Students at Vanderbilt University hold Protest to Divest from Fossil Fuels

By Connor Warmuth, DivestVU Executive | (connor.n.warmuth@vanderbilt.edu)

“Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Fossil fuels have got to go!”

Over thirty student protesters chanted these words as they marched from the campus Central Library to Kirkland Hall at Vanderbilt University. The protest was designed to get the administration to seriously consider divestment of the university’s endowment from fossil fuels.

Fossil fuels are significant drivers of climate change. The release of carbon dioxide and methane from fossil fuel combustion, exacerbates the Greenhouse Effect, resulting in increased absorption of heat and higher average temperatures globally. Warmer temperatures will mean more extreme weather events, a climate refugee crisis, increased likelihood of famine, reduced water capacity, mass extinction of ecosystems, and exacerbated global inequities.

Furthermore, particulates and chemicals released at all stages of fossil fuel extraction and consumption pollute the Earth’s atmosphere, water, ecosystems. Pollution from fossil fuels directly results in a variety of serious health issues from asthma to cancer, particularly in minority communities. Pollution causes nearly 400,000 deaths per year.

So how much of the endowment is actually invested in fossil fuels? According to the 2020 Financial Report, four percent of Vanderbilt’s 6.9 billion dollar endowment is invested in “natural resources.” These investments are in “timber, oil and gas production, mining, energy, and related services businesses.” While the endowment supports a large portion of the students attending Vanderbilt, many question the idea of receiving financial aid from fossil fuel investments. As environmental justice advocate Luis Martínez puts it,

I feel morally opposed to having any monetary assistance I received for my education be sourced from fossil fuel investments, particularly in light of the education my own school gives me to clearly know the urgency of climate change in our lives. Our university education is a gift to effect change.”

The university has ignored support for divestment, despite the passage of resolutions favoring divestment in the Graduate Student Council (GSC) and the Vanderbilt Student Government (VSG), and the accumulation of 1100 student signatures in an online petition.  According to Emily Irigoyen, leader of DivestVU, a coalition of students advocating for divestment of the endowment of fossil fuels,

“The administration has not engaged with our divestment campaign and has ignored our attempts to reach out to high ranking officials in the endowment office.”

As a result, DivestVU, DoresDivest (a separate coalition of students advocating for divestment), and several other student-run university organizations agreed to host a protest.

“Unfortunately, climate change is too pressing of an issue to sit out on the sidelines–so we took action.” said Miguel Moravec of DoresDivest.

At the protest, students marched while holding up posters with messages reading “Divest Vandy Now,” “Anchor Down DivestVU,” and “You are on Native Land.” The protest even featured a giant fourteen-foot unicorn with the words “Divest Fossil Fuels” written on the side.

Finally, the protesters arrived at the steps of Kirkland Hall, the tall, brown building with a clock at the top, where many of the leaders in the Vanderbilt administration work. Each protester wore a mask and stood six feet apart to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Representatives from multiple campus organizations delivered speeches in favor of divestment. 

Speaker Luis Martínez urged the Vanderbilt community to join him in calling for the university to divest from fossil fuels. Born and raised in Miami, Florida by a Cuban father and a Venezuelan mother, he has witnessed firsthand the disproportionate effects of climate change from tropical cyclones, rising sea levels, and heatwaves on Black and brown communities.

“There is no place I love more in the world and I will do the best I can in this life to protect the communities it holds from the worst impacts of Anthropogenic climate change.”

Next, Emily Irigoyen acknowledged that Vanderbilt occupies the traditional lands of the Cherokee, Shawnee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Creek peoples.

“By offering this Land Acknowledgement, we affirm indigenous sovereignty and will work to hold Vanderbilt University more accountable to the needs of American Indian and indigenous peoples.”

Ana Fonongava’inga and Gabby Guarna of Vanderbilt’s Indigenous Scholars Organization added that:

“By continuing to invest in fossil fuels, the university is complicit in the destruction of our ancestral lands in the South Pacific, the destruction of Native lands here on Turtle Island due to toxic pipelines, the perpetuation of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls crisis, the displacement of our relatives, and the attack on Indigenous futures and wellbeing globally.”

Emma Tharpe, co-president of Hidden Dores, spoke out about white supremacy at Vanderbilt:

Despite the fact that climate change is already disproportionately impacting communities of color, the refusal [to divest] from institutions [like Vanderbilt] who claim to value their “minority” populations, and who have things like “perspectives” requirements to graduate, and more Instagram posts and pamphlet photos of Black and brown students than I could count is persistent. This is absolutely hypocritical.”

Finally, DoresDivest’s Ben Hayden and Miguel Moravec, DivestVU’s Hannah Bruns, and VSG’s Vice President Shun Ahmed shamed the Vanderbilt administration for their complete lack of morality:

“Investment decisions [made by Vanderbilt], like all other decisions, are moral decisions. And divorcing the two, and putting on blinders to all other effects of your decision making, is both a categorical mistake and a moral blunder,” Hayden said.

Bruns added,

“It’s embarrassing that we have to ask our own university to invest in our futures by divesting from fossil fuels.”

Ahmed said,

“Vanderbilt [needs] to realize that their students will not be quiet and sit in a meeting room and just watch these issues continue on.”

Looking to the future, Irigoyen hopes the university will be more engaged in the movement to divest from fossil fuels:

“The administration has to show a good faith effort in discussing fossil fuel divestment and the creation of an ethical divestment committee with student representatives. If they don’t we will be forced to escalate our disruptions until they listen to us. The University relies heavily on alumni donations and targeting alumni who care about climate change to withhold donations is a potential next step.”

 

 

TNGOP Doesn’t Care About Athletes’ First Amendment Rights

“Put the word out… ATHLETES — if you’re gonna go play in Tennessee, don’t bring your first amendment rights.” Kanew on #HollerHour talking about how the sports world should react to the TNGOP telling TN schools to “PROHIBIT” peacefully kneeling during the anthem.

 

TennCare Wasn’t Created to Save Money, It Was Created to Save Lives

Rep Bo Mitchell on the TennCare presentation boasting mostly of “SAVINGS” in our Medicaid program (very little about care) — meanwhile not expanding it leaves 350,000 Tennesseans uncovered.

 

Wallen & Combs Should Call for The TN Capitol’s KKK Statue To Be Removed

OPINION: Country Stars Wallen & Combs Should Call for The TN Capitol’s KKK Statue To Be Removed

By

Justin Kanew

By now most of you have seen the recent video of Morgan Wallen using the “N word” in Nashville, which shook the country music world.

His label dropped him. Radio stations stopped playing his songs. The fallout was significant. 

This opinion piece by Charlane Oliver of the Equity Alliance tackles the racial significance of the incident as it pertains to country music. It’s a worthwhile read.

Now this week we heard from another country star, Luke Combs, who says “there’s no excuse” for his use of Confederate flag imagery in his performances, and acknowledges the hurt and pain it caused.

Both artists are apologetic, and seek forgiveness. But apologies are easy. There’s another step they could take that would help bring about some actual progress – not only in country music, but in Nashville specifically, Tennessee in general, and America as a whole.

They could speak out about the KKK Grand Wizard statue that still sits prominently in our capitol.

Yes, you heard that right – Tennessee still holds a statue of the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, Nathan Bedford Forrest, in a place of prominence in the state capitol building. Forrest was a Confederate General who led the Fort Pillow Massacre, during which many black Union soldiers were slaughtered even after surrender, then went on to become the KKK’s first Grand Wizard.

Defenders of the Forrest bust claim he was eventually reformed. That he changed his tune in his later years. Regardless of the veracity of that claim, they can’t erase the harm he caused, and what he represents to the many black Tennesseans who have been calling for the statue’s removal.

Legislators like Rep. Mike Sparks, who refuses to even admit the Civil War was fought over slavery, say they’re against “whitewashing history” – ignoring the fact that it’s the statues themselves that whitewash history, treating Confederate generals who rose up against our country as heroes.

There’s a reason KKK members posed proudly with the statue when it was erected.

The fight to remove the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue has been going on for years. There have been countless protests. Pastors, students, activists, and legislators have all made their voices heard… but still it remains.

Last year a big hurdle was overcome, as the Tennessee State Capitol Commission finally voted to move it despite “NO” votes from Senator Jack Johnson on behalf of the TN Senate Republican caucus and Rep. Matthew Hill on behalf of the TN House Republican caucus.

The next step was supposed to come this week, when the Tennessee Historical Commission was scheduled to vote on the Capitol Commission’s recommendation, but because of the cold weather it has been delayed until March 9th.

Meanwhile, Lt. Governor Randy Mcnally and Speaker Cameron Sexton have been busy trying to delay it even further, claiming the issue isn’t properly before the Historical Commission and asking the attorney general to weigh in with an opinion.

Delay, delay, delay. It’s obvious Mcnally and Sexton and their caucuses are doing all they can to keep this hurtful statue in place because the cries of black Tennesseans and their allies are not enough.

But what if they were to hear from entirely different voices? What if Morgan Wallen and Luke Combs were to show they truly do understand how much pain their words and actions have caused, and speak out about the bust, encouraging Mcnally and Sexton to drop their challenge to its removal, and asking the Historical commission to vote to remove it once and for all?

It would be a healing moment for country music, our state, and their souls.

“These elected officials aren’t listening to black Tennesseans,” says Pastor Chris Williamson of Strong Tower Bible Church, who has been involved with the statue issue for quite some time, and recently spoke out about it at a hearing. “They aren’t even listening to their black colleagues who have to walk by that statue every day and be reminded of what it represents. Maybe white country music stars are exactly who they need to hear from. Words of encouragement from Morgan Wallen and Luke Combs for them to do the right thing could go a long way.”

A long way indeed.

Taking a position on this controversial topic probably wouldn’t be easy for country music stars like Wallen & Combs. But very often doing the right thing isn’t.

 

Justin Kanew is the founder of the Tennessee Holler. Foller him on Twitter here.

GOP Members are Defecting to the “Big Tent Party”

“The GOP is not a Party I can align with.”

Chair of the Williamson County Democratic Party, Kelly Baker, joined #HollerHour to talk about all of the ex-GOP members who are defecting and how to welcome them into the “Big Tent Party.”

PODCAST available on Apple Podcasts, and wherever else you like to listen.

Pody and Sexton’s Abortion Hypocrisy

“These are the same legislators who are proposing bills that allow people to have FULL CONTROL over the FIREARMS they own.” Tory Mills of Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood on the hypocrisy of Sen Mark Pody and Jerry Sexton’s bill that allows men to sue women for having an abortion.

PODCAST available on Apple Podcasts, and wherever else you like to listen.

 

Mama B’s “Red State, Blue Mom”

Some of you have been asking where is the infamous GRITS’ travel correspondent, Mama B… well, she has launched her own podcast called “Red State, Blue Mom”! For this week’s episode, we invite you to listen to the 2021 inaugural episode and subscribe!

FULL PODCAST available on Apple Podcasts, and wherever else you like to listen.

Marsha Blackburn is a Joke

“I personally think Marsha Blackburn shows up in town in a clown car. She’s become an absolute joke.” New TNDP Chair Hendrell Remus talks about Tennessee’s extreme GOP Senators on #ACaseOfTheMundays with Wade Munday.

FULL PODCAST available on Apple Podcasts, and wherever else you like to listen.

 

“Nyquil and Tylenol” – Lee and Schwinn’s Learning Loss Nonsense

“The point is that, whenever we propose a solution to a problem, we ought to try as hard as we can to overthrow our solution, rather than defend it. Few of us, unfortunately, practice this precept; but other people, fortunately, will supply the criticism for us if we fail to supply it ourselves.”
― Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery

 on  “Dad Gone Wild.”

Nearly a decade ago, upon founding my think tank and beginning to release my white papers (tip of the hat to Peter Greene), I promised myself I wouldn’t write angry. And for the most part, I’ve stuck to that self promise. Though there have been times where I’ve been filled with self-righteous rage, feeling a burning desire to slam out a passionate missive, I have fought the desire and chosen to wait 24 hours to allow myself time to arrive at a bit more of a nuanced take. Till now.

These days I’m struggling a bit. Since the conclusion of the Tennessee General Assembly’s recent Special session, I find myself in a constant state of agitation. To be truthful, you should be as well. A big part of the problem is that the approved legislation was so sloppily written and hastily passed, that I continue to find new issues every time I look at it. Issues that serve to benefit adults more so than kids.

An added factor is the taking of what is supposedly a historic tragedy and offering a pedestrian solution. For months, Governor Lee and Commissioner Schwinn have been pedaling a narrative of dire consequences for the state’s children due to the pandemic using easily disputable data. According to Lee, “COVID-19 has disrupted every aspect of education and we are on the cusp of severe consequences for our students if we don’t act now.”

By now we are all familiar with his claims of 50% learning loss in ELA and 65% in math. If these numbers were true, they’d be cause for deep concern. I’d assume that Lee believes they are true. So it stands to reason that faced with such dire straights, he has some bold initiatives in hand. Surely if he’s calling a special session of the General Assembly to focus on education policy, they’ve already delved into the crisis and are ready to meet the unprecedented circumstances with unprecedented actions.

Nope, what we’ve got are summer schools and tutoring corps. Kinda like going to the doctor and having him tell you that you have COVID-19, and then prescribing Tylenol and NyQuil to treat it. Fine under normal circumstances, but damn, you’ve got a serious life-threatening illness. One that should call for a little more than previously utilized remedies that are readily available.

Worse than that, the more you look at the legislation that came out of the special session the more you recognize it as a series of bills slapped together like a bad batch of bathroom hootch. So bad, that apparently the Commissioner of Education Penny Schwinn herself isn’t quite sure what’s in them. When presenting the legislation to the State Board of Education members, she painted a picture of a series of plans designed to assist LEA’s, all fully optional and dependent on local decisions. That’s not the picture painted by a recent synopsis produced by the Tennessee Comptrollers’ office.

For example, go to the 1 hour and 12-minute mark of the aforementioned state board of education meeting and you’ll hear Ms. Schwinn clearly say, “districts do not have to retain a single child.” This was about the 3rd-grade retention rule in the recently passed policies. Arguably, she was arguing that there are several offerings in order to keep a child from being retained, but it also seems clear that Ms. Schwinn was downplaying the threat of retention. The video is full of similar instances of soft-peddling.

I’m not the only one picking up on the problems with the bills. Over at the TNEd Report, Andy Spears reports on push back by the Germantown School Board. The school board takes exception to the 80% TNReady participation required to avoid negative consequences as a result of student testing. In their eyes, the legislation provides the commissioner with the power to grant waivers but fails to provide requirements for earning those waivers. They are rightfully concerned that with a large percentage of students remaining virtual, they will have a hard time meeting that threshold.

Here’s the big picture, Tennessee’s legislators have codified a power to the Commissioner concerning something that she hasn’t been granted a federal waiver to implement. Federal legislation says that districts are required to test 95% of students. Many states are applying for a waiver to not conduct standardized testing at all this year. Tennessee isn’t one of them, we are asking for a waiver to only require districts to test 80%of eligible students. A waiver that has yet to be granted, despite Schwinn’s assurances that a cousin of a friend who has a sister who works in a coffee shop outside the DOE offices in Washington thinks that this is aligned with the thinking at the newly staffed USDOE. This is despite Biden’s pick for Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona, still awaiting confirmation.

It’s a pretty presumptuous move considering that Cardona has sent mixed signals on how he’ll address standardized testing this year. Per Chalkbeat,

“If the conditions under COVID-19 prevent a student from being in school in person, I don’t think we need to be bringing students in just to test them,” he said. At the same time, he said getting a gauge of student learning is important. “If we don’t assess where our students are and their level of performance, it’s going to be difficult for us to provide targeted support.”

A bigger question would be, why are we even administering standardized tests at all this year? Across the state of Tennessee, students have faced a wide array of educational options this year. Some have been exclusively remote, while some have received mainly live instruction. Others its been a mixed set of options. Some families have been severely impacted by COVID, while others remain mostly unscathed. The bottom line is that everyone is doing their best to navigate the ongoing crisis with varying degrees of success. As such, time spent testing would be better spent helping kids adjust to their circumstances and continuing instructional efforts. The Education Trust and several allies disagree.

The national non-profit education advocacy group, headed up locally by MNPS school board member Gini Pupo-Walker, have sent a joint letter to the USDOE urging them to not grant any testing waivers. Citing a report by McKinsey and Company – yes, the opioid folks – they claim,

These factors have cost students, by some estimates, an average of seven months of learning, with a disparate impact of nine months for Latino students and 10 months for Black students. The projected impact of interrupted learning for students from low-income backgrounds is more than a year.1 Perhaps even more concerning, as many as 3 million students are still missing from school.2

Besides the obvious, that “months of learning” is a bullshit number that assumes all kids learn at the same rate, the letter paints a picture of schools not having a clear idea of where students are after nearly a year of interruption due to the COVID-19 crisis. It’s a picture shared by Commissioner Schwinn and Governor Lee as well. It’s also inaccurate.

What everyone fails to tell you is that we have already tested the heck out of kids. Since arriving back from Winter Break, my 5th grader and my 6th grader have already been subjected to the second round of Math and ELA testing with both MAP and IReady. EL students are now starting on WIDA testing. Tennessee’s RTI legislation requires schools to use a screener three times a year. So to act as if we don’t know where students are at this juncture is a little disingenuous. As is the inference that by administrating the BIG TEST, three million students are going to come running back to schools. Both are myths crafted to fuel adult agendas.

Let me tell you what is more likely to happen. The state does not have access this year to individual LEA’s student data from local tests, which changes next year. Therefore they need the results from the BIG TEST. I know they said that this year is a hold harmless year, but that doesn’t mean that results can’t be used in order to support the TNDOE’s narrative of failure. I’m sure that over the summer there will be a great clutching of pearls and rendering of garments over the sad state of Tennessee’s schoolchildren based on results from a test given in the midst of a pandemic. Legislators and bureaucrats will sprain their arms patting each other on the back about their great foresight in passing legislation to combat the dire straits our children now find themselves in.

That’s not to say that summer camp and tutoring can be beneficial to kids. research has shown under the right conditions, both have proven beneficial. However, for many kids, it is not going to be enough. They, unfortunately, require so much more, some of which fall outside of the purview of the classroom. Those kids will, per usual, be left to their own devices, because serving them would actually require some boldness and forethought. It would also require addressing poverty issues, which we are always loathed to do.  Well, maybe we’ll give them a voucher, then we won’t have to worry about them.

There is another group of kids – “Bubble Kids” – that are very useful for politicians and their ilk. These are the kids that sit just below the “on-track” level. The ones who, with just a little bit of extra attention can be pushed over the line and claimed as a success story. Now before you recoil in horror, rest assured, I’m just making this up. It’s been an unspoken practice in the past and there is no reason to think it won’t be in the future. Especially when a man is running for re-election and needs some positive states.

Here’s, for further explanation, is an excerpt from a piece written in 2005,

So the bubble kids are identified, divided into groups, and tutored relentlessly. The kids who missed by 5 or 6 points, maybe 10 points; what happens to them. It’s simple. They cant raise their scores enough to help the schools rating, so they are ignored. Why would you waste your time with them the school thinks, they can’t help us. They don’t get intense help with their work. After all, don’t you know, they won’t ever pass anyway. Why waste valuable tutoring time on them? Of course, what a brilliant idea – work with the kids who can make you look good and throw the others to the sharks. I truely wish I knew which of our administrative geniuses brought that obscene idea into the district. Thats Sheldon Independent School District, always go for the easy stupid solution instead of the complex one that would require planning, actual thought, listening to teachers, or giving a care.

Lest we forget, tutoring and summer school are not new. The new legislation proposes 1:1 tutoring levels for kids. Where are those tutors supposed to come from? And if they are truly out there why have we not identified them in the past? How many people will sign up to be a tutor, collect their per diem to go through training, and then bail when they realize that it’s a lot more difficult than they imagined?

Tennessee established a successful summer program back in 2016 with the Read to Be Ready initiative. The program proved effective and popular with local school districts. But since they were initiatives of the previous Governor and not products of Schwinn and Lee’s tenure, they were left to wither, along with the network of literacy specialists when funding was left to dry up. Lee and his commissioner chose instead to focus on voucher legislation, which is still tied up in court.

Reading about the program in a past edition of Chalkbeat can evoke a clear sense of missed opportunity,

And what began with 12 summer reading camps in the program’s inaugural year — through a $1 million gift from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation — had grown tenfold by the second year, thanks in large part to a federal DHS grant. Last summer, more than 7,700 children who are mostly economically disadvantaged took part in 250 reading camps across the state, and more than 193,000 high-quality books were given to the students to take home. Even more camps are underway this summer via an $8.9 million grant program.

According to a report released last fall, first-, second-, and third-graders who participated in the camps showed gains in reading comprehension and accuracy skills for a third straight year. And the last two summers generated statistically significant improvements in those skills, based on assessments given in the early and last days of the camps.

Despite recent evidence, nobody called, “Bullshit,” when special session legislation was rolled out. Nobody pointed out that previously camps were funded at a 1:16 ratio of teachers/students in the past and that under the new legislation, despite being flush with federal dollars, it would be 1:20. Questions were raised about adequate funding, but just as quickly dismissed. The reality is that this year’s legislation fails to provide adequate funding for districts to open their buildings in the summer months.

It was no different with the bill granting raises to teachers. $120 million sounds great unless you do the math. Teachers may have been promised a 4% raise, but all one has to do is read the Comptrollers report to get a clear understanding that Tennessee’s teachers shouldn’t be planning any big purchases shortly.

The additional funding may be used to support salary increases for certified staff as well as school nurses. Flexibility within the appropriations language allows districts to determine how to distribute the additional funds, such as through salary increases or bonuses. The increase is generally based on the number of positions calculated for each district in the instructional salary category of the BEP. In FY 2021, the BEP funded approximately 66,241 licensed instructional positions; school districts employed 77,704 instructional personnel in 2018-19, the latest year of data available.

Once again, politicians get a blurb for their palm cards, while teachers are left with an empty bag. But nobody says anything. Teachers say nothing because they’ve become accustomed to empty promises from legislators and as a result tune out the words before they even leave the mouths of legislators. Others are too concerned about losing access or their seat at the table. Don’t want to make anyone mad, or you’ll lose your staus. And so once again, another session passes with teachers falling economically further behind.

Right now in D.C., there is a lot of talk about the death of Democracy. Nothing will destroy democracy faster than enabling politicians to continually craft bad laws unchallenged. While we all fight to preserve our seat at the table, the table continually shrinks, until it reaches a point where all the power is consolidated in a few hands. Hands that work to exclude all that disagree.

Representative Cerpicky from Maury County is this year’s Chair of the House’s Education-Instruction subcommittee. This week he held his first committee meeting. He began proceedings, by stating the purpose of the committee. In his words,

“We are here to be child-centered. To be student-centered. We are not here to protect the status quo ore the system. Except for the parts of that system that succeed in putting the success of our children first. We are not here for the comfort of adults, but for the opportunities for excellence, advancement, and ultimately to be advocates and essential stewards of the individual independence afforded by an excellent education.

How are the citizens of a Republic to be be free without the ability to look after themselves and participate as critical thinkers in this work of self-governance?”

They are beautiful words. Heartfelt words. Inspiring words. I hope that is not all they are. Otherwise, we are going to need a whole lot more than NyQuil and Tylenol.

QUICK HITS

This week Senate Education Committee Chair Brian Kelsey launched another attack on Shelby County Schools for not opening school buildings. Kelsey is supporting a bill that would give the Governor executive powers to open/close school districts. The fight is part of a much larger battle going on nationwide over urban districts opening school buildings. It’s a discussion devoid of nuance. Keeanga-Yamahtta-Taylor adds some of that nuance in a recent New Yorker piece.

Chicago public schools are only eleven per cent white; Black and Latinx students make up eighty-one per cent of the student body. Unsurprisingly, white students are overrepresented among those opting for in-person learning, and also those who are actually showing up to school. Since early January, there has been a phased-in return to public-school buildings, beginning with preschool and special-education students, with the next phase bringing back kids in kindergarten through eighth grade. Among C.P.S. elementary-school students, only thirty-one per cent of Latinx students, thirty-three per cent of Asian students, and thirty-four per cent of Black students were opted to return to school buildings by their parents. In contrast, the parents of more than sixty-seven per cent of white children opted them in.

Taylor goes on to show that just because schools are open, does not mean that students are showing up. I strongly encourage you to read the whole piece.

It’s good to know that I’m not the only one noticing how inadequate the TDOE’s READ 360 is. Today national writer Nancy Baily takes it apart. She rightfully questions Tennessee’s stated goal of “accelerating learning”. Pointing out that,

Accelerating learning seems to be an obsession among some policymakers, and it’s hard to understand. What possible good comes from forcing children to learn fast? Why are states still trying to make students race to some obscure finish line? How many children will end up with learning problems because of it?

Tru dat. read it all, you won’t be sorry.

At least one Tennessee lawmaker seems to have some common sense. Lt. Governor Randy McNally is quoted in today’s Tennessean as observing that, “Whatever we do will probably be reviewed by the federal government and they can cut funding to the state,” he said. “It’s an issue I think that we need to move very carefully.” His comments are in stark contrast to those of Governor Lee who 2 days ago made the claim that ‘transgenders participating in women’s sports will destroy women’s sports,” he told reporters. “It will ruin the opportunity for girls to earn scholarships. It will put a glass ceiling back over women that hasn’t been there.” In a ludicrous that is predicated on a large number of transgender athletes looking to participate in woman’s sports and a larger number of college programs willing to by-pass female athletes for college scholarships. To date, there is evidence of neither.

Congratulations to former MNPS principal Darwin Mason on his being named as Ensworth’ss new Head of Middle School for the 2021-2022 school year! Well done. Ensworth conducted a Nashville search before finding their man right here in their back yard.

Note to leaders. Creating an advisory cabinet of teachers, principals, or superintendents, is not sufficient. You have to actually listen to them. Otherwise, you might as well not form an advisory cabinet. Just saying.

We are slow in offering this, but we still want to offer our condolences to former MNEA President Eric Huth. Eric lost his son a couple of weeks ago. No parent should ever have to bury their own child, and our heart goes out to him.

If you’ve got time and are looking for a smile, check out the Dad Gone Wild Facebook page, where we work to accentuate the positive. We’ve started to include more pictures of kids returning to buildings.

If you’ve got something you’d like me to highlight and share, send it on to Norinrad10@yahoo.com. Any wisdom or criticism you’d like to share is always welcome.

A huge shout out to all of you who’ve lent your financial support. I am eternally grateful for your generosity. It allows me to keep doing what I do and without you, I would have been forced to quit long ago. It is truly appreciated and keeps the bill collectors happy. Now more than ever your continued support is vital.

If you are interested, I’m now sharing posts via email through Substack. This is a new foray for me and an effort to increase coverage. ‘ll be offering free and paid subscriptions. Paid subscriptions will receive additional materials as they become available. We’ll see how it goes.

If you wish to join the rank of donors, you can still head over to Patreon and help a brother out. Or you can hit up my Venmo account which is Thomas-Weber-10. I don’t need much – even $5 would help – but if you think what I do has value, a little help is always greatly appreciated, especially this time of year when my contracted work is a little slow. Not begging, just saying.

Food Insecurity in Tennessee and the Nation

“Why can’t we feed everyone? This is the United States!” You’ve donated or received food assistance during the pandemic, will the need ever end? In this two-part episode, you’ll hear from a local community group that uses unused food portions to feed people in their area, and from the Tennessee Justice Center, which defines and discusses the reasons for food insecurity. What can we do to alleviate it now and eliminate it post-pandemic?

Guests:

Rick Wright, Director of Dining Services University of the South

Rev. David Goodpaster, Director of Otey Memorial Parish’s Community Action Committee

Signe Anderson Director of Nutritional Advocacy at Tennessee Justice Center

FULL PODCAST available on Apple Podcasts here, and wherever else you like to listen here.