Pam's Points: Passing out an F, considering recalls, seeking the SUV and dodging the bullets

Pam's Points: Passing out an F, considering recalls, seeking the SUV and dodging the bullets

May 24th, 2014 in Opinion Times

State gets F on its report card

If your favorite student is as smart as a whip but not keen on homework, the Tennessee Department of Education's own lack of homework effort may hold your youngster back this year, heaping insult on boredom.

The Tennessee Department of Education sent out a letter this week saying, in essence, that the department is taking longer to compare this year's TCAP scores for grades 3-8 to last year's scores.

In other words, they didn't complete their homework on time.

They said they had "narrowed" their "assessments" in order to "eliminate focus on SPIs [test indicators] that were not aligned to the state standards."

If your favorite student had said this, it would sound something like this: "The dog ate my homework."

Here's the thing: State law requires schools to use TCAP scores for 15 to 25 percent of students' final grades in their third -through eighth-grade school years. Usually, the state department of education releases "quick" scores, but this year it didn't -- citing so many "changes" on the tests.

Some local systems will wait to give students final grades. But Hamilton County school officials say they will take state officials up on an offer to allow local systems to ignore the TCAP scores rather than delay report cards. Hamilton County school leaders claim they don't have the manpower to grade students twice. This excuse sounds more like: "I couldn't find my pencil."

None of these leaders would hesitate for a moment to give students with flimsy excuses Fs.

Perhaps it's time for some education officials' expulsions.

Itching for a recall?

Recall fever has been spreading here in recent years, and finally there's a legitimate reason to contemplate it. Look to Hamilton County Chancellors W. Frank Brown and Jeffery Atherton who think it is none of your business who they are considering to fill the $103,795-a-year public position of clerk and master -- the person who keeps records and issues opinions of law to the court.

Clerk and Master Lee Akers will retire in August from the unique constitutional office -- the only one in the county whose occupant is appointed by two elected officials, the chancellors, rather than elected by the public.

First the judges denied a media request for a list of applicants on non-legal grounds, and then they ordered the records sealed. Brown said they want to prevent the public from scrutinizing the selection process, and he said the media should avail the candidates the same confidentiality it gives to victims of rapes and other sexual assaults. Say what? Would you back an anonymous candidate for public service that you will pay $100,000-plus a year?

Where's the SUV?

Chattanooga got more good auto news Thursday, but still no VW expansion for an SUV.

At the same time the U.S. Department of Justice released a legal brief stating that neither Volkswagen nor the United Auto Workers violated federal law in their election agreement prior to the February vote at the automaker's Chattanooga plant, an auto parts manufacturer announced that it will spend $65 million to construct a new facility here and create up to 300 jobs. Plastic Omnium Auto Exteriors LLC will also buy 27 acres at the industrial park where VW now builds Passats. Painting and assembly of automobile exterior components such as bumpers and fenders are set to start in 2015.

The DOJ, joined by attorneys for the U.S. Department of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board, said labor law doesn't prohibit terms of the election agreement. They also said that the three VW employees who filed the federal suit should have brought unfair labor practices charges with the NLRB. The employees allege in the suit that VW gave the union access to names and facilities at the Chattanooga plant in exchange for the UAW holding down costs if it won the organizing vote at the factory. The UAW lost by a 53 percent to 47 percent margin after state Republican officials, including Gov. Bill Haslam, state Sen. Bo Watson and U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., interfered by threatening that if the workers accepted the union state incentives for the VW expansion would be pulled. Actually the state pulled the incentives even before the vote, but documentation of that didn't surface until after the vote.

So, Tennessee lawmakers, where is the VW SUV and the 1,000 or more new jobs it would bring?

Guns everywhere, no place to hide

Last week in Memphis a 63-year-old man was arrested after a gun fell out of his pocket in movie theater and discharged while he and his daughter watched a matinee of "Godzilla."

Dad was charged with reckless endangerment and released on $2,000 bond. He was carrying a loaded two-shot derringer in his pants pocket. When it fell out, it discharged as it hit the floor, police said.

This makes Netflix in the living room seem so much more comfortable and safe, doesn't it?

Perhaps the entertainment and theater lobbies will now see fit to take on the NRA and our legislators.