equipment, money and speakers. (link)

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    Tennessean reports, Nashville didn't fully explore an Amp route without dedicated bus lanes.

    This is an excellent article from the Tennessean. Most cities that developed a Bus Rapid Transit system did not dedicate a lane for a loading platform and a dedicated lane going both direction. Some did that for only part of the way and some not at all.  There are various options for a BRT that would not take two or more lanes of traffic and reduce remaining traffic lanes to a nine foot weight the way the Nashville AMP would do.  Nashville's design is only slightly faster and million and million of dollars more expensive than alternative designs. See this article for an explanation of alternative designs and examples from other cites using other design options. Nashville never did a study comparing other options.

    Could there have been middle ground on Amp's center-lane design? 

    By Josh Brown, The Tennessean, Jan. 25, 2014-  At the center of the controversy over Nashville’s proposed $174 million bus rapid transit line is the question of whether stretches of a busy road now used for cars should be converted into bus-only lanes.

    Opponents of the 7.1-mile line proposed for the West End/Broadway corridor connecting West and East Nashville say taking away space for cars on already congested streets will make traffic worse, not better. Metro officials contend the dedicated lanes let buses avoid traffic and are keyto the Amp’s success.

    But unlike other cities with such projects, Nashville never analyzed whether a bus line with the same mass-transit-style features — such as stations with level boarding platforms and pre-purchased tickets — would prove just as effective without the bus-only lanes.

    That question lingers as engineers move forward in the coming months on a $7.5 million engineering phase that could largely settle the design of the proposal. (link)

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    Pres Obama coming to Nashville on Thursday. Get those signs and flags ready

    Pres Obama coming to Nashville on Thursday. Get those signs and flags ready, there WILL be a protest...more details soon. Nashville Tea Party is planning a welcome.

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    Sunday, January 26, 2014

    Obama is the ultimate "imperial president," willfully violating the Constitution to further his goals. It is time for resistance to this abuse.

    From The Christian Science Monitor: 

    President Obama’s use of executive action to get around congressional gridlock is unparalleled in modern times, some scholars say. But to liberal activists, he’s not going far enough. 

    The president (or his administration) has unilaterally changed elements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA); declared an anti-gay-rights law unconstitutional; lifted the threat of deportation for an entire class of undocumented immigrants; bypassed Senate confirmation of controversial nominees; waived compliance requirements in education law; and altered the work requirements under welfare reform.

    This month, the Obama administration took the highly unusual step of announcing that it will recognize gay marriages performed in Utah – even though Utah itself says it will not recognize them while the issue is pending in court.
    Early in his presidency, Obama also expanded presidential warmaking powers, surveillance of the American public, and extrajudicial drone strikes on alleged terrorists outside the United States, including Americans – going beyond Mr. Bush's own global war on terror following 9/11. But more recently, he has flexed his executive muscle more on domestic policy.
    .... Jonathan Turley, a constitutional scholar at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. "In my view, Obama has surpassed George W. Bush in the level of circumvention of Congress and the assertion of excessive presidential power. I don't think it's a close question."
    This presidents refusing to enforce the laws and his policymaking by executive fiat is unprecedented.  When George W. Bush issued controversial signing statements or acted by executive order, the main stream press let us know about it and decried the abuse of power.  Now, the main stream press are cheerleaders for the President. The only time we have seen anything close to such power unilaterally exercised by a President, is in war time by Franklin D. Roosevelt. Now, the President has promised we ain't seen noting yet. This is a recent statement from the President:
    .....the fact that we are not just going to be waiting for a legislation in order to make sure that we’re providing Americans the kind of help that they need. I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone -- and I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward in helping to make sure our kids are getting the best education possible and making sure that our businesses are getting the kind of support and help they need to grow and advance to make sure that people are getting the skills that they need to get those jobs that our businesses are creating.(link)
    The first action we may see where the President doesn't wait for legislative action uses his pen to bypass congress may be by raising the minimum wage by executive order.  Another action may be to ignore the the debt limit cap, if congress fails to raise the debt ceiling. Also more unilateral action on gay rights and immigration may be in the works.

    There are three responses I think we should take in response to the Presidents current level of executive abuse and one to hold in reserve if the rule by executive fiat increases as the President implied it would:
    1. Impeach the President. I know the Senate would not convict, but the House could impeach.  This would give an airing to the many abuses of power and may cause the President to curtail new abuses.
    2. Elect a Republican Senate in 2014.  With the Senate in Republican hands the President would be less likely to continue his abuse of power.
    3. Executive action that is suspected of exceeding constitutional authority should be challenged in Court.  Courts can be slow to act however and while waiting on a court decision Congress and the American people should not stand by and do nothing.
    4. If the abuse of power continues and worsens then it is time for civil disobedience and an escalation of resistance.  I am not calling for secession or armed rebellion but massive demonstrations, strikes, occupying of federal building, disruption of the function of government, cyber activism by clogging of government websites and hacking, financial assistance to those who defy illegal executive orders and are fined or arrested, financial assistance to those arrested for civil disobedience, withholding of tax payments and other creative means to air grievances and engage in non-violent resistance. 
    I am a person of moderate temperament generally but desperate times call for desperate measures. We cannot stand by and tolerate this level of executive abuse and if the anticipated increased level of executive abuse occurs, it is time for serious resistance. If allowed to stand, the next president will have precedent and may push executive abuse of power to an even higher level.

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    Saturday, January 25, 2014

    TN will not share student data with Federal Gov as part of Common Core

    State Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman has formally pledged that personal student information will not be shared with the Federal government as part of the State's participation in Common Core.  He joined 33 other state school commissioners in signing a letter to U. S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to that effect. 

    The Common Core State Standards  is a joint effort led by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers to develop a common core of K-12 standards in English language arts and Mathematics and was developed by education experts from 45 states. The 45 states, the District of Columbia (D.C.), and 2 territories and Department of Defense Education Activity have formally adopted the set of core standards for kindergarten through high school in English language arts, mathematics, and grades 6-12 literacy in science, history/social studies, and technical subjects. 

    Recently their has been push back against Common Core and some states have backtracked on their commitment. Some of the criticism of Common Core is that it does not raise the bar on what a child is expected to learn.  While that may be true in some states with high education standards, it is not true in those states with a poor level of education achievement. In any event, the Common Core standards are a measure of a  minimum level of education attainment; not a cap. Nothing would prevent a State from having standards higher than Common Core.  Tennessee has traditionally ranked near the bottom in education and while we have shown recent improvement, meeting Common Core standards would elevate education in Tennessee.

    Other criticism of  Common Core is that some of the reading selections in the curriculum are offensive. There is no Common Core curriculum. States would still select their own text books and define the curriculum.  There is no mandated master reading list.

    I have generally supported Common Core. With the United States falling behind many of the advanced countries of the world and even falling behind many third world counties, I do not think the status quo is acceptable. We must do something to improve the quality of American education to maintain our standing in the world. Also, America is a very mobile country. In my view, when an "A" student in Tennessee moves to another state he should not now be a "D" student.  There should be some expectation that a student in the 5th grade in one state has most of the same skills and knowledge as a 5th grader in another state.

    One of the criticism which I think has merit is the privacy concern.  I do not want the federal government to have the academic record of every child in America. This letter from 34 of the state commissioners  of education addresses the privacy issue.  This is encouraging and reassuring. 

    There are several bills in the state legislature that addresses the privacy issue as it relates to Common Core. Senate Education Committee chair Dolores Gresham  has introduced a bill that would restrict the state from releasing a student's academic data to the federal government. There are also a couple other bills and resolutions introduced that address the issue.  The state legislature should go ahead and pass a bill that puts into state law the position stated by our Commissioner of Education.  This would even give more more comfort and assurances that student privacy will not be compromised by Common Core. I know I would be more comfortable with Common Core if such a bill passes.

    Below is the text of the letter to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan from the 34 state commissioners of education.

    January 23, 2014

    The Honorable Arne Duncan
    United States Department of Education
    400 Maryland Avenue SW
    Washington, DC 20202

    Secretary Duncan:

    As chief state school officers in states participating in the two common assessment consortia, we appreciate your continued leadership and collaboration with states as we work to raise our standards, improve our assessments, and strengthen our accountability systems.

    Our states have been collaborating for the last three years to design and develop next generation, computer-based assessment systems that will give students, parents and educators better information about children’s progress toward preparation for college and careers. This work is critically important, and we are committed to the success of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

    Over the last several months, some concerns have been raised about whether states’ transition to the consortia assessments will create new requirements for states to provide student information to the U.S. Department of Education (USED) or any agency of the federal government.

    We are writing today to confirm that the consortia will not share any personally identifiable information about K–12 students with USED or any federal agency. Our states have not submitted student-level assessment data in the past; the transition to the new assessments should not cause anyone to worry that federal reporting requirements will change when, in fact, the federal government is prohibited from establishing a student-level database that would contain assessment data for every student. As we have historically done, our states will continue to provide USED with school-level data from our state assessments as required under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended in 2002. Our states and local education agencies will continue to retain control over student assessment data and will continue to comply with all state and federal laws and regulations with regard to the protection of student privacy.

    We understand that it has long been USED’s practice not to require states to provide information from assessments about individual K-12 students. We are confirming that our states will not provide such information to USED and that everything we have said here is consistent with our understanding of the cooperative agreement between the consortia and USED.

    Thank you for your consideration and your continued commitment to our states success.


    (Following is the signature and title of 34 state education commissioners.)
    For more on this development follow this link and this link

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    Friday, January 24, 2014

    Former top aide to US Sen. Alexander, facing child pornography charges, hangs himself in Md.

    Former top aide to US Sen. Alexander, facing child pornography charges, hangs himself in Md.

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    TSU President says if you don't like Obama, you're a racist.

    The essence of remarks made by TSU's President Dr. Glenda Baskin Glover at an NAACP event in Dickson Monday night was that if you don't like President Obama, it must be because you are a recist.

    She said the "government is selfish" and  the "electorate is cruel" and that the electorate, "has shown its downright disregard, disrespect and absolute disdain for our president, and has made his skin color the No. 1 judging criteria."

    Senator Jim Summerfied was in the audience, was displeased by the comment and got up and walked out. He says he does not like being called a racist and wants Glover to be required to undergo diversity training. Read more about it here, here, and here.

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    Tennessee does not rank so well.

    With Tennessee and especially Nashville ranking high on many list these days, it is easy to think we have arrived. I do think we have shown great improvement and are heading in the right direction but we should not let it go to our head.  Politico recently ranked the fifty states, compiling and averaging  14 different state rankings from reputable sources such as the Census Bureau, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the FBI, and on important factors such as high school graduation rates, per capita income, life expectancy, infant mortality, and crime rate.

    Tennessee's overall ranking was a dismal 48. Thank God for Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. At the top of the list was at number 1, 2 and 3 were New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Vermont. New York ranks 28, California 31, and Texas ranks 36. To see the complete ranking and the 14 individual rankings used to compile the composite ranking, follow this link.

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    Thursday, January 23, 2014

    School Board Member Amy Frogge is hosting a fund raiser for Mary Mancini.

    In addition to Amy Frogge, other host of the fundraising event include attorney Kathryn Barnett,  wife of Will Cheek; Gary Bynum  who is the gay partner of former Councilman Keith Durbine;
    Margaret Holleman, wife of Jason Holleman who recently withdrew from race for the same office sought by Mary Mancini; and Tom Negri, Director of the Metro Human Relations Commission. To see the full list of host for this event follow this link.

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    Thoughts on Nashville's PreK plan

    Reposted from TN Edu-Independent. Posted: 17 Jan 2014
    There were some more specifics released this past Tuesday night about the MNPS PreK plan for Nashville.

    As I've referenced before, I think we need to do much better as a city in providing more robust early childhood development and learning for every child, but I'm not sure if "universal" PreK delivered by the school district is the way to go.

    I want to preface all my comments by saying that I genuinely respect the internal MNPS leadership and staff working on the MNPS PreK project. They are driven for the right reasons and sharp, and I trust they will study effective models and ensure that the programming details of the MNPS PreK project will be based on evidence supported best practices. I worry that for some, this PreK project is a push is for political reasons. Whatever details of the model emerge, it needs to be based on best practices and meeting the need that exists in the city, creating the greatest chance of success for young students (decisions not made for political reasons).

    I have some thoughts, some as constructive feedback, on thinking through the details of how expanding MNPS PreK would work, based on the plan presented to the Board:
    • I like the ambition. I like the talk about becoming a national model of excellence. There's no reason why not, and I like that expectations are high. I want that loft expectation to permeate every part of this program, so that people are motivated to deliver the best program for young 4 year olds. That starts with the leaders of the program and those designing it committing to being the best in the country - which is great.

    • I like the dedicated Center approach. I believe this will help on the quality front, which is the most important aspect of all this. This is somewhat following San Antonio's plan.  PreK classrooms within elementary schools won't yield as much high quality in my opinion, because the focus is on elementary education, K-5. That building principal is not often skilled in high quality ECE (early childhood education) or know how to lead high quality professional development for ECE teachers. In a dedicated Center, it's all ECE, all the time.

    • Will they fill up all the spots?  I worry about the locations of the two proposed centers. The Board presentation cited "high demand" for PreK, citing a large wait list, that demand was higher than supply. Big kudos to MNPS for responding to demonstrated parent demand that is outstripping supply (I wish they would adopt the same thinking with other school types where there is clear parental demand - other school choice options, including those that start with a "c" and ends with "harters").  
    I believe the demand/supply imbalance is true on aggregate across the county, but I'd like to see details on where families on the wait list live exactly in Davidson County. North and East Nashville, where the two proposed dedicated centers are to be located, already have a number of early childhood providers.

    I mapped the Head Start Centers, see the green icons (there are 3 partner Head Start sites, others are Head Start direct run). The red "P" marker are the proposed PreK center locations.  This map does not include places like Fannie Battle, Martha O'Bryan, and McNeilly Center's own early childhood classrooms (all located in East or North Nashville). Nor does it include the Ashland City Head Start center, which is outside of Davidson County, but by distance is not that far from Bordeaux Elementary's location.

    My point is that there is a lot of existing capacity in North and East Nashville for publicly provided ECE (early childhood education), and I worry that adding two more dedicated PreK centers will cause an oversupply of ECE in this part of the county (if there isn't already). The bulk of demand is likely coming from the southeast part of the county.

    It would not be feasible to bus PreK 4 year old students from Antioch every day to the Bordeaux or Ross Centers, so being able to serve demand from these areas at the Bordeaux & Ross centers via transportation doesn't seem likely.

    MNPS data shows that in total numbers, the Bordeaux/Cumberland elementary zone areas are not projected to enroll that many students in Kindergarten over the next 5 years. I think PreK elgible numbers would actually be less than the projected K numbers on this chart.  If you sum these two zones, it's still well short of the planned capacity of the Bordeaux ECE center (while considering all the other spots at Head Start, private providers, and non profit providers like McNeilly, Fannie Battle, etc).
    • I wish the research presented for the PreK project was a little more balanced in its presentation. i.e. no contrary evidence of PreK was presented.  For example, the PreK presentation to the Board made a claim that PreK will "Increase student success beyond Pre-K in academic and social-emotional outcomes" (citing a Vanderbilt PreK study). The same Vanderbilt PreK study has published a subsequent report that shows the academic gains fade out. Another national study of Head Start finds that academic gains fade in the early elementary years.

      There was also the claim that long term benefits accrue to children who will be in the PreK program, citing the Perry Preschool and Chicago Longitudinal Study (this is largely where the return on investment messaging comes from). Both of these were small programs, different in design and practice, and spent far more per child than the proposed MNPS PreK program will.  For example, the Perry Preschool intervention was actually half day, a 6:1 teacher/pupil ratio, and involved consistent home visits, and cost a lot per student, among other different details.

      I don't know if all of the MNPS PreK details for the proposed plan are fully worked out, but the current practice for MNPS  PreK students is that they attend school like it's K-12 school. There aren't regular home visits by the PreK teachers, classes for parents on early childhood brain development, nutrition, it's fiscally unsustainable to do a 6:1 teacher/pupil ratio, etc.

      The Chicago program served PreK to 3rd graders (why couldn't we also do that?) and was proactive with involving parents.

      I get apprehensive when different historical projects and interventions are held up as "proof" as what we should do in the future, yet what we are proposing to do in the future doesn't involve key components of that historical intervention model.

    • I did not see any proposed plan for program evaluation (it may be part of the plan and I missed it).  How will we know this particular MNPS Center model, once all the details are set, is working?  What evaluation of the program is planned to gauge if it's a good use of scarce public funds or not? PreK Centers won't take TCAP...they'll get ratings from the TN Dept of Education, but tracking program outcomes in a robust way will help ensure quality.  We need goals and metrics that are meaningful (national model of excellence needs some of the nation's most ambitious goals), and we need to be able to measure progress against those goals.

      MNPS might want to study adopting the CLASS Teacher-Child Observation rubric as one way to gauge quality in its Centers. Head Start is starting to adopt this tool nationally, and it was developed at the University of Virginia by early childhood experts. It isn't a standardized test approach to monitor student progress, but seeks to look at child learning and development outcomes based on the teacher/child interaction.  For far too many ECE programs, we judge "quality" based on the inputs that go into a program, and don't examine actual outcomes for children (this is what currently happens with the TN 3 star rating system for child care centers).
    As plan details continue to be refined and finalized, I hope that the leaders of this plan continue to focus on implementing evidence based practices while being mindful of parent demand and where it exists in the county to ensure that any MNPS PreK offered consists of high quality education and development programming. 

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    Caffeinated Conservatives to meet Jan. 25th

    From Stephen Clements

     Hi everybody,
    Now that you've recovered from wonderful holidays and hacking coughs, it's time to get back to our political junkie support group meetings, er, our coffee socials!
    To start off the new year right, come talk with Barry Donegan, Liberty activist, former Director at Large of the Davidson County Republican Party, and fitness guru, and find out why you should get a tattoo of Ron Paul, the impact the Libertarian movement is having on electoral politics, and how to keep that resolution to lose weight and get washboard abs!
    WHEN: Saturday January 25th, from 12 PM - 2 PM
    WHERE: Bagelface Bakery (700 Main Street, East Nashville)
    WHAT: Barry Donegan, Libertarian activist and campaign operator
    WHO: YOU, bring a friend, your appetite, and all the questions and comments you want to batter a Libertarian with.

    Stephen Clements
    Caffeinated Conservatives

    Save the date! In addition to our February coffee social, we are having an evening cocktail social with nationally-syndicated talk radio host Phil Valentine, at The Cave in downtown Nashville, on February 22nd from 5 PM - 8 PM! The movie is free, and it is an all-ages show. Click the link below to RSVP.

    For more information on Bagelface Bakery, who love seeing us pack their shop every month:

    On Facebook? Come Like the Caffeinated Conservatives page:

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