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I’ll see your free two years and raise you a degree

Haslam now has Tennessee paying for the first two years at any community college. Sounds great right? Well Germany just raised the bar!

All German universities are now free to Americans and all other international students. The last German state to charge tuition at its universities struck down the fees this week.

[Source, CBD Moneywatch, Where to get a free college degree]

Best of all, my son already has his passport!

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Last week of school

This week represents the last 2 and a half days of school for Knox County students. So naturally they are working hard to prepare the students for their rising grade by showing them 2.5 days of movies, video games, and socializing.

I would love to see 2.5 days of fine tuning study skills, personal time management, and lateral thinking puzzles.

That said, drivers be alert. You are about to see children in places at times you don’t expect them.

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The arts teach more than your standardized tests

Tennessee. Haslam. McIntyre. Knox County School Board. This video is for you.

Yo! Knox County Schools…how about stepping up and doing stuff like this with our students? Lessons? How about hand/eye coordination, team work, rhythm, did I mention team work?, leadership, technical production, composition, self-confidence, and most of all, accomplishment. Did you know that there is a mathematical side to music? And poetry (literature) in the lyrics? I’m sure I missed some.

Do you get any of that out of a standardized test?

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Don’t ruin it for everybody

Dear parents, rather than trying to force your ideals upon my children, please allow them to read the assigned reading and be challenged by the concepts and the language within the writing. These books, Feed and Robopocalypse, were chosen for a reason, not by random choice. If you do not want your child to read the book, let your child read the alternative reading but leave my child alone. I believe these high school students, these young adults, can handle it.

See more at Hardin Valley STEM reading assignment stirs up controversy.

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American Library Association List of Books People Tried to Ban in 2010

In our enlightened world, people are still trying to ban books. The American Library Association (ALA) has just released its list of the 10 books which Americans tried hardest to ban in 2010.

  1. "And Tango Makes Three" by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
    Reasons: Homosexuality, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group
  2. "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: Offensive language, Racism, Sex Education, Sexually Explicit, Unsuited to Age Group, Violence
  3. "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley
    Reasons: Insensitivity, Offensive Language, Racism, Sexually Explicit
  4. "Crank" by Ellen Hopkins
    Reasons: Drugs, Offensive Language, Sexually Explicit
    Note: Crank is available for the Kindle
  5. "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins
    Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Unsuited to Age Group, Violence
    Note: The Hunger Games is also available for the Kindle
  6. "Lush" by Natasha Friend
    Reasons: Drugs, Offensive Language, Sexually Explicit, Unsuited to Age Group
    Note: Lush (Kindle version)
  7. "What My Mother Doesn’t Know" by Sonya Sones
    Reasons: Sexism, Sexually Explicit, Unsuited to Age Group
    Note: What My Mother Doesn’t Know (Kindle version)
  8. "Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America" by Barbara Ehrenreich
    Reasons: Drugs, Inaccurate, Offensive Language, Political Viewpoint, Religious Viewpoint
    Note: Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America (Kindle Version)
  9. "Revolutionary Voices" edited by Amy Sonnie
    Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit
  10. "Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer
    Reasons: Religious Viewpoint, Violence
    Note: Twilight (Kindle version)

Do you agree or disagree? What books would you ban?

The State of America’s Libraries Report documents trends in library usage and details the impact of library budget cuts, technology use and the various other challenges facing U.S. libraries. The full report is available at [Source, American Library Association]

DayRiffer, Cowardly New World
Guardian, Brave New World among top 10 books Americans most want banned
American Library Assciation, "And Tango Makes Three" waddles its way back to the number one slot as America’s most frequently challenged book

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Kindle – Killing paper books forever

I’ve declared for some time now that we are in the midst of a revolution and no one realizes it. That revolution is the death of books. Much like CDs replaced LP records in the early 80s, we will look back at this time and say that in the 2010s electronic books replaced paper books. Paper books will become the thing of collectors. It will take 20 years to realize this as the Kindle and the Apple iPad work their way into schools. Once we get one generation of children through the school system primarily reading text books on e-readers instead of paper, traditional books will die.

I was going to buy a Kindle at the beginning of the week but Amazon was conveniently "temporarily out of stock." I did not realize this meant that Amazon was releasing a new Kindle at only $139! They also improved the contrast on their $189 model (the one interesting me but I was reluctant because I wanted the contrast of the $379 model). Amazon is taking pre-orders to ship on August 27th. I can’t wait!

Update: Did you know you can buy the Barnes & Noble NOOK ebook reader (WiFi + 3G) on Amazon? And the Sony Digital Reader? Note that each are a pound while the 6 inch Kindle is 8 ounces. And of course the Apple iPad Tablet (64GB, Wifi) which weighs in at a pound and a half.

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Knox County Schools – Your lack of creativity astounds me

Yesterday my middle schooler came home with a permission slip for a school field trip to Dollywood with a catch: The price is $43 and only the first 75 students to return a check and signed permission slip get to go. That’s not right! Additionally, the field trip will not allow the students on the water rides because Knox County Schools got all trippy after the death of a student at the waterfall 6 years ago. Yes that was a tragedy but we should have learned from the failings of supervision at that trip and continued water related activities but instead Knox County Schools decided bubble wrapping the children will protect them. Guess what? That won’t protect them either. I suppose Knox County Schools is assuming that of the 2.5 million visitors to Dollywood, our trip will be the one where highly inspected, super safety protected, engineered to simulate danger in the most cautionary way, equipment will fail at the same time all the trained and licensed lifeguards happen to be taking smoke breaks. It could happen! Denying water rides at a theme park? That’s not right! Can we make it better? What about not allowing digital cameras? Yes! Let’s prevent our children from the memorializing their time with their friends by not allowing them to take pictures. Granted, the school is afraid of being responsible for loss, theft or damage to a digital camera. Well guess what Sherlock! If I send a digital camera to school with my child and he loses it, that’s between him and me. I have an old digital camera sitting on my desk wasting away. If it got lost I’m out nothing. Of course, you want me to go buy an antique point and shoot disposable camera that is limited to 24 shots and cost an arm and a leg to print some thumbs over lenses. Brilliant! No wonder our children lag behind. Banning cameras? That’s not right! Eventually we will ban, regulated, lock up, and overprotect ourselves to being scared to death. What will you deny then? Don’t be scared or we’ll suspend you! Well guess what? That’s not right!

Oh, and today, my son brought home a permission slip for the band field trip. Guess where they’re going? Dollywood! (different day) That’s not right! For all the wonderful things we have in East TN, can our schools find nothing fun and mind expanding for our children? Oh, no, of course not; Knox County Schools is too worried about my digital camera. That’s not right!

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Just want to play with the children today

I want to be building forts, playing games, and laughing with the children today. My brain isn’t working at full capacity today. But I remain focused on my work because before I can play with my children, I must provide for them.

Parents are obliged to provide food, shelter, clothing, medical care, education, and spiritual development for their children. Theoretically, each of those should have equal importance. In reality, they have to be prioritized based on the situation at the time. Single parents amaze me. I do not know I would manage a family without Cathy! That is not entirely true. If I were a single parent, I would build a support system around myself of friends, family and services. As a matter of fact, we have such a support system already. I imagine that as a single parent I would have to use that support system a little heavier.

It is difficult to meet any of those obligations without money. Unfortunately, the amount of money you make/have is rather proportional to the quality of care you can provide your children. That is not to imply that a poor person is a bad parent or cannot give their child a quality education; however, a greater amount of money makes it easier to provide quality services. For instance, food choices are often governed by making ends meet. The quality of services you receive at the doctor’s office can be determined by your insurance carrier. I have observed people on TennCare having longer waits than people on private insurance. Those on TennCare may get interns while those with private insurance get the nurses and doctors. Money definitely impacts the quality of shelter which can be provided. Quality clothing can be had from consignment stores, hand me downs, and sales; however, money may determine how often clothing is purchased. Even spiritual development can be impaired by money problems since time to give spiritual guidance has to be allocated to earning money.

Whoops. This post was supposed to be about how much I love my children. Didn’t mean to slip into "I want to see poverty abolished" (even if I do).

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We asked to be heard; tonight is our chance!

Do you care for the future of education in Knox County? We have asked that the citizens be heard in choices like rezonings and choosing a school superintendent. They are now willing to listen!

Knox County residents are invited this week to share their suggestions on what characteristics the school system’s new superintendent needs.

And the school board has been told to stay away.

[Source,, Residents’ input sought on superintendent]

I personally think the superintendent needs to come from outside of Knox County and maybe far from TN where local politics and good ol’ boy relations will not be an influence. I want someone making decisions that are right for our children and not because of politics or helping a buddy out.

Don’t forget to attend the superintendent search forums tonight (11/26) at either Austin East or Central High School auditoriums, beginning at 7:00 pm.

Additional forums will be held Tuesday, 11/27/07, at South Doyle and Bearden High School auditoriums, also at 7:00 pm.

[Source,, ]

This is very important! Make the time to voice your opinion please.

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Schools want emotionless zombies

First we ban tag because playing tag causes physical and emotional injury and now we are giving girls detention for hugging because it violates the school policy banning public displays of affection!

Megan’s mother, Melissa Coulter, said the embraces weren’t even real hugs — just an arm around the shoulder and slight squeeze.

District Superintendent Sam McGowen said that he thinks the penalty is fair…
[The student handbook] states: "Displays of affection should not occur on the school campus at any time. It is in poor taste, reflects poor judgment, and brings discredit to the school and to the persons involved."
[Source, MSNBC

What kind of poor, scarred adult wrote that handbook?! I want my children to hug! I want them to hug their friends. I want the elementary school teachers to hug my children when they fall down on the playground. Touch is important for emotional development.

An example of this can be seen in early childhood development of infants who respond and attach themselves to the adults who love and are responsible for them. In the magazine American Baby it states, “What’s usually the fastest way to soothe a crying baby? Snuggle together while gently stroking him. Your touch has an amazing power to communicate love” (Wu, 2004). [Source, Debbie Cluff, Emotional Development and the Self Esteem in Children]

Touch is one of the five love languages. We need to encourage touch for healthy people and a healthy society! We need to move beyond the sensationalism we hear and read in the news and quit assuming every adult is out to assault our children. Hug frequently!