- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Recent editorials from Tennessee newspapers:

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Nov. 3

The Jackson Sun on the death of former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson:

On Friday, services will be held for former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson at 10 a.m. at War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville (301 6th Ave. N., Nashville, TN 37243). The service is open to the public.

Thompson was well respected for his service as a Republican U.S. senator from Tennessee and his career as an actor.

It is evident how much Thompson was loved and respected, as Gov. Bill Haslam has ordered the flags over the state Capitol and all state office buildings be flown at half-staff in honor and memory of Thompson. He died in Nashville on Sunday after a recurrence of lymphoma. He was 73.

Thompson was a lawyer who also became involved with politics and acting.

As attorney, Thompson helped contribute to the resignation of President Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal. Thompson served as counsel for the Senate Watergate Committee investigating Nixon.

His acting career started after he represented a parole administrator who refused to release inmates who were granted pardons after paying then Gov. Ray Blanton. Thompson represented the parole administrator in a wrongful termination case and won. The administrator was able to return to her job and win a settlement. Thompson became the subject of a book, launching his acting career.

He appeared in several movies and television shows including, “The Hunt for Red October,” ”Die Hard II,” and “Law & Order.”

Thompson represented Tennessee from 1994 to 2003 in the U.S. Senate and unsuccessfully ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.

On Monday, several West Tennesseans shared their respects for Thompson by describing him as “someone who served for the right reasons,” who was “a committed conservative that stood for principles that he believed in.”

We salute Thompson, his accomplishments and the contributions he made to Tennessee and our nation. We are proud that a man with his talent and intelligence was willing to serve Tennesseans.

In lieu of flowers, the Thompson family asks for donations to the following organizations:

Alive Hospice

1718 Patterson Street, Nashville, TN 37203

www.alivehospice.org

Boys & Girls Clubs of Middle Tennessee

1704 Charlotte Ave, Suite 200, Nashville, TN 37203

www.bgcmt.org

Mayo Clinic, Department of Development

200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905

www.mayoclinic.org/giving-to-mayo-clinic

MusiCorps

P.O. Box 73051, Washington, DC 20056

www.musicorps.net

Online:

https://www.jacksonsun.com/

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Oct. 31

The Tennessean on Tennessee schools’ results on the “national report card”:

It’s rather curious. Tennessee officials are celebrating this past week’s “national report card” results as a win even though students essentially made no gains from the last assessment two years ago.

While it is true that Tennessee students saw remarkable increases from 2011 to 2013 on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the Volunteer State looks good in comparison in 2015 only because its results stayed virtually the same from 2013 while other states’ scores dropped.

Statements this past week from Gov. Bill Haslam and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan touting Tennessee’s results should concern the public because they create the skewed impression that holding the line is acceptable.

Duncan called the state’s progress “amazing.” Haslam said, “Tennessee is distinguishing itself as the state to watch in education.” However, cheerleading comments do a disservice to the public and to Tennessee’s students by obscuring hard truths.

If you look at reading scores alone, the NAEP tells us that 67 percent of fourth-graders and eighth-graders are not reading at or above grade level. That has severe implications for filling this booming state’s workforce needs, which require skills learned beyond high school.

The irony is that Tennessee truly has become a leader on issues of higher education with the innovative Tennessee Promise program, which, for practical purposes, grants a free postsecondary education to qualified students. Kudos to Haslam for executing that vision and promoting it nationally.

That is a huge win for the state; however, if children cannot read at grade level or comprehend what they are reading, there is little to no way that they can take advantage of a program like Tennessee Promise.

Consider the NAEP data from 2011 to 2015:

Fourth-graders at or above math proficiency: 30 percent (2011), 40 percent (2013), 40 percent (2015)

Eighth-graders at or above math proficiency: 24 percent (2011), 28 percent (2013), 29 percent (2015)

Fourth-graders at or above reading proficiency: 26 percent (2011), 34 percent (2013), 33 percent (2015)

Eighth-graders at or above reading proficiency: 27 percent (2011), 33 percent (2013), 33 percent (2015)

The jump in gains from 2011 to 2013 was impressive, but that rate of growth was not sustained in 2015. The public should understand that and know why without any sugar coating.

It is understandable that leaders would wish to be charitable, but that is unhelpful when we have a long way to go before we can declare victory on educational achievement.

This is a hard truth, but that truth is precisely what our states and cities need to keep the urgency on improving student achievement and college readiness.

Online:

https://www.tennessean.com/

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Oct. 29

University of Tennessee student newspaper The Daily Beacon on the privatization of state jobs:

This week, students, workers and organizers across the state are protesting the privatization of state jobs, unified under one slogan: #TNisnotforsale.

We at the Daily Beacon want to add our voice to this resistance.

Back in August, Gov. Bill Haslam announced that his administration was looking into a plan to privatize the management of state buildings, including hospitals, universities, state parks, prisons and more. While this was presented as a way to save money for the state, in reality, it represents a drastic overhaul at the expense of thousands of state workers.

When facilities management has been outsourced in the past, workers have faced slashed hours, the loss of benefits, impersonal treatment and termination with little notice. Whatever monetary benefit outsourcing provides for the state is not worth the further maltreatment of state workers.

At The Daily Beacon, we feel it is our responsibility to use our platform to stand up for UT campus workers. As tuition-paying students, we have the unique opportunity to speak out for workers who could lose their jobs or face retribution if they dissent. Campus workers are already fighting for a living wage, and now they fear losing their jobs entirely.

On a personal note, campus workers are some of the hardest working people we encounter on a regular basis. At midnight when we’re finishing the last corrections on the newspaper before it goes to print,Hubert is cleaning up our coffee spills and asking us, “What’s the news look like tomorrow?” They care about us as people, and the least we can do is stand up for them when their jobs are at stake.

Moreover, Gov. Haslam’s actions go against our core principles as journalists. We expect our governor to be transparent when making such a far-reaching decision about our state. We expect him to be open with reporters when asked a direct question about his proposal. Instead, he has told reporters, “let’s wait and see,” while a detailed timeline for the plan has been leaked to the public. And just a few weeks ago, state officials encouraged people working on the outsourcing “exploration” to cut down on sending emails with details of the plan, for fear that reporters will discover new information.

But we refuse to “wait and see.” It should be assumed that this process is subject to public scrutiny throughout. If we are as complacent as Haslam wants us to be, privatization will be implemented without any public input, and state workers could be fired with very little notice.

We hope that by using our voice as a student newspaper we can do our small part to prevent Haslam from proceeding with a plan that will hurt our state workers and local economies. If you want to do the same, call Haslam’s office at (615) 253-7730 to tell the governor: “I am a Student at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, and I do not support the privatization of my university, and I do not support outsourcing workers’ jobs. Tennessee is not for sale.”

Online:

https://www.utdailybeacon.com/

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