Local News

Cannon Schools Plan To Overcome Deficits

Monday, 12 December 2011

Cannon County Schools have to meet two different accountability measures for student achievement.  Those accountability measures stem from Race to the Top (RTTT) and No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

Under Race to the Top, the school system is measured in student achievement for 3rd grade Reading/Language Arts (R/LA), 7th grade Math, and Graduation Rate.  The State of Tennessee set target goals for each of these areas for the 2014-15 year.  They are 50.7% proficient/advanced in 3rd grade R/LA, 48.9% proficient/advanced in 7th grade Math, and 83.6 % graduation rate.  

The system then set intermittent benchmarks for the years between 2010 and 2014.  Cannon County set a 2010-11 benchmark of 34.7% proficient/advanced for 3rd grade R/LA, 30.5% proficient/advanced for 7th grade Math, and 74.9% graduation rate.  

For the 2010-11 school year, Cannon County scored 30.9% proficient/advanced in 3rd grade R/LA, 26% proficient/advanced in Math, and reached a graduation rate of 87%.  Cannon County did not reach the benchmarks for Reading/LA and Math; however, we did improve slightly from the baseline scores established in the 2009-2010 school year.  We did exceptionally well in achieving the graduation rate.

Under the RTTT system, Cannon County Schools did not make any of the recognition groups which are 1) Reward – 5% of “highest preforming” schools, 2) Focus – 10% of schools with the largest achievement gaps; low graduation rates, and 3) Priority – Bottom 5% of schools in proficiency/graduation rates.

The second achievement system is one with which we are all familiar –NCLB.  Unlike RTTT, NCLB rates schools using all 4 core subjects—R/LA, Math, Science and Social Studies.    In academic achievement for grades 3-8, Cannon County received the following:  Math (D), Reading/LA (C), Social Studies(C), and Science (C).  A grade of C means that the system achieved what was expected by the State.  A grade of D or F would be below state expectations, and a grade of A or B would be above state expectations.  

Also included in NCLB are accountability measures for attendance, graduation rate, ACT, writing, and TVAAS, better known as achievement “growth”.  Cannon County has traditionally held a great attendance rate.  The 2010-11 attendance rates were grades 3-8 (95.3) and grades 9-12 (94.4).

  Writing is another area where Cannon County has been successful for many years.  8th grade and 11th grade maintained an A in writing; whereas, 5th grade received a B. For the ACT, Cannon County’s academic achievement was English (17.4), Math (17.7), Reading (18.3), Science/Reasoning (18.0), and a composite average of (18.0).  

 The final test for academic preparedness is TVAAS or growth.  This measures whether a student has achieved a year’s worth of knowledge.  A mean gain of zero would indicate that a student had “grown” exactly one year in knowledge.  That would result in a C on the report card for TVAAS.  

Cannon County received the following TVAAS scores:  Math (C), mean gain of 0.4 up from -0.4 in 2010; Reading/LA (C), mean gain of -0.4 up from -1.1 in 2010; Social Studies (B), mean gain of 0.7 up from 0.4 in 2010; and Science (D), mean gain of -1 up from -1.5 in 2010.

From all the NCLB data categories, the State Dept. chooses Reading/LA, Math and either attendance rate or graduation rate for deciding adequate yearly progress (AYP).   Based on these indicators, Cannon Co. has the following schools listed as “Target” schools under NCLB accountability: Cannon County High School (Math), West Side Elementary (Math), Woodbury Grammar (Math and Reading/LA), and Woodland (Math).  The system is also on the “Target” list for elementary math and high school math.  Being on target means that we have one year to improve in the AYP categories listed before going into school improvement with the State Dept. of Education.

The Cannon County School System has put the following measures into place to overcome our deficits:

• TLJ Consultants work with middle grades math teachers to improve instruction.

• High Schools that Work consultants work with high school math teachers and middle grades math teachers to improve instruction.

• Teachers spent the summer months writing pacing guides and formative assessments to monitor student progress and the teaching of State standards.

• Formative assessments are given every 3 weeks using CORE K12 to check student progress.

• Professional development has been provided for principals on the master schedule to maximize instruction time and provide time for intervention and enrichment.

• Children’s Progress benchmark tests are given 3 times a year to K-2 students.

• The system will purchase Coach Connected, an online TCAP prep program.

• Colleen Goss, State Consultant, will provide professional development on data walls to chart student progress.

• More inclusion is being used through the Special Ed. and Title I departments.

• The Title programs have been expanded to include math as well as reading.

• The new teacher evaluation model has provided an avenue of deeper discussions with teachers on instruction techniques.

• Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s) have been organized in some of the schools to provide a time for teachers to meet to discuss student progress and behavior.

• New math textbooks were purchased for this school year.

• Monthly Parent Academy meetings were organized to provide parents information and suggestions for helping their children be successful in school.

• Individual schools have made changes in faculty or departmentalization to improve instruction.

Cannon County Native Coach Rick Insell Named To 2012 Tennessee Sports Hall Of Fame

Monday, 12 December 2011

iddle Tennessee head women’s basketball coach Rick Insell has been included as one of 10 inductees into the 2012 class of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, it was announced Sunday by the Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors.
“There is not a word out there that I can use because I am honored and humbled,” Insell said. “There is so many people, past and present, that are responsible – players, administrators, etc. I know the reason I am being inducted is because of the work that they did and I was the one in charge, more or less.”
Insell will join his fourth Hall of Fame with the honor. He previously has been included as a member of the Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association Hall of Fame (2003) and National High School Hall of Fame (2007), as well as the 2010 recipient of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame’s Morgan Wootten Award for Lifetime Achievement for High School Girls’ Basketball.
The Woodbury, Tenn., native entered his seventh season at Middle Tennessee in 2011-12, having earned five NCAA Tournament appearances, coached five All-Americans and had three of his players picked to the WNBA in his previous six years. He entered the campaign with a 148-47 (.759) ledger to go along with his four Sun Belt regular-season championships and four Sun Belt Tournament titles and with six wins already this season, he has moved into third place on the school’s all-time list.
Prior to coming lead the Blue Raider program, Insell coached for 28 years (1978-2005) at Shelbyville Central High School in Shelbyville, Tenn. He logged a 775-148 (.840) record with the Golden Eaglettes, guiding them to a state-record 10 TSSAA Class 3A state championships and two USA Today national championships.
“Most of my work had been done in the community in Shelbyville. The administration there allowed me to go across the country and play the best teams. They invested in me, Rick Insell, but also in our program. And when I came to Murfreesboro, I know that played a small part, but still the people here, I will forever be thankful to them. And I am very proud to be a part of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.”
“I am excited about it, but more than anything when you get into coaching and you take those long bus trips and clean up the gyms, you don’t think about getting into the Hall of Fame. You take those different teams you have and the different championship you win, but not one time I can honestly say when I was putting a game plan together did the thought of going into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame cross my mind.”
A name synonymous with high school girl’s basketball in the state, Insell’s teams hold the Tennessee state records for consecutive wins (110), consecutive state titles with four (1989-92) and most state championships for a coach with 10 (1986-89-90-91-92-95-2000-01-03-04).
“Because of our success at Shelbyville, that’s why I’m included in this special group. I am so, so very appreciative and don’t know where to start when thanking people, teams and players."
His 1991 Golden Eaglette squad was selected as the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame Team of the Year, the first high school team to be honored.
The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame is a non-profit institution located inside the Bridgestone Arena in the heart of downtown Nashville. The induction banquet will be held Saturday, May 19, 2012, at the Renaissance Hotel in Nashville.
2012 Inductees:
Rick Insell, Shelbyville Central High School
James Marsalius, Tennessee State University
Gene Bartow, Memphis State University
Bill Dance (Lynchburg, Tenn.)
Tim Jackson, Tennessee Golf Association
Gibby Gilbert II, Chattanooga, Tenn.
Zan Guerry, Tennis
David Walker, ETSU
Brigadier General Austin Connor Shofner (Posthumous), Bedford County, Tenn.
Jeff Byrd (Posthumous), NASCAR

TFBF Speaks Out about Child Labor Law Proposal

Monday, 12 December 2011

On behalf of Tennessee farmers the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation submitted comment regarding proposed changes to the Department of Labor's Child Labor Laws.  Although comments were due on December 1, it is still important to stress to Members of Congress how these proposed changes would affect farms, agricultural education, FFA and 4-H. 
The U.S. Department of Labor proposed revisions to the child labor rule, “Child Labor Regulations, Orders and Statements of Interpretation” (RIN 1235-AA06) would prohibit children younger than 16 from operating power-driven equipment and those under the age of 18 from working with livestock. In addition, those under 16 or 18 years old would be prohibited from doing farm work for anyone other than their parents.
Farms offer an opportunity to learn life lessons while developing knowledge about agriculture. Youth need the opportunity to learn responsibility, the value of hard work, and earn a little spending money.
Below are the comments submitted to the Wage and Hour Division of the Department and Labor:
 

SUBJECT: Comments of the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation regarding RIN 1235-AA06 Child Labor Regulations, Order and Statements of Interpretation; Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) and Request for Comments

 

Dear Sir or Madam:

 

The Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation is a general farm organization representing the interests of Tennessee farmers. The membership of the Farm Bureau produces a diverse range of commodities across the state utilizing an equally diverse work force. These comments are filed in response to the above-captioned rulemaking.

 

We appreciate this opportunity to respond to the U.S. Department of Labor’s proposed new rules regarding the Agricultural Child Labor Hazardous Occupations Orders (Ag H.O.). Protecting our youth and our agricultural production system are very important to Tennessee farmers. No doubt, any rule that has not been updated since 1970 should be reviewed and we welcome the opportunity to comment on the various proposals submitted by DOL.

 

We will not deny there are risks associated with agricultural work. Likewise, there are risks associated with playing sports and riding in a vehicle. We in no way diminish the dangers associated with agricultural work however; we must acknowledge that the life skills each of us develops teach us how to avoid unnecessary risk. Youth employment on farms can be positive, enriching, and rewarding. We have no interest or desire in placing youth at risk on the farm. It is our responsibility to mitigate hazards to the best of our ability.

 

We encourage DOL to withdraw this rule making and to re-visit its analysis of the Ag H.O.s so that it truly focuses on those that are particularly hazardous. In our comments below, we outline our views on specific issues raised by the proposed rule.

 

Interpretation of Parental Exemption

 

The rulemaking claims these rules do not apply to family farm operations and that “None of the revisions proposed in this NPRM in any way change or diminish the statutory child labor parental exemption in agricultural employment contained in FLSA section 13(c)(1).” We appreciate that intent. We want the record to reflect that we do not support measures to impose Department of Labor regulations and oversight on family farms that are currently exempt from the regulations. However, despite DOLs intent not to allow these rules to impact family farms, we believe DOL’s “clarification” of the parental exemption actually diminishes it.

 

Nieces, nephews and other family members should not fall outside the protections Congress envisioned for family farms. Farming has traditionally been and remains a way of life for extended family to participate in operating the farm. It is not uncommon for family farms to operate under partnerships, limited liability corporations or other entities in order to assure the continued operation of the farm and the involvement of siblings and their heirs.

 

The NPRM states that “Where the ownership or operation of the farm is vested in persons other than the parent, such as a business entity, corporation or partnership (unless wholly owned by the parent(s)), the child worker is responsible to persons other than, or in addition to, his or her parent, and his or her duties would be regulated by the corporation or partnership, which might not always have the child's best interests at heart.”

 

The NPRM goes on to state: 

The Department has, for many years, considered that a relative, such as a grandparent or aunt or uncle, who assumes the duties and responsibilities of the parent to a child regarding all matters relating to the child's safety, rearing, support, health, and well-being, is a ‘person standing in the place of the child's parent…. It does not matter if the assumption of the parental duties is permanent or temporary, such as a period of three months during the summer school vacation during which the youth resides with the relative. This enforcement position does not apply, however, in situations where the youth commutes to his or her relative's farm on a daily or weekend basis, or visits the farm for such short periods of time (usually less than one month) that the parental duties are not truly assumed by that relative.”

 

There is no evidence the department has interpreted or enforced the exemption in this manner historically and we find no statutory basis that it should start this now. Traditions are well established for young relatives to work for their grandparents and aunts and uncles in agriculture and for the department to now re-interpret the law in a manner otherwise is inconsistent with congressional intent.

 

Student Learner Exemption

 

The existing provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provide an exemption for students enrolled in vocational training in agriculture referred to as school-based agricultural education and are a part of career and technical education. These programs play an important role in educating young people and introducing them to careers in agriculture and agricultural science.

 

Safety education has always been and continues to be an important part of the classroom and laboratory instruction. Supervised agricultural experience, or SAE takes place predominately outside of the classroom and school, but it is supervised by the agricultural instructor.

 

Agricultural educators go above and beyond to help students succeed while giving great attention to their safety.  That is why agricultural education programs place strong emphasis on teaching safety and ensuring that students understand how to apply these lessons in the real world.

 

The proposed changes will limit, if not eliminate, opportunities to teach students to be safe when working in agriculture. Many of these learning opportunities, will be lost. It is critical to allow the system to operate so that students can be taught safety while receiving relevant work experience in agriculture.

 

The proposed regulations and expanded AG H.O.'s either do not include the student learner exemption, or limits the opportunities for students enrolled in agricultural education programs to be involved and “learn by doing.”

 

Following, we address each of the Ag Hazardous Orders (Ag H.O.'s) and our comments related to DOLs proposed changes.

 

Operating a Tractor

 

DOL proposes removing the 20 PTO horsepower threshold; requiring tractors operated by 14- and 15-year olds be equipped with roll-over protective structure (ROPS); mandating seatbelt use by student-learners; prohibit riding on tractors as a passenger and requiring student-learners to have a valid state driver's license if operating tractors on public roads; and prohibiting use of most electronic devices.

 

This proposal would effectively prohibit youth from operating tractors in most situations, even in instances when such operation is not particularly hazardous. Granted tractors of any size can be involved in serious or fatal mishaps and therefore tractors should be equipped with ROPS and seat belts. But, the reality is many older tractors were not equipped with such devises and adding such devices is not practical nor economically feasible. Mandating the use of ROPS and seat belts on all tractors, regardless of size, is inappropriate. ROPS and seat belts are not available as retrofits for older tractors. When ROPS and seat belt retrofit kits are available, in many cases, the cost of installation may approach or exceed the value of the tractors.

 

We do not understand why the criteria for a student-learner do not allow the student-learner to be a passenger if the tractor is equipped with a seat for a passenger. It is difficult to instruct youth on proper operation of a tractor if the youth cannot observe the operation first by an instructor. Modern tractor cab designs provide for a passenger with a seat, seat belts and the same ROPS as the driver. It does not make sense to not utilize this design to properly instruct a young person on the operation of a tractor.

 

In addition, OSHA Standards for Agriculture, 29 CFR 1928.51(a) allows low clearance tractors without ROPS.

 

There are situations where a ROPS would interfere with normal operation and can result in property damage, and possibly contribute to overturns. Low clearance operations include work in orchards, landscape maintenance (mowing), and operations in buildings.

 

The proposal prohibits the use of electronic communication devices for youth operating tractors and power driven machinery. We understand the reasoning behind prohibiting electronic devices that would distract the operator however, many farm operations use 2-way radio communication devices designed for the benefit of the operator.

 

This proposal would prohibit the use of 2-way mobile and handheld radios. One of the main reasons farmers install these devices is for safety. An equipment operator can talk without distraction to other operators in the field for instructions, warnings or other messages the operator needs to know instantly. 2-way radios also allow workers to communicate with operators from a safe distance and provide emergency communication where cell phone service does not exist in many rural areas.

 

The existing AG H.O. protects agricultural youth on the farm and should not be expanded to prevent all youths under age 16 from operating tractors. Therefore, we oppose prohibiting youth to operate such tractors.

 

Operating Certain Machines

 

DOL proposes combining two current Ag H.O.s and expanding the prohibition from lists of specific machines to machines that perform general functions and eliminating the student learner exemption.

 

The current rule prohibits operating or assisting to operate (including starting, stopping, adjusting, feeding or any other activity involving physical contact associated with the operation) any of the following machines: corn picker, cotton picker, grain combine, hay mower, forage harvester, hay baler, potato digger, or mobile pea viner; feed grinder, crop dryer, forage blower, auger conveyor, or the unloading mechanism of a nongravity- type self- unloading wagon or trailer, or power post- hole digger, power post driver, or nonwalking- type rotary tiller.

 

The proposed rule is overly-broad, mandating “restrictions on the operation of power-driven machinery consistent with those applied to nonagricultural employment.” The term “operating” includes “cleaning, oiling and repairing” of the equipment; “connecting or disconnecting an implement or any of its parts to or from such equipment;” or “any other activity involving physical contact associated with the operation or maintenance of the equipment.” The term “power-driven equipment” is defined by the department to include “all machines, equipment, implements, vehicles, and/or devices operated by any other power source other than human hand or foot power.”

 

Interestingly, the proposed rules ignore the benefits of safety equipment mandated by other proposed revisions in preventing injuries and deaths, namely the benefits of a ROPS and seat belt in preventing injuries and deaths from overturns.

 

The department's proposal will result in prohibitions that far exceed the department's regulatory authority. There is no basis to regulate simple devices such as a battery powered hand-held screwdriver, drill or flashlight. Is cleaning a refrigerator or a weather station hazardous? Such activity would be prohibited under the “cleaning any powered equipment” provision. The use of a water hose under pressure would be prohibited, thus any cleaning would need to be from a provided bucket of water. And, youth would not be able to draw the water from a tap as the tap is under pressure.

 

The AG H.O. states that “farm field equipment means implements, including self-propelled implements, or any combination thereof used in agricultural operations.” This would appear to include both powered and non-powered implements and when a non-powered implement is connected to a powered implement or tractor, any physical contact would be prohibited.

 

DOL's proposal would prevent a youth from placing crops on a wagon, from hauling hay or even picking up rocks. The prohibition of having physical contact with a vehicle could prohibit the hand loading or unloading of materials, tools or products onto pickups or trucks if the “operation” of the vehicle would include the preparation for operating.

We also are concerned about the proposed prohibition as it relates to irrigation equipment. The rule would prohibit movement or contact with irrigation equipment including trickle, solid set and even hose and wand watering of bedding plants. It would prohibit youth from running trickle lines with ATVs or even walking tree-to-tree or plant-to-plant to determine if it is working and if not replace it or to determine if there are any breaks in the trickle line and install a connector. If they could replace it (presumably by having a person age 16 or older turn it off and first drain the line as it could be under pressure), they would not be able to use a battery powered cutting or tube expanding device, since all powered devices are prohibited.

 

Hoisting Apparatus and Conveyors

 

This proposal by the department prohibits “operating and assisting in the operation of hoisting apparatus and conveyors that are operated either by hand or by gravity.” Similar broad definitions of terms are employed in the proposal.

 

This category exceeds the congressional mandate to identify occupations that are “particularly hazardous” and even defies common sense. This prohibition actually prevents youth from using equipment designed to reduce risk. For example, a hand cart is a mechanical device that applies leverage by hand and foot power to hoist or lift a load and lowers the load by gravity or by hand or foot. The department would be better served, to designate specific devices that are prohibited, rather than to attempt to ban all activity.

 

Working with Certain Animals

 

The current rule prohibits working on a farm in a yard, pen, or stall occupied by a: (i) Bull, boar, or stud horse maintained for breeding purposes; or (ii) Sow with suckling pigs, or cow with newborn calf (with umbilical cord present). We believe the current prohibition is sufficient and recommend it be retained.

 

DOL proposes to broadly expand the previous agricultural AG H.O. related to working with animals and thereby greatly reduces the opportunities for youths' to work with livestock. Under this proposal youth would be prohibited from: “engaging or assisting in animal husbandry practices that inflict pain upon the animal and/or likely to result in unpredictable animal behavior; treating sick or injured animals; and herding animals in confined spaces such as feed lots or corrals or on horseback.”

 

The expanded prohibitions could potentially increase liability for farmers and impose excessive government controls on agricultural producers. We believe it exceeds the department's statutory authority and should not be pursued.

 

By including “assisting, youth are being denied educational opportunities of merely assisting with the handling of the vaccination supplies. Also, no consideration is given to the safety devices provided in the working facility.

 

“Unpredictable animal behavior” is likely to occur any time one is working around animals. By including such a broad term, youth will basically be prohibited from working around animals.

 

Youth engage in many activities – competitive horseback riding, skateboarding, surfing, cycling – that can all entail some risk, injury and in extreme cases fatality. To impose a Federal prohibition on activities that has a long history of tradition is regulatory over-reach.

 

By referring to any activity that might “inflict pain,” DOL may be opening the door for animal rights activists to pursue their own agenda to further an animal rights crusade.

 

Timber

 

The current timber rule prohibits felling, bucking, skidding, loading or unloading timber with butt diameter of more than 6 inches.

 

The preamble states that “for purposes of this Ag H.O. timber means trees, logs, and other similar woody plants. However, this AG H.O. would not prohibit a hired farm youth from performing such tasks as carrying firewood or clearing brush.” The proposed revisions remove the size limits and prohibits all work involved in the removal of tree stumps. The AG H.O. may have the effect of mandating an outright prohibition of youth working on Christmas tree farms or in plant nurseries. It should be clarified to allow such occupations, which are not particularly hazardous.

 

It also should be made clear that it does not prohibit youth from ordinary, non-hazardous activities connected with trees (e.g., pruning).

 

Working from Ladders

 

The current rule prohibits working from a ladder or scaffold (painting, repairing, or building structures, pruning trees, picking fruit, etc) at a height of over 20 feet.

 

DOL proposes: 1) Expanding to include work on roofs, on farm structures including silos, grain bins, windmills, and towers; and, on vehicles, machines, and implements; 2) Reduce the maximum height at which youth under 16 may work in these settings from 20 feet to 6 feet.

 

We oppose an absolute prohibition of working at a height greater than 6 feet. There are several tasks youth can safely perform that place them at heights higher than 6 feet. Some of these include stacking bales of hay on trucks and trailers, hanging tobacco in curing barns, picking fruit, etc. The youth are more capable than their parents and grandparents to perform some of these tasks.

 

The proposed rule provides no qualifying language regarding “above another elevation.” Therefore, as written the rule would prohibit work locations such as hay lofts but also second floor areas or any other location where stairs are used to ascend more than 6 feet regardless of walls, railings or other enclosing methods.

 

The proposed prohibition against working on roofs, vehicles, machines, and implements does not take into account the size of the work area, the slope of the area, or the presence of any safety railings that could prevent falls from the area. In fact, the operator's stations on some machinery, especially combines and cotton pickers, is higher than 6 feet from the ground.

 

Common sense flexibility is warranted in determining safe working heights based upon the type work being performed and the presence of safety features such as guard rails, fall prevention /protection devices, etc.

 

Construction (including demolition and repair)

 

We are concerned this reference will prohibit the use of hammers and other hand construction tools in not only the repair and maintenance of any building, facility or other structure on a farm but also the use of hand tools entirely. Common tasks such as fence mending and painting, nailing or simply carrying repair materials would be prohibited. As the terms “in connection with” are used, tasks such as pounding stakes in the ground to “build” stake support “structure” to support vegetable plants would also be prohibited. We disagree that all tasks “in conjunction with” construction are particularly hazardous.

 

Working inside oxygen deficient environments, manure pits, and silos

 

The current rule prohibits working inside a fruit, forage, or grain storage designed to retain an oxygen deficient or toxic atmosphere; an upright silo within 2 weeks after silage has been added or when a top unloading device is in operating position; a manure pit; a horizontal silo while operating a tractor for packing purposes.

 

The proposal expands the prohibition to all work inside (i) a fruit, forage, or grain storage, such as a silo or bin; (ii) a manure pit. There is good reason to prohibit working inside certain structures during times when the atmosphere may be immediately dangerous to life and health or when the top unloader is in place.

 

The proposed revision prohibits all work inside fruit, forage, or grain storages and manure pits. This blanket prohibition contains excessive restrictions. Since hay is a forage crop, this proposed revision can be interpreted to prohibit all work in the hay barn. Does forage storage apply to hay barns? Do livestock barns that may have a temporary “forage” storage such as a pile of feed or hay? Are pole barns that normally are used to store farm equipment but could be used to store overflow grain now a prohibited work area? Are empty bunker silos covered? Would “fruit storage” include a bushel crate or bin? If all fruit storages are prohibited then a walk-in cooler at a farm stand, would also be prohibited. The current standard applies only to storages designed to maintain a hazardous atmosphere and to those areas recognized to present a hazard.

 

We do not support the prohibition of youth from all work inside a grain bin or silo, because youth are capable of cleaning the structures in preparation for filling, provided that appropriate respiratory protection is employed (NIOSH approved toxic dust/mist respirator) to prevent inhalation of grain dusts and mold spores.

The department needs to clarify the AG H.O. to assure that it would only apply to those occupations that are particularly hazardous for youth.

 

Pesticides

 

The current rule prohibits handling or applying (including cleaning or decontaminating equipment, disposal or return of empty containers, or serving as a flagman for aircraft applying) agricultural chemicals classified under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (as amended by Federal Environmental Pesticide Control Act of 1972, 7 U.S. C. 136 et seq.) as Toxicity Category I, identified by the Word Danger and/or Poison with Skull and

Crossbones; or Toxicity Category II, identified by the word Warning on the label.

 

The proposal is to revise the language to be consistent with EPA Worker Protection Standard for pesticides, encompassing prohibitions against pesticides with chronic health effects as well as pesticides with recognized acute toxicity.

 

The definition of pesticide, “any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest; any substance or mixture of substances intended for use as a plant regulator, defoliant, or desiccant; and any nitrogen stabilizer,” is overly broad. EPA Worker Protection Standard language references the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (7 USC 136) as “any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any insects, rodents, nematodes, fungi, or weeds or any other forms of life declared to be pests; any substance or mixture of substances intended for use as a plant regulator, defoliant or desiccant.”

 

The proposed rule will prohibit youth from washing their hands with typical antibacterial soaps as they contain disinfectants and/or sterilants or other substances used to kill, repel, or mitigate pests and meets the definition of the handler task of applying a pesticide.

 

The Tennessee Vocational Agriculture program includes agricultural and horticultural production programs. One aspect of many programs is the production of plants in greenhouses. There is an occasional need to treat all greenhouses with pesticides to control insects, mites, and various plant diseases. The policy of the Tennessee Department of Education is that all students who will be working in the greenhouses shall receive the EPA Worker Protection Standard (WPS) training. This WPS training teaches pesticide workers and handlers the basics of working in areas that have been treated with pesticides, use of personal protective equipment, and recognition of pesticide poisoning. WPS does not prescribe a minimum age for pesticide workers or pesticide handlers participating in the training or working in agricultural employment. The absolute prohibition of any work involving pesticides would effectively eliminate the greenhouse programs at the high schools and it would have a damaging effect on youth employment opportunities in Middle Tennessee's very large nursery industry.

 

Green Tobacco Sickness

 

This AG H.O. would prohibit all work involved in the production and curing of tobacco. This restriction is overly broad and clearly goes beyond the department's authority, which is only to restrict those occupations that are “particularly hazardous.” We agree with comments already filed by Mark Purschwitz, Ph.D., Extension Professor and Agricultural Safety and Health Specialist with the University of Kentucky, which point out that there are occupations in the production and curing of tobacco which are not particularly hazardous. If it is the goal of the department to assure that youth avoid situations in which they can contract green tobacco sickness (GTS), the department should tailor its regulation to address those situations, and not promulgate a blanket regulatory prohibition that exceeds its statutory mandate.

 

Extreme Temperatures and/or Arduous Conditions Request for Comments

 

The department requested comments on whether to create a new Ag H.O. that would limit the exposure of young hired farm workers to extreme temperatures and/or arduous conditions and whether “the payment of piece rates to young farm workers impacts their prolonged exposure to potentially harmful conditions.”

 

The department suggest that “an Ag H.O. could provide that youth under the age of 16 would not be permitted to work in agricultural occupations where the temperatures at which they are working exceed or drop below a certain temperature, factoring in such things as humidity, wind velocity, and the degree and duration of the physical exertion required by the work. It might also require that hours in direct sun be limited, if the temperature reaches certain thresholds for prolonged periods of time,and/or that workers be provided with shade, additional water supplies, more frequent breaks, the use of fans in shaded rest areas, or other options for relieving heat stress in certain circumstances.”

 

This could create a paper work nightmare. In the absence of convincing evidence that such a rule is justified, we do not support creation of such a new Ag H.O.

 

Conclusion

 

These issues could have a dramatic effect on Tennessee agriculture. Farmers have adapted to the current regulations over the years. The proposed changes would be confusing and burdensome. Many rural students will not be allowed a tremendous “hands on” learning opportunity. There have been no widespread safety issues to warrant the changes considered in the notice.

 

Agriculture is a dynamic industry that can provide valuable work experiences for youth. We encourage the DOL to monitor young workers and address only those areas that require attention. We support the intent of reducing injuries among youth. However, we continue to believe that educating the youth and farm employers should be the first approach. Those who intentionally and knowingly neglect safety should face bad actor punishment in the form of civil and/or criminal proceedings.

 

We appreciate the opportunity to respond.

Weekly Update From The Cannon County Libraries

Monday, 12 December 2011

Attention kids! Gary Prater, a close personal friend of Santa Claus, has let us know that he thinks Santa will have time to stop by the library story time holiday parties at Woodbury on December 15th at 10:30 a.m. and again on December 16th at 11:00 a.m. at the Auburntown Branch Library! We hope you can make it to one of these fun special story times.
 
The Friends of the Library Book Sale is in full swing. New books are being put out daily and there are bargains galore! All adult hardbacks are $1.00 each and paperbacks are only a quarter. Children’s hardbacks are just 50 cents each. The Friends even have some giftwrapped collections ready to purchase and give. Why not include Adams Memorial Library in your shopping plans this year.
 
Looking ahead, we expect to have at least some of the IRS forms available after the first of the year. Remember that we can also help you search for forms online if we do not have paper copies.
 
Enjoy the season and curl up with a good book!
 

Purple Dragon Fire Hits Lions and Lionettes Friday

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Mark Jamestown Tennessee down as another stop on the district tour that the Cannon County basketball teams would rather avoid.  York Institute hosted the Lions and Lionettes basketball teams in district 8-AA action Friday night.  In the girls game, the Lionettes knew that the Dragonettes post players would pose problems.  Cannon County's stingy defense cause over 19 Dragonette Turnovers.  The Lionettes shot 16 of 48 from the field but York was sent to the free throw line and ended up hitting 15 of 19 from the charity stripe and hung on to win 46-43.  Abbey Sissom led all scorers with 24 points.  Macy Clements substituting for Lindsay Reed who fouled out of the game missed a potential game tying three point attempt.  It was a tough shot to make as the buzzer sounded to end the game.  Six ties and seven lead changes highlighted the boys game.  Both teams made 21 field goals in the game however just like the girls game York Institute converted 19-28 from the free throw line while Cannon only had 6 attempts as York beat Cannon 61-51.  Cory Henley's 13 and Jarrett Melton's 12 paced the Lions even in the loss.
Cannon County Lionettes are now 7 and 2 with a 1-2 mark in the District.  The Lions are 3-6 with a 1-2 record in District 8-AA play.  Both teams will head back to Robert A Harris Gymnasium  to face their rival and district opponent Dekalb County Tuesday.

Schools Report Card Goes In Depth at School Board Meeting

Friday, 9 December 2011

Ms. Ann Bartholomew was recognized at the Cannon County Board of Education meeting Thursday night at the Courtroom of the courthouse.  Ms. Bartholomew, a teacher in the Cannon County School system for 26 years and currently teaching at Short Mountain School is retiring effective Christmas Break.  
The Board meeting got underway with the approval of the consent agenda which included the approval of the Lowe's Toolbox for Education grant at West Side School.  The grant totals $4,000.  The school will run it through their books if they are awarded the grant.
Dr. Barbara Corry and Ms. Connie Foster Schoolwide Positive Behavior Coaches in the Cannon County School System recognized the schools that have met the 80/80 criteria for the SWPBS program.  Dr. Corry and Ms Foster went into each school to survey how well the students knew the rules and how well the teachers were teaching and implenting the rules.  All schools scored over 80 percent in the assessment.  Westside scored 80.4 while Cannon County scored 84.3.  Eastside came it at 90 percent while Woodland, Woodbury and Auburntown each scored 96.4 percent.  Short Mountain led the School Systems in the survey scoring the highest.
Pam Sonderman addressed the board to let them know she submitted the application to continue the renewal of the Autism Grant.  The paperwork was due on November 15th and it is an extension of the grant that has been awarded to Cannon County Schools.  The grant money is based on discretionary funds left at the end of the year. The State awards the monies based on what is left over. Ms. Sonderman cautioned the board that they may not get the grant extension because there may not be any monies available due to state budget cuts.  Currently the grant funds the salary of a autism teacher to consult with students who have autism
The Board approved the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 school year calendars.  The school year in 2012 starts with registration on August 3rd while graduation will be May 24th 2013.  In the 2013 school year registration begins August 1st and 2nd while graduation hits May 23,2014.
The Board upheld the decision of the Schools in not allowing Ms. Dianna Sapero's children to ride the school bus.  Ms. Sapero's children had been riding the bus to Auburntown when it was discovered that they were living outside of Cannon County.  The actual residence itself is outside the county, however the end of their driveway is in the County.  The bus had been picking them up after using that area as a turnaround.
Director of Schools Barbara Parker reported that the Cannon County Youth Dream submitted 21 grants.  Out of those grants $7800 were funded.
Ms. Parker also announced Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman will be meeting with the Cannon County Central Office to go over the Budget Proposal of the State.  Huffman is scheduled to meet Monday Morning at 8:00.
The majority of the meeting was spent in going over the recent report card issued by the State.  There are two accountability systems that is reflected in the report card.  The first system is the "Race To The Top" or "First To The Top" .  The scores are based on 3rd grade reading 7th grad math and graduation rate.  The State of Tennessee set target scores for 2014-2015.  The schools have put together benchmarks each school year leading up to the target scores.  The School's Benchmark for 3rd grade reading was set at 34.7 percent.  Scores came it at 30.9 and the schools set the benchmark for 2011-2012 at 35.9 percent.  The 7th grade math benchmark was 30.5.  The schools are at 26 percent and the benchmark for 2011-2012 was set at 31.8 percent.    In the race to the top program schools are placed in four categories based on scores.  The Reward Category is the Highest scoring schools.  Currently there are 5 percent in the state that are termed Reward Schools.  The second Category is the Middle Category which comprises of 80 percent of the schools.  Since Cannon County Schools aren't listed in the other categories, they would be considered a Middle Category school.  The third category is the Focus category.  These are schools that make up 10 percent of the states schools.  These schools have the largest gaps in achievement and lowest graduation rate.  The achievement category rounds out the categories they are the lowest scoring proficency schools at 5%.
The second system of accountability is the No Child Left Behind system.  In this system four schools were placed on target status.  Cannon County High School, Woodland and Westside schools were on target status for math.  Woodbury Grammar school is on the target list for Math and Reading.  The No Child Left Behind system scores students based on reading, math, science and social studies.  In the Elementary Division, the target set by the school system was 49 percent.  State proficiency is 54% and Cannon County scored 47 percent in reading.  In Math the schools set a target of a 40% score. The State's score is 41 percent but Cannon County only scored a 28 percent.
The High School reading target was 61 percent.  The state proficiency is 69%.  Cannon County made the target by  scoiring 62 percent.  Math however was a different story.  The target was 44 percent set by the school system  The state proficiency is 55 percent but Cannon only scored a 34 percent.  Graduation percentage is 87 percent.  Cannon County came in with a 83.5 percent graduation rate just under the state percent.
In the TCAP Criterion Referenced Academic Achievement.  Grades 3-8 in Math Cannon Schools scored 44 percent which was a D while the state score was 50 percent.  Cannon scored C's in each of the other categories of Reading language, social studies and science.  In TCAP writing 5th grade the schools scored a B while 8th grade writing received an A as did the 11th grade writing.
The schools have plans in place working toward major improvement of these scores.  
The next board Meeting Workshop will be at the Central Office on Tuesday January 10th at 6:00.  The next Regular Board meeting will be Thursday January 12th at 6:00 at the Cannon County Courthouse.

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