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VOL. 132 | NO. 247 | Thursday, December 14, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: Grizz Speculation, SCS Grade Floors and Cedar Heights

By Bill Dries

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Grizz lose to the Wizards 93-87 in Washington. And ESPN columnist Zach Lowe says the team has lost its identity as well as a lot of games. CBSSports reports Marc Gasol is open to a trade but will not request one. And if you are looking to go far afield with the theories, here’s one from a Dallas Mavericks fansight, mavsmoneyball, that includes a really good graphic on the salaries of Grizz players.

Back to reality, Shelby County Schools superintendent Dorsey Hopson in his first extensive comments on the grade-changing investigation of Trezevant High School says investigators will look at seven other SCS high schools with high grade change rates where the change was from a failing grade to a passing grade. He also says his staff is still pursuing others responsible for the problems at Trezevant. And Hopson left little doubt that others in the school’s administration were involved beyond football coach Teli White.

Hopson also said the grade-changing practices at the seven other schools could be for legitimate reasons even if the rates are high. And he said at first glance, the practices in those schools appear to be much different circumstantially than what the independent investigation detailed at Trezevant in the report released earlier this month.

That brings us to another related topic that comes up in the report – grade floors – a practice that some educators defend as giving students an incentive to improve when used properly and with restraint. But other educators say they don’t work when they become an edict from a principal that goes against a very serious responsibility and the discretion teachers have to grade a student’s work. The issue is administrators can’t require teachers to abide by a minimum grade for students. But administrators can suggest teachers use a grade floor. The issue came up along with the grade-changing allegations at Trezevant in the fall of 2016. And the report released this month includes an email exchange between Trezevant principal Ronnie Mackin and SCS administrators that is a good primer on an issue you will be hearing more about.

Converting the Cargill corn mill on Presidents Island into a $120-million state-of-the-art fish feed production facility has taken about a year to work out. NouriTech is a joint venture of Cargill and Calysta. And this month the NouriTech board has approved the first phase of construction after demolition of some of the Cargill buildings on the site.

What do you follow Bearwater Park with? Habitat for Humanity unveiled plans Wednesday for Cedar Heights, a 32-lot subdivision in the Castalia Heights section of South Memphis. Bearwater Park in North Memphis is the similar development former President Jimmy Carter came to town to help build in August 2016 – also a Habitat for Humanity effort. Cedar Heights is one of several goals Habitat has set for 2018 as well as raising $2.5 million by the end of June.

The Tennessee Legislature will probably consider a bill in the new year that would bar citizens from voting who have skipped when called for jury duty. Our Nashville correspondent, Sam Stockard, in his “View From The Hill” column looks at the phenomenon of “model” bills in Nashville – bills pushed by national groups to state legislature across the country.

Tennessee Corrections Commissioner Tony Parker vows “a different intensity of accountability” to come for private corrections company. That would be different from TDOC’s decision not to fine CoreCivic for staffing shortages. Parker on capitol hill in Nashville Tuesday to testify before a legislative committee about a critical audit by the state comptroller’s office.

In Little Rock, Arkansas legislators push for a reconsideration of a dicamba ban by the state Plant Board. This links up with Monsanto’s court action seeking to halt the prohibition of its herbicide.

No sign language at the Memphis Oral School for the Deaf as it seeks to mainstream children who are deaf or hard of hearing into kindergarten. One of the philanthropy initiatives of the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis. It is funded by the GiVE 365 through a “dollar-a-day” plan that is signing up Memphians for membership. And members then determine how the money is distributed.

First Horizon could see more in savings in its recent acquisition of Capital Bank than first expected.

As expected, a Fed interest rate increase Wednesday for the third time this year at Janet Yellen’s last meeting as Fed chair.

AP’s recap of what looks like a House-Senate deal on a tax reform bill that emerged Wednesday.

And Target buys Shipt for $550 million.

PROPERTY SALES 68 162 2,781
MORTGAGES 60 97 1,880
BUILDING PERMITS 148 769 6,470
BANKRUPTCIES 61 172 1,149