Category Archives: Bill Haslam

Today In Corporate Personhood

What’s that line from the last presidential election? I’ll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one? Yeah, that:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – The truck-stop company owned by Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam may have put the worst behind it after federal attorneys agreed not to prosecute Pilot Flying J for cheating customers.

In an agreement with prosecutors, the nation’s largest diesel retailer acknowledges that employees cheated trucking companies out of promised fuel rebates and discounts. Prosecutors said Monday that Pilot has agreed to pay a $92 million penalty, which is within the range of what the company would pay if convicted at trial.

Corporations have Constitutional rights like freedom of speech and freedom of religion but they have no responsibilities. Ain’t that just peachy.

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Filed under Bill Haslam, corporations, Tennessee

Next Time Keep Yer Yaps Shut, Tennessee Republicans

Uh-oh, looks like Sen. Bob Corker has embarrassed himself and maybe cost the entire South some jobs:

Reuters reports this morning that Volkswagen’s “top labor representative” has threatened to block any future expansion plans in the South, citing conservative interference in the United Auto Workers vote in Chattanooga.

Quoting an interview with a German newspaper, the news service reports Bernd Osterloh, head of VW’s works council, as saying he can imagine further expansion in the United States, but it probably won’t be in the South unless some sort of labor representation is established in the Chattanooga plant. Workers in Germany have representation on corporate boards, giving them a say in citing decisions.

Osterloh’s remarks seem to contradict statements by U.S. Sen. Bob Corker and others that Chattanooga would get another vehicle if workers rejected UAW representation. Osterloh describes such talk as conservative “interference.”

Hey, Senator Corker: Thanks for nothing, asshole.

Interfering in a manufacturing plant’s business, is that how this “small government” stuff works? Is that how Republicans show they’re “pro-business” and “pro jobs”?

Let’s be real, “small government” and “pro-business” are just Frank Luntz-crafted slogans used to dupe the rubes. As always, when reality collides with conservative ideology, it’s the ideology which wins. “Unions are bad, nobody wants ’em, corporations hate ’em, they’re anti-business and kill jobs, whasthatyasay?”

Man, everything you guys touch just turns to shit, doesn’t it?

What’s so funny is that when Corker said VW would really move their next expansion to Mexico if Chattanooga workers approved the UAW he forgot to mention that Mexico’s VW plant is union. Dumb and dumber.

I suppose this means Tennessee Republicans will go back to looking for jobs in ladies vaginas. Aw who am I kidding, they don’t care about jobs, they care about making themselves and their friends wealthier.

Major FAIL, Senator. Major FAIL.

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Filed under Bill Haslam, Sen. Bob Corker, Tennesseee, unions

You Don’t Own That, Gov. Haslam

This deserves to get some national attention:

In a script for Gov. Bill Haslam to read on camera — prepared in 2011 by his Department of Economic and Community Development — a most unusual offer was drafted to try to entice retail giant Sears to relocate its corporate headquarters to Tennessee.

The Sears effort was dubbed “Project Neptune.”

“We’re so committed to making your new home in Tennessee that we are prepared to offer you one of the premiere buildings in Nashville’s thriving downtown,” the script read.

“Our state office building, the Tennessee Tower, can be an instantaneous and immediate home for Project Neptune’s corporate headquarters. This highly visible and historic building offers over 600,000 square feet of prime office space — located conveniently across from Legislative Plaza and a stone’s throw away from my office in the state Capitol.”

The Tennessee Tower is the iconic building that longtime Nashvillians may remember for its annual holiday messages.

“Are they going to give away the Capitol, too?” Cunningham asked.

“They’re going to offer them the Tennessee Tower, one of the major, probably the major, state office building — here you can have it. This is owned by the taxpayers by you and me. This is not owned by Bill Haslam.”

Let me point out: Ben Cunningham is the head of the Nashville Tea Party. When your giveaway to corporate America outrages both Tea Partiers and Democrats you know you’re doing it wrong.

Gov. Haslam’s “business expertise” was supposed to be his big selling point that qualified him to run state government. But you can’t run the government like a business, because government is not a business. And of course Pilot Oil, the family business, is facing its own scandals for engaging in illegal business practices. You’ve really gotta question Haslam’s supposed business acumen.

And then there’s this:

The Project Neptune proposal lays out all the possible incentives available to Sears if it brought 6,100 jobs, including a “super job tax credit,” “franchise tax savings,” a “standard job tax credit,” an “industrial machinery credit,” “sales and use tax credit,” a “headquarters relocation credit,” plus “training incentives” and “infrastructure incentives.”

Total potential value of the state package under a “high scenario” was $588.8 million dollars.

“This is $600 million — that is a very significant part of the annual budget of the state of Tennessee,” Cunningham noted.

We did the math, and that $588 million is almost $100,000 per job. The “low scenario” was $477.6 million, which is $78,000 per job.

Um …. wow. Okay, Tennessee: this is what happens when you elect a “businessman” to run the state. Silly little notions like “public servant” and “owned by the people” are weird concepts that our state CEO has never heard of. A state office building owned by the people of Tennessee? What communisticky-socialisticky notion is this?!

And I’m astonished that Haslam thought spending $100,000 per job was a good bargain. This is the same person who won’t take a free deal to expand Medicaid to the state’s citizens who need healthcare, calling it “a clunker.”

Haslam has one idea: take what belongs to the taxpayers and funnel it to corporations (for another example, see this). Spend on corporations, not people. If you think he stands for anything else, you’re severely wrong. He’d even give a corporation a downtown Nashville office tower owned by the people of Tennessee! This is his idea of a “smart business move.” That tells you everything you need to know about this dim bulb you’ve put in charge.

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Filed under Bill Haslam, Gov. Bill Haslam, Nashville, Tennessee

Horrible Pilot Flying J People Plead Guilty

Remember Pilot Flying J regional sales director Arnold Ralenkotter, joking about ripping off “a fuckin’ Russian mafia guy” in Illinois named “Pav”, whom he referred to as a “dumbass”?

Yeah. He pleaded guilty to ripping off the trucking company’s customers. Also pleading guilty: Ashley Judd. No, not that one.

I’m guessing there’s going to be some sweet singing by these two — especially Ralenkotter, who might want to avoid running into Pav’s friends and associates in prison.

I think it defies credibility that Jimmy Haslam didn’t know about this scheme, especially seeing as how the fraud was openly discussed at meetings where Haslam was present. But even if Haslam slithers away, the company is facing a rash of lawsuits.

So, again: do we have any bets on what new name the Haslam family will dream up to rebrand the family business? I’m thinking “Patriot Family Red White And Blue Freedom Oil Of America.”

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Filed under Bill Haslam, corporations, fraud, Tennessee

Horrible People, Pilot Flying J Edition

More details have emerged in the fraud case against Pilot Flying J, the family business of Gov. Bill Haslam which is run by his brother. The company headquarters was raided by the FBI on Tuesday. And man, is this turning out to be a big ol’ shitpile.

The allegation is that the company intentionally reduced monthly rebates due trucking company customers to increase the company’s profitability on monthly P&L statements — and thereby increase sales commissions, which were based on those figures. According to the FBI affidavit, the practice was shockingly commonplace and widespread, involving a wide array of employees — account executives, regional supervisors, executive management; it was even openly discussed in a meeting attended by Pilot’s President Mark Hazelwood and CEO Jimmy Haslam III. This was no whispered back-room deal done under the cloak of secrecy — unless you’re a Pilot Flying J customer, of course. Nope, as layed out in the FBI affidavit, it was business as usual, even something discussed in sales meetings. Everyone, save customers, seemed to know about it. [UPDATE: The Tennessean, which operates the worst website in the history of journanimalism, now has a dead link to the FBI affidavit, because I guess they figure no one ever digs through the memory hole on the web. However, I think this one goes to the same information.]

Even more shocking is the incredible hubris on display in recorded conversations. “Fuck ’em early and fuck ’em often,” says John Freeman, Pilot’s VP of sales on page 50 of the affidavit. What a swell guy.

On Page 52 we hear Arnold Ralenkotter, Pilot regional sales director, joking with Brian Mosher, Director of National Sales, about ripping off what Ralenkotter called “a fuckin’ Russian mafia guy” in Illinois named “Pav”:

MOSHER: How’d it end up?
RALENKOTTER: Well, we agreed to the across-the-board deal. And we didn’t change a thing.
MOSHER: He doesn’t fuckin’ have a clue. He doesn’t have a clue.
RALENKOTTER: But he slid that, he slid the, you know, the Love’s offer letter, where they kinda lay it all out? Walked out of there, I said don’t change a thing. Let him believe whatever the hell he wants.
MOSHER: He didn’t have any fuckin’ clue.
RALENKOTTER: Dumbass.

Mosher and the rest treated customers like the enemy. If you were a smart negotiator, they’re all like, “How dare you! You gonna mess with me? I’m gonna mess with you.” But if a customer didn’t understand Pilot’s complicated pricing program, they’re like “Stupid rubes! You deserve to get ripped off!” Indeed, these guys seemed to take special pleasure in preying upon — no, relishing — customers’ ignorance about pricing and rebates:

SCHIMMEL: Let me ask a question. Even though, do we have an idea of what percentage of people out there truly know, have an understanding of discounts? I mean …
MOSHER: I would tell you it’s, I’m gonna say way less than 50%. I’m thinking it’s 25% or less, that really, really know on a day-in-day-out basis. Now, again, that depends, right? Because if you’re sending that customer a daily price fetch, he doesn’t have to know, all he has to do is save his e-mails, okay? Because he can go back and recalculate this stuff. (Laughter.) But the guy that doesn’t– huh?
WELCH: Some of’em. (Laughter.)
MOSHER: Some of ’em, some of ’em don’t know what a spreadsheet is. I’m not kiddin’. So, again, my point is this: Know your customer. Know what you’re sending him, know what his preferences are, know how sophisticated he is, okay? If the guy’s sophisticated and he truly has gone out and gotten deals from the other competitors and he’s gettin’ daily prices from us, don’t jack with his discounts, ’cause he’s gonna know, okay? But the guy that’s just sayin’ “Cost-plus, cost-plus, cost-plus, I need cost-plus.” “Why do you need cost-plus and what do you know about cost-plus? How’s cost-plus compare to retail-minus over the last three months?” “I don’t know, but Love’s is sayin’ it, so I need it.” Solution: Tell him we can do it. Tell him we can do it on a rebate.

What despicable people. I wonder if Gov. Haslam regrets his decision to keep his Pilot Oil holdings out of his “near-sighted” trust, under the reasoning that,

… Tennesseans are “very familiar” with his relationship with Pilot, a privately held company with annual revenues of $20 billion.

Yes, we are very familiar, indeed. Grab the dang popcorn, peeps.

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Filed under Bill Haslam, corporations, Tennessee

Haslam Family Biz Investigated

[UPDATE]:

Pilot Flying J has issued a completey useless BS statement, which they call FAQs. And they are hilarious. I’m not sure

Was it necessary to conduct a “raid”?

and,

Was this politically motivated?

… are really the most Frequently Asked Questions in this case, but whatever. Also, the question

Is it a “criminal” investigation?

… can now be answered in the affirmative, according to CEO Jimmy Haslam’s press conference, which is in progress. Apparently the issue is rebates to some customers.

————————————–

First: I’ve got nothing to say on the Boston bombings. I’m thinking plenty, but speculation is pointless and counterproductive. I am, once again, in awe at the good we see in people when tragedy strikes. Our first responders rushing in to harm’s way, not knowing what awaits them … ordinary folks helping the injured … we pull together, and we make it through. Boston, my prayers are with you.

On to other news. Yesterday, around the same time as the news out of Boston broke, we heard that the Knoxville offices of Pilot Flying J were raided by the FBI and IRS. Flying J is the national chain of truck stops and convenience stores owned by Gov. Bill Haslam’s family; his brother, Jimmy, is its CEO.

From the story:

In April 2009, Pilot settled a price-gouging suit brought by Tennessee attorney general. Pilot settled similiar suits in Georgia and Kentucky.

Good to know. We still don’t know what this raid is about, however. Also of interest:

The Haslams have carefully guarded details about the size of their fortune. Gov. Haslam has refused to release his tax returns or how much of Pilot he still owns, saying the information could violate the privacy of other owners.

Haslam did make his success in business a selling point of his 2010 campaign for governor.

See how that works? Haslam wants all the credit for being a successful businessman, without revealing any details of said business. It’s more of this “just trust me!” crap we get from Republicans. Trust has to be earned, governor.

I didn’t want this story to get lost amid all of the other news today. Definitely something to keep an eye on.

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Filed under Bill Haslam, Tennessee

So Glad We Voted For The “Reasonable” Republican

Look what happens when you vote Republican, Tennessee:

Statement from Gov. Bill Haslam; April 10, 2012:

Governor: Legislation to Become Law Without My Signature

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today issued the following statement on HB 368/SB 893:

“I have reviewed the final language of HB 368/SB 893 and assessed the legislation’s impact. I have also evaluated the concerns that have been raised by the bill. I do not believe that this legislation changes the scientific standards that are taught in our schools or the curriculum that is used by our teachers. However, I also don’t believe that it accomplishes anything that isn’t already acceptable in our schools.

“The bill received strong bipartisan support, passing the House and Senate by a three-to-one margin, but good legislation should bring clarity and not confusion. My concern is that this bill has not met this objective. For that reason, I will not sign the bill but will allow it to become law without my signature.”

Got that, Tennessee? You didn’t vote for the crazy Ron Ramsey or the crazier, twitchy Zach Wamp. Nope, you voted for the “grown-up.” The non-crazy Republican. The Reasonable One. And guess what you got! You got the same crazy-assed, half-baked crap as if they’d thawed one of those cavemen they’re always finding up in the tundra and stuck him in the governor’s chair. I ask you: what is the difference? Gov. Haslam has a big sad over the crazy stuff the legislature is doing but who cares when it’s still the law!

Way to go! Now we’re going to be churning out a bunch of idiot kids who think Adam and Eve dined on Bronto Burgers and took their pet dinosaur for a stroll through the primordial forest. But what the world needs are not religious nuts, it needs scientists and engineers. Good going, Governor Goofball. So you didn’t sign the bill, what, you lost your veto pen?

I have friends who are leaving this state. Friends with kids. People who do not think this is a good place to raise their children. It’s really hard to argue with them when the governor doesn’t have the balls to tell the extremists in his own party to cut the crap. And if I can’t convince my friends that this is a place you want to live, how are we going to convince major employers to set up shop here?

Nope, Governor Goofball blames the media. How dare they write about the strange things happening in the legislature!

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Filed under Bill Haslam, culture wars, education, evolution, Tennessee, Tennessee government, Tennessee politics

The Unbearable Pandering Of Gov. Haslam

Hey Gov. Haslam: You know what else is higher in Tennessee than the national average? Unemployment. When are you and your fellow Republicans going to get us some damn jobs in this state?

Gov. Haslam’s broad plan to lower crime focuses on prevention
Multi-pronged plan aims to make Tennessee’s crime rate plummet

Citing Tennessee’s record of higher-than-average crime, Gov. Bill Haslam on Thursday released a plan to increase penalties for certain violent crimes, tamp down on drug offenses and revamp how felons are supervised in the state.

“While we’ve seen an improvement, Tennessee continues to have a violent crime rate that’s above the national average and that none of us find acceptable,” Haslam said. “This plan not only addresses many of the underlying factors that lead to crime in our state, it takes a comprehensive approach to addressing public safety issues.”

The plan focuses on three broad areas: reducing prescription and methamphetamine drug abuse, decreasing violent crime and cutting the rate at which criminals commit new crimes. It aims to do so through new legislation calling for tougher penalties for gang and drug-related crimes, new administrative moves, an increasing reliance on alternatives to prison and the shifting of some 66,000 felons from the Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole to the Department of Correction.

Let’s just call this what it is: blatant pandering to Corrections Corp. of America. I mean c’mon, crime is actually down in the state — as it is nationally. So fearmongering about “crime” might be a good diversionary tactic, but those of us who actually read the damn news aren’t buying it.

Here’s a news flash:

• The TBI announced last year that crime was down for the third year in a row.

• Looking at the past 10 years, the TBI found violent crime rates are at their lowest level, hate crimes are down 50% and property crimes are down 9%. Not surprisingly, credit card fraud is up 135%.

• 2011 marked Nashville’s lowest murder rate in 45 years, with “just” 51 murders recorded. That’s the lowest since 1966, when there were 49 murders.

“Crime” is the lazy politicians’ gambit because it plays into the general fear that crime is “out of control” in our communities (it’s not) and “getting tough on crime” is the kind of thing that everyone is for. I mean, it’s like saying you think puppies are cute and trees are pretty in autumn. Oooh score one for Gov. Haslam! Way to roll up your sleeves and tackle the tough issues!

I called bullshit on this idiocy when then-candidate Haslam released his ridiculous “how can we EVER reduce crime in Tennessee” campaign ad. I wrote then:

These are nice agenda items of the industry-funded ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council, which I wrote about here.) I’m sure Tennessee-based Corrections Corp. of America approves of that message, hell they paid for it. It’s also a nice little dog whistle that plays into peoples’ fears and the “conventional wisdom” that we live in a crime infested land filled with bogey men who want to steal your white women and your flat-screen TV. The fact that crime has been dropping across the state (and the nation) for the past few years is a little inconvenient for this message. Oh well, don’t let facts stand in the way of some fun little pandering.

And of course, Haslam has done more than just pander to CCA, miraculously “finding” $31 million that we apparently don’t have for TennCare or education to keep CCA’s Hardeman County Correctional Facility open. It’s a miracle, I tells ya!

Gov. Haslam, you’re a fraud. You mouth pablum about crime in our state while handing taxpayer money over to the corporate cronies who funded your campaign. But stuff that’s important to people — stuff that’s hard to do, like bringing jobs to our state — forget it. You’ll just pretend the unemployed are lazy and call it a day.

Pretty damned contemptible, if you ask me.

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Filed under Bill Haslam, CCA, Tennessee

Gov. Haslam: EV Owners Are Watching

Gov. Bill Haslam, R-Pilot Oil, says we have a major problem looming, which is funding our road infrastructure due to declining gas tax revenue. His Transportation Commissioner concurs, saying:

Transportation Commissioner John Schroer said in budget hearings last week that he has met with the heads of the House and Senate transportation committees about the effect of improving fuel economy and the advent of electric vehicles on Tennessee’s gas tax system.

“We’re going to have to figure out before it’s too late how we’re going to systematically fund transportation in the future,” Schroer said at the hearing. “We can’t always rely on the gas tax to be the way that we fund transportation.”

Schroer said part of the discussion with lawmakers centered on what to do about electric vehicles, such as the Nissan Leaf.

Well, you can’t say I didn’t see this one coming. Leaf owners such as myself well know that we will have to pay some kind of tax to make up for the gas taxes we no longer pay, this is not a shocker. Fair enough, we’re using the roads, we’ll pay our fair share. But “a major problem for the state’s infrastructure over the next decade”? Doubtful.

There are so few EVs on the road now and for the foreseeable future that I doubt the loss of our gas tax revenue constitutes “a major problem for the state’s infrastructure.” I mean really, if we’re going to have that many EVs on the road in 10 years then you folks better be more worried about the electric grid than fixing potholes in state roads. Slap an extra $100 tax on the sale of every EV and I think we’re done for now.

Pardon me for being suspicious that the Leaf has been singled out. You know, there are people who run their vehicles on cooking oil; they don’t pay gas tax, either. Why not mention them, too? They’ve been getting a free ride for years. Meanwhile, people who buy gasoline for things like lawnmowers DO pay the tax but don’t use the roads. Right now, from a revenue perspective, I’d say it’s all a wash.

But yes, over time we will need to address the issue, as will the entire nation. This is not an issue unique to Tennessee. I’m just not seeing the urgency here. And pardon me for saying this but the Haslam Administration doesn’t have a good track record when it rushes in to things.

Unless… well, unless Gov. Pilot Oil has something else in mind. I do think such cynicism is warranted, based on the governor’s past actions. After all, Gov. Haslam, you did leave your Pilot Oil holdings out of your “blind” trust by pretending to not understand the entire point of a blind trust.

And you did play all innocent when your freeze on new state regulations meant the family’s chain of truck stops could skirt an environmental rule affecting fuel storage tanks. You batted those baby browns and gave us that aw-shucks grin and said, “who, me? Did I do that? Well, I do declare!”

You know you did, governor. So I really just don’t trust your motives here, nor should anyone. No offense, but you sorta asked for it. It’s obvious that gas-free EVs and higher CAFE standards (which you openly opposed, for obvious reasons) are going to cut into Pilot Oil profits eventually. I’m not denying that. And you are in a position to keep tabs on the family business in a way the public is not, because Pilot Oil is a privately-held company. Meanwhile, as governor, you are in a position to enact policies that directly impact said privately-held company. That’s just the facts. You basically asked us to just trust you, but why should we? I don’t trust any politician.

So Gov. Haslam, I conclude that your conflict of interest just keeps rearing its ugly head. That just really sucks for you. It just won’t go away. That said, this is a problem you created when you chose to keep your Pilot Oil holdings out of your blind trust.

It’s just inconceivable to me that you won’t solve this “major problem” in a way that benefits the people who sell gasoline: mainly, you and your family. And our local news media’s willful amnesia about the source of your family fortune is pretty sucky too, since we’re on the topic.

Anyway, I’m putting the governor on notice: I’m watching. I’m paying attention. I’m doubtful that you will take any action against the interests of Pilot Oil. And I’m very suspicious of this sudden appearance of a “major problem” for our infrastructure.

Don’t think for a second I won’t call you on it. You’ve been warned.

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Filed under Bill Haslam, electric car, infrastructure, taxes, Tennessee

The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves

[update]:

Awesome: Tennessee Teachers Will Evaluate Legislators Who Approved Ridiculous Teacher Eval Scheme

—————————–
Apparently Gov. Bill Haslam has managed to suck the joy out of every public classroom in Tennessee, which let’s face it is the main reason teachers choose that profession to begin with, because they sure as hell aren’t in it for the money.

(Update: speaking of teacher pay, Charles Pierce has a beeeee-yootiful smack down of the latest nonsense from our favorite right-wing talking point factories. Give it a read.)

From the New York Times, we learn that the new evaluation system Tennessee implemented as part of receiving a $500 million federal Race To The Top grant is so arbitrary, divisive and unfair, it’s become an epic disaster:

The state is micromanaging principals to a degree never seen before here, and perhaps anywhere. For example, Mr. Shelton is required to have a pre-observation conference with each teacher (which takes 20 minutes), observe the teacher for a period (50 minutes), conduct a post-observation conference (20 minutes), and fill out a rubric with 19 variables and give teachers a score from 1 to 5 (40 minutes).

He must have copies of his evaluations ready for any visit by a county evaluator, who evaluates whether Mr. Shelton has properly evaluated the teachers.

He is required to do at least four observations a year for the 65 teachers at his school, although the changes suggested last week would save paperwork by allowing two of the observations to be done back to back.

Teachers have it worse. Half of their assessment is based on their students’ results on state test scores, a serious problem for those who teach subjects with no state test.

To solve that, the state is requiring teachers without test results to be evaluated based on the scores of teachers at their school with test results. So Emily Mitchell, a first-grade teacher at David Youree Elementary, will be evaluated using the school’s fifth-grade writing scores.

“How stupid is that?” said Michelle Pheneger, who teaches ACT math prep at Blackman High and is also being evaluated in part based on writing scores. “My job can be at risk, and I’m not even being evaluated by my own work.”

For 15 percent of their testing evaluation, teachers without scores are permitted to choose which subject test they want to be judged on. Few pick something related to their expertise; instead, they try to anticipate the subject that their school is likely to score well on in the state exams next spring.

And this is why we can’t have nice things. Once again, Tennessee is a national posterchild for being unable to, in effect, tie its shoelaces. The Republicans want government off everyone’s back except, you know, when they don’t. Then they’re all up in everyone’s business, like school principals, whom they don’t trust to know their teachers and their schools.

This cracked me up:

State officials have said that by next year, they will develop ways to assess teachers in subjects with no state test.

Mr. Tackett is skeptical. “I’ll be interested to see how they evaluate a band director,” he said.

Yes, that should be very interesting.

Even worse, because we’re one of the first Race To The Top states, all eyes are on us. And unfortunately, our screw-up doesn’t bode well for everyone else.

I confess I’m late to the party on this one. I don’t follow education issues as closely as I should, there’s just too much other stuff I’m more interested in, so there you have it. Tom Humphrey does a pretty good job of delving into the issue, and exposes some really severe denialism over at the State Dept. of Education. Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman seems to think that just a few little tweaks are needed and mostly what we’re hearing is the whining of those pampered, unionized teachers who are just complaining because they’re used to getting their way all the time.

Meanwhile, I’ve gleaned that one big problem is the way we have modified the Teacher Advancement Program (TAP) evaluation system. Humphrey writes:

The new system is adapted from the Teacher Advancement Program, which is nationally recognized in education circles, but Lyndal Duke, principal of a Rutherford County Elementary School, said the state ignored helpful components of that model, including such things as having “mentor teachers” to help colleagues, performance pay and intense professional development efforts.

Oh. Right, the stuff that costs money. That figures.

Here’s what one principal told the New York Times about the new system:

He says the new state policies put everyone under stress, are divisive and suck the joy out of a building. “What I need to make my school better is pretty simple,” he said. “I want everybody to be happy. If they’re happy, they will do a better job.”

This is something Republicans just don’t get. It’s all stick with these clowns, never any carrot. They think if they’re the biggest dicks in the room they can force a good performance out of people. At least, that’s kind of how I took Kevin Huffman’s remarks. He’s saying teachers aren’t used to be evaluated, they’ve had it easy all these years. Give it a year, they’ll get used to it, the whining will stop! Meanwhile, you have people who are doing one of the hardest, most under-appreciated jobs there is and instead of listening to the people in the field — the “generals on the ground,” if you will — they’re all like, pfft. What do they know? We’re going to impose these arbitrary rules on you, make the band director get evaluated based on math scores or whatever.

I really don’t think turning our state’s schools into a real-world version of the TV show “Survivor” is in the best interest of our kids. But again, that’s just me.

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Filed under Bill Haslam, education, Tennessee