Monday, January 29, 2018

Another List Another Bottom

Once again Nashville hits a bottom 10 list and of course it is about the schools.  I just finished an article in The Washington Post  about supplemental positions in schools (Nurses, Custodians, Instructional Assistants/Translators, etc)and how they are underpaid which in turn makes many of these highly in demand and needed positions akin to a Walmart employee, relying on public assistance and multiple jobs just to make ends meet.

Here in the "It" City, what "It" is could be a matter of debate,  and I have my own definition and it does not mean Amazon is coming here.  But that is for another blog post.

Public Education across the state lacks, in Williamson County, supposedly one of the most "richest" counties in the Country (sure okay let's see the numbers there) is struggling to fund schools and build new ones.  This has led to the debate that Brentwood a town in said county wanting to separate and create an independent school district in order to adequately support the school system the residents demand.

Here in Davidson County our school district is the entire county which includes all school in Nashville and in turn towns outside the city limits that encompasses the growing county thanks to the growth in Nashville. In other words we need a two district system, county and city in which to adequately address needs, service their communities and make policies and have funding that supports schools.   I also want to point out that in Davidson our elected school board also oversees Charter schools and they too are on the list of failing schools,  but they are not accountable to the actual City nor State as they fall into a grey whole of weirdness thanks to Legislators who love this faux system of racial and economic segregation that these schools provide.

So when I read the list I was familiar with many of the schools and had experienced first hand the situations that exist in all of them.   One on the list was the first school I ever subbed at and the few times I returned I just felt bad for all involved.  The last time was for a Teacher who had left after allegedly slamming a door on a student's hand.     I was surprised that another school that had been in the news of late for increased violence was not, go figure.  Oh wait they have a faux cohort of advanced kids tucked away in there as they feed into the two highly acclaimed Magnets here.   Trust me many of said "magnets" are broken but if you have enough kids that can alter the test scores enough to push a bump up you avoid the list.  That is how this is rigged and why data can be misleading.

The other flag was that many of  these are schools currently on the substitute alternative school list via Education Solution Services Supported Schools Those are the schools that are now outsourced to a private agency to place subs.  ESS has a million dollar contract to place subs and in turn make 20 dollars an hour over the standard sub wage billed out.  Frankly I  would be willing to go any of these schools if they paid me the same as hazard pay versus paying an agency to do the same.  I bet the quality of placements are top notch there given the lack of training, experience or licensing needs. Sure put idiots into high risk situations and I bet that works out!

Substitutes are the bus boys of schools and fall into an even more lower paid category - the daily temp worker.  We are not paid when Schools are closed as they were for a week over a snow day schedule (again Nashville the city itself not affected but as they bus most of the kids across the city and county and bus drivers also the lower paid on the rung will not drive due to safety reasons as only major roadways were they clear); Nor are we paid/working when school is out for any scheduled planning/training days nor holidays and closures for the summer.  Full time contracted staff are paid for 10 months (yes 10 months idiots who think they have summer off but they can collect pay over a 12 month cycle if they choose) as well as have sick leave and personal days.  But  there is little incentive to remain a Substitute without a second income and frankly there is no incentive period. 

When I write about my experiences in said schools, I don't name the schools that I have been to as there is nothing to gain from such; however,  I have written about most of them and they are a matter of a "Google"  away from finding out all kinds of good stuff  and information for the diligent.  I just talk about my experiences on that day, in that situation, and that school as a means of venting and of course noting my observations.  I also know that I will find and see more as I cross the district, the city and the county.  Uh, now I don't have to do that  thanks to this list!   **(But for the record some I will as I know the school, the kids and I know how to handle myself, the dog you know as they say)

Imagine you are working at one of these schools or your family is attending one. How would you feel being at the bottom? Then we have the feeder issue.  Some of the elementary schools feed directly into the same middle schools and then into the same high schools so there is a trajectory in which to follow that can lend to tracing the problems, having a staff that works as a cohesive team to build relationships to identify and resolve problems and in turn fix them early on.  Then we have some that are missing links and why is that?  In other words kids who move from a non/flagged elementary into a not/flagged middle school then what?  Or kids who move from a flagged middle school into a not flagged high school?  It gets confusing kids and means putting those special collars you use for dogs on kids I guess.

Well kids this is Nashville and they love their lists, this one, however, not so much.  Will anything change?  Nope


2017 Cusp list


Twenty-one Nashville schools were listed in the bottom 5 percent of all in the state in terms of academics during the 2016-17 year. In addition, the city's two Achievement School District-run charters — LEAD Public Schools' Neely's Bend and Brick Church middle — are also in the bottom 5 percent. 
  • Napier Elementary
  • The Cohn Learning Center
  • Kirkpatrick Elementary
  • Joelton Middle
  • Cumberland Elementary
  • Warner Elementary
  • Maplewood High
  • Wright Middle
  • Haynes Middle
  • Tom Joy Elementary
  • Jere Baxter Middle
  • Alex Green Elementary
  • Neely's Bend Middle
  • Bellshire Elementary
  • Madison Middle
  • Amqui Elementary
  • Robert E. Lilliard Elementary
  • Moses McKissack Middle
  • Pearl-Cohn High
  • McMurray Middle
  • Paragon Mills Elementary
As well, 20 Nashville schools were included in the bottom 5 to 10 percent of all schools in the state.
  • Whites Creek High
  • Rosebank Elementary
  • Antioch Middle
  • Gra-Mar Middle
  • Buena Vista Elementary
  • Caldwell Elementary
  • Robert Churchwell Elementary
  • Shwab Elementary
  • Smithson Craighead Academy
  • Stratford STEM Magnet School
  • Charlotte Park Elementary
  • John F. Kennedy Middle
  • Margaret Allen Middle
  • Goodlettsville Middle
  • Rocketship Nashville Northeast Elementary
  • Neely's Bend Elementary
  • McGavock Elementary
  • East Nashville Middle
  • Tusculum Elementary
  • Glencliff High
** Since I wrote this today two of the schools on this list found two students with guns on campus. The District seem to be proud that they found said guns as if that is something to be proud of. I frequently remind myself about how locked up the schools are and that I wonder if they are doing it to keep us safe or locking us in to ensure we are not.  Again, I have long said I have never felt safe in many of the schools and I have been to both and this does not surprise me in the least.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Uh, I live here

Okay when I read this in the New York Times I thought what the fuck?  This was so touristy and so boring I realized that Nashville is killing itself to be a Class A city when it will always be a Tier B one but hey keep at it as those who live here want it.  Well not all of the residents but the transplants who are not morons and/or racist.

But to review this review I have actually only been to one of the places mentioned, The Ryman. Uh for the record they only do the Opry shows during the holidays the rest of the year they are at Opryland which is just South and East in Opry Mills but okay.  The Ryman for all of its sight issues is not a bad place but I will say the main floor has real problems when you are under the balcony.  But I love it and yet we have perhaps the best Symphony Hall I have ever been in, The Schemerhorn, which hosts many concerts year round and that is a must see.

Then we have the food options.  Been to none of them.  Let's keep it that way.  Hot chicken is everywhere and frankly there is a Prince's just down the road off Nolensville with fewer lines and the same chicken.   Again, there is no shortage of it. It is hot. Same with meat and three's.

When the show Nashville finally ends it short and overplayed life perhaps The Bluebird will be just what it is, a dump in a strip mall.  If you want a singer songwriter night frankly the Holiday Inn Commodore Room just up the West End is as good and not as touristy.

Then he stayed in Murfreesboro which is nowhere near Nashville but home of MTSU and is a good 30 minutes away from the "action" of lower Broad so add the commute time to the visit.  This guy had it going on that is for sure, he should move here he would fit right in. 

When I think of all the interesting things in Nashville there are to do, to eat to see it is good to know that regardless people want the same ole same ole.  Don't tell anyone in Nashville they want this city to be one - a city.



In Affordable Nashville, Grain Bowls, Hot Chicken and Blistering Guitars

There’s always the music, of course, from the Opry to hideaways like Santa’s Pub. The food is memorable, too, including Indian-Southern fusion.


By Lucas Peterson
The New York Times
Travel 
Jan. 24, 2018


“Folsom Prison Blues,” the 1955 Johnny Cash classic, isn’t exactly a deep cut — anyone with even a passing familiarity with country music has heard it. So when the Don Kelley Band tore into the opening riff at the beginning of their set at Robert’s Western World — one of many honky-tonks on a brightly lit neon strip of Broadway in downtown Nashville — I nodded my head and tapped my feet along with the other hundred or so people in the joint. It was the musical equivalent of comfort food — nothing too surprising or challenging. I wasn’t quite ready for what happened next.

Luke McQueary, a skinny 17-year-old in a plaid Western-style shirt, stepped to the front of the stage and, instead of delivering the workmanlike guitar break I was expecting, set the stage aflame with a blistering solo I would have expected from someone twice his age and experience. It was no fluke — the virtuosity continued during the following song, performed with an earnest, almost Hendrix-like showmanship. I half expected someone to come out from the wings, wrap a robe around him, and help him off the stage, à la James Brown.

I was surprised, but I shouldn’t have been. A place nicknamed “Music City” has a reputation to uphold, and Nashville was more than ready to exceed my expectations. A mecca for talented musicians, Tennessee not only has more high-quality live music than you could ever hope to enjoy, but top-notch dining — both traditional Southern cooking and contemporary twists on old standards. It’s a great location for those on a budget, too — I scarcely noticed the damage to my wallet after a four-night trip there in November.

That area of Broadway is a little like the Las Vegas Strip or Bourbon Street: crowded and touristy, but fun in small doses. I visited there with my friend Halena Kays, with whom I crashed in nearby Murfreesboro, a suburb southeast of the city. We ended up at Robert’s Western World accidentally, as our plans to have dinner at nearby Merchants Restaurant, on the corner of Broadway and Fourth Avenue South, had hit a snag — the place was booked solid. No matter: We grabbed a $4 fried bologna sandwich (imagine a BLT — now imagine it twice as salty) and a couple of $4.25 Miller Lites at the honky-tonk while we listened to the aforementioned band.

I soon received a text that a table had opened up and we walked over to Merchant’s. The place effectively operates as two restaurants, a pricier steak and seafood restaurant on the second floor, and a less expensive, modern southern bistro on the ground floor. We opted for the latter and grabbed a booth in the bright, spacious dining room. The fried green tomatoes ($11) were spot-on, and the Nashville Caesar salad with cornbread croutons ($12), and a pulled pork sandwich ($13) were satisfying. One nice thing: When they saw we were sharing everything, they were happy to split the dishes into separate portions.

That strip of Broadway is just a stone’s throw from Ryman Auditorium, an indelible piece of Nashville history that belongs on every to-do list, especially if the Grand Ole Opry happens to be in residence. The Opry, an artistic home to country musicians since it began in 1925, takes place primarily at Opryland, about 25 minutes northeast of downtown. But if you can, see the show at the Ryman, home to the show from 1943-1974, which sometimes still hosts the Opry. The building itself is a relic — opened in 1892 as the Union Gospel Tabernacle, it earned the moniker “Mother Church of Country Music.” Near the back steps of its hallowed halls, Halena and I passed a young street performer with an amazing voice crooning a song I didn’t recognize. In Nashville, even the buskers have exceptional talent.

Tickets aren’t terribly cheap — the premium seats run close to $100 — but there’s a slight workaround. I picked up the cheapest tickets I could find: Two obstructed view seats for $48 apiece. (I also checked StubHub and other second-hand ticket sites; they weren’t helpful.) I was expecting to sit smack in front of a column — I wasn’t. The seats, on the main floor, right in the middle of the auditorium, were perfect. And while there was a thin pole in my line of sight, it didn’t bother me at all.

Onto the show — the Opry was one of the most pleasurable music performances I’ve attended in recent memory. After grabbing a $9 draft beer, we found our seats to the din of audience chatter and the buttery baritone of the evening’s announcer and M.C., Eddie Stubbs. The Opry functions simultaneously as a live radio show, broadcast on 650 AM WSM. If you’re familiar with public radio’s “Live from Here” (the show formerly known as “A Prairie Home Companion”), it functions in a similar way. Different acts come on and play just two or three songs — while that’s happening, the next act is hanging out in the wings, which gives the show a casual, collegial quality.

An announcer’s podium is set up stage right, along with different producers and assistants working on their laptops — bands tune their instruments, guests chatter and banter with Mr. Stubbs, who also functions as an impeccable straight man, and the audience groans and chuckles while cheesy ad copy is read during the breaks. It’s a ton of fun. And then, of course, there’s the music.

“Connie Smith, ladies and gentlemen, the Rolls-Royce of country singers,” announced Mr. Stubbs, who then motioned for us to applaud. Traditional crooners like Ms. Smith were in the house, as was fresh-faced young man named William Michael Morgan, who played his debut single “I Met a Girl” (“He ain’t been off the teat long,” quipped Mike Snider, one of the other musicians).

Having discovered my inner country music fan, I stopped by the Country Music Hall of Fame ($25.95, but only $14 after 4 p.m; the museum closes at 5 p.m.) to continue my education. It’s easy to get lost in the overwhelming amount of history and information — but make sure you don’t miss, among other relics, Carl Perkins’s blue suede shoes (yes, those blue suede shoes), Elvis’s gold Cadillac (complete with refrigerator and swivel-mounted color TV) and some of Chet Atkins’s old guitars, including his first, a Sears Silverstone.

But there’s no substitution for live music. I made my way to the Bluebird Cafe, a popular, intimate venue that features local and established acts. Tickets are, well, extremely difficult to come by (it’s been showcased on the television show “Nashville”). They’re released weekly by the venue and space is tight, which means you have to be both lightning quick and lucky to nab a seat. If you’re in, you’re golden — tickets typically run in the $20 to $30 range. Cafe workers supposedly monitor Craigslist and ticket sites to crack down on scalping. If you’re not fortunate enough to snag online tickets (the likely case), you can wait in a queue that approaches the “Hamilton”-esque for one of 10 or so same-day tickets. I showed up at 7:30 one evening and the man at the door stifled a laugh. “Yeah, you’re not gonna make it in,” he said.

Down but not out, I headed over to Bransford Avenue to Santa’s Pub, a bar housed in a trailer that does live music on Sundays. After showing my ID to a man with a huge beard (was that Santa?), I headed inside, the top of my head almost brushing the ceiling of the double-wide. “No Cussin’, No Beer, No Cigarettes” read a sign on the back wall. Well, I counted all three. The place was cramped and smoky, like any respectable dive bar, and the beer was cold and cheap ($2 for a Pabst Blue Ribbon). The band, a five-piece outfit called Santa’s Ice Cold Pickers, was tight — their rendition of Ray Price’s “Crazy Arms” had me humming along.

Another highly enjoyable show I attended was at the Basement East, on the other side of the Cumberland River in East Nashville. The venue was decidedly less intimate than Santa’s or Bluebird, but I couldn’t complain about the program — a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young tribute show, with proceeds benefiting Autism Speaks. For $10 (plus $2 service fee) I was treated to a Murderer’s Row of young, local talent. Highlights included Jesse Lynn Madera performing a lovely cover of “Don’t Let It Bring You Down” and Amber Woodhouse leading the excellent house band in a stirring rendition of “For What It’s Worth.”

While music is unquestionably the star of the Nashville scene, there are exceptional eats to enjoy between shows. Hot chicken, which has seen its star rise over the last decade, is one of the biggest attractions. I loved my crispy-skinned, exhilaratingly spicy leg quarter from Prince’s Hot Chicken ($5) which has no equal, in my opinion. But it also took an hour of waiting in line. It took no time to get my order at Pepperfire, another worthwhile hot chicken joint less than 10 minutes away from Prince’s. There, I dug into a Tender Royale, a spicy, deep-fried cheese sandwich topped with three chicken tenders ($12.49) with a strong, cumin-forward profile.

For those looking for a complete Southern meal, Arnold’s Country Kitchen is the place to find it. The classic meat-and-three (main course and three side dishes) runs just $10.74 for a huge tray full of food. I had a plate of thinly shaved roast beef with mac and cheese, tender greens and powerfully smoky pinto beans. Cafe Roze, a place with slightly healthier fare from New York-transplant Julia Jaksic, does a mean grain bowl called the Roze Bowl ($14) with beet tahini, black lentils and quinoa. And then there’s the happy hour at Chauhan Ale and Masala House, an Indian-Southern food fusion restaurant, where I got an order of lamb keema papadi nachos with a tamarind chutney ($6) that I still think about weeks after the fact.

But Nashville’s power to disarm and delight remains rooted in its music. When I attended the Opry, two guys who go by the handle LoCash strutted onto the stage in what came as the biggest surprise of the night. At first glance, LoCash seemed to epitomize the slick twang of everything I don’t particularly enjoy about modern country music — impeccably crafted facial hair, power chords and tacky clothes. Halena grabbed my arm, and I braced myself for awfulness.

Boy, was I wrong; these guys were fantastic performers. Within minutes, they had me and the rest of the audience eating out their hands — clapping and singing along to a song I’d never heard before. I don’t know if their exceedingly catchy “I Love This Life” will go down in the annals of country music’s great songs. But it was easily the most fun four minutes of the trip, and had me unironically singing the refrain the entire car ride home: I love a Friday night — man, I love this life.

Justice Restored

I find it amusing that our own Criminal Justice system is flawed without any idea on how to repair and our schools have long been labeled as the school to prison pipeline so naturally the idea is to stave off that flow by offering a better plan in which to accomplish said goal.  That has fallen under the concept of "Restorative Justice."

As a City who is embracing said standard I sort of laugh that in this case the adage "Charity begins at home" might apply.  Right now we have a close friend and resource to our current Superintendent being charged with four counts of Perjury.  Whoops.    We had two recent resignations/retirements du to Sexual Harassment and one of the accused decided on the way out the door to lay down some allegations of his own with regards to the districts hiring policies.  Hell hath no fury y'all!

This week I went to a school that is using rewards and tickets for instilling quality behavior so every classroom has monetary incentives spelled out that kids can earn an in turn purchase many options from candy to no homework as ways to encourage and develop what is called "Positive Behavior" or the current acronym craze PBIS.

 That in my day was called Carrot and Stick and I recall when I discussed this very option at a School when I was interviewed for a job (in Seattle) I saw the exchange of glances between the two women and knew immediately that I would not be hired.  Well guess that might be because I did not use the appropriate language and in today's climate it is what words you use not the content of them.

Millennials are obsessed with words.  Shut up is upsetting where as shut the fuck up even worse! Sorry but saying to a kid you need to shut up is not the same but what.ever. Tone, manner, non verbal cues should all be a part of the discipline process and how many of you have observed those mixed messages yourself and isn't that all part of the current wave of confusion with regards to sexual abuse and harassment?

I have heard and personally experienced Teachers and Administrators bending over backwards to believe students when they accuse, excuse and justify their behavior often blaming the authority figures as the reason they are the problem.  Funny how that works out when the allegations are serious as in the case of sexual abuse with regards to Larry Nassar then it was hands off unless of course you were Larry Nassar who actually abused the girls in the presence of their parents/guardians. That is some type of arrogance and superiority that transcends reality.

So what we know here is that restorative justice is selective justice and mirrors the reality of the larger system it emulates.

I have never seen anything like the micro management and rules that dominate schools here. Lines painted in the halls which students must follow in class change times.  Times for water, locker and bathroom breaks.  Yelling and constant reprimanding and verbal discipline demanding quiet and accommodations that include quiet at lunch with organized and in turn scheduled play time.  Food that is literally slop and then selling kids at break times sweets and junk food to satiate hunger and raise money for the school.  It is a bizarre contradiction that fairly dominates the Southern mentality.

Money is the driver of this bus here. ** On a side note**  Irony again, as they had a Mass Transit meeting Saturday at Belmont University that of course fear and loathing drove the conversation about expanding a system that is 20 years behind the times.  I read a Tweet from an attendee that summarized the event as one full of misinformation and emotionally false claims that led to nothing being achieved or in other words a standard public pandering session. I used to go to all of them until I realized that the decisions are made and unless the race card is thrown down with validation (as in the case of Ft. Negley as they had Archaeologists claim there are human remains there - no actual digging took place it was just the confirmation of it by smart white people that was enough to stop that bullshit plan).  

The are much like going to a Nashville Public School.  I walk into classroom after classroom that some are almost cookie cutter like in the way materials are taught and rooms are administered.  And why? Because that way the data that emerges, from test scores to discipline issues are achieved to the benchmarks set by the Principals and their Administrators.  Imagine you are rated as a Parent when your child chooses to have a meltdown in public and the next day the Cops arrive and take your kids because you were "observed" failing to properly discipline and manage your child.  Or you are a CEO and your pay is linked to all of the staff of the entire company's annual performance evaluations and in turn they were averaged, examined by a metric set by arbitrary standards by someone whom you have never met nor worked in your industry, done your job and your employees are actually in China and don't speak English.   Sure that works!

That describes the state of education in America and Nashville is ground zero for some of its most crazy arbitrary standards from testing to teaching evaluations.  I laughed at school choice organized this week at the Fairgrounds. Yes the school choices here in Nashville are so large the same fairgrounds where the monthly flea market, tractor pulls and car races are also held.  There is an average of 80 schools for parents in which to choose.  And of course families who work evenings, have child care issues, don't speak English rarely attend, cannot understand the data and metrics presented and of course comparing apples to oranges always works out.  And the best here is that the testing data is this year is new and the tests from the prior year were not the same, neither of them scored properly or actually evaluated correctly but sure. Or the current literacy program that just began in the start of the school year and has massive problems in roll out.  Or the STEAM program that well had both heads leave the district, one of his own volition the other... well.   Then we have schools that have had immense Teacher and Administrator turnover so the same agents for testing were not there the last year, the school is under-enrolled or has a larger portion of language learners or special education students or in the case of charters that do not take said students so they can alter the data to reflect a more strident cohort.   But the nice thing is that the classrooms with immense discipline, uniform policies and testing emphasis is coming to a school near you.

I did mostly Special Education gigs this week and was in a  SPED room this week that I had been in earlier in the year and since then they are on Teacher number three, some of the students have been switched or left, but it is still largely an Autism room with three children who are utterly unable to speak and seem to have no ways to communicate to the staff; then we have two kids with varying other needs and one clearly a discipline issue but could be mainstreamed to a lower grade to at least get some academic focus.  But the reality is that once again I witnessed a child who I believed was molested.  But again this is a challenging dilemma. She masturbates constantly and seems to gravitate to the other boy who is like her only less violent and she tries to masturbate him.  These are 12 year olds and of course with special needs the issue of sex education is difficult but her sexualized behavior demonstrated some experience and knowledge beyond self exploration.  I mentioned in passing to the instructional assistant and she said the Mother doesn't know why she does that as she doesn't do it at home. Hmm really?  Is she a patient of Dr. Nassar?  But there are so many other problems with this child -  She is extremely aggressive, violent outbursts pulling hair and hitting, trying to leave the room.    Again, this is common but with clear well established plans this could be handled.   I suggested weighted blankets as the most useful.  But  I have seen this sad chaos and confusion in many SPED rooms and again tone of voice and hand gestures can often stop this.   Getting the child to break the grip she had on my scarf was a matter of easily pressing on the wrist that I was familiar with from acupressure and in turn is not physical abuse in the least as you cannot rationalize with children who are not intellectually at the same level as their peers.

I just feel bad daily but this day I just walked out and thought never again.  I can go back to the school but not for this room as it is too upsetting.  The other members of the team and the school are aware of the depth of the problems but again how aware they are about some of the behaviors I am not sure, I dropped the pearl and left it at that.  But we all know that is room is not funded sufficiently from staff to tools necessary to make it work on a daily basis.

But that is in every classroom, mainstream or other wise.  The needs and demands of the students transcend any I have seen or experienced in my years in a classroom.  I laugh at the people in Seattle as they have no clue what real poverty is and what it does to a community at large as it does here in Nashville.  I walk in classrooms and pretend to give a shit but in my heart I just know this a temporary stop in life and my bus will come soon enough.  Just not on a Nashville street as they are afraid of buses.  Again race and money dictate all the beliefs and policies of the South.

I am afraid in the schools. And why they are dangerous places and guns are only part of it. Want to restore justice. Figure out that it is outside the doors that are the real problem and until you solve those you will be largely unsuccessful within in them.



Is Discipline Reform Really Helping Decrease School Violence?

A lack of concrete information about student misconduct—and how to address it—may be hindering efforts to make campuses safer.

Thomas Mukoya / Reuters
Sascha Brodsky Jun 28, 2016 Education The Atlantic

The allegations sound like a parent’s nightmare. Roughly two dozen children at New York City schools were hit, kicked, and bullied by fellow students while administrators stood by, according to a recent class-action lawsuit.

“The data we have seen shows a clear and undeniable escalation of violence in New York City schools,” said Jim Walden, an attorney for the plaintiffs in the suit, which is being backed by the charter-school advocacy group Families for Excellent Schools. The suit claims that the New York City Education Department isn’t doing enough to stop the violence.

The complaint details a litany of violent behavior. In one case, a 9-year-old boy in an East Harlem school was repeatedly bullied even when the teacher was in the classroom. The bully, according to the lawsuit, “repeatedly kicked him on his body, and verbally harassed him.” The boy’s mother tried to get the principal to intervene but was allegedly met with indifference.

The suit is among the signs of rising concern about violence in schools, partly driven by mass shootings like the one in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012. In response to such fears, school administrators are instituting a wide range of tactics to boost safety, including by installing metal detectors and hiring security guards. Schools are also turning to social-reform programs such as those that embrace the restorative-justice model, an approach that emphasizes bringing together the perpetrators and victims of misconduct through meetings and discussions.

But a lack of hard data and conflicting views on safety measures make it difficult to assess whether school violence is in fact increasing—and whether those measures are actually effective. Some observers worry that the absence of concrete information and confusion over the amount of violence in schools are hindering efforts to reduce violence and bullying.

Despite the concerns expressed by parents like those in the lawsuit, many experts say that the incidence of school violence is dropping. New York City school officials contend that violence on campus is on the decline, a trend that experts say is mirrored across the country.

At the local level, statistics on school violence can vary depending on the source. Walden pointed to state statistics showing that the number of violent episodes in New York City schools rose 23 percent from the 2013-14 school year to the one that ended in June 2015. But the New York City school administration uses police data showing that crime in the city’s schools declined 29 percent from the 2011–12 school year to the 2014–15 year. Some observers have said that the state data does not make a distinction between minor disciplinary problems in schools and more serious acts of violence and bullying. Critics also emphasize that the state data isn’t verified.

Nationally, though, most experts say it’s clear that school violence is on the decline even if that’s not the public perception. “In general, schools are far safer now than they were 20 years ago,” said Dewey Cornell, a clinical psychologist and education professor at the University of Virginia. “Every major study in recent years has shown that schools are much safer than the communities around them. Students are much more likely to be injured in restaurants than on school grounds.”

Stephen Brock, a professor at California State University, Sacramento, who has studied school violence, said that the pervasive media coverage of school shootings and other violence has led to misperceptions about danger in schools. “So much of this kind of news coverage has led many people to conclude that schools are horribly flawed, violent institutions,” Brock said. “But if you take a step back, what you will find is that the overall rate of violence in schools is declining.”

The 2015 Indicators of School Crime and Safety Report, an annual study produced by the National Center for Education Statistics released in May of this year, found that between 1992 and 2014, the number of students who were victims of crimes at school declined 82 percent, from 181 incidents per 1,000 students in 1992 to 33 incidents per 1,000 students in 2014.

Still, critics of such studies say that many are flawed because school violence is often underreported. An audit last year by the New York’s Office of the State Comptroller reviewed incidents of violence in 10 public schools in New York City and found that nearly one-third of all incidents went unreported. According to the review, school officials failed to include over 400 reportable incidents on forms that are used to tally incidents of violence, and many of the incidents that were reported were not correctly categorized.

Walden said that many school principals don’t report school violence in order to make their schools seem safer. Anne Gregory, a professor at Rutgers University who studies school discipline, also cited anecdotal evidence suggesting administrators underreport such incidents, but added that there have been no scientific studies showing such underreporting.

While most experts seem to agree that violence in schools is decreasing, less serious offenses, such as the bullying mentioned in the lawsuit, may be on the rise. Sixteen percent of students nationwide reported student bullying that occurred at least once a week at school, and 5 percent reported student verbal abuse toward teachers at least once a week, according to the Indicators of School Crime and Safety Report.

Just as school-violence rates are contentious, though, data on bullying trends are also subject to dispute. Experts caution that measuring the incidence of bullying can be difficult because the definition is sometimes unclear. As awareness of bullying has grown, more students are reporting incidents, Cornell said. That’s important, he added, particularly because “when we intervene with bullying, we have the potential to prevent more serious acts of violence.”

Then there’s the question of whether new efforts to improve school climate are actually effective. Even if violence is indeed declining, schools still aren’t entirely safe: About 65 percent of public schools recorded at least one violent incident in the 2013–14 academic year. Among the approaches gaining popularity is restorative justice, which encourages offenders to take responsibility for their actions and aims to help them avoid future offenses through mediation. How schools actually use restorative justice varies but a key component involves students and teachers sitting in a “restorative circle,” in which the student who has caused harm hears the views of peers.
“There is a lot of hard work to be done to make sure restorative justice works. You can’t just declare it’s the school policy.”

While many school districts are embracing restorative justice, there’s little hard data to show the approach is effective in reducing violence. Anecdotal evidence suggests that restorative justice can reduce violence in schools through exercises like group discussions that build empathy among students, Gregory said, but she and other education researchers are quick to say that there have been few carefully designed studies to back up these claims. By teaching problem-solving strategies as part of a restorative-justice program, schools can “head off fights that are brewing and other acts of violence,” she added.

In other countries that have established restorative-justice programs “there is a lot of evidence to show that when restorative-justice programs are implemented, suspension rates go down,” Gregory said. She pointed to New Zealand as an example. In 1989, the country redesigned its juvenile-justice system based on restorative-justice principles and has since“seen plummeting juvenile violence as well as arrest and incarceration rates,” Gregory added.

Chicago Public Schools have, unsurprisingly, seen a drop in suspensions since implementing restorative-justice practices; such tactics are often explicitly adopted as an alternative form of discipline. One report found that in the 2013–14 school year, 16 percent of high-school students received an out-of-school suspension, down from 23 percent in 2008–09. “There’s been enormous progress in reducing disciplinary problems in Chicago schools since we started practicing restorative justice,” said Nancy J. Michaels, the associate director of the Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation in Chicago.

In Los Angeles, restorative-justice programs have been hailed as a success for shrinking suspension rates, too. A recent report found that restorative-justice programs and other disciplinary initiatives have led to a 92 percent decrease in the number of days lost to suspensions. The city plans to establish restorative-justice programs in all schools by 2020.

In classrooms, however, not everyone is on board with the restorative-justice approach. In both Chicago and Los Angeles, some teachers have criticized the method for reducing their ability to maintain discipline. Some teachers have also complained that there hasn’t been enough training and resources available to correctly implement the new approach.

Schools, according to Gregory, are most effective in implementing restorative-justice practices when teachers are given enough instruction on how to use the approach. “There is a lot of hard work to be done to make sure restorative justice works,” she said. “You can’t just declare it’s the school policy.”

As part of his vow to avoid overly punitive discipline, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is funding pilot programs in restorative justice. Brady Smith, the principal of the James Baldwin School in Manhattan, said that restorative-justice practices have contributed to a decrease in disciplinary actions against students. “We hardly have any suspensions,” Smith said. He pointed to restorative-justice circles as among the most powerful tools. “Children in our society are so rarely given a chance to speak up,” Brady said.

At Ebbets Field Middle School in Brooklyn, which adopted restorative justice this past school year thanks to a grant from the Brooklyn Community Foundation, suspensions have dropped by more than 30 percent compared with the year before, according to Michelle Patterson Murray, an assistant principal at the school.* In touting the approach’s effectiveness, she cited a recent incident in which a student stole an item. “Rather than call her parents or apply for a suspension, we sat in a circle and talked about how her action damaged the trust of the community,” Patterson said.

Still, as New York and other cities jump onto the restorative-justice bandwagon, education researchers say carefully-designed studies need to be done to prove the approach’s effectiveness. Catherine Bradshaw, an education professor at the University of Virginia, is conducting a randomized study on the effects of restorative-justice practices on school discipline. The three-year study, funded by a $13 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, is looking at 40 schools in Maryland, 10 of which are using restorative justice. “There’s a lot of energy and buzz around” the practice, Bradshaw said. But, she added, “we can’t find effective ways to reduce violence without taking a systematic, scientific approach to understanding and evaluating the tools that we are using.”

Brock, of Cal State, said that it’s critical to educate the public and administrators on the level and type of violence occurring in schools. “Fear is not the answer. Facts are the answer,” he said. “Otherwise we are finding the wrong answers to the wrong problems.” Instilling a psychological sense of security in schools can be as important in ensuring school safety as physical measures like metal detectors, he continued. “If you create a place where kids feel that adults care about them as a person and want to connect with them, it increases the probability that if there is going to be act of violence, then adults will know about it and act to stop it.”

While many schools are trying to change the way they discipline students, others are spending millions on physical protection like security cameras and armed guards. But Brock warned that physical protection has its limits. He said that data from studies is inconclusive on whether such measures are effective in preventing violence.

“There is only so much you can do before a school becomes like a prison,” Brock said. “You have to make sure you aren’t inadvertently creating a space that is not conducive to learning.”






Friday, January 26, 2018

Church State

I have said that Tennessee is not a Democracy as we have the lowest voting turnout in the nation.  That can be attributed to our bizarre voting laws but in turn it also reflects a population utterly disengaged in civic responsibility.  WWJD?

Much is made of the religious right and their ability to mobilize and go from the pews to the ballot boxes, what was often called from the souls to the polls.  The current appointment of crazy Sam Brownback to the position of Religion Czar confirms that despite Trump's own fluid faith, his right hand, Mike Pence, is doing whatever he can to pursue an agenda that is right with Christ.   Praise Jesus!

Trump this week spoke via video to the life screamers, then Pence went to Israel to again remind the Jews that they are right with Christ despite killing him but hey we want to make up for our sitting out the mass genocide of Jews there in World War II so this should do it.  Peace no, a State for Palestine nope but a new embassy yes!   WWJD?

Meanwhile at the rich gig meetup in Davos Trump sort of kind of apologized for a tweeting a fake video that was fake unlike news that he tried to fire Muller to cease that Russian investigation that drives what little left of his mind crazy. Try prayer that is what the right claim cures illness.  That is why they don't believe in health care as it is personal moral failing why you are sick.  Praise Jesus!

As I have said it is law here that a Therapist can decline to see anyone seeking mental health counseling if they are LGBQT, unless it is for conversion therapy then game on!  Conversion therapy is of late an issue as more states are examining their laws that enable those to professed mental health services and churches to set up a Gay Camp to pray away the Gay.  Praise Jesus!

Again we have a candidate for Governor, Mae Beavers, (that is just one of many stories about the Beav) who can I just say leave it to Beaver when it comes to crazy shit about God and stuff.  She did not attend the Governor's debate about Education but I think I can answer her questions and that is all education should be non-secular and very very Christian as that will solve all the violence and issues here in Tennessee.  Praise Jesus!

But this gig is open right now along with the drug appointee for varying reasons.. one hating Muslim the other having a credibility problem.  Maybe Mae can get one of those as she has strong opinions about both.    Praise Jesus!

This morning one of our local news that I am sure is Christian based as many personal interest stories are heavily themed with Christian undertones.   When I pulled up the site I threw up my morning coffee.  Her business is basically maid service re branded as of course personal concierge but whatever. But this is not news this is an advertisement for a business that I would say that much of this message is subliminal here but nope. However the nice thing is that she makes it quite clear that her business is in fact founded in Christ and she even wants her employees to be equally vested:

Job Description: 

*We are currently seeking to hire Personal Assistants that live in the Green Hills, Sylvan Park, Woodbine or East Nashville area.

inJOY Personal Assistants work independently for up to 5 different clients on a weekly basis. Our Personal Assistants are expected to show up on time to their client's home, navigate new spaces and work efficiently to complete the client's to-do list. Personal Assistants are responsible for preparing meals, running errands, doing the laundry and dishes, tidying and organizing spaces for optimal functionality and small odd jobs like wrapping presents. We understand what makes a home run smoothly and have humble hearts to serve others in this capacity. This position is excellent for mothers with school aged children and women looking for part-time work.

Team Dynamic:
We are a team of Christian women who value diversity and desire to do all things well for His glory. We believe in pursuing our God-given dreams and understand that each stop along the way, has value and importance. We celebrate our differences and aim to share our talents while learning from one another. 

You...
  • Excel at multitasking
  • Can walk into a space and intuitively see what needs to be done to make it more functional
  • Are confident in the kitchen and have a wide range of recipe knowledge
  • Feel knowledgable about proper laundry etiquette
  • Are flexible and enjoy change
  • Are kind, personable, compassionate and an excellent listener
  • Understand how to take the initiative with little direction, but can also take direction well
  • Honor timeliness and reliability 
  • Have a reliable car
  • Do not smoke
  • Have a personal relationship with Christ

Yes I have a personal relationship with a man who is dead and may or may not be real or at least the stories about him as he may be a fictitious character sort of like Harry Potter but different.  Bu as they did not have published writing in those days nor a common language how were these miracles recorded for history?  But more importantly - What do they pay here? Oh wait I might be a Buddhist so will that rule me out. I have a Jewish friend or a Muslim friend can they work for you?  WWJD?

If cake bakers, florists, photographers and the like simply put this shit on the front door of their business or on their website I know who not to hire.  The same goes if a business says they support the NAACP or the ACLU, Greenpeace or Animal Rights then I am a customer for life.  Same diff. Praise Jesus!

Religion rules here, the Churches here buy long form advertising here and during the Sunday Morning news shows they run them as if they are some type of informative message that is part of the newscast.  No, it is utterly fake news!  Praise Jesus!

Then another story that claimed the shooting in Kentucky was due to violent videos, movies and music that leads young people down the wrong path.  Okay then not the guns nor the easy access to them at all?  Heard that before and the reality is that most shooting are in rural areas, not urban and are largely white children who pursue this course of action to resolve conflicts or assuage anger. WWJD?

Trump of course rarely comments on these shooting as they don't fit his message that it is brown people from bad shithole countries that cause violence.  If you recall the last terrorist act was a man in a van no gun needed.  Most of the terrorist acts often don't use guns they don't need to.

The tragedy of what I have learned since I moved to Nashville is that we have a massive problem with deliberate ignorance and a compulsion to see all failures as personal.  We use god and guns to absolve our anger and we believe that if you are rich you are smarter, better and more deserved than anyone else.  The concept of self absorption is something I see here on a daily basis in the schools and the children are just mirrors to the adults in their lives.  Again, yesterday a little girl stared at me in a classroom where I was the co-teacher so as I sat there and tried to engage just to not be bored, she spent the time rolling her eyes at the boy next to her, stared at me while covering her mouth and loudly talking about me.  I put a stop to that by asking her if that is what she needed to do to feel good about herself and in turn could I do that to her since she seemed to think it was okay, I could do it too, no?  She looked aghast as if she could not believe I actually was that stupid and then apologized.  And you think Trump is mentally ill? No he is just stupid and an asshole. What do you think his children are?  Hypocrites that much I do know.

What would Jesus do?  Hell if I know.  














Thursday, January 25, 2018

Doing Laundry

Growing up we had only a washing machine and hung our laundry outside on a closeline or along the basement on rolling lines that ran along the ceiling.  It was a different time we only had three major networks and two UV ones.  I loved TV then it is good now but not the same.

I still own just a washing machine but it is a compression one similar to the one I had in Europe, it washes clothes and you can use it to dry but it uses air to dry the clothes which means it takes longer and clothes often are still slightly damp when you remove them.  They are higher maintenance but they use less energy and in turn treat clothes better. They are also are more expensive to purchase than a W/D duo but they are smaller and easier to install.   As anything appliances are always a pro/con evaluation process.

Soon it will be one regarding cost.  Thanks to the Idiot in Chief we have tariffs on two very disjointed products - washing machines and solar panels.

My first thoughts was that the pro fossil fuel President was nailing the coffin shut on the solar industry but the washing machine one, that was odd. Well I assumed that GE, a company in trouble, or some other American company successfully lobbied him with regards to the issues on washing machines.   Either way the ones who will pay will be the consumer and the taxpayer. 

Understanding the reality that where coal once ruled now alternative energy has stepped in. Farmers are now leasing their lands to wind turbines and solar providers to offer energy to consumers.  Their use of the products is much like watches where the largest part of the product is made in one place and the the parts another with the final assembly a third.  Hence you see the "Made In America" label which means it was finished here but the parts that comprise it not so much.  But no these tariffs will not bring back jobs. 

But despite that this  still enables items to be affordable and competitive. Trump sealed that and we will pay more as we are the ones being spanked without the benefit of a porn star.



How U.S. Tariffs Will Hurt America’s Solar Industry

By VARUN SIVARAM THE NEW YORK TIMES JAN. 24, 2018

President Trump’s decision to impose sweeping tariffs on imports of solar panels and components is the opening salvo of his America First campaign to protect domestic manufacturers from Chinese competition. The stakes are high: Solar is the world’s fastest-growing energy industry, attracting over $160 billion in investment in 2017.

Yet these tariffs will do little to make American manufacturers competitive with dominant Chinese ones. Instead, they might actually discourage domestic investments in innovation, crucial to an American solar manufacturing revival. On top of this, the tariffs will cause collateral damage by slowing down the installation of solar panels in the United States, destroying more jobs than they create, and provoking trade disputes and retaliation.

The United States enacted tariffs on solar imports from China in 2012 (they were expanded to include Taiwan in 2014), when the Obama administration concluded that China had lavished generous subsidies on its domestic manufacturers, which dumped below-cost solar panels on global markets.

But by that point, established manufacturers as well as Silicon Valley start-ups developing solar technologies had already been washed away by a flood of cheap Chinese panels based on conventional silicon technology. American manufacturers’ share of global solar-components production had plunged below 5 percent by 2011, down from over a quarter a decade earlier. What remained after the carnage was a hollowed-out American industry in no shape to compete with the huge scale of Asian producers.

Against this backdrop, the Trump administration hopes to breathe new life into the enfeebled domestic solar industry with tariffs of 30 percent on solar imports from nearly every country. This approach comes at the behest of two manufacturers, which complained that they couldn’t compete with cheap solar panel imports.

Yet if the old tariffs represented closing the barn door after the horse has bolted, the new measures amount to putting a lock on the door. True, Chinese subsidies to its solar manufacturers clearly played an important role in driving American producers to ruin. But the low cost of Asian solar exports no longer depends as much on government largess. Producers there have wrung costs out of their factories to survive in a brutally competitive market. Those that couldn’t keep up collapsed when the Chinese government stopped propping them up.

Because Asian manufacturers are now so far ahead, Mr. Trump’s tariffs are unlikely to stimulate much investment in domestic production. These tariffs are set to ramp down gradually and expire within four years — with no guarantee of extension — leaving a vanishing window for businesses to recoup investments in expensive factories (which would be highly automated and create few jobs).

Overall, the tariffs will likely destroy more jobs than they create. That’s because most solar jobs in the United States are in the installation of solar panels, 80 percent of which are produced abroad. By raising prices, tariffs could shave American demand for panels by over 10 percent over the next five years. That would not only cost solar panel installer jobs, the fastest-growing job category in the country, but also set back progress on reducing carbon emissions.

Moreover, the tariffs could set off trade disputes. South Korea has already announced it will appeal the tariffs to the World Trade Organization. And China may well retaliate by imposing its own tariffs on American exports, including airplanes and agricultural products.

Tariffs also threaten to erode the one advantage the United States does have: technological superiority. The most efficient solar panels in the world are still made by American companies serious about research and development. But even before the news of the tariffs, the chief executive of one such company — which produces panels abroad that would be subject to the new tariffs when sold in the United States — told me that any hit to short-term cash flow would force cuts in research-and-development spending.

Yet innovation is the only hope for the American solar manufacturing industry to wrest back market share from Asian giants. New solar technologies have recently made astounding strides in the laboratory. A front-runner, a material known as perovskite, could be printed in dirt-cheap rolls and achieve far higher efficiencies than today’s solar panels. The Trump administration should redouble government investment in solar research to seed the pipeline with breakthrough technologies and should also provide facilities and funding to support American companies.

Tariffs might be satisfying and flashy, but they won’t promote the innovation that the solar industry in the United States desperately needs to get back on its feet.



Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Cold Truths



I have felt uneasy the last few days and took in the amazing movie, The Darkest Hour, which I cannot recommend enough as a companion piece to the movie Dunkirk, they are a hell of a double feature. I needed to remind myself of the power of strong leaders who are not always the most likeable but they are often the most focused and both movies illustrate that men in the most challenges of situations rise when they turn to those that surround them for support.

This week the inanity of our own leaders continues and frankly I cannot talk about politics anymore as it does nothing. I watched for about 10 minutes the farce of our Governor debate on the subject of Education last night and I laughed as there was not one individual up there who I felt remotely had an ounce of dignity nor inspiration in which to lead. But I live in Tennessee and this state is fucked up beyond belief. I often think of Dunkirk living here and wait to be rescued. Today I read in the Nashville Scene an article about our endless debates on mass transit and read this in the conclusion:

The reason it’s going to be very hard to ever have an honest and productive discussion about public transportation with opponents is that, at heart, this is a social issue. It’s about making all of Nashville available to everyone.

And that, historically, has not been a shared goal of all Nashvillians. It still isn’t.

But we occasionally stumble upon the right thing and do it. This may be one of those times.

Now I am often a strong critic on what it is like living here but this is from one who has history and a member of the tribe. Cold comfort is the reality when you know in your heart others think the same way you do but they are so afraid and vested in not allowing the truth to rule their beliefs, they chose their truths and facts. Ah yes and we can thank social media which enables one to wrap themselves in said truths.  And people here are neither kind nor hospitable in the least.   This is Nashville, its vile.

Now was it always that way? Likely but today the reality is that most of us live in total isolation.  We are afraid of others and fear those who may make us think, change our minds or question our truths.   Today a former Facebook executive released a report about the role Social Media and Search Engines in dispersing said "facts" to a hungry audience of idiots who need validation for said beliefs. And to think we are worried about opioid addiction.

Then we have Davos the home of delusional rich fucks pretending to do shit and give a shit. They are rolling out the welcome mat for Donald Trump who never attended and was never invited but all things change when you are the liar in chief.

And lastly I read the most horrific article in the International Times about a "men only" society fund raiser in Britain and the molesting, harassing and bizarre antics of the rich and established that certainly destroyed my images of Britannia  after crying during Dunkirk and Darkest Hour and seeing men at their finest.

Which led me onto the next story about the currently unemployed Celebrity Chef's after the revelations of their debauchery that went beyond the kitchen.  I am not setting foot in any of these establishments as I can pretty much eat anywhere and I am not that big on spending money in places that have that much rage in a place they prepare food, as food is a part of one's soul and it nourishes and sustains you.  Think about that for a moment.

Then more stories about a former Seattle Theater Director now in New York at the acclaimed Long Wharf and his sexual depravity followed by one on Garrison Keillor and the truth behind his exodus from NPR and Prairie Home Companion.  All so repugnant and disturbing that once again you don't know anyone until you do. 

 And then again even then. This story about the Congressman and his payout to the staffer he referred to as his "soul mate" and says she "invited it"  makes one wonder what the fuck is going on in Capital Hill?  Seriously what the fuck is going on there, ever?

And lastly the sentencing of Dr. Larry Nassar.  It appears now there will be investigations about his work at Michigan State,  which denies knowledge  of any of this while he was under his employ, came about after over 150 young women testified at his sentencing hearing.  Testimony's that were done with full support by the Judge, who failed to recuse her bias to ensure all voices were heard.   This is another Sandusky where University officials turn a blind eye to an expensive prestigious program and enabled a pedophile to act upon his deepest psychosis.

I cannot do this anymore but what "this" is I am unsure.  Read papers? Care?  I spent the day not caring and I was relieved. I spend way too many days doing as such and that lends itself to this state of unsettling that seems to rule me.  The depth of winter and the state of the world are cold places in which to seek warmth so I may have a better understanding why one delves into the media of the social versus the one of the reality, it seems warmer.  Lies always do. Truth is a cold place.







 









23 Days 11 Shootings

It will be the next movie starring Frances McDormand as the Teacher who saves lives and Woody Harrelson as the School Principal struggling with violence and Sam Rockwell as the Security Guard who is a tad racist but comes round after the kids die.

Here in Nashville  the local news is nothing more than a crime report  as violence and crime is their singular role of information in the community.  I have seen more mug shots and shadowy surveillance videos on the news than I have heard actual news but need to know about the local ZMart robbery, the armed robbery on the Pike, the shooting at an apartment complex and so on. I call it the black people round up as that is the largest of the perpetrators of crime here so race matters when you are pointing fingers at who are criminals in the area.  Subtle no, racist yes.

When the Vegas shooting happened it was ground zero for hysteria as it was connected by the event type, something tells me had it been any event Nashville would have found a connection as they love guns and violence here it is the base for all county music.   The other day in response to the MeToo movement they had a special on how women to stay safe.  This from the State where they are number one for Domestic Violence I found that ironic but that was not about that issue it was about what to do if you are being stalked by a harasser.  The solution - get a gun.  My favorite example was that you are at the mall you see a man watching you, following you and you then scream out him and whip out your pistol.  Hey here is an idea - go to mall/store security. Try that!    Being followed in your car? Drive right up to a Police Station and lay on the horn, flash lights to draw attention to your vehicle.  Or try this cell phone thing attached to your wrist and call 911 and alert the Police to the vehicle or individual lurking in the shadows.   After watching women do target practice at ladies night shootings I changed the channel.   Being informed, being misinformed are the oxymoron's of our local news.

Right now I am watching the news and they are showing a grainy video of a store surveillance in Clearwater Florida of a man stealing fish from the tank in store and leaves.  And the point is what?  He has a lovely mug shot and this is relevant to my daily life I am sure. Oh he appeared Latino so I think I found the point.

Yesterday I subbed for a Teacher attending a funeral for a Student who died from a gun shot wound. He was in a car searching for cars to rob or steal in the area (I live about 10 minutes away) and in turn during the planning of this crime he was shot accidentally by literally his partner in crime and fellow studnent (a 16 y/o girl) who took him to the closest hospital dropped him off in the driveway and split.   The teacher told me she wanted to go, he was her former student from last year, he was a problem student and he was challenging as most English language learners are but she felt that she needed to put that aside and attend.  Only she and the School Counselor were going, there was little else addressed by any of the students or faculty there and that did not surprise me in the least.  Live by the sword die by it.  In Seattle the histrionics surrounding school deaths/shootings were always big news as they were rare and we in the liberal white people way clutched pearls and carried on as if it was a patron saint who died.  Schools had assembly's, grief counselors, staff meetings to plan and discuss how to handle the fall back.  Here it is business as usual as it is the usual business here as every day yes every day some student is involved in some criminal activity.  And people wonder why I am afraid here.

So when I heard the news about the Kentucky School shooting I thought the schools here would go on high alert and no.  But I recall the day of Sandy Hook and I was having the worst day at a very acclaimed white high school in Seattle when that happened and I was the only one who seemed to know about it.   Since that time that school had a shooting down the street at a local coffee shop and that was the start of when Seattle decided to go into overdrive over shootings.

 Marysville a town up north was the closest high school shooting that parallels the one in Kentucky and in turn became an issue that I followed as a Substitute claimed to have known tried to inform the school which was never substantiated and in turn she was sued as a part of the lawsuit against the district.  As a Sub she was not an employee and in turn found herself alone in attempting to settle and defend herself.  She in turn had to sue the district.  And ultimately it was determined she was an employee and the case settled. But this elderly woman who was already confused, felt the need to be a part of something and may have lied to gain attention or believe it regardless it was a shitstorm.  Again, you wonder why I am afraid?  I want nothing to do with these kids and nothing to do with any of it.   I don't write my name on the board anymore, I avoid heavy communication with kids and I try to leave the door open at all times.  Yesterday in this class I was talking over them as I always do and the Counselor in the office adjacent called on the phone, I answered, said my name, she goes who? I repeated it  and she then said "Please shut your door." She was clear about asking my name, she did not identify herself nor ask if there was a reason I was loud.  Nope.  Funny how the educated elite behave here, rude, arrogant and utterly impolite.  This is support in Nashville Public Schools or their version of it.  Again I see all of this as heavily based on race, as I saw the woman earlier when I came in and she was Black, the students are all Latino, and I am white.  And that may have been part of it as I see everything here in the race prism it is impossible to not.

But I cannot overlook this one of the schools that had a predator as a Teacher and another Teacher informed on him and the Principal informed the staff to not gossip and no charges were filed, both Teachers transferred so what.ever. And yet staff say, "You should have been a few years ago." Again, what.ever.

In any of these discussions gun control is never mentioned. The endless coverage here in Nashville will go on for days as someone knows someone from there or something but guns are not the problem in the least.  It is sick they way they almost fetish-size this and I have frequently said it is almost auto-eroticism when the kids finally get you to express your anger.  They literally get off on rage as it is the only emotion they connect to.   And Nashville cannot wait to be the center of a massive expression of this. And they are currently at a record with 36 Metro Students killed this year, marking a decade record.  And you wonder why I am afraid?

I think the title of this piece from The Times says it all about the number of shooting this year, 23 days in.  Well its early days yet.





School Shooting in Kentucky Is Nation’s 11th of Year. It’s Jan. 23.

By ALAN BLINDER and DANIEL VICTOR
THE NEW YORK TIMES
JAN. 23, 2018

ATLANTA — On Tuesday, it was a high school in small-town Kentucky. On Monday, a school cafeteria outside Dallas and a charter school parking lot in New Orleans. And before that, a school bus in Iowa, a college campus in Southern California, a high school in Seattle.

Gunfire ringing out in American schools used to be rare, and shocking. Now it seems to happen all the time.

The scene in Benton, Ky., on Tuesday was the worst so far in 2018: Two 15-year-old students were killed and 18 more people were injured. But it was one of at least 11 shootings on school property recorded since Jan. 1, and roughly the 50th of the academic year.

Researchers and gun control advocates say that since 2013, they have logged school shootings at a rate of about one a week.

“We have absolutely become numb to these kinds of shootings, and I think that will continue,” said Katherine W. Schweit, a former senior F.B.I. official and the co-author of a study of 160 active shooting incidents in the United States.

Some of the shootings at schools this year were suicides that injured no one else; some did not result in any injuries at all. But in the years since the massacres at Columbine High School in Colorado, Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., gun safety advocates say, all school shootings seem to have lost some of their capacity to shock.

Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action, a gun safety group, said that’s because in 2012 in Newtown, “20 first graders and six educators were slaughtered in an elementary school.”

“The news cycles are so short right now in America, and there’s a lot going on,” she said. “But you would think that shootings in American schools would be able to clear away some of that clutter.”

Gov. Matt Bevin of Kentucky said the gunman who opened fire Tuesday morning at Marshall County High School in Benton, near the western tip of the state was a 15-year-old student. The authorities said the student entered the school just before 8 a.m., fired shots that struck 14 people, and set off a panicked flight in which five more were hurt.

One girl who was shot, Bailey Nicole Holt, died at the scene; a boy, Preston Ryan Cope, died of his injuries at a hospital.

Bryson Conkwright, a junior at the school, said he was talking with a friend on Tuesday morning when he spotted the gunman walking up near him. “It took me a second to process it,” Mr. Conkwright, 17, said in an interview. “One of my best friends got shot in the face, and then another one of my best friends was shot in the shoulder.”

He said he was part of a group of students who fled, kicked down a door to get outside and ran.

The suspect, who was not immediately identified, was taken into custody in “a nonviolent apprehension,” Mr. Bevin said, and officials said he would be charged with two counts of murder and several counts of attempted murder. But the authorities had not yet decided whether to charge the suspect, who was armed with a pistol, as a juvenile or as an adult.

Of the 18 people injured, five remained in critical condition, law enforcement officials said on Tuesday night.

“This is something that has struck in the heart of Kentucky,” Lt. Michael B. Webb of Kentucky State Police said at a news conference. “It’s not far away, it’s here.”

Not for the first time. The region was scarred about two decades ago by a deadly school shooting in West Paducah, about a 40-minute drive away. Three people were killed when a student opened fire into a prayer circle, and five more were injured.

Benton is a small town about 200 miles southwest of Louisville, and its high school serves students from all over Marshall County, which has a population of about 31,000.

John Parks, who owns the Fisherman’s Headquarters store about a mile from the school, described the area as a “very close-knit community” where just about everyone would have known a student at the school. “It’s personal when it’s a small town like this,” he said.

About a mile from the high school, a large American flag flew at half-staff over a Ponderosa Steakhouse on Tuesday night. Taylor McCuiston, 21, a manager at the restaurant who graduated from Marshall County High School two years ago, was working when the shooting occurred down the road.

“It was very scary because, like, 90 percent of the staff that works here goes to that school,” she said. “So for the first hour we were just scrambling trying to make sure they were all O.K. and accounted for.”

The town of Italy, Tex., is not any bigger than Benton. On Monday, a 15-year-old girl there was hospitalized after she was shot by a 16-year-old classmate, according to local news reports. That suspect, a boy, was taken into custody by the Ellis County Sheriff’s Department. The authorities said on Tuesday that the victim was recovering.

The F.B.I. study that Ms. Schweit helped write examined active shooter episodes in the United States between 2000 and 2013. It found that nearly one-quarter of them occurred in educational environments, and they were on the rise.

In the first half of the study period, federal officials counted 16 active shooter incidents in educational settings, meaning instances of a person “actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.” In the second half, the number rose to 23. (Many, but not all, of the school shootings tallied by advocates so far this year meet that definition.)

“Any time there’s a school shooting, it’s more gut-wrenching, and I think we have a tendency to react in a more visceral way,” Ms. Schweit said in an interview on Tuesday. “But I really don’t think as a whole, in society, we’re taking shootings more seriously than we were before — and that’s wrong.”

Even so, jarred and fearful school administrators across the country have been placing greater emphasis on preparing for the possibility of an active shooter. According to a report issued by the Government Accountability Office in March 2016, 19 states were requiring individual schools to have plans for how to deal with an active shooter. Only 12 states required schools to conduct drills, but two-thirds of school districts reported that they had staged active shooter exercises.

School safety experts say steps like the drills are crucial, if imperfect, safeguards.

“I think we’ve become somewhat desensitized to the fact that these things happened, and it takes a thing like Sandy Hook to bring us back to our senses,” said William Modzeleski, a consultant who formerly led the Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools.

“My fear is that if you don’t hear about a school shooting for a while, educators move on to other things,” he said. “Principals are busy. Teachers are busy. Superintendents are busy.”

In Kentucky, lawmakers have grappled with how to address the risk of school shootings. Last year, state legislators considered, but did not pass, a bill that would have allowed people with concealed-carry permits to bring weapons on to public school campuses, where proponents argue they could be used to respond to active shooters. A similar bill, limited to college campuses and certain other government buildings, has been introduced this year. It was not immediately clear how the shooting in Benton might affect the debate in Frankfort, the Kentucky capital.

But in Benton, “this is a wound that is going to take a long time to heal,” said Mr. Bevin, the governor, “ and for some in this community, will never fully heal.”

Monday, January 22, 2018

What's Love Got to do with it?

I have been putting on the backburner now a book about my post Divorce life and I plan on it being part parody of Eat Pray Love called Eat It, Wear It, Fuck It.  It was those three phrases in my life where I pretty much assigned those values to what was or is important to me as I entered the third act as I call this phase of life. I often said, "If I can't eat it, wear it just fuck it."  And that last one took on a series of meanings as that phrase often does.

I divorced at age 45 and was utterly bored by the idea of dating, Tinder did not exist and Match was too online for my tastes. I have never liked the idea of putting oneself on display and I abhor the need to glossy advertise my fabulous life to the masses via photos and stories about what I am currently eating, currently wearing or currently fucking, hence the title. But I did use personal columns, bars and other ways to what the kids call hook up but again rebrand it all you like, it is one night stands and the door to my bedroom was quite a revolving one there for a time.

What I have learned since that is men pretty much will fuck anyone or anything they can and sometimes they have a type or a standard that precludes that but that is a fairly low bar to hop over.

I have had bad sex, great sex, okay sex and non-consensual as too drunk, too high to confused to stop the process as it went on but would I call in rape, yes. When a man takes a woman beyond comprehension to agree to any of it - it is rape. When men ignore the obvious, when they use their anger, their power and your vulnerability and still fuck you they are predators. And men go out of their way to find women at their most vulnerable in which to exploit and use that for sexual satisfaction.

The few men I had great sex with often were one-offs and I only wished I could have known why but I suspect they were married, involved with other women or just really good predators who did not feel the need to bring harm but pursue sex at will and do so with allowing all parties to have a semblance of dignity.

The most aggressive and hostile of sexual encounters I had was with a man named Chris Harrison.  He was angry duplicitous and truly a sick fuck in every sense of the word. It took me a long time to recover from that and it led me to be a new kind of predator - a Cougar. I went after younger men as their ignorance and lack of experience enabled me to I believe at least have an upper hand but I found out women never do. That led to the night of Feb 12th with "Shar" who for whatever reason I believe drugged me despite having had consensual sex with him in the past for whatever reason felt compelled to bring me harm, shove drinks down my face to the point of alcohol poisoning and then let me drive myself in my car to the car wreck that took my life. I am sure as the bystander who found me and made the essential 911 Calls that saved my life saw Shar/Char (I never knew what the fuck his Muslim name was and did not care about his last but he called himself Shar) walk up to the vehicle and say, "She is breathing" and walk into the night. He did not return calls by the Hospital as they retrieved his number from the text exchanges on my phone and a week later I received a text asking "You recovered, care to do it again?" which I believe was all to cover his actions. He never returned any phone calls by me nor from my Attorney Ted Vosk who tried the number but failing to get a court order from Verizon to release the info and the texts and calls exchanged from my phone that night to verify his existence.

For whatever reason he and Kevin Trombold refused to do their responsibility and duty to defend me and secure my story despite the fact that they decided to believe me after a year of documents and evidence on hospital records that mentioned his name and even in my delusional brain injury I spoke of that date and his possible intent to harm me. But Harborview had decided I was a mentally ill/ drunk, despite my insurance and identification they intentionally altered medical records to reflect the head injury as the lowest of diagnostic issues treated me like the garbage they thought I was.

The reality is that women are disposable and we have a sell by date. We are like food, we fit the needs, the fashion of the time and not everyone has a taste for what is on offer but if you are hungry you'll eat anything.

I have long said I am angry but actually this simply comes from a place of resignation and in turn acceptance. I am expired goods and damaged ones not even good enough for the half off table so to that I say fuck it and go on. I watch from the sidelines and listen to the rich and the famous lament stories about their histories of abuse and shame and I feel nothing for them as they are still and rich and famous and I am nothing.

If there is one thing I will do is write books I have yet to decide if they are fiction or stick with the idea of non as well truth is stranger but the reality is that what sludge will come out of the rocks to lend their truths to what is my story?

Growing up in the 70s I have heard that this was used to defend the Priests who molested youth as they were confused about sex. It is the same bullshit Harvey Weinstein used and of course others claiming that this was a different time. Yes rape back in the Fifties was so much nicer and topped off with a Scotch. Hey Mad Men's creator is also allegedly a raging pervert but then again did you watch the show, the men were as well. Apple and trees my friend.

Now as we find Celebrities trying to dance around the maypole with support and in turn their own confusion, I think Bill Macy said it best when he commented that Men were now under the spotlight and have to face their role in this shit.  And yes men we are turning that interrogative light on to you and your friends when your locker room talk was well not so much talk but actual confessions about your propensity for violence.

And when I read the below article today in The Washington Post I had to concur that the sexual revolution did change the power of the sexual dynamic. Do I think we live in the age of the hook up? Yes but we always did and the reality is that it enabled it to be more open but it did nothing for women in the long run. We still slut shame, women are still assaulted and there is now an immense kickback to access to health care and reproductive rights. The idea that owning our sexuality is a good thing but the idea that it changed the relationships between men and women for the better is absurd. It never was great and still isn't. So blaming the 70s is the new excuse du jour as it was just promiscuity dressed up as acceptable and why? Big Pharma saw money. It was thanks to the creation of the  Birth Control pill that enabled women to consent to sex without recourse.  Sadly it gave way to a series of events that included mass cults where sex became a weapon and tool in which to manipulate,  which gave way to a Herpes epidemic and other STD outbreaks and in turn more drugs in which to treat. Then that became AIDS with its own stigma and more drugs and more blame seeking and name dropping. And now we have what? Freedom and control all tied up in a big knot of shit and you wonder why the religious right went nuts. They were sure when sexuality was repressed nothing bad happened, no disease, no rape an and no babies ever conceived out of love and in turn aborted. Sure what.ever.

Sex is complicated. It is messy in every way and in turn is mostly a mental exercise. Frankly I can get the same physical stimulation with my bag of tricks but every now and then I find I miss sexual romance, flattery and this thing called conversation. Some of the best foreplay I had was talking about it before I ever did it. And in turn why I found younger ones actually boring and in the long run not worth the effort. I only agreed to meet Char that night to have drink and when he arrived late and said he had to cut it short I was relieved. I guess he changed his mind when I went to the ladies room. Men seem to think that eating or drinking prior to their arrival means you are less interested as that was Chris Harrison's explanation for why he assaulted me that night as I was eating an appetizer while I waited for him to arrive. I never forget men's bullshit sadly. Does any woman? Ah that too is I am sure a catalyst for again any reason men feel compelled to use and abuse.

I do believe the idea of Tinder, Match, etc enable people to avoid conversation and in turn opens the door for more miscommunication and potential encounters to go awry. The ugliness of saying to someone they only want to sexually exploit, use or experiment on you is slightly distasteful so we make up stories, lies and compliments in which to turn someone into your sexual live doll. Kids I am over it. I would never fuck anyone unless they sign a legal document, that could be a marriage license or a waiver whichever works as why kid ourselves, sex is a contract and you need to spell it out. And no love has nothing to do with it nor make it better. It just makes you like the person more and that is not a bad thing in any aspect of life.



Divorcing sex from love hasn’t made sex more fun, more safe or less complicated
Concepts like consent can fall apart during sex with strangers.

By Gracy Olmstead The Washington Post January 22 2018

For days, the story was inescapable. In an article for the website Babe.net, reporter Katie Way detailed the experiences of “Grace,” a young woman whose date with actor Aziz Ansari went terribly wrong. According to Grace, Ansari kept initiating sex despite her nonverbal cues and distinct reticence. The article launched countless responses, quickly delving into arguments over what counts as assault. Many young women chimed in to say they had experienced similar encounters — experiences that left them feeling wounded and confused, if not traumatized.

Grace’s story comes a month after the New Yorker’s notorious “Cat Person” short story, which depicted an awkward sexual encounter — one that later catapulted into the aggressive, but in the moment, was mostly just unpleasant. Many women said they found Margot’s story (“brutally and uncomfortably”) relatable. It spurred a healthy and valuable debate about bad sexual encounters, ones that transcend the legalities of consent and touch on the deeper dignity and happiness of the human person.

Both “Cat Person” and the Babe article suggest that we may have lost something in today’s casual hookup culture: an ingredient in more old-fashioned sexual encounters that, while by no means foolproof, helped us avoid some of the more painful moments described in Grace’s and Margot’s stories. We wouldn’t entrust a stranger with our car keys, phones, children or bank account numbers. But in the age of Tinder and casual hookups, our bodies are not one of those off-limit items. And that trust has not been well rewarded.

Many of the questionable, awkward and potentially criminal sexual experiences that land in the news happen between strangers (or at least between those with little deep or long-held knowledge of each other). As the story is told in Babe, Ansari should have picked up on Grace’s cues. But it’s very difficult to understand or determine the verbal cues of a person one barely knows. After a lengthy investigation into a potential sexual assault at the University of Virginia, investigators concluded that the accused student couldn’t have known that the accuser was too drunk to consent to sex, in part because he had just met her. While one-night stands promise adventure and intrigue, they also leave a lot of room for confusion and surprise — for ignorance, fumbling unease, heartbreak.

Ansari aside, well-intentioned men and women can confuse signals or leave important things unsaid during a casual sexual encounter. They may struggle to be blunt with a stranger, and thus lose the ability to communicate important truths. As Elizabeth Bruenig pointed out last week, we’ve turned sex into just another social interaction and emptied it of any supposedly sacred or taboo elements. But in doing so, we’ve chained sex to the social norms and etiquette we’d expect in other social interactions: the subtlety and politeness, “grin and bear it” attitude we might have at a boring party or work meeting. This makes it difficult for people to truly express their feelings and desires before, while and after having sex.

Beyond the realm of innocent misunderstanding or regret, many sexual partners choose to ignore the nonverbal cues of a potential sexual partner. Perhaps it was not Ansari’s intent — maybe he was truly surprised and oblivious to Grace’s desires — but Grace describes feeling assaulted after their date. And many of the women who shared their experiences after reading Grace’s story related it to sexual violence and unkindness, a deliberate obliviousness and malevolent persistence that left them with deep trauma and hurt. There’s an inherent danger in having sex with someone who does not know you — and, therefore, does not particularly care about you.

Our casual hookup culture may promise greater independence and excitement. It’s a means to sex without too many (or any) strings attached. But that lack of strings also comes with downsides: the divorce of love and sex means that we’re more likely to have painful and awkward sexual experiences. Romance may be harder to come by. Communication will be much more difficult.

In a 2002 study in which participants were asked their feelings after a casual hookup, 35 percent were “regretful or disappointed,” while only 27 percent felt “good or happy.” A 2012 Canadian study found that 78 percent of women and 72 percent of men who had “uncommitted sex” reported a history of feeling regret after the encounter. In addition, the American Psychological Association notes that “among a sample of 1,743 individuals who had experienced a one-night stand, Campbell (2008) … found that men had stronger feelings of being ‘sorry because they felt they used another person,’ whereas women had stronger feelings of ‘regret because they felt used.’ ”

Of course, marriage and committed partnerships still hold peril for miscommunication and abuse. It is still vitally important for sexual partners to be honest with each other and to care for their own needs. That said, in a truly loving relationship, sex should be unshackled from the perils of potential aggression and freed from the hesitancy of strangeness. It should unfold within an atmosphere of true care and kindness. Sex within a loving relationship has the potential for intimacy and respect in a way that sex with strangers never can. A romantic partner of several months should be able to read their lover’s facial expressions or nonverbal cues with ease: to pick up on body tension, voice inflection, even the subconscious needs or feelings of their spouse or companion. What’s more, the longer the relationship, the more two people are enabled to learn the needs and desires of their partner — not just to address or demand their own.

For some, this is an obvious point. But in a world in which casual hookups are becoming ever-more common, it’s still worth pointing out. Our bodies are not mere shells: The deference or disregard with which they are treated have a deep impact on our souls and minds. Some have unfairly mocked Grace for calling her date with Ansari the “worst night of her life.” But truly, the vulnerabilities of sex are manifold — and leave a lasting impression on the human person.

What might have happened if Ansari had listened to Grace and backed off, allowing her time to get to know him and go on another date or two? Perhaps they would have eventually had sex. But more importantly, they could have become friends. Giving up a night of sex with a stranger could have led to a relationship that promised more. But in a world that emphasizes the fun thrills of casual sex, people often shut the door on more lasting or deeply fulfilling sorts of relationships.

Our cultural debates surrounding sex in the modern era suggest that it’s the monogamous and committed who are missing out on something. Their faithfulness excludes them from the independence and serendipity they’d otherwise get to experience. They’re likely to get bored, to lose out on the thrills of strangeness and excitement.

But perhaps one thing “Cat Person” and the Aziz Ansari story suggests to us is that those with freer, more casual sexual lives can also miss out on something: the joy of intimacy with someone who knows them deeply and well. This must be a part of our conversation surrounding sex, or we risk withholding something precious from women and men who might want more than a one-night stand.