Letter: Encourages students, parents to attend discussion on student loans

To the Editor:

High school seniors should have applied for their financial packages within the last several months, and colleges push the loans, along with grants, scholarships, and job offers.

They and their parents need to understand what they are getting themselves into when they have to start paying the money back in the July after they leave college with or without a degree or good-paying job.

I personally know a young lady who was dropped in January by a university after seven semesters because her gradepoint was 0.3 point below the required gradepoint for her field, and she had to get a job. She cannot return to finish for one year, but she has to start paying on her college loans of $20,000, July 1, 2015. [Read more…]

Letter: Lunch 4 Literacy thanks 2015 sponsors

To the Editor:

Each year in March a special group of generous company sponsors pool their resources and, along with individuals from our community, support the annual literacy program of the Altrusa International Club of Oak Ridge and Oak Ridge Breakfast Rotary Club. The Lunch 4 Literacy event raises between $15,000 and $20,000 routinely, which allows our community to support exceptional projects that promote literacy and ensure attention is given to the literacy needs that, without the generosity of our sponsors and individual contributors, could go unmet.

The lack of literacy skills is a serious problem within our communities. The reality is that often simple but effective programs can have a profound impact on individuals that enable them to realize their full potential in life. Without these very effective efforts made possible by grants from Lunch 4 Literacy, people in our communities, limited by a lack of basic skills, continue to fail in areas many of us take for granted. Until you have personally encountered illiteracy and its awful adverse impact, it is hard to fully appreciate the value of simply reading and understanding what is read. Through the continuing supportive efforts of our sponsoring companies we are making a difference in our communities! [Read more…]

Letter: Citizens Police Academy increased respect, appreciation for ORPD

To the Editor:

We graduated from the third Oak Ridge Citizens Police Academy on March 30. It was such an honor to be a part of this group. Both of us already had deep respect and appreciation for the men and women of the Oak Ridge Police Department, but what we learned in the Academy increased our respect and appreciation for them exponentially.

A few things we learned about the officers and their jobs were:

The many tools they use in their job: [Read more…]

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Guest column: 2015 OREA salary, benefits proposal

Note: This is a copy of comments by Oak Ridge Education Association Co-President Steve Reddick during a March 30 meeting of the Oak Ridge Board of Education, when teachers and principals requested a 4 percent salary increase in the fiscal year that starts July 1.

2015 OREA Salary and Benefits Proposal

Good evening,

On behalf of the certified teaching staff of the Oak Ridge Schools, OREA is honored to present to you our FY ’16 salary and benefits proposal.

As in years past, we make this proposal with eyes wide open and without illusions: [Read more…]

Guest column: Increasing personalized learning in Oak Ridge Schools

By Oak Ridge Schools

We have all heard the phrase “going one-to-one,” but what is one-to-one all about? And why are Oak Ridge Schools interested in one-to-one?

The overall idea behind one-to-one is not about having specific devices; rather, it’s about providing personalized learning experiences to students aligned to the Seven Keys to College and Career Readiness in which students can collaborate, learn, reflect, and solve problems in ways that engage and motivate them. Highly effective teachers are essential in the development of personalized learning; they facilitate learning experiences both within their content area and spanning beyond the classroom and into the community. With personalized learning under the direction of highly effective teachers, student engagement increases, discipline problems decrease, attendance increases, and students become even more prepared for college and careers.

Most importantly, students who may not have access to technology due to financial or other considerations will have equal opportunities as their peers. [Read more…]

Guest column: Imperial religion has no place in the Kingdom of God

Preparing for the greatest day of the year, Easter, was a bit harder this year than last. On Thursday, the night we remember how Jesus was betrayed and handed over to both the religious and political empires of his day, I happened to read of the new bill that seeks to designate the Bible as the state book of Tennessee.

There are a ton of ways to scream “no” to this legislation, starting with the both the Tennessee Constitution and the United States Constitution. There is also the objection that the bill places the transcendental and eternal qualities of the Bible on the same footing as the lily (our state flower) or the raccoon (our state animal). Of course, then there’s just downright common sense: The laws I use to influence my neighbor’s religion (or lack of) can easily be the same laws by which my neighbor one day attempts to subjugate me.

Those are fine ways to oppose this bill, but they are of lesser concern to me as a Christian pastor of 25 years. I am most deeply concerned at the way in which an action like this stands in stark opposition to the actions and words of the Bible itself, most especially as revealed in the person of Jesus. [Read more…]

Letter: Now is our chance to help MMC Hospitality Houses

Dear friends and fans,

Are you in it to win it? You know I am! And this time, I’m not talking about a football game. I’m talking about the game of life.

Right here in Oak Ridge, we have a place that’s helping people in need win in the game of life—the Hospitality Houses of Methodist Medical Center. When patients are traveling long distances for medical care or when families from far away need to be close to hospitalized loved ones, the Hospitality Houses are there, free of charge. [Read more…]

2014 in Review: Accomplishments, continued improvement, but big challenges ahead 

Chris Phillips and Terry Frank

Chris Phillips, left, director of Anderson County Accounts and Budgets, and County Mayor Terry Frank are pictured above. (Submitted photo)

 

 

By Chris Phillips, director of Anderson County Accounts and Budgets, and County Mayor Terry Frank

We recently finished our Popular Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2014, and we wanted to share a snapshot of Anderson County’s financial health. While there are many factors that go into evaluating our county’s overall ability to promote prosperity for the people of our county, our financial health as a county government has a direct impact on the lives of families who live here and the business and industry that operates here.

Noteworthy accomplishments from 2014: [Read more…]

Guest column: The last insult

By Joan Berry and District Attorney General Dave Clark

The law in Tennessee has recently changed in a way that insults the memory of murder victims. Not a single photo of a victim prior to their murder is allowed to be shown during their killer’s trial. This problem needs to be solved, and voters can help.

Sadly, the gruesome photos of a corpse are the only presence homicide victims are granted during a trial. The defendant is allowed to be present and to be “cleaned up” and “dressed up” for the jury; but no picture of the victim can be presented.

For decades, it was a common practice for prosecutors to introduce into evidence a reasonable likeness of the victim prior to their murder in addition to crime scene photos. However, due to recent high-court rulings, trial judges now do not allow the practice for fear of having a verdict overturned. [Read more…]

Letter: What is a volunteer firefighter?

To the Editor:

Question: What is a volunteer firefighter?

Answer: A volunteer firefighter is no different then those who get paid to do this job. In fact, when you think about those who work in the paid fire services, they too are technically a “volunteer” because nobody held a gun to their head and told them they have to do that job.

Every firefighter must remember that the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) standards do not differentiate between paid firefighters and volunteer firefighters in relation to who has to comply with what standards. Every firefighter is expected to do the job safely, quickly, and efficiently so that lives can be saved, property can be salvaged, and our communities are protected. [Read more…]

Guest column: Changing the future of our community, one child at a time

There are some exciting things on the horizon for our local Boys and Girls Clubs! The Boys and Girls Clubs of the Clinch Valley operates two campuses: the Lawrence A. Hahn Club in Oak Ridge and the Roane County Club located at Harriman Middle School.

Each club offers affordable after-school and summer programming, and the Oak Ridge Unit offers the city’s only independent athletic leagues. The clubs charge a nominal annual membership and weekly fee; however, no child is turned away for an inability to pay.

The organization’s mission is to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. [Read more…]

Guest column: What do ‘vouchers’ mean to Tennessee taxpayers?

By Tammy Grissom

A school voucher is a publicly funded credit or certificate whereby a student may be enrolled in a private school and apply the credit to tuition.

So, why should Tennessee taxpayers care?

  1. Vouchers use your money to help pay for a student to go to a private school that answers to private administrators and not you, the taxpayer. Public schools must answer to the people and are held accountable for the use of local, state, and federal educational tax money.
  2. Article XI, Section 12 of the Tennessee Constitution specifically states, “The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance, support, and eligibility standards of a system of free public schools.” Nowhere in our Constitution is the General Assembly directed to take taxpayer money and use it for a voucher system so parents can use public money to send their children to private schools.
  3. Private schools are not public institutions, and without proper oversight, the “qualifications and standards” for students may fall short of expectations and undermine the fundamental idea of equality in education.  Vouchers require the public to supplement these standards even if they are contrary to state and federal education law.
  4. Vouchers force the public to support two drastically different educational systems, one over which the public has no oversight.

[Read more…]