We have a winner! In the category of Most Incompetent Commissioner of Education Ever, Kevin “IVFO” Huffman is the unanimous choice. Earlier today Huffman proudly announced that Measurement, Inc. would be paid more than $100 million dollars to conduct the Common Core assessment tests (assuming of course, the legislature does not gut Common Core tests in the next session).
Just one teeny little problem with your choice there, Kev.
Measurement, Inc were the geniuses who caused the meltdown in the state’s Common Core aligned writing assessment tests last February. And the cause of the debacle was the same company, using the same software program (MIST) that Huffman touted in today’s announcement.
Way back on March 28th, when RTP was just a little baby, we published the article below. Please note the emails at the bottom and the numerous references to MI (Measurement, Inc.) and MIST. At the time, we had never heard of MIST and did not know what “MI” stood for. We sure as hell know now:
The fact that the same incompetent gang of idiots who screwed up the February tests have now been awarded the contract to screw up the ENTIRE testing system for the state is breathtaking. Even if Measurement, Inc. says it now has its act together, why should Tennessee taxpayers take the chance ?
Short answer – we shouldn’t. But the Haslam administration’s bull-headed, blind march over the Common Core cliff is about to get very expensive. And our kids will pay the price.
Gee, Bill. Golly, Kevin. Did you think no one would remember this past gross incompetence? Well we did, and we are re-delivering it to your doorstep in a well-deserved flaming bag of Common Core Crap. Just in time for Halloween!
NOTE TO LEGISLATURE: If you let these fools get away with this, you will have only yourselves to blame – and the taxpayers to answer to. You can’t say you didn’t know about it.
See if you can identify the following government boondoggle:
- The government creates a new, Obama-backed government program.
- The program requires the user to use a website that freezes, or did not allow users to log in and/or lost previous entries by the user.
- The government did not provide enough servers to handle the load.
- When the system crashed, the government advised people to forget about the website and send in their work on paper.
- The government’s program was expensive and cost millions in tax dollars.
If you guessed “Obamacare,” you would be wrong.
But if you guessed “Tennessee Common Core testing” you would be a winner!
RTP HAS THE EXCLUSIVE STORY
Sources have provided RTP with a fascinating series of emails that reveal the debacle.
Last month, while trying to conduct a statewide Common Core aligned writing assessment test for the state’s 5th, 8th and 11th graders by computer (using existing hardware), the system melted down: Not enough servers, programs didn’t work, had to use paper and pencil, yada, yada, yada. You know the drill.
Now Kevin Huffman, Bill Haslam, Bill Frist and SCORE are trying to force PARCC testing down the throats of taxpayers and the state’s teachers. PARCC tests will require an even GREATER use of computers and servers (which many local school districts do not have and will have to purchase on the front end) — all so Pearson can take a butt load of money out of our pockets.
The remarkable email exchange between the state, a local school district and its teachers is provided below.
Maybe Huffman should compare notes with Sebelius. Something tells me he will be hauled in to testify before some committee at some point soon.
Shades of Jimmy Naifeh.
Last week RTP reported the District Attorneys Association had refused to endorse Amendment #2, despite the pleading of AG Herbert Slatery and the veiled threats from Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons.
But in a tactic that would have made former Speaker “Emeritus” Jimmy Naifeh blush (and making Jimmy blush is a difficult task indeed), the Haslam thugs used a tactic best found in the corrupt wards of Obama’s Chicago. The DA staff suddenly “decided” to hold the vote “open” long enough for Gibbons and the governor’s people to round up enough stray votes by phone in order to overturn the original decision not to endorse (sounds like the time when Naifeh held open the vote on a state income tax in order to round up enough votes, doesn’t it?).
This is not the first time the administration has been caught trying to intimidate and strong-arm people who disagree with it. In fact, RTP reported another incident that directly involved — guess who? — Bill Gibbon’s Safety Dept.
And a hat-tip to TNReport for an excellent job of reporting:
On Thursday the Tennessee State Board Education will hold a meeting to discuss the Advance Placement U.S. History (APUSH) curriculum standards. The meeting was the brainchild of Senators Mike Bell and Delores Gresham, who were responding to the numerous complaints they had received about the “revisionist” and left-leaning presentation of American history in the new standards.
Conservative groups have been actively encouraging people to attend the meeting and give the Board an earful.
TN State Board of Education meeting.
Noon. October 30, 21014
Meeting will take place at the Tennessee School Boards Association office:
525 Brick Church Park Drive, Nashville
On or about October 14th (last week) Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons and the new Attorney General Herbert Slatery went before the District Attorneys’ conference. The agenda: to secure the DAs’ endorsement of Amendment #2 (smells like its number…)
The DAs took a vote and refused to endorse. According to RTP’s sources Gibbons was absolutely livid. But Gibbons went a step further and pointedly asked if they knew just how “invested” the governor was in the passage of Amendment #2. The DAs were not persuaded. Most of the DAs took it as a veiled threat (which, of course, it was), but they stood their ground.
Note to Gibbons and Slatery: Increasingly the governor is falling into the same category has Kevin Huffman’s idol, Barack Obama. His ineptitude is becoming more apparent and the level of respect is plummeting, even among many of his supporters. More ominous for the guv is the fact that no one seems to fear him any more. That’s what four years of indecision, liberal policies and attacking your fellow Republicans will do for a man’s reputation.
It’s going to be a long, lame duck four years and the most recent people to notice that are the DAs.
Good for them.
In RTP’s previous story we said Gov. Haslam went to Denver to help out his buddy, Liberal Democrat John Hickenlooper.
We were wrong. It’s worse.
Haslam actually invited Hickenlooper to Nashville to give him an “attaboy” in the middle of Hickenloopers tight race for re-election.
RTP regrets its error almost as much as we regret having to put up with Haslam’s weird misplaced political loyalties.
Below are two governors. The one on the left legalized pot. The one on the right is apparently smoking it.
Gov.Bill Haslam is known for making insipid statements, which RTP has dutifully recorded from time to time. But even we were surprised when he coughed up this gem:
“For me, it shouldn’t be about the name and what we call it, the battle should be about: Are we going to have high standards or not…”
Put aside the fact for a moment that Haslam was in Denver providing a PR plug for Hickenlooper, a very liberal Democrat, who is in a very close race for re-election in two weeks (He couldn’t drive 20 minutes to help Rep. Courtney Rogers, but he could fly across the country to help a Democrat? And you wonder why conservatives are suspicious of this guy?)
But back to our meme:
Really? You think by just changing the name of Common Core that will somehow kiss the boo-boo and make it go away? What an insult to the intelligence of the people of Tennessee and to the legislature.
Okay, let’s go over this one more time, governor, because you apparently did not understand it the first umpteen times you were told:
- It’s not about higher standards — everyone wants higher standards, Bill. But what Tennesseans do not want are standards that were created in Washington by left-wing activists with liberal agendas. To say you are for higher standards is akin to going to Neyland Stadium on game day and standing up and shouting “I’m for Tennessee and I’m not ashamed to admit it!”
- You can create all the standards you want, but if you allow Pearson and their ilk to create and administer the expensive Common Core tests, then teachers will naturally “teach to the test” and will teach Washington‘s version of standards and not Tennessee’s. You KNOW that is true, governor, but you are either too stubborn or too dishonest to admit it.
- You have spent millions of our tax dollars pursuing an agenda that teachers, students and parents have overwhelmingly resisted and condemned, yet you persist in seeking to spend even more. You say you like Vanderbilt studies, governor. Well why don’t you acknowledge this one?
- You have treated the legislature like fools, while politically and personally attacking those legislators who disagree with you. You weren’t even man enough to say it yourself – but sent your surrogates and your consultants to do your dirty work for you. You think those legislators — even those who generally support you – didn’t see through rank cowardice? You taught legislators a lesson with your attacks — but it was the wrong lesson. You violated the trust of your own party and the GOP caucus. Don’t think they won’t remember that.
- Kevin “I Voted for Obama” Huffman is still your Education Commissioner. Huffman is a self-serving, self-dealing opportunist, who is not from Tennessee, who has been documented doing multi-million no-bid deals with his old employers with our tax money, who couldn’t even get the TCAP score reported on time and who likely manipulated the scores to save your sorry education agenda. And yet he is still on the job. That speaks — no screams – volumes about your judgment and your competence as a leader.
Okay, got it now? Keep hanging out with your left-wing Democrat pals like Hickenlooper and you will be duly rewarded in time. We hear he’s got a dime bag with your name on it.
Far be it for RTP to agree with with the Chief of the Largely Irrelevant Tribe (aka House Dems), but Craig Fitzhugh is the latest to notice the governor has no clothes.
Haslam seems hell-bent on trying to jam through major policy changes (such as Common Core, Medicare expansion, etc.) that he knows he could never get through the Republican legislature, but if he thought he could count on Democrat votes to support his liberal social policies, he may be severely disappointed.
First Haslam said he was waiting on a report from Vanderbilt as to whether years of billions of dollars spent on Pre-K programs had made a dimes worth of difference in the education of Tennessee kids (short answer: No.). But it seems the study will be just a tad late — about 5 years late. But after repeatedly insisting he need the study to make a decision, Haslam wasted no time swinging into action and doing what he does best — begging the Obama Administration to spend more tax dollars.
The governor wants to take the Fed’s money but only apply it to Shelby and Davidson counties. This is to be acknowledged for what it is: get the other 93 counties to notice that they are not getting anything, then they will start demanding their legislators support an even larger expansion. But Fitzhugh noticed just one teeny problem with that strategy.
It’s probably illegal.
Will someone please tell this governor that if he wants to spend tax dollars like a drunken Democrat why doesn’t he just go ahead and join the other party? Or at least try to do so without breaking the law? Or maybe he could spend a bunch of money trying to defeat Republicans in the legislature who disagree with him.
Oh, wait, he’s already tried that.
Governor’s “friends” PAC Spent nearly $250,000 dollars to defeat one (count ‘em, 1) GOP legislator.
Election reports released over the weekend should that the Haslam & Cate concocted Advance Tennessee PAC spent considerably more than the $135,000 they reported right before the primary – try nearly double that amount.
In what is now considered one of the most classic bone-headed, shoot-yourself-in-the-foot, counter-productive political debacles in recent history, “friends” of Gov. Haslam (meaning all evidence points towards Haslam asking his “friends” to do it) targeted eight incumbent legislators of the governor’s own party for defeat. Haslam nearly wet himself dissembling when reporters Andrea Zelinski asked him about his involvement in the fiasco. The guv’s chief of staff Mark Cate was directly involved, but as yet hasn’t been man enough to come forward and admit it. (Now don’t ket all huffy Mark, and fly off the handle. Your contrived temper tantrums are old news around the LP and people are starting to laugh about your feeble attempts at intimidation).
The net result: The Advance Tennessee money resulted in the just one targeted legislator losing – Rep. Tony Shipley. RTP does not count the Stacy Campfield race – by the time Advance TN spent a paltry last-minute sum on that race, Campfield was already long gone under the onslaught of Dr. Briggs’ $350,000 expenditure.
The new report shows that unregistered lobbyist Brian Kaegi was paid even more money than originally thought. His firm received nearly $75,000 (is it too late for Scott Niswonger to get his money back for non-performance?).
Great job, guys.
Has Hooker Finally Hooked Something?
Ever since the curious turn of events regarding the decision of a recent grand jury to not indict Speakers Ron Ramsey and Beth Harwell, there has been speculation on what happens next.
The controversy stemmed from their alleged violation of state law regarding the appointment of members to the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission. John Jay Hooker (the Patron Saint of Failed Legal Filings), on his umpteenth Don Quixote legal quest, apparently had finally found a legal challenge of some merit.
Despite claiming they had more than sufficient evidence, the grand jury did not indict. Only after the jury was dissolved did members come forward to say they did not realize that they, as a jury could indict. If they had known that, they said, they would have done so.
Case close, right? Not so fast.
RTP has learned that a new grand jury has been impaneled and that the foreman of that grand jury has been briefed on the findings of the previous jury. The speculation is the new grand jury will indict one or both Speakers. We’ll see.
But the threat of an indictment has raised questions among many, especially many state legislators, as to what an indictment of a sitting Speaker would mean. That is especially true as it regards Speaker Harwell. Harwell set a precedent in the Curry Todd case that she may have to adhere to when it comes to her own position. Harwell forced Todd to resign his chairmanship after he was merely arrested for drinking & driving & packing a gun and before his case was adjudicated.
It would be reasonable to expect the same standards would be applied to Harwell if she was indicted in connection to the JPEC appointments, especially since it involved her official duties as speaker. If Harwell is indicted before the leadership elections in December, it would be difficult to convince members of the GOP caucus that she could continue as Speaker and not be distracted from he job, not to mention the embarrassment of having a Speaker go on trial while sitting in office.
If Harwell’s indictment comes after the leadership elections, it is hard to see how she could continue in that office without at least taking a “leave of absence” from her duties as speaker. In that case, her duties would likely fall to Speaker Pro-Tem Curtis Johnson of Clarksville.
Oh, my, John Jay. What hath you wrought?
Haslam explaining how to handle an anti-Common Core legislator:
In a recent TNReport article, “Republican” Gov. Bill Haslam breezily dismissed concerns about Common Core:
Haslam said he still supports the controversial nationally focused education-standards system, which appears to be growing in unpopularity among Tennessee teachers. There’s also a sizable contingent of Republican lawmakers in the state’s General Assembly who’ve committed themselves to thwarting it.
“There is some disagreement about where they came from and how they originated; I think there are some misconceptions, and I also think it is a little irrelevant.”
Haslam went on to offer a vague promise to establish a policy-discussion forum on Common Core that provides “everybody a chance to have some comment on it.”
“We are trying to figure out the appropriate vehicle to do that, and we will come back to you soon with how we propose to do that across the state,” said Haslam.
Would this be the same secret closed-door meetings Haslam held around the state back in July? Meetings set up in coordination with TOSS, whose lobbyist is also the lobbyist for Pearson? Surely not.
Rocky Top has a suggestion for the Guv on what would be an “appropriate vehicle.” It too was announced with great fanfare and publicity and Common Core seems headed for the same results: