Protecting our Most Vulnerable

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Connors, J. (2018, September).  Katie’s New Face.  The National Geographic.

Katie Stubblefield’s face looked like the above picture because she attempted suicide with a hunting rifle.  “(As a little girl) ‘She was fearless, very fearless, and a lot of fun.’ As she grew older, Katie put enormous pressure on herself to achieve.  ‘She wanted to be the best in all of these sports that she’d never even tried before. She wanted to be the best academically. She studied for hours, all the time.” One day in March, Katie discovered her boyfriend was cheating on her.  She locked herself in her brother’s bathroom with her brother’s hunting rifle. She put the rifle below her chin and pulled the trigger.  She was unsuccessful and 3 years later she received a face transplant

The focus of the article is largely on the science of Katie’s face transplant.  The message I received from the article is that we need to keep our young people safe from gun violence because they are our most vulnerable.  How many of you can call yourselves a perfectionist or know someone who is?  This story hit close to home for me.  Someone very close to me is a perfectionist with unreasonable expectations. When something goes slightly wrong, this person cannot cope and may act on an impulse that one day could have devasting consequences.

I used this picture of Katie not to exploit her but to let her face serve as an example for our young people who look to suicide or hurting themselves as answers to their problems. There is always a way out, always a path to happiness.  A quote I remember from Schindler’s List is when someone asks a person who was in a concentration camp why they didn’t commit suicide and the person said, “If I committed suicide, I would never know how the story was going to end.”  Please keep that in mind when thinking you need to take your own life.

Katie had never thought about suicide before.  The accident was a moment, an impulsive reaction. We need to protect our most vulnerable from their impulsive moments and from gun violence.  Katie, at age 18, was one our vulnerable children that we could have helped by properly locking and storing guns.  Our children getting gunned down in schools are our most vulnerable that we need to protect from gun violence.  Our people who are shooting our most vulnerable in churches, movie theaters, businesses, sidewalks, and communities need for us to save them from their impulses or methodical planning by making sure weapons are secure, ammunition is regulated, and weapons are not available to them.

We need to recognize as a society that gun safety legislation is not about trying to take something from someone.  Gun safety legislation is about protecting our most vulnerable from themselves and from others.  We need to put our selfishness aside and stand up for safety.  We need to understand that securing our weapons and keeping them out of harm’s way is for safety.  Don’t do this for me, do it for our children, the most vulnerable among us.

Make America Safe Again

Perspectives on Gifted Education

This spring in Knox County Schools our school board almost voted to gut our Gifted and Talented program.  The community rose up in opposition and part of the program was saved.  We are in need of a more robust GT program in our schools.  I have thought about creating a GT Foundation so we can provide the necessary funding to have a better program.  Here are some other thoughts from the following article:

Goldstein, D. (2018, Sept. 15). Rethinking What Gifted Education Means, and Whom It Should Serve.  The New York Times.

The article was mainly about addressing higher-level learning needs in less affluent schools in Maryland.  Essentially they are making gifted learning available to underachieving gifted students that wouldn’t otherwise be found or thought of as a gifted student.  I am sure we have underserved GT students right here in our school system either by not fully funding the program or by not reaching out and finding all the students who could possibly qualify.  We could take some pointers from this school system in Maryland.

Montgomery county has GT schools which we only have one in Knox County.  Students who qualify for these schools are considered outliers in their neighborhood schools with fewer than 20 peers with similar abilities.

The term highly gifted was changed to Enriched Studies because they wanted to label the program, not the students.  I think that is fair because a gifted education is an enrichment and many students in a variety of backgrounds receive enriched services throughout the school day.

Some titles that I found interesting were: “Chair of the Gifted Child Committee on the PTA” and the “President of the Gifted and Talented Association of Montgomery County.”  In Knox County we need to work towards having positions, titles, and organizations such as these.  These organizations can help parents give their children a voice and ensure quality programming throughout their school years.

I was named a Champion!

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I am excited to share some big news.  I’ve been named a 2018 Champion by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which honors candidates across the country who are fighting for progressive priorities and looking out for the needs of everyday families.

Fighting for Progress means fighting to give 300,000 Tennesseans health insurance because health care is a Right, not a Privilege.

Fighting for Progress means fighting to give EVERY student a free, fair, and appropriate public education because education is a Right, not a Privilege.

Fighting for Progress means fighting to keep ALL of our vulnerable people safe from gun violence because not being gunned down in a church, a school, a movie theater, a business, and on the sidewalk is a Right, not a Privilege.

So if fighting for everyday Rights makes me a Progressive than a Progressive I shall be and honored to be called as such!  I guess that R next to some politician’s names means they are part of the Regressive Party!!!

Thank you Progressive Change Committee!

 

Guns don’t kill people but bullets do….

California is leading the charge with not only regulating weapons but also regulating ammunition.  “Internet sales are limited, large capacity magazines are banned, sellers need a license, taxes have been raised on bullets, and bullets are required to have serial numbers on them.”  In the rest of the country, ammunition sales remain largely unregulated.

California keeps records of people who have purchased bullets and those records are used to help find criminal suspects.  “The records have lead to the seizure of hundreds of illegal guns and to the arrests of dozens of gang members, parolees, registered sex offenders and others.”  In one year, 200 arrests were made based on information from the bullet logs.

Federal law that prevents someone from owning a weapon also prevents them from buying ammo.  However, there isn’t a system in place to regulate and monitor ammunition purchases.

Next July, California will require background checks for ammunition buyers too.

Read more about this here:
Urbina, I. & Kang, I. (2018, September 10). California tries new tack on gun violence: Ammo Control.  The New York Times.

Endorsed by TN AFL-CIO

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I am proud to announce that I have been endorsed by the Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council.  This major endorsement also includes the Knoxville-Oak Ridge Area Central Labor Council, the Atomic Trades and Labor Council and the Knoxville Building and Construction Trades Council.

We are living in an unfortunate time now where some of us have forgotten our labor history and what Labor Unions have done for the betterment of all working people.  Before we had Unions, we had long and grueling work hours at all times of days and weeks.  Workplaces were unsafe and several fatalities occurred on a regular basis.  Children worked instead of going to school.  And pay? Good pay was hard to come by.  Labor Unions were formed to address these very serious issues.  Thank the Unions for your 40 hour work week.  Thank the Unions for your paid vacation time.  Thank the Unions that our children are not forced to work on factory floors.  Thank the Unions for safe work environments.

We cannot rest on our laurels though.  We still need to fight for the workers of today.  Many cannot afford to live on $7.25 an hour so we need to raise the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour.  Affordable housing is becoming scarcer and we need to remember to fight for housing for all.  How will we ever level the playing field for all when our public schools are chronically underfunded?  We need to show compassion for our 300,000 hard-working Tennesseans in low-income jobs who still need health insurance by expanding Medicaid.  Most importantly, we need to stop electing politicians who want to continually weaken Unions to expand their corporate profits.

     Thank you for your support in November!