Monthly Archives: March, 2014

No Time for Sargents

When last we checked in with House Finance chairman Charles Sargent, he was frenetically trying to curry favor with conservatives to help bolster him against his formidable primary opponent. Sargent’s main hook was his support for the repeal of the Hall Income Tax. The way Chuck figured it, if he would help pass repeal of the tax, folks like AFP, Tea Party’s, etc. would back off a little.

Enter Gov. Haslam. The last few days he has been strong-arming Sargent, big time, telling him the state cannot afford the decrease in revenues at this time. Of course that hasn’t stopped the governor from spending on his favorite projects, such as Common Core and PARCC testing while issuing unfunded mandates to local school districts and raiding the Hope Scholarship Fund to pay people to go to community college.

But give the taxpayers some of their own money back? Oh no-o-o-o, not this governor. His position is to keep the onerous income tax on investments (like those for retirees), the taxpayers be damned.

So now Sargent finds himself between a Rocky Top and hard place. In recent days he has tried to slide off his support for repeal. Guess those caucus campaign contributions come with some strings attached, eh, Mr. Chairman?

Sandy’s Got A Brand New Gig

[Editor’s note: You are probably as tired of reading about Chuck “Pearson” Cagle as we are writing about him. We promise this will be the last article about Chuckles. At least until the next one…]

For the last week, Chuck Cagle has been furiously calling school superintendents, his pastor, the guys down at the gas station and anyone else who would listen to inform them that his wife, Sandy, does not work for Pearson (as was reported by Rocky Top several days ago).

Rocky Top stands corrected – sort of — not really. None of us here at RTP are what you would call social friends with the Cagles and we based our information on Sandra Cagle’s LinkedIn post declaring proudly that she worked for Pearson. Although she left Pearson just a few months ago (well after, it should be noted, the media and others were starting to look into Chuck’s House of Conflicts), Sandra didn’t update her LinkedIn status until very recently. Gee, we wonder why?

But if you have been on the receiving end of one of Chuck’s calls protesting his (partial) innocence, here, as Paul Harvey used to say, is “the REST of the story.”

Chuck has being trying to blow right by the fact that until late last fall, his wife worked for Pearson and had done so for 13 years, specializing in “account development” for Common Core, etc. in Tennessee and elsewhere. So for the last two years, while Frist, SCORE and the gang have been relentlessly pushing Common Core and PARCC, Sandra Cagle has been on the front lines trying to do the same. Sorry Charlie, it’s going to take a lot more than your wife switching jobs to get your virginity back.

[Editors note: It should also be mentioned that in December, the State of New York fined Pearson $7 million big ones for “abuse of a charity” (the Pearson Foundation) to promote a for-profit business (Pearson, Inc.). Seems Pearson had been taking key school superintendents on junkets to Australia, Japan and the like to try and influence them into buying their crap. It’s been the subject of major news stories like this one in the New York Times:

Notice the centerpiece of the above article is the misdeeds of Pearson’s influence-peddling in the state of Kentucky. And while this was going on just to the north of Nashville, who, pray tell was the senior account manager for Pearson in Kentucky as well as Tennessee? Why Sandra Cagle, of course. How convenient].

Chuck also leaves out the tidbit that Sandra’s new employer, Curriculum Advantage, has as one of its best clients a little outfit called the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents (TOSS), for which her hubby is the lobbyist. Seems like Cagle, Inc. has simply moved their taxpayer-fleecing 3-card Monty game down to the next block.

And just when you thought things couldn’t get any more incestuous.


Good grief…..

Chuck Cagle: Call your office.

Apparently Pearson is trying to get in touch with you about something. They sound really pissed…..

Who wants to be Tennessee’s Common Core version of Kathleen Sebelius?


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!


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.

TCAP email #1 copyTCAP email #2 copyTCAP email #3 copyTCAP email #4 copy


UPDATE: Common Core Testing meltdown:

One of the problems several schools faced with the Common Core testing debacle last month was that although many schools had invested in new iPads in anticipation of the new PARCC testing requirements, students were unable to use those iPads. It seems the test required downloading a special software program called “MIST” that used Microsoft Word as its platform. As anyone who owns an iPad knows, it is not possible to download software onto an iPad. Nor is it possible to use Microsoft Word on an iPad.

The “good news?” Common Core PARCC test takers will be able to use iPads in the future.

The “bad news?” Using the touch screen on an iPad will not be allowed. Schools are being informed they must attach each iPad to a separate, hard-wired, non- Bluetooth, keyboard in order to comply. The cost of these keyboards is $100 – $150 for each iPad.ipad

Good thing for the Governor that he doesn’t have an opponent. Why, this is the sort of thing that could get you kicked out of office. Of course, there are a bunch of pro-Common Core legislators who DO have opposition.

Good luck with that…

Karl Dean Confirms He Is Not Going To Run For Governor

How else could one explain this photo?











Chum it up in front of the cameras with the most hated cabinet member employed by President Obama (who got about 31% of the vote in Tennessee last election) and do it promoting the most hated government program in recent memory.

Whose doing your strategy, Karl? Chip Forrester?

Really, Tom? REALLY? Ingram’s New Hire Flips off the GOP

With the advent of the Republican Super Majority a couple of years ago, it only stood to reason that Republicans would find new opportunities in the lobbying community.monkey

Tom Ingram was perhaps the most egregious example, parlaying his association with Bill Haslam into an – ahem — unique and lucrative relationship with the governor. Although Tom is loathe to admit he is an actual, bottom-feeding, godless lobbyist like so many others, in fact that is precisely what he is (even if the governor tries to pretend otherwise).

Many Democratic lobbying firms around town were trying desperately to find anyone still breathing and possessing a minimal IQ to hire who also had the slightest connection to the GOP.

But not Tom. Oh no. When Tom looked to add to his stable of lobbyists, he went with a – Democrat (go figure).

It was recently revealed Ingram has hired Beecher Fraizer, former Cong. Lincoln Davis (D) staffer, to the Ingram Group. Now nothing against Beecher personally — by all accounts he is a good ol’ boy. But his ties to the Republicans in the legislature are all but non-existent.  In fact his old boss, Lincoln contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars the the Democratic state party to try to defeat many of the very people he is now trying to lobby (You can look it up yourself on

Maybe Tom is thinking about using him in his Washington lobbying firm. After all, Beecher was a House staffer.  Oh wait — THAT’S now Republican too.

john ford


Note to Tom: We hear John Ford is looking for work now that he’s out of prison. Maybe you should give him a call.

Rotten to the S.C.O.R.E.

woodsonJamie Woodson moved from a $40,000 salary in the state senate to a $325,000 job at S.C.O.R.E. (ka-CHING!) to promote Common Core and Pearson’s PARCC testing.. As such, she is the head cheerleader for a program that is in some trouble these days. Many question why Woodson and her top aide, David Mansouri, Gov. Bill Haslam, Bill Frist and the rest of the SCORE gang feel so strongly about changing the state’s school system with an untested, unproven, hugely expensive program. Why, indeed?

Here’s a better question for you: Between Governor Bill Haslam, former Sen. Bill Frist, Jamie Woodson and her chief aide David Mansouri, just how many of these “public school reformers” actually have or have had childreneducated in the public schools?

Answer: ZERO.

Tell you what: How about we let the legislators tax the tuition for private K-12 schools to help pay for Common Core? Bet you could hear the squeals from MBA and Ensworth all the way to the Capitol.

The message from SCORE folks for all the riff-raff who don’t have the money to pay for expensive private school tuition: “Please shut up and do as we say – not as we do.”

Rotten to the CORE.    Rotten to the SCORE.

common core 1

Apologia from RTP

wienerContrary to recent posts, Rocky Top Politics was not created to be an “education” blog.  It’s just that we opened our doors right as education issues dominated the political landscape.  Between vouchers, charter schools and Common Core, little room was left to talk about anything else.

To rectify that, the party animals here at RTP offer an article today on one of our favorite subjects that was before the legislature this week — Booze!

And don’t worry about all the education stuff.  RTP will soon move on to include other issues.  For example, we haven’t even begun to pick on Democrats and the apparatchiks at State Republican Party HQs.

Crony Capitalism at the DOE: Huffman learns from his pal Obama


Barack Obama, Joe Biden




Barrack Obama and his loyal supporter, Kevin Huffman


Did we mention Commissioner Kevin Huffman publicly declared he voted for Obama? If not, let us take the opportunity to point that out once again:

Kevin Huffman, writing in U.S. News & World Report criticized “Republicans and old people” for opposing gay marriage. He also said there is no liberal media bias and also accused Republicans for playing the “victim card with white people.”

And to top it all, shortly before Bill Haslam named him Tennessee’s commissioner of education, Huffman publicly declared he voted for Barack Obama.  That put on the wrong side of 2/3 of the voters of Tennessee and the wrong side of 100% of the Republican caucus in the House and Senate (that’s assuming Doug Overbey didn’t vote for Obama and we take him at his word he did not…).

But Huffman learned how to do more than just vote for the most liberal (i.e., socialist) president in the history of our nation. He brought Obama-style “Crony Capitalism” to Tennessee.

The way it works is that a public official (like Huffman) gains control of the taxpayer purse strings and funnels money to personal friends who run private businesses. The way they prefer to do this is through non-competitive or “no-bid” contracts (avoids the whole messy public disclosure thing, ya know). And that’s what Huffman did.

As reported earlier by RTP, Huffman was a senior executive at Teach for America (TFA) for eleven years, where he worked directly for Wendy Kopp, the founder and Chairman of TFA. While there, TFA signed a no-bid contract for $5,175,000.00 on November 8, 2010, just a week after the election of Bill Haslam as governor. Haslam was already assembling his cabinet – a cabinet that would soon include Kevin Huffman.

[Editor’s note: Now before everyone gets their shorts all in a wad, Haslam had not made an official offer to Huffman at that point. In fact, it was reported Huffman was Haslam’s second choice for the position (makes you shudder to imagine who his third choice could have been – Kathleen Sebelius?). But nonetheless, at that point Huffman probably knew he was on a short list for the Tennessee post. ]

So fast forward to 2012. Now-commissioner Huffman personally signs a no-bid contract to deliver an additional $6,669,850.00 to Teach for America, complements of the gullible taxpayers of Tennessee. And to put a bow on this little incestuous relationship, who signed for TFA?  Why none other than Huffman’s old boss and buddy, Wendy Kopp.

You gotta give the boy credit for hubris. To do this right under the nose of a legislature run by a conservative Republican super majority takes a lot of gall. Add to that the fact the teacher’s union is no fan of Teach for America either and that means Huffman thumbed his nose at pretty much everyone in the state.flaming dog poop

Obama must be wiping away a tear of pride that his loyal supporter, Kevin, has learned the “Chicago Way” and dumped it in a flaming paper bag right on the doorstep of the Volunteer State.

Want to sign a petition calling for Huffman’s immediate resignation? Good luck.  The line of people wanting to throw his sorry butt out of Tennessee extends out the door of the LP and is already past Puckett’s…


Here are the pertinent documents for your reading pleasure:

contract 1 contract 2contract 3