Long before Andy Berke became mayor of Chattanooga and proposed a Baby College to teach parents how to care for their 0- to 3-year-old children so they are healthy and prepared to learn, the United Way of Greater Chattanooga was doing similar work.
The organization, for instance, partners with other groups to bring the Lexia reading program to after-school programs at local nonprofits, community centers and churches in areas that serve at-risk children; assists nearly 3,000 parents in monitoring their children's development skills through Learning Check-Ups [and gives those who need it additional resources]; and trains 10 pre-school programs [and 122 teachers] in continuous improvement, quality learning environments and instruction that have helped more than 90 percent of children served transition to kindergarten with appropriate literacy skills.
The local United Way kicked off its 2014 community campaign before a combined Rotary and Kiwanis Club meeting at the Chattanooga Convention Center on Tuesday, setting a $12 million goal and a $12.2 million stretch goal. The 2013 campaign raised $12 million.
For any Chattanoogan who has donation dollars -- even a few -- to give, the United Way is a terrific way to invest them. Not only are a wide variety of agencies assisted, but children learn, lives are stabilized and the most vulnerable are lifted up. What's not to like?
In Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Rick Smith's recent annual evaluation by the Hamilton County Board of Education, four of his five highest marks came from former Hamilton County Schools employees.
School Board Chairman Mike Evatt, a former manager of buildings and grounds for the schools, gave him his highest aggregate score, 4.66 out of a possible five, over the 50-question survey.
Former Lookout Valley High School teacher, coach and administrator Joe Galloway, former teacher and administrator David Testerman and former teacher Donna Horn also gave him high marks. His third-highest evaluation came from Rhonda Thurman, a longtime Smith booster.
The superintendent received scores of three ["meets expectations"] or below on 19 of the 50 questions. Eight of the nine school board members gave him threes or below on "seeks staff and public opinions on proposed policies and reports to the Board the findings" and "keeps Board informed of employment, promotion and dismissal of personnel."
With the election of former teacher and coach Steve Highlander to the District 9 seat, replacing the retiring Evatt, the new school board will have the same number of former school district employees.
Tennessee women, depending on their particular circumstances, may agree or disagree, but a recent survey says the Volunteer State is second in the South and 20th overall among the 50 states in women's equality.
The WalletHub survey used 10 key metrics, ranging from the gap in the number of female and male executives to the disparity between women's and men's life expectancy to the imbalance of their political representation, to measure the scope of gender-based disparities in each state.
The survey divided its results into three categories, workplace environment, education and health, and political empowerment. Tennessee was 11th in workplace environment, 12th in education and health, and 37th in political empowerment.
Hawaii, New York, Maryland, Maine and Nevada, respectively, are listed as the top five states for women's equality, while Indiana, Texas, Idaho, Utah and Wyoming, respectively, are the worst five.
Only Florida (ninth) is above Tennessee among Southern states in the list, while neighbors North Carolina (22th), Kentucky (24th), Alabama (31st), Mississippi (35th), Georgia (38th), Virginia (43rd) and Arkansas (44th) are all below.