Archive for the ‘Education’ Category
March 10, 2014
Common Core Educational Standards-Good Or Bad?
This is a subject that I consider more important than even pension reform. This will determine the educational level of our children and grandchildren and the future of our country both economically and from a freedom standpoint.
What Common Core purports to do is set a uniform school curriculum across the country leading to uniform testing and higher standards. What it is fact will do, if fully implemented, is take local control out of the hands of local school boards and particularly out of the hands of parents.
In my 10 years of “OPEN RECORDS ADVOCACY” I have come to the opinion that the most difficult people to get open records information from is local school bureaucrats, starting with the old Memphis School System and now the new Shelby County School bureaucracy which acts much like the old City of Memphis School bureaucracy.
This coming Friday evening Mrs. Karen Lamoreaux (Arkansas) will speak from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM at White Station Church of Christ, 2nd floor, 1106 Colonial Road. Listen to her in a short youtube video as she took apart the local school board.
Please try to be there and learn what she is doing in Arkansas and nationwide.
This is a person who knows what is going on and we need to listen to her and take local action on our own school board. I feel her frustration as it is very difficult to get through the bureaucracy and get results.
Within the last few months I asked the Shelby County School System for the following information.
“I would like to have access to and view all data requests regarding data that the school system is collecting on the students. I would like to know if this data is requested and collected from the students directly without parental involvement or if the parents are requested to furnish this information or data and if this information is voluntary or required of the students or parents.
Their answer was the following.
“Your request is not granted because it is not understood.”
January 23, 2014
More Info From the Memphis CAFR
Pick up the CA and you will get more articles than you can read over your morning coffee. They all point to the upcoming decisions of the Mayor and the City Council. The chickens are coming home to roost as they have been disturbed by the noise of the cans that have been kicked down the road.
As I sift through the current 2013 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) of the City of Memphis, I decided to compare several pages from the 2008 CAFR with the same pages from the 2013 CAFR.
November 21, 2013
Close to $400,000 spent to pass this 1/2 cent sales tax increase. This is a top down proposal, we know better than you, type solution. City finances are on fire compared to the County which is in relatively good shape. This reminds me of Washington DC top down proposals. Shea Flinn and Jim Strickland are good guys and if they could get seven votes, they would reform city finances. Pastor Whalum knows the problem and the people and I think he has a better handle on the solution.
The real problem that this is intended to address is simple in origin.
The problem is single parent families from which comes illiteracy and welfare dependency.
The answer is a stable family, a good education encouraged by the parents and taxpaying work.
This proposed solution nibbles around the edges and throws money at the problem with a little left over to reduce property taxes, maybe.
The proponents of this proposal think sales taxes are the answer to everything. Finance Bass Pro, rebuild the Sears Tower, finance fairgrounds, finance heritage trail, finance a new convention center all from increased sales taxes. Have you looked at your Memphis CAFR (Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports)? The local share of State Sales taxes have gone down by $4.5 million dollars from 2008 to 2012. And they tell you that all these projects can be financed by the incremental amount of sales tax collections generated by these multimillion dollar projects. Go figure!
November 7, 2013
I sent the attached open records request to the Shelby County Board of Education addressed to the records custodian. I got the answer shown in the attachment. Since then I have called twice and have gotten no return call. I then sent an email to Jennifer Collins and requested that she put the documents at the front desk a week ago Friday which I would pick up with a check. In the email I said if that was not possible to let me know. I arrived Friday morning and there were no documents and they could not get Ms. Collins on the phone. Also I was not allowed into the general counsel’s office in contradiction to the Tennessee open records law. I snail mailed the check and I finally received some documents about the books by return snail mail rather than by electronic mail. This cost them $2.32 to mail them.
The arrogance of these people is amazing. They don’t think they work for the taxpayers. They get this attitude by watching what goes on in Washington DC. Nothing really has changed since the consolidation. It seems to still be the Memphis School System. Obviously (more…)
October 17, 2013
I have been in contact with a very active group of people in Nashville about common core, school books and material and data collecting. Following is part of a recent email from this Nashville group about a great success they had in reviewing school books and reporting on what is actually in these books. I have recently sent an open records request to the new Shelby County School System requesting access to books, book lists and data collection. I have not yet heard back from them on this request. I will keep you informed on this request. Eventually I will get access to these books, pamphlets, material and data collection. At that point I will need help to review and report as did the Nashville group. It is a big job but are the kids worth it? Please let me know if you are up for the work.
This report came from Dr. J Lee Douglas, Nashville.
In an article published in the Commercial Appeal on Sunday discussing the recently passed property tax increase for Shelby County (http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2013/aug/11/a-perfect-storm-unique-challenges-on-revenue/) County Commissioner Henri Brooks takes aim at the Memphis-Shelby County PILOT program. Brooks objects to PILOT programs taking resources that, in her view, would be better spent on education than the business community. The PILOT program (Payment-In-Lieu-of-Taxes) provides relief of 90% of Memphis property taxes and 75% of Shelby County taxes to qualified businesses. The program is administered by EDGE (Economic Development Growth Engine) in Shelby County.
The PILOT program seeks to grow the economy of Memphis and Shelby County by making it more attractive for companies to locate here. PILOT grants are given to companies and projects that meet the goals of EDGE, but there is no obligation to give PILOT money to (more…)
August 8, 2013
My name is Joe Saino and I am President of memphisshelbyinform.com, a 401c3 non profit dedicated to keeping the public here in Shelby County informed and keeping public records open to you, the taxpayers. It is a big job and I am always looking for help. Well I have made a connection with an outstanding young woman and I will let her own CV speak for her.
I am originally from Indiana and moved to Memphis area in 2000. I have BS and PhD in Chemical Engineering and work locally in a sales role for a manufacturing company. I am married with two children. Protecting the future of my children and their peers is the foremost reason for my interest in political issues and fiscal policy. I hope to encourage people to be more involved and better informed on how their government operates and how it affects them. Ultimately, we need to understand that if we want the kind of freedom that America has promised citizens and immigrants for generations, we have to work for it.
Here is her first article on memphisshelbyinform.com and I hope for many more. Thanks Anne.
There is an article in the CA this morning about the improvements locally in I Zone schools. And recently there have been a number of reports about ASD schools (Achievement School Districts). And then there is the roll out of the new combined Shelby County School System (the combination of the old Memphis City School system and the old Shelby County School system.
Excuse me if I am a bit overwhelmed. What the hell is going on?
Well I started digging into this and this is just part of what I found. I hope I am the only one who is a bit confused.
This mess is a government solution to what we have known for some time, that the old school model run by the unions and local politicians, was set up to provide jobs and income, not education.
So the state and the federal government got involved. The federal government held a selection process for a bunch of money and (more…)
July 111, 2013
Memphisshelbyinform is a non-profit information and investigative organization composed of concerned citizens and taxpayers. It has the task of monitoring and reporting in depth on Memphis and Shelby County governmental activities and expenditures and educating the public on their efficiency, transparency and honesty.
I have followed this principle for many years and have had some success in informing the public about what is going on in local government. However I believe that many of our local problems are caused by actions at the national level. I have seen trust in government at all levels fall to a very low level. People no longer believe that government has the best interest of our nation as its (more…)
June 24, 2013
My son in law, Dan Ratner, is an engineer with google and has been working on a secret project for some time. Now it can be revealed. It is the Loon project. Go to http://www.google.com/loon/. Dan is the guy with the full beard. Here is what he sent us from Christ Church New Zealand. I have attached the picture of Jfro, their designer dog.
Special shout-out to J-Fro who joined us on many test flights and helped keep spirits high.
Several people on this New Zealand trip said that launches are just not the same without Fro.
At one company meeting, Serge Brin kept asking about J-Fro since he saw this picture…..Fro truly became our team’s unofficial mascot. Celia, please give him an extra bone tonight in recognition of his important contribution to the project : )
This project could have huge implications if successful by bringing competition to the educational establishment and the cable and satellite operators and bringing education and communications world wide with less government control. A big job. I thought you would be interested in this technology.