Author Archive

Meet & Greet with Andrew Farmer

April 5, 2012

Candidate for State Representative (17th District)

An informal and relaxed gathering will be held at The Minnis House, located at 939 Churchview St., New Market, TN on April 13th from 6:30pm to 8:30pm to meet Andrew Farmer, talk to him about his candidacy and get to know him.

 

2012 Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner

February 21, 2012

March 23, 2012

The Republican Party of Jefferson County, Tennessee will hold its annual Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner in March.

LOCATION: Stokely Memorial Cafeteria

DATE: March 23, 2012

TIME: Doors open at 6:00pm with dinner served at 7:00pm

ADDRESS: 809 E. College St., Jefferson City, TN 37760

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: U.S. Senator Bob Corker

TICKETS: $25.00 per person (Available by contacting Treasurer Marie Johnston at (865) 456-4636 or Vice-Treasurer Robert Blevins at (865) 209-4669.)

Evaluating the evaluations

January 4, 2012

It’s a good idea for us to start with a working definition of “evaluation” from the onset here:

Evaluate (verb)
\i-ˈval-yə-ˌwāt, -yü-ˌāt\
: to determine the significance, worth, or condition of usually by careful appraisal and study

I’m no stranger to regular job evaluations, also commonly referred to as performance appraisals. I worked with them for years in both the private and public sectors. However, they tended to be much more constructive in the prior than the latter.  While government needs to adopt some of the methods used in the private sector more, they inevitably seem to botch things up along the way, when they do try.  The evaluations done of my work and those I did of my employees in the private sector were constructive and tied to direct incentives to do well in the form of annual pay increases. The better I performed, the heftier the annual percentage increase I could expect each year. Contrary to those in the private sector, the public sector evaluations tend to do significantly less to promote advancement and nurture employees in their profession. Yes. I know you’ve been told that the TEAM evaluation is designed to help teachers develop their craft and it may well have been in theory but that is not how it is playing out in practice and reality.

Tennessee’s standard evaluation model, the Teacher Education Acceleration Model (TEAM), was developed and piloted in the 2010-2011 school year and then implemented in the current 2011-2012 school year. Unfortunately, in the state’s haste, the bugs were not worked out properly. Maybe, that’s why the definition of “evaluate” above notes the “careful appraisal and study?” I know. Novel. Right?

Governor Haslam has called for an internal and external study of the state-adopted evaluation model that has received so much criticism throughout the education field.  Why?

Gov. Bill Haslam is calling for more study of Tennessee’s new process for evaluating teachers, in a bid to head off legislative action spurred by complaints over the system’s fairness and practicality…

The study comes after state lawmakers, including some fellow Republicans, questioned whether efforts to grade teacher performance are being rolled out haphazardly.

So, it’s defense mode for the administration, after legislators have been inundated with feedback from educators and other concerned stakeholders state-wide. Governor Haslam has pitched the ball to SCORE for the external evaluation, while TDOE conducts their own internal evaluation.

Someone well should be evaluating the system that was rolled out so hastily. Govenor Haslam has dismissed calls for a one year reprieve on using results of this year’s evaluations to make employment/retention decisions, until the evaluation of the model is complete, saying, “I don’t think it would be appropriate for the state to tell local boards, ‘You shouldn’t be using the data that you’re collecting on these evaluations.‘”

Really? If the state can foist the evaluation model on local boards, they feel it not “appropriate” to tell them to hold off on using what may well be a flawed model? Food for thought.  If the model is flawed, wouldn’t any decisions made based on a flawed model be a flawed decision? This seems like another opportunity to note a lack of “careful appraisal and study,” like the definition of “evaluate” implies.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey thinkschange is tough” and “now that we’ve gotten into this evaluation process … for the most part, it has been positive.” “Positive?” To whom in the state has he been talking? Or, better yet, to whom in the state has he been listening

Now, think about this. If feedback, if even “for the most part…has been positive,” as Lt. Gov. Ramsey intimates, why is the administration trying to stave off legislative action by calling for the internal and external reviews by TDOE and SCORE, respectively?  You’re smart enough to figure that out, even if Nashville isn’t giving you credit for being smart enough to figure it out. Legislators are hearing from their constituencies and the feedback is not “positive,” as some might like you to think.

I have read about positive feedback on some locally-developed evaluation models, like the one in Hamilton County called Project COACH. However, Project COACH, is not the rule, it is the exception. Even as the exception, it still has its flaws but it still isn’t as cumbersome as the TEAM model or near as time consuming for teachers and administrators and works to keep the evaluations from being a dog and pony show.

Is the state-adopted TEAM model flawed? It would certainly seem so to me.  After the Tennessean filed an open records request and obtained results from the TDOE for the first semester of the current school year, we can see how subjective principal evaluations have been. While there will always be some level of subjective interpretation in an appraisal process, it should not vary so wildly or “widely,” as the article title implies. “Wildly” seems more appropriate to me from reading the information contained in the article.

So, while evaluations can and should be a good thing, shoddy development and implementation do not a good evaluation model make. And, for Pete’s sake, make them applicable to the subjects being taught. It is not a one-size-fits-all undertaking. An evaluation has to be specific to the situation. Direct instruction courses adopted by local school systems do not readily fit the rubric of the TEAM model. In simpler terms, you cannot compare apples to oranges. You are either going to have to have teachers teach to the rubric of the model and forgo the direct instruction model program on which they have been trained and told to teach or forgo the rubric and teach the direct-instruction model they have been told to teach.

You cannot have it both ways. Or, more precisely, you cannot have it both ways and be fair to the teachers you profess to be wanting to advance and help improve their craft to benefit the students. Wasn’t that the whole jist of the evaluations to begin with, helping teachers improve their skills, so students benefit from it? I thought I heard that along the way somewhere.

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The views expressed here by this author are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of the JCGOP.

 

A debate on the economy….or something like that

November 10, 2011

On the evening of Wednesday, November 9, 2011, the GOP presidential hopefuls gathered in Rochester, Michigan for a debate on the economy. Well, that’s how it was billed beforehand by CNBC. You don’t believe it was quite billed that way? Check out CNBC’s own opening to the debate for yourself. However, it did not quite end up playing out in reality as each candidate’s “plan to jumpstart the American economy.” That’s the funny thing about CNBC and other mainstream media outlets; reality is too subjective for them.

CNBC’s true colors were fairly evident from the start, to the informed viewer. However, those colors were very much on display for viewers, when Maria Bartiromo decided to take a hard left turn from the economy and traipse off onto the allegations that have been made against Herman Cain…

BARTIROMO: You have all said that ….But, first, Mr. Cain, the American people want jobs, but they also want leadership. They want character in a president. In recent days, we have learned that four different women have accused you of inappropriate behavior. Here we’re focusing on character and on judgment.

(BOOING)

You’ve been a CEO.

CAIN: Yes.

BARTIROMO: You know that shareholders are reluctant to hire a CEO where there are character issues. Why should the American people hire a president if they feel there are character issues?

CAIN: The American people deserve better than someone being tried in the court of public opinion based on unfounded accusations. That’s…

(APPLAUSE)

And I value my character and my integrity more than anything else. And for every — one person that comes forward with a false accusation, there are probably — there are thousands who would say none of that sort of activity ever came from Herman Cain.

You’re right. This country’s looking for leadership. And this is why a lot of people, despite what has happened over the last nine days, are still very enthusiastic behind my candidacy. Over the last nine days…

(APPLAUSE)

Over the last nine days, the voters have voted with their dollars, and they are saying they don’t care about the character assassination. They care about leadership and getting this economy growing and all of the other problems we face.

(APPLAUSE)

Herman Cain handled himself fairly well and shut Bartiromo down. But, it was tag team time in Michigan, if you watched the video on past about 8:00 on the counter, when John Harwood decided to spin it around to Mitt Romney and ask him if he would keep Herman Cain, when he worked for Bain Capital and such accusations had been made…

HARWOOD: Governor Romney, when you were at Bain Capital, you purchased a lot of companies. You could fire the CEO and the management team or you could keep them. Would you keep a CEO — are you persuaded by what Mr. Cain has said? Would you keep him on if you bought his company?

(BOOING)

ROMNEY: Look, look, Herman Cain is the person to respond to these questions. He just did. The people in this room and across the country can make their own assessment. I’m not…

(CROSSTALK)

(APPLAUSE)

There’s video of it here, starting at about 6:00 on the counter….

Note the applause, when Harwood openly indicated that they were abandoning that current tactic and trying to get back on the advertised topic of the economy.

Am I the only one that finds it intriguing that CNBC left video of the boos and jeers segment out of their own “Top Debate Video Moments” collection on their own site?

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Missed opportunities abundant in 10-11-11 debate

October 12, 2011

Election 2012… It’s something to which many of us, as conservatives, have been looking forward, since late-2008.  A lot of independents and some Democrats have been looking for it, as well, since early to mid-2009 now themselves to replace a failed Obama administration.

The October 11th GOP presidential debate from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire hosted by Bloomberg Television and the Washington Post was the latest look at the field of potential candidates in an oh-so-cozy little roundtable setting.

To be honest, I only caught the last half of the debate. I’m sort of thankful that I did not endure the first half, if it was as lackluster as the latter half.

Gov. Rick Perry was lethargic. He was passive. His efforts seemed half-hearted, at best. Basically, he was lacking energy. He missed a golden opportunity to take Mitt Romney to task over recently unearthed documentation on intimate meetings between Romneycare architect Jonathan Gruber and the Obama administration, by asking some full of beans question that allowed Romney to spin through it with stereotypical style.  He went on about “block grants” as a means of fiscal reclamation for America.  He dodged on a direct question from Karen Tumulty about Obama’s Solyndra fiasco by failing to touch on Obama’s crony corruption of the green jobs racket. Maybe that is because of his own state-level subsidies program that’s been called into question or maybe not. He did note, on that particular subject that, “Well, I don’t think the federal government should be involved in that type of investment, period. If states want to choose to do that, I think that’s fine for states to do that.”  Just a personal point of privilege, since I am the author of this piece, I do not think it appropriate for either the federal or a state government to siphon taxpayer money away from workers to redistribute to cronies behind closed doors, period. I don’t even think the average viewer needed Perry to tell them, “Debates are not my strong suit.” Overall, Perry’s performance was a Texas-sized fail in New Hampshire for his third debate performance where he needed to turn around from the last two debates in which he’s participated.

Herman Cain pushed his 9-9-9 plan hard and took several valid hits on it too.  For those not up-to-speed on the 9-9-9 center point of Cain’s campaign, it proposes to flatten the capital gains tax out to 9%, flatten the personal income tax out to 9% and to implement a flat 9% national sales tax. Note that last one says “implement.”  Can you imagine tax and spend federal government getting a new tax that they can eventually raise to give them an additional revenue stream? Now, as a local note, add that 9% national sales tax to your already high local sales tax over 9% here in our county and do the math on just a regular grocery run to the store.  While the “666” reference by Michele Bachmann may have been a little overboard in some regards, truly “the devil’s in the details.” Rick Santorum chimed in for a short time as well on Cain’s proposed plan.  The real gaffe on Cain’s part, at least to me, seemed to be his proposal to appoint Alan Greenspan to the Federal Reserve.  Now, I rarely agree with Ron Paul on much of anything but Paul’s analogy of Alan Greenspan’s past performance as chair of the Federal Reserve as “a disaster” is pretty much right on the money for me, all pun intended.  Needless to say, Cain spent much of the evening defending his 9-9-9 plan and his new contender status. He certainly didn’t do himself a favor with the Greenspan idea.

Michele Bachmann seemed to do best in attacking the Obamacare/Medicare bureaucracies. Beyond that, her most memorable injection last night was in the previously mentioned reference to Cain’s proposed 9-9-9 plan.  I’m seriously beginning to think Bachmann is angling for a VP slot on the ticket at this juncture. But, maybe I’m wrong.

Newt was….well…Newt.  I can’t really think of a lot to say about him from what I watched last night.  He has a lot of knowledge but no matter how grandiose one’s ideas, you have to be able to articulate them, as well as bring them to fruition.  Anyone, besides me, still see him sitting on that danged green couch from the commercials a few years back?

Rick Santorum sat quietly much of the evening, only to pipe up later on and insinuate that he wasn’t getting enough time.  Some things are by one’s own design sometimes, Rick.

Like Michelle Malkin, I’m ready to rename my mute button the “Huntsman button” after all the time Charlies Rose gave him. Frankly, I found myself thumbing through an LMC Truck catalog when Huntsman would speak.  Don’t forget that Huntsman held a position in the Obama administration.  That should give anyone a little pause on who he really is.

Aside from the normal spin on Romneycare and taking a stab at Perry on how many uninsured children live in Texas, my biggest thing I saw out of Romney was his defense of TARP and failing to say he would oppose doing the same in the next manufactured crisis.  It bears noting that Cain joined Romney in defending the Wall Street bailout with TARP too. Boiled down to it’s core, it’s big business/big government corporatism.  In plain and simple terms, TARP was the selling out of big business to save it with the trashing of free-market principles. 

So, who was the winner and who was the loser last night?

Winner: Barack Obama

Loser: The American Taxpayers

And, I really hate to say that but I haven’t seen much, yet, that seems to indicate that any of these folks are ready to take on Barack Obama.  I can only hold out hope that someone is going to seize the reins and lead America back onto the road to prosperity.

I’d really like to see a candidate I could wholeheartedly support. While anyone in this debate is better than Obama, some more so than others, I’d really like to see a candidate’s platform I could really get behind.  I’ve not seen that, yet.  Maybe it’s just a lack of ability on their part to adequately articulate it. But, at this juncture, I’m just not seeing it.

As I’ve said before, if you think the first term of an Obama administration is bad, imagine a lame duck second term of an Obama administration.

It’s going to be a long road to 11/6/12, folks.

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*NOTE:  The commentary in this article are solely those of the author and are not intended to reflect any position(s) of the JCGOP.

Searching for another Reagan?

September 28, 2011

Where? Oh, where?

Who is or where is the next Ronald Reagan for the GOP?  A lot of people are asking and combing potential candidates each election cycle to find that person.  I have been as guilty of it, as many other have over the past several years.

Let’s just be honest about it. There was only one Ronald Wilson Reagan. He was a once-in-a-lifetime candidate.  He was historic.  Reagan seemed to have it all. He presented well on television. He was a natural leader. He united the country. However, Reagan’s ascendency to the presidency was not immediate.  Even I am not old enough to remember Reagan’s speech firsthand, “A Time for Choosing” at the 1964 GOP convention.  However, every person should either read it or listen to it.

Yet, The Speech, as it later became known, by Reagan in 1964 for Barry Goldwater’s campaign was years before Reagan was ever elected as President of the United States.  But, it did establish him in Republican and conservative politics.  For years, Dad referred to Goldwater as the “forerunner of Reagan” and, indeed, his appearance on behalf of Goldwater surely set the stage for Reagan’s political rise.

But, I digress.  The “next Reagan” yearning started to clearly manifest itself in 1999 and resonate as GOP officials flocked to Texas to solicit then Governor George W. Bush to run for president.  Bush, indeed, did win election and serve two terms, as we all know. But, honestly, he was no Ronald Reagan. Otherwise, we would be looking for the “next Bush,” instead of the “next Reagan” after his two terms in office.  So, in 2008 the “next Reagan” longing revealed itself with former Senator Fred Thompson’s arrival on the GOP primary ticket. At best, Thompson proved to be a lackluster candidate and quickly fizzled out, if he ever really took off after jumping into the fray, much to my dismay.

Now, we find ourselves in the 2012 campaign season, after a miserable few years of recession under the Obama administration. Has the longing subsided for the “next Reagan?” No. It has only grown to be a deeper yearning. In a mere six – count ’em 6 – months we have seen several names touted as the “next Reagan.”  We’ve already seen Donald Trump, Sarah Palin, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry floated as the “next Reagan.” That’s a whirlwind six months, folks. Yet, none of them have been able to seize the opportunity, like Ronald Wilson Reagan.

The new flavor of the day is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Surely he is the “next Reagan.”  Sadly, I believe Christie is more appealing as a non-candidate than as an actual candidate. Yet, that is not stopping many from putting the full-court press on Christie to jump into the race for the GOP nomination.  Can you imagine the frustration for the current GOP field to be out on the trail campaigning like they are to have the spotlight shining on a non-candidate?  Each of the current candidates missed their opportunity to seize the ever-elusive spotlight and hold onto it.

But, there again, the spotlight of the “next Reagan” will forever remain elusive, simple because there was only one Ronald Reagan. While he may be imitated, he will never be duplicated. A candidate may replicate him to some degree in their platform but that’s going to be the extent of it.

Reagan knew how to work an audience. He had charisma. He was soft spoken. He was easy going, when he needed to be but also tough as nails, when that need presented itself.  But, there was another beauty about Reagan, he could temper these personas, moving back and forth between the two as circumstances dictated.  The true underlying consistency of Reagan was his conservative disposition.  I have yet to see these things in the purported saviors of the GOP in the past or present fields.

What we need today is a candidate that runs as a true conservative and then, when elected, governs in the same manner. Surely, that isn’t too much to ask, is it?

Bear this in mind though, while some of the GOP candidates are better than others on conservative credentials, any of them in the GOP field now are better than the current Obama administration.  And, if you think one term of Obama was bad, dig deep into your imagination and think about how bad a lame duck Obama administration would be in a second term. Bearing that in mind, work hard for your preferred candidate in the GOP Presidential Primary. But, once the primary is over, get behind the nominee and bust your tail to make Barack Obama a one-term president.

Fox News/Google GOP debate 9-22-11

September 20, 2011

Tune in Thursday at 9:00pm (ET) for the 6th GOP presidential debate on Fox News Channel, live from Orlando, FL.

Submit your questions via text or video on the Fox News Channel YouTube channel.

Join the conversation with other Tennesseans on the TNGOP’s Twitter feed with the hashtag #TNGOPdebate.

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UPDATE: The window for text and video submissions on the Fox News Channel YouTube channel closed at midnight Tuesday (9/20/11) night.

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UPDATE:  The Fox News/Google debate will include a ninth GOP hopeful, Gary Johnson, the former New Mexico governor.  Johnson was invited by Fox News, amid controversy with the Florida Republican Party, since he has broken the 1% mark in five recent national polls. You can learn more about former-governor Gary Johnson’s campaign at his website.

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Just an F.Y.I., in case you didn’t already know it: The Republican Party of Florida and the city of Tampa, FL will play host to the 2012 Republican National Convention.