Thursday, March 9, 2017

Going Down?

I literally laugh out loud with Nashville Schools and their obsession With STEM. They have outdated equipment, poorly trained Teachers, and my personal favorite no high speed internet access in their schools. But keep shoving that STEM down our throats as I said earlier, the exchange I had with my Lyft driver regarding career professions had little or nothing to do with technology or higher order thinking skills and professions that require them.

I sit here today in a Business Class as the Teacher is taking kids on a company shadowing field trip to introduce them to careers in fields that few if any will reach. I am quite realistic with my assessment, I am in the schools and it is again like nothing I have ever experienced.

Two kids were discussing Harvard. They did not know where it was or that even that Barack Obama is an alumnus of their law school. And this comes after me telling them that Harvard is now eliminating the LSAT for admission to their Law School and instead relying on the GRE. Either way its money that matters, grades, connections and the ability to pass the bar will truly be the measure if that change matters.

And their ignorance about Harvard, the Ivy League or anything outside of Tennessee or the immediate region is neither shocking nor surprising. I think Al Gore is the last of the noted grads of the Ivies. And again this story about a local girl, Vanderbilt grad and Harvard Grad being unable to be a Principal in Nashville Public Schools. I've said it repeatedly they do no trust outsiders including even when their own come back despite it.  They truly suspect anyone outside their own world view and this article I think describes the conundrum of the South - perceptions vs reality.

Or this story about the Memphis kid of color accepted to all they Ivy's among others with the "story" that they did not offer financial aid and that was the reason behind his decision to go to Alabama. If you believe that I have a bridge to sell you. A child of color with that academic background, high test scores would be easily granted full scholarships if not by the University but by any other fellowship or endowment program affiliated with said school. The story simply doesn't ring true as most do in the South. And why were none of the schools called and asked about this? Again missing information is key to informed decisions. And while he made an informed decision I question the validity behind it.

Poverty runs deep here and my driver said this morning that it is deep as the denial that runs with it. No one here wants to believe how truly segregated they are and all of it is socieo-economic with the aspects of race built in. It is something to experience to fully understand but even the poor kids truly don't recognize anything outside of their very small world view.

So when every Government official decides to make a mark and pick a stand, Education is always reliable. And Haslam that was his. But in reality little has been done to actually attain anything close. Then we have the focus on technology, attempting to have some odd belief that we are the Silicon Valley the South.

Already one program designed to do just that failed under audit and we have these interesting stats:

In 1997 the Tennessee General Assembly passed and then-Gov. Don Sundquist signed into law an act creating the Tennessee Technology Development Corporation (TTDC), which has done business under during most of the Haslam Administration as "Launch Tennessee," and is a nonprofit agent of the Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD).

Venture Nashville research has, thus far, turned up no recent data or econometric reports that reflect longitudinal evaluations of the State of Tennessee's progress on innovation and commercialization fronts -- but, there have been reports from independent sources.

For instance: The State New Economy Index, published by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF). The report ranks states by a broad range of metrics, with considerable weight accorded development of intellectual property and commercialization.

For 1999, ITIF calculated Tennessee's new-economy ranking as 31st among the 50 states. Fifteen years later (2014), ITIF ranked Tennessee 40th. TTDC/LaunchTN's first full year of operation was 1999.

More recently, ITIF reported that for each 1,000 Tennessee workers, 1.4 patents were filed during the period studied, versus the nation's 3.7 patents filed per 1,000 workers. During 2012-15, Tennessee ranked 37th in patents filed per 1,000 workers and ranked 41 in science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) workers as a share of total workers, ITIF reported last November.

So in other words we are progressing downward. In that time frame the Mayor of Nashville, Karl Dean, focused on one industry - tourism. The building of a new convention center, auditoriums, large facilities was his contribution. Infrastructure, housing, wages and livability is all about the trickle down belief of economics. Wages have in fact also declined in that same time frame, stagnating and averaging 42K. Again degree holders parallel the same as the state at 30% and it would be those driving patents, inventions and in turn business and in turn wages. Nope, care for some Sweet Tea with that biscuit?

And the same goes for the issue surrounding now TrumpCare as Tennessee refused to expand Medicaid and it appears that we will be getting less to cover even more given how they constantly repeat that 100's are moving here daily. Are they moving here with health care?
The bill dramatically reshapes the Medicaid program, known as TennCare in Tennessee. It would transition Medicaid from the federal match funding mechanism that is in place to a per capita program in which the state would get a lump sum per enrollee.

A per capita cap is Gov. Bill Haslam's preference over a block grant, which is a set allotment to the state to run TennCare for a period of time, regardless of enrollment. A change to the funding mechanism, however, means states would have to make decisions on who or what benefits to cover. Right now, TennCare covers pregnant women, children and some people who are are disabled. Children are usually much cheaper to cover than other groups.

The amount of money promised to nonexpansion states, which includes Tennessee, is $10 billion spread over five years to help the state and hospitals that didn't get additional reimbursement from putting people into a broader coverage. However, the $10 billion is far less than what the state would have received had it expanded Medicaid during 2014-16, said Paul Keckley, a health insurance and policy expert who is editor of The Keckley Report.

This from an Editorial by a local Physician in The Tennessean (if Trump wants to attack Journalists, start here):

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities states 526,000 Tennesseans could lose insurance coverage by 2019 with full ACA repeal. This will largely affect families dependent on marketplace subsidies, and will also jeopardize the 2.8 million Tennesseans who have pre-existing conditions.

Nearly 15 percent of adult Tennesseans have diabetes, and medical expenses for diabetics are 2.3 times higher than those without the disease. If they are insulin dependent, how will they pay for it to live another 24 hours?

The recent Smoky Mountains fires impacted thousands. Can they self-fund health insurance or contribute spare cash to a health savings account amidst the devastation?

The 2015 median Tennessee household income was $45,219, according to federal statistics. Who wouldn’t struggle, in general?

The Volunteer State’s core value of caring for each other is threatened by our leaders’ decisions.

Both U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker recklessly voted in favor of the budget resolution with no formal plans to replace the ACA, although Alexander claims final repeal should only occur “when there are concrete practical reforms in place.” Corker even submitted an amendment to allow more time to design replacement plans, but withdrew it.

They voice restraint moving forward, aware of the damage for Tennesseans if repeal occurs without a replacement, but their shoot first, ask questions later blow to vital funding is far from cautious. The ACA has valid criticisms, but setting up a full repeal without well-constructed legislation to care for us in the mean time is negligent.

Well we could always just pray. Jesus is big here!

And if Trump comes next week as announced I am not sure what to expect. This town is not big on anything other than in size and hence the ACA is needed. The reality is that most people here don't vote. They don't. And this is what we ended up with. And what we will unless we teach people critical thinking skills.

Won't be happening here anytime soon, says the Education Governor Haslam. If this is his best god forbid his worst.

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