About the NC Gerrymandered Joint Legislative Task Force on Education Finance Reform

Beginning this month, a “Joint Legislative Task Force on Education Finance Reform” is meeting in Raleigh to start “investigating” how to “best” fund public schools with state money.

And they are now looking at possibly eliminating the salary schedule for public school teachers and what might be another disastrous, planned “reform.”

As Billy Ball reported in a post yesterday on NC Policy Watch,

“A pivotal legislative task force may be just beginning its dive into North Carolina’s school funding maze, but lawmakers’ hints that they may abolish the state’s teacher salary schedule or other state-set funding allocations is already spurring criticism from local district advocates.

Talk of nixing a state-set pay scale emerged this year when lawmakers took on a revamp of school principal pay, and it’s resurfaced multiple times in the Joint Legislative Task Force on Education Finance Reform’s first meetings in November.

Yet local district leaders and their advocates in Raleigh say the proposal may only exacerbate the state’s looming pay disparities between wealthy and poor counties, spur employment lawsuits and complicate matters for local school boards” (http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2017/11/17/legislators-consider-abolishing-teacher-salary-schedule-study-nc-school-funding-labyrinth/).

The word “task” is certainly “pivitol” here in this context. Why?

Because if you simply take a look at the members of the “task” force, you can easily see that there already was a “task” at hand and it was started years ago when the GOP powers in Raleigh took control of the General Assembly.

That “task” is tightly linked to an agenda that has been executed and carried out long before this “pivotal task force” ever convened: dismantle the public education system.

Below is a list of the members on the Joint Legislative Task Force on Education Finance Reform.

Task Force

19 people appointed by each branch of the General Assembly. That makes it already under the control of Sen. Phil Berger and Rep. Tim Moore, two of the biggest “reformers” in the state.

Look at that list of 19 people.

  • 16 of the 19 are republican.
  • 15 of the 19 are male.
  • 17 of the 19 are white.
  • 17 of the 19 were never in education as a profession (although Lambeth was on the school board of Forsyth County for a number of years).

And they as a group are to help revamp the way that public education is to be funded for a public that they are grossly unrepresentative of?

That list is a great example of the effects of gerrymandering.

Go further and look at that list more closely. It includes some of the major players and champions of the “reforms” that really have hurt public education in North Carolina.

  • Chad Barefoot
  • David Curtis
  • Jerry Tillman
  • Jon Hardister
  • Craig Horn

Sen. Barefoot has been a champion for the watered down version of the Teacher Fellows, the original sponsor of SB599 which allows people to enter the teaching profession with minimal training, and was an original architect for HB13, the class size bill that is threatening so many districts with layoffs and seismic budget constraints.

Sen. David Curtis is a stalwart supporter of charter schools and has been rather vocal on his views of what public school teachers are “worth.” One only has to revisit that rather caustic letter he wrote a young teacher a few years ago and see that his view of public education is set in stone – http://wunc.org/post/teacher-email-legislators-draws-harsh-reply#stream/0.

Sen. Jerry Tillman has probably been the staunchest supporter of the unregulated charter school industry here in North Carolina. He also was instrumental in helping craft legislation to bring in the Innovative School District. His abrasive nature against debate and constructive criticism has been well-known for years.

Rep. Jon Hardister has been part of the “reform” since he took office. On one instance, he wrote an op-ed pretty much proclaiming the same platitudes and generalities that Rep. Moore recently did on EdNC.org. They were easily refuted – http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Letter-to-Hardister.pdf. Hardister also has tried to help further charter school growth by financing it with other state money – https://caffeinatedrage.com/2017/06/01/robbing-peter-to-pave-for-paul-rep-jon-hardisters-misguided-amendment-for-charter-schools/.

Rep. Craig Horn has literally been in the center of every education “reform” in this state, the most recent being the principal pay plan. When backlash for the plan became rather quick and vocal he exclaimed,

“Legislation is not an exact science” – – Craig Horn in EdNC.org on Sept. 21, 2017.

But science requires thought, reflection, observation, and objectivity. This “task force” being led by Rep. Horn is actually an exercise in rapid narrow-minded policy changes.

With over a quarter of this task force controlled by these people, it should not be too hard to realize that this “Joint Legislative Task Force on Education Finance Reform” is nothing more than a gerrymandered body whose agenda to further privatize a public good is more important than actually representing the public of North Carolina.

If this really was a “task force,” then maybe it should spend its time and energy trying to validate with real research and real data the effectiveness of the very “reforms” that many on this “task force” have championed.

But alas, that would go against their narrative and would require a look at the truth.

North Carolina’s Continued Passive Aggressive War on Public Education

Rep. Tim Moore’s recent missive in EdNC.org (“Education reforms for North Carolina’s future”) begins with one of the more sweeping fallacies made by many in Raleigh who champion the crippling policies surrounding public education.


He starts,

“The North Carolina General Assembly is implementing meaningful public school reforms that are popular with parents and students because they focus on families’ shared priority of improving student achievement” (https://www.ednc.org/2017/11/09/education-reforms-north-carolinas-future/).

Popular with parents and students? Meaningful? Focused on shared priorities?

Well, consider the following list that just highlights some of those “reform” efforts from just the last eleven months.

  1. House Bill 17 was passed and “is meant to shift more power to Johnson and deem him the ‘administrative head’ of the state education department. The current law says some of the superintendent’s duties are ‘subject to the discretion, control and approval of the State Board of Education,’ but that language has been removed in several places in the proposed bill” (http://www.wral.com/bill-would-give-more-power-to-new-nc-superintendent-reduce-role-of-school-board/16341626/).
  2. A lawsuit by the state board against the superintendent over HB17 starts early in 2017. The General Assembly backs the state superintendent with taxpayer money in the case. The state board must use its own budget to finance lawsuit.
  3. The General Assembly passes a law (HB13) to limit class sizes in K-3 classrooms but does not allocate funds and resources to help hire needed teachers for new classes created in response or to help build extra classrooms.
  4. A principal pay plan that actually punishes many principals is passed without input from educators and is crafted in part by private business entities.
  5. Schools will no longer have Biology I test scores used to calculate school performance grade and school report cards when those scores have been among the highest in past years for each school.
  6. There is a new version of the N.C. Teaching Fellows that is a mere shadow of its former self.
  7. Opportunity Grants were expanded without any research backing its success to nearly a billion dollars over the next ten years.
  8. The Department of Public Instruction has its budget slashed by nearly 20% for the next two years.
  9. SB599 is passed and it allows people to enter the teaching profession with minimal training.
  10. An Innovative School District selects an unwilling school to turn over to a for-profit entity to “reform” it. That school system where the school resides is considering shutting down the school.
  11. Per-pupil expenditures still are one of the worst in the country.
  12. Textbook funding still lags millions behind what pre-recession levels were.
  13. There is a rash boon of a method to reformulate how monies are allocated to local school systems based political ideologies and personalities rather than principles.
  14. The state superintendent has not asserted himself as an instructional leader.

And that lawsuit between the state board of education and the state superintendent is still ongoing as it has been requested by the state board for the N.C. Supreme Court to hear the case all the while the very General Assembly that is propping the state superintendent is trying to recreate how judges in this state are elected and selected as well as drawing new judicial districts in an effort to take over the judicial system. That’s the same General Assembly that has been called out for gerrymandering districts – twice.

And Tim Moore wants to claim “The North Carolina General Assembly is implementing meaningful public school reforms that are popular with parents and students because they focus on families’ shared priority of improving student achievement.”

If “implementing meaningful public school reforms” means “waging war on public education” in this context, then Tim Moore is exactly right.

The Classroom Library – Getting More Students To Read

If you teach reading or language arts in any capacity in a public school, one of the most dynamic resources you can offer your students is a classroom library.

No, not a bookshelf with copies and class sets of school bought books and ancillary materials from past (and now ancient) textbook adoptions.

But actual individual books. Varied in nature. Spanning multiple genres. Written by people of various backgrounds.

Books that have been read. Dog-eared. Annotated. Crinkled spines.

Books that you are familiar with so when a student asks about them, you can discuss why that book has merit.

Books that you don’t mind go missing for long periods of time because it is possibly being read by someone who may never have had a chance to read it before.

As a veteran teacher, I have always had a small shelf of books that I have read and taught on display for students to peruse. However, one of the wonderful aspects of being a veteran teacher is gleaning new ideas from new young teachers. One of those was creating an authentic reading library in the classroom that possessed a wide variety of texts that students were allowed to borrow from and read.

So, I expanded the small bookshelf into something bigger.

All of those books in my house still in boxes that need to be given away? They came to my classroom.

When the school library started replacing texts with new titles, I took the older books and placed them in my classroom.

When I went to Goodwill, I scanned the books and purchased ones that I had read before or had some sort of link to what students might be interested in.

When I go to a public library, I go to the section sometimes called “Friends of the Library” where they sell donated texts for small amounts of money as a fundraiser and put them in my classroom. Almost 100 titles have come from the Greene County Public Library in Greensboro, GA, my hometown of 4,000 people. It resides on the same block as my childhood home where my grandmother still lives. Ian McEwan, Mark Twain, J. M. Coetzee, Frank McCourt, Michael Chabon, Shel Silverstein, Somerset Maugham, and others have traveled from that small town to my classroom.

Why do this? Because students need to see teachers enmeshed in the very subject they teach and see those same teachers as students still hungry to learn more and willing to follow curiosities. It expands the workable “canon” of the course. It provides opportunity to create assignments based on choices and independent initiative.

Students need to feel safe enough to come to the “library” and pick something that might interest them. And as a teacher, I need to be fine with them taking a book and possibly dog-earing it more, crumpling more of the pages, or even not returning it.

But hopefully, it will get read by that student and maybe others.

More and more teachers I know in my own school and in other places have classroom libraries. Students notice this. It shows them that reading is one of the most authentically cool things to do, and what active independent reading does for students in other academic endeavors cannot be measured by standardized tests.

Besides, it shows students how nerdy I really am.

And I am proud of being a nerd.


Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, the “Education Endowment Fund” and Those License Plates For Teachers

In May of 2014, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest helped to craft legislation to create a North Carolina Education Endowment Fund that would allow for tax deductible contributions to be made for supporting teacher pay.

One of the initiatives of the fund was to sell specialty license plates. As reported in a Feb. 2015 News & Observer post by Colin Campbell,

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest needs at least 500 people to sign up for “I Support Teachers” license plates, part of his effort to fund teacher raises through private donations.

Forest announced last May that he’s creating the North Carolina Education Endowment Fund, which will allow individuals and corporations to receive tax deductions for supporting teacher pay. The fund also plans to raise money by selling specialty license plates, but Forest must first reach the state’s requirement of 500 paid applications seeking a plate.

“This is not only an opportunity to raise money for great teachers, but also an opportunity to let all our teachers know we appreciate their service,” Forest says in a video posted this week. “The ‘I Support Teachers’ license plate initiative is the first step toward creating a sound foundation for the North Carolina Educational Endowment and planning for the future of teaching excellence in North Carolina through an innovative and self-sustaining fund” (http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/under-the-dome/article10873850.html).

The plates were to look like this.


Oddly enough, I have not seen one on the roads of North Carolina.

That’s because the demand never reached 500 to start the production. You can look on the NC DOT site for ordering license plates and see all of the options. “I Support Teachers” is not there (https://edmv.ncdot.gov/VehicleRegistration/SpecialPlate#term=All Plates).

But while you are on that site you can actually make personalized plates in a virtual sense and see if it is available to purchase and use for your own vehicle.


So, if Lt. Gov. Dan Forest is really still serious about this initiative, then maybe he could be one of the first 500 people to register for the plate. In fact, there are several options that Forest could use to not only support teachers, but also personalize his “I Support Teachers” license plate with unique identifiers just for him.

And note, these are AVAILABLE! These personalized plates are legal and can be used.

If only the Lt. Gov. would follow through on his own initiative.


If you did not know, Forest literally has his own television studio in his office that was supposedly funded by a 501(c). And it appears that it may be a violation of ethics. Consider these reports:



But even if it is illegal, the fact that he has his own television studio is pretty neat. Teachers can’t get new textbooks, but this politician has a studio. Maybe that 501 could have donated the money used to give a studio to Forest to the endowment fund?


Of course this plate makes sense. No one advocates this farce of a law more than Forest. He even went to Texas to brag about it.


Remember when Forest had DPI reissue a report on charter schools in 2016 because it was not “positive” enough?


Remember that Forest was instrumental in starting two virtual charter schools in NC that were run by for-profit entities? In fact, they are doing so poorly  that they are asking for more money – money that could have gone into the “endowment fund” – http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2017/11/08/stay-despite-poor-scores-critics-profit-virtual-charter-school-seeks-blessing-state-officials/.


Yep. He stumped for Trump here in NC.


And yes. He will run for governor in 2020. In fact, he is actually campaigning now which leads us to the last plate…


IR4OWIO = I Run For Office While In Office.

Thanks for the support, Dan.

Philomath is Where Donald Needs To Go

We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and restore its promise for all of our people. Together we will determine the course of America and the world for many, many years to come.” – Donald Trump, Jan. 2017.

Those words began the inaugural address of one Donald Trump in front of a “record” crowd. It began his quest to take this country to a new place and rebuild our foundations. Maybe it was the first fable of his reconstruction, pun intended.

In Trump’s mind, that “place” might be one where he is highly approved and highly adore by people other than his immediate family and acquaintances. That place might be one where he is regarded as someone who is highly effective and highly empathetic, but that is highly questionable. Why?

Because Donald Trump “can’t get there from here.”

Besides having one of the most original videos for a song, R.E.M.’s “Can’t Get There From Here” also has one of the greatest descriptions that one could ever tag to a person like Donald Trump.


“Mr. Citywide, hypnotized, suit-and-tied” might be one of the most appropriate phrases to define our current president. But with all of his campaign promises, fiery rhetoric, Twitter rants, bang and blame, and obvious disconnect, he is about to realize that he “can’t get there from here.”

This “world is a monster” right now. Russian interference, North Korea, hurricanes, mass shootings, segregation along racial and socio-economic lines, and lack of equitable health care have become the course of America. And the way Trump is handling all of these is “bad to swallow you whole.”

What Trump refuses to do is realize that he has a lot to learn. He has to become a student himself to others rather than the person who claims to already know it all. And he will have to get over his own ego, which is the biggest “troll at his door.”


Actually, I did not know that Trump’s I.Q. was one of the highest. And I do not feel stupid for not knowing that.

But I am insecure about where the country is going because the “there” and “here” I have in my mind are not the same “there” and “here” that Trump seems to have.

Trump touts his incredible intellect and memory. Just this month he was quoted as saying,

“People don’t understand, I went to an Ivy League college. I was a nice student. I did very well. I’m a very intelligent person….”

“…One of the great memories of all time.”

It is safe to say that I did not attend an Ivy League college. But there is Philomath, GA, and “I’ve been there. I know the way.”

As the song goes,

“If you’re needing inspiration, Philomath is where I go.”

Really, I have. It’s an actual place in Oglethorpe County, GA not far from where I grew up in Greene County. It is an unincorporated town situated between “Lexington and Crawfordville,” according to the liner notes for Eponymous. Actually, I have spent time in both of those tiny metropolises as well. There are not many “citywide, suit-and-tied” people in those towns. But they have very good memories.


The name “Philomath” has a special meaning. It is from the Greek word meaning “a lover of learning.” At one time there was a well-known boys school in that Georgia town. The word “philomath” also has a leaning toward a “love for mathematics,” and when the president starts playing around with health care costs and tax reform, he is playing with some fuzzy math.

Fuzzy math means bad calculations. Bad calculations mean stunted progress. Stunted progress will not get you “there from here.”

Simply put, Donald Trump probably needs to spend time in Philomath because there he can “know the lowdown.” But getting to Philomath would require a humility, an empathetic nature, a willingness to be among those less fortunate, and the ability to take criticism.

And Trump is not capable of those things.

In short, it would require a need for an education not offered in the halls of an Ivy League college, but on the roads that really link communities together even the small highways that connect Lexington and Crawfordville via Philomath.

Just watch out for the “deer” in the road.


“Can’t Get There From Here”

When the world is a monster bad to swallow you whole
Kick the clay that holds the teeth in, throw your trolls out the door
If you’re needing inspiration, Philomath is where I go by dawn
Lawyer Jeff, he knows the lowdown, he’s mighty bad to visit home

(I’ve been there I know the way) Can’t get there from here
(I’ve been there I know the way) Can’t get there from here
(I’ve been there I know the way) Can’t get there from here

When your hands are feeling empty, stick head jumpin’ off the ground round
Tris is sure to shirr the deer out, Brother Ray can sing my song

(I’ve been there I know the way) Can’t get there from here
(I’ve been there I know the way) Can’t get there from here
(I’ve been there I know the way) Can’t get there from here

Hands down, Calechee bound, landlocked, kiss the ground
Dirt of seven continents going round and round
Go on ahead, Mr. Citywide, hypnotized, suit-and-tied
Gentlemen, testify

If your world is a monster bad to swallow you whole
Philomath, they know the lowdown, throw your trolls out the door

(I’ve been there I know the way) Can’t get there from here
(I’ve been there I know the way) Can’t get there from here
(I’ve been there I know the way) Can’t get there from here
(I’ve been there I know the way) Can’t get there from here
(I’ve been there I know the way) Can’t get there from here
(I’ve been there I know the way) Can’t get there from here
(I’ve been there I know the way) Can’t get there from here


School Districts Don’t Need to Manage Money “Better” – Lawmakers Need to Better Fund Schools

Today Lindsay Wagner posted an incredible piece concerning the class size mandate that Raleigh has placed on K-3 classrooms and the effects on local school systems.

In “Without action, class size mandate threatens Pre-K in some school districts” on the Public School Forum of North Carolina website, Wagner focuses on Warren County’s situation.

Without the necessary time and money to build more elementary school classrooms to satisfy the General Assembly’s requirement to lower class sizes next year in kindergarten through third grades, Warren County Schools’ Superintendent Dr. Ray Spain says he’s looking at eliminating most or all of his Pre-Kindergarten classes district wide.

“It’s going to be disastrous.”

Spain says he’s forced to consider this scenario because there’s simply not enough space in Warren County’s elementary schools to give the older children more teachers and smaller classes while also giving low-income 4-year-olds an early learning environment that, a large body of research says, is critical for their success in kindergarten and beyond (https://www.ncforum.org/without-action-class-size-mandate-threatens-pre-k-in-some-school-districts/). 

Wagner makes sure to note that Warren County is a poor rural district and those districts desperately need strong pre-K programs to help combat the effects of poverty on school aged children.


And now that very vital resource is about to go because of political grandstanding.

When Wake County is scrambling to even meet the mandate for class size, imagine what smaller, rural schools districts are having to do?

Apparently drastic measures such as what Warren County and other systems have to consider.

Remember what Chad Barefoot once said when the HB13 fiasco was starting. He said,

“For years, the General Assembly has been sending tens of millions of dollars to districts for new classroom teachers for the purpose of lowering classroom sizes,” he said. “The question we keep asking over and over again is, ‘What did they do with the money? …The data that we have received from the districts varies, and some districts did not fully respond to our information request. What some of the data has shown is that there are districts that did not reduce class sizes with the funding we sent them. Why are they holding art and PE teachers’ jobs hostage for their misallocation of classroom teacher funds?” (http://www.wral.com/law-reducing-class-size-has-music-art-pe-teachers-anxious-about-future-/16628678/).

That’s all he has said. There was no proof of the data. No explanation of what he had seen. No transparency. If he is to make the claim, then he needs to show us where those “misallocations” really are.

But there are none to be seen. Yet district leaders like Warren County’s Dr. Spain show that the misallocation is actually on the state’s part, not the local districts.

As Wagner relates when talking about Camden County’s forced obstacles,

Camden County in northeastern North Carolina is also looking to displace about four Pre-K classes from their elementary schools, said Camden County Board of Education Chair Christian Overton….

…Overton said there is a larger issue at play when it comes to laws that the General Assembly enacts without accompanying them with the resources necessary for their implementation.

“We’re given these mandates to comply with the law, but not getting any funds to help increase the number of classrooms or teachers. So what’s the next step? If we don’t have more funds to pay teachers, do you RIF [lay off] other personnel to hire them?” said Overton.

Overton took issue with the argument from some lawmakers in the General Assembly who say that districts simply need to do a better job managing the funds they have been allocated by the state.

“Our budgets have steadily decreased over the past several years,” said Overton. “Speaking for our own district, we have been very frugal and forthcoming in the spending of our funds to produce positive outcomes for our children—and the performance of our schools show that.”

“At what point does one more unfunded mandate added on start to have negative impacts on our ability to improve a child’s education?” Overton said.

Ironically, Mark Johnson has made comment that Pre-K services are a vital part of his agenda. He even intends to hire an assistant superintendent for early education. From an April 5th article on WRAL.com,

…the new assistant superintendent would “really focus on best practices for early childhood education,” Johnson said, and allow the state to “study it, find out what works best and present those back and really start to tackle early childhood” (http://www.wral.com/nc-superintendent-announces-revamped-reading-program-new-early-learning-position/16623169/).

So, what does Mark Johnson have to say about what is happening to places like Warren County and Camden County?

Is he willing to go and fight for these school systems to be adequately funded to meet the almost impossible mandates with the current allotment?

Is he even willing to address the issue?

Because whether he wants to believe it or not – it’s his job.

Kids are depending on it.

Hawkins Middle School : How “Stranger Things” Shows Support For Public Schools

The fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana became the epicenter of a lot of “binge-watching” in the last month as the second season of the hit series Stranger Things was released in nine episodes.

Following the trials and tribulations of these school-age kids and their families is rather surreal; the music, the fashion, and the hair styles are as authentically presented now as they were actually in the 1980’s, especially if you are a middle-aged public school teacher who listens to The Clash like he did growing up in a small rural town in Georgia where he rode his bike everywhere without a digital link to everything else in the world.

He just had to be home by dinner.

While the kids and adults in this fictional town battle forces from the “upside down” amidst a government cover-up during the Cold War, it is easy to get lost in the sci-fi aspects of this well-written show. And it is very well-written and produced. But there is one non-human entity that is foundational and serves as the cornerstone to those people in a small section of Indiana: Hawkins Middle School, Home of the Tiger Cubs.


Is there ever an episode where the school was not used as a setting? A place for Mike, Dustin, and Lucas to find answers? Is there ever an episode where the school is not juxtaposed against Hawkins National Laboratory where secretive actions took place?

Think about it. One place is an established public good where taxpayer money helps to educate all of the students who pass through its doors no matter what socioeconomic background they come from. They could be students from single-parent families or presumably stable nuclear families. They could be interested in a variety of curious endeavors like Dungeons & Dragons or audio/visual technology. Some of the kids ride their bicycles to this place.


The other is surrounded by gates and fences and can only be entered by people who are “chosen.” That place does not have to show others what happens there or how it “assesses” matters. If someone who is not a “staff member” or “student” there is caught on the premises, then punishment ensues.

But like the first place, this one is also financed by taxpayer money. Yet here, money is being used to create something private that is supposed to combat a problem that does not exist, but it creates an even bigger problem for all people.

While the parallels between Hawkins Middle School and Hawkins National Laboratory may be an exercise in fandom, they are rather apparent to those who question the actions of the North Carolina General Assembly when it comes to “reforming” public education.

If there ever was a cornerstone for the characters in Hawkins, IN, then it is the public school. It serves as the greatest foundation of that community.

The AV Room. Heathkit. School assemblies. The gymnasium. Science class. Mr. Clarke. Eleven channeling Will. Makeshift isolation tank. Portal to the Upside Down. The Snow Ball. Parents were students there. Ghostbusters suits.


Those are tied to Hawkins Middle School.

So is growing up, coming of age, hallway conversations, epiphanies, learning about others, following curiosities, finding answers to questions you learned to ask.

Those are also tied to Hawkins Middle School.

What is attached to Hawkins National Laboratory is unregulated, politicized, and secretive. That is not to say that some charter schools do not serve vital purposes. But that is the exception and not the norm here in North Carolina.

Yes, the show takes place in Indiana and not North Carolina. My childhood roaming on a bicycle happened in Georgia and not North Carolina. But does that matter?

Ironically, Stranger Things happens to be a show created by two North Carolinians and shot in Georgia, but Hawkins is really any town where a majority of students go to public schools.

And just like in the 1980’s, public schools today are the heart of communities.


What Does Dan Forest Have to Say About Roy Moore?



“If our action in keeping men out of women’s bathrooms and showers protected the life of just one child or one woman from being molested or assaulted, then it was worth it. North Carolina will never put a price tag on the value of our children. They are precious and priceless.” – Lt. Gov. Dan Forest on April 5th, 2016 concerning HB2 and PayPal’s announcement to not expand in Charlotte.

By his account, chronicled in his book “So Help Me God,” Moore spent his time as a prosecutor convicting “murderers, rapists, thieves and drug pushers.” He writes that it was “around this time that I fashioned a plaque of The Ten Commandments on two redwood tablets. I believed that many of the young criminals whom I had to prosecute would not have committed criminal acts if they had been taught these rules as children,” Moore writes (https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/woman-says-roy-moore-initiated-sexual-encounter-when-she-was-14-he-was-32/2017/11/09/1f495878-c293-11e7-afe9-4f60b5a6c4a0_story.html?utm_term=.81ae7afd738b).

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. – Ninth Commandment

It is no secret that Lt. Gov. Dan Forest’s religious leanings weigh heavily on his office’s interpretation of its powers. The “bathroom bill’s” most ardent champion has spent time and state resources defending the bill even before its “alteration” while also spending his time in office actually running for the governor’s mansion in 2020.

So, I want to know what Lt. Gov. Forest would say about Roy Moore and the accusations that are against him. And while there is the hope that all people are “innocent until proven guilty,” Lt. Gov. Forest certainly did not extend that courtesy to those he directly and falsely accused of crimes that never were committed within the LGBT community like sexual assault by transgender people of children in locker rooms and public bathrooms.

But what has been levied upon Roy Moore has much more (pun intended) substance. And this circumstance did not even involve a public bathroom, but a government official with a staunch view of the Judeo-Christian religion.

So, what would Forest have to say?

And if he says, “Judge not lest ye be judged,” then I would say that Forest should have used that advice back when HB2 was conceived.

A Bye Week Just Means More Time To Prepare

It’s not the will to win that matters—everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters. – Paul “Bear” Bryant.

The second season starts tonight for high school football as many teams from this area are preparing to play in the first round.

And we finally have some football weather to accompany the playoffs.

If preparation means anything to a team, then the fact that some teams have a bye week is  just another way of saying that there’s more that we can prepare for.

Whether that means physically getting ready and letting some injuries heal, watching more film to see how you can improve, or running some other sets to see how well you can match up against new competition, not playing does not mean that you really have an off-night.

It means you work on the other facets of the game that make you fully ready to compete when the whistle sounds.

Every team now has the same record. And for many players and teams, playoffs bring out the best.

They prepare to be at their best.

That means prepare everyday. Like today.

Because having a bye week is having another day to prepare.

Go Titans!