Archive for the ‘Schools’ Category
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…)
November 4, 2013
This is an issue that the City of Memphis is trying to sneak by the voters in a vote that will probably have a low turnout. These are the reasons to vote NO. Early voting starts today. As they say in Chicago, vote early and often.
- The Commercial Appeal writes that 63% ($30 million) goes to Pre-K and the rest (1$17 million) to property tax reduction. However look at the wording of the Ordinance which states that the money goes to a Pre-K Commission appointed by Mayor Wharton which will make the decisions. Do you trust such a commission?
- Our sales tax is already very high (9.25%) and this would take it to 9.75%, the highest in the state, a very regressive tax.
- There is no evidence that Pre-K works and has any long term benefits,.
- There should be no new taxes until the City of Memphis and the City Council reform pensions and health care costs and get on a path to reduce unfunded liability as pointed out by the State of Tennessee.
October 23, 2013
The Importance of Open Records
I just got back from four days visiting with my two brothers at Perdido Key in Florida. Great time and very relaxing.
Now back to local business. I recently sent an open records request to the new Shelby County School System. It was a simple request to be able to access the textbooks and material that the students will have this year. Also I requested access to the data that will be collected from the students and whether this data will be with or without the permission of the parents. Seemed like a simple request. Their answer to the data request was “Your request is not granted because it is not understood.”
You would think that there must be a list of things that “Student Records people” want such as name, address, date of birth, parents names, race, health records, income, address, religion, etc, etc. I am sure there is more data that they want but I will try to explain my request better in order to get an answer.
Several years ago I proposed that they give access to all the books that the students use by putting just two copies of each book and pamphlet in the central Memphis library. I called and got permission from the library head and she approved of the idea. However the then Memphis City School Board decided that two extra books of each book was too expensive. Therefore taxpayers are denied access to review the books for which they are paying.
I would appreciate your thoughts on this open records request and their response.
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.
September 12, 2013
As I start reading through this massive document I have to start with the introduction and rationale of the plan. Here are the first 26 pages of the draft plan.
To be a successful urban area, Memphis has to do the following.
- Increase property values
- Decrease poverty
- Ensure government efficiency
- Improve neighborhoods
- Invest in human capital
- Grow the economy
Wow!! What great ideas. Why did I not think of those?
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…)
June 3, 2013
Last Thursday I attended a meeting held by FACT (Family Action Council of Tennessee) in Germantown to hear Tennessee state Senator Delores Gresham speak. She spoke on the state of education in Tennessee and that Tennessee is 47th in national education rankings. She is a good speaker and conservative on many issues. However I was not convinced about her argument for Common Core. I think the audience was also unconvinced as the question and answer session indicated.
To Senator Gresham’s credit she listened to a number of audience statements that called for more ethics, moral and religious education in schools. Also she heard some very disturbing real world evidence of data gathering by school administrators from students without the consent of parents’, right here in Shelby County. She called for those parents to meet with her after the meeting so she could document what she heard.
The argument that common core was put together by the National Governors Association independent of the US Department of (more…)