- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Recent editorials from Tennessee newspapers:

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Feb. 13

Johnson City Press on Tennessee’s child restraint law:

Tennessee’s child restraint law requires children under the age of 1, or any child, weighing 20 pounds or less, must be secured in a child passenger restraint system in a rear-facing position that meets federal motor vehicle safety standards and in a rear seat, if available, or according to the child safety restraint system or vehicle manufacturer’s instructions.

State law also says that if the child safety seat has a higher rear-facing weight rating, usually 30 or 35 pounds, it may be continued to be used in a rear-facing position so long as the child’s weight permits. Officials recommend parents check the manufacturers instructions accompanying the child safety seat for more information.

There are too many parents who don’t heed the child restraint act. Thankfully, law enforcement officers in Tennessee are allowed to stop any vehicle they observe in violation of this requirement. The driver of the car is responsible for making sure that children under age 16 are properly restrained and can be fined $50 for a violation of the law.

Likewise, if the child’s parent or legal guardian is present in the car but not driving, the parent or legal guardian is responsible for making sure that the child is properly transported and can also be fined for non-compliance.

Other requirements under Tennessee’s Child Restraint Law are:

- Children between the ages of 9 and 12, or any child through the age of 12, measuring 4 feet and 9 inches or more in height, must be secured in a seat belt system. If possible, it is recommended that any such child be placed in the rear seat.

- Children between the ages 13 and 15 must be restrained by using approved safety belts.

- Provision can be made for children who require medically prescribed modified child restraints. In such cases a copy of the doctor’s prescription must always be carried in the vehicle with the modified child restraints.

Online:

http://www.johnsoncitypress.com/

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Feb. 10

The Jackson Sun on a proposed Tennessee Bureau of Investigation crime lab in Jackson:

Earlier this month, when Gov. Bill Haslam announced that part of his proposed 2016-2017 budget he is presenting to legislature included a crime lab in Jackson, we were immediately excited.

The proposed $25 million crime lab would replace the TBI lab in Memphis.

Moving the lab to Jackson will be good for Madison County and all of rural West Tenessee.

The TBI currently has three crime labs across the state, in Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis.

Most important, evidence will be processed more quickly when the new up-to-date facility is built. Time is crucial to solving crime, as the chances of solving any crime diminish the more time passes.

There have been issues in the past with long wait times for evidence to process due to the high volume of crime and the much needed update of equipment to process more in less time.

Other benefits for the Jackson area will include the jobs the lab will bring, with highly competitive salaries and benefits. For example, The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation crime lab in Memphis recently had positions open for TBI Special Agent - Forensic Scientist 1. The salary for that position ranges from $3,777 to $5,860 a month. Benefits include 11 paid holidays, health, dental, life, vision, and other insurances.

A crime lab in Madison County would also give West Tennessee law enforcement easier access to the lab and its analysts.

A spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration said the proposed building will be 40,000 square feet. Design has not started because legislators won’t vote to approve the budget later this year.

We hope the state legislature approves the $25 million the governor set aside for the crime lab. West Tennessee and the state could greatly benefit from this.

Online:

http://www.jacksonsun.com/

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Feb. 10

The Daily News Journal on computers crashing during the TNReady exams

Is TNReady? Apparently not.

Local schools did everything they could to administer the state’s new computerized tests as scheduled on Monday.

Rutherford County ordered 3,920 computers with Windows 7 software needed to conduct the online-only exams.

An estimated $3 million was allocated over two different fiscal years to pay for the computers.

The computers and the network Rutherford County Schools used were up and running.

At the beginning of this school year, the Rutherford County school district had a better preparedness rate than Metro Nashville Public Schools, Williamson County Schools and Wilson County Schools, according to data released at the time from the Tennessee Department of Education.

The school system also had a 100 percent “network-ready” rate, which means it has the correct digital capacity for the exams to go smoothly, according to the education department.

Yet, on Monday, the first day of testing, the system crashed and burned - statewide.

Although Rutherford County was ready, the state’s vendor for the test was not.

The testing platform “experienced major outages across the state” Monday morning because of network issues with Measurement Inc., which is contracted to administer the standardized exams, according to a memo Education Commissioner Candice McQueen sent to schools directors across the state.

On Monday, teachers in Rutherford County and in many systems across the state had to scramble to engage students after planned testing for the day was punted.

Finally the state announced that the millions of dollars of technology will sit idle while students sharpen their No. 2 pencils and take a paper version of the test.

We think it’s ironic that after holding teachers’ feet to the fire over test scores, the failure that occurred was beyond anything they could control.

We agree with Tennessee Education Association President Barbara Gray, who has called for a one-year waiver in using test scores in teacher evaluations because of the challenges with the new assessment.

“It is unacceptable to have this kind of statewide failure when the state has tied so many high-stakes decisions to the results of this assessment,” Gray said in a statement Monday. “Our students and teachers have enough stress and anxiety around these assessments without adding additional worries about technical issues.”

School systems have the freedom to choose how student test data affect employment decisions such as promotion and retention, according to state law.

TNReady wasn’t ready, and teachers shouldn’t pay the price for that.

Online:

http://www.dnj.com/

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