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DHHR Realizes Cost Savings

The Free Press WV

West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) Cabinet Secretary Bill J. Crouch announced major cost savings in the Medicaid program have allowed for a budget reduction of approximately $160 million in general revenue funds for DHHR. 

These savings are the result of program changes that have created greater efficiencies in the Department and will be redirected to support other areas of critical need within DHHR including Child Protective Services and cost increases in state-owned hospitals, as well as toward statewide efforts facilitating economic growth.

Secretary Crouch has stated often that when he accepted the position of Cabinet Secretary, Governor Jim Justice asked him to run the agency as he would a business. 

Secretary Crouch has taken that directive seriously, implementing the Governor’s directives of practical spending cuts to increase revenue that supports sensible public investment. 

“Through responsible, fiscal management at DHHR and with the help of our great staff in DHHR’s Bureau for Medical Services we have worked to follow Gov. Justice’s lead and make the most of state dollars,” said Crouch.  “As the state refocuses taxpayer dollars toward efforts that promise to improve the economy, the economic growth should continue to lessen the need of DHHR services in the future as more of our citizens reach self-sufficiency. We are pleased that the West Virginia Legislature supported DHHR’s decisions over the past few years which allowed savings to be generated.”

Poverty, segregation persist in U.S. schools, report says

The Free Press WV

Too often, low-income, black and Latino students end up in schools with crumbling walls, old textbooks and unqualified teachers, according to a report released Thursday by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

The commission said inequities are caused by the fact that schools are most funded with state and local tax dollars. More than 92 percent of funding comes from nonfederal sources, according to the Education Department.

The resulting imbalance renders “the education available to millions of American public school students profoundly unequal,” the commission said.

For instance, the authors said, 33 percent of high schools with high black and Latino enrollment offer calculus, compared with 56 percent of high schools with low black and Latino student populations. Nationwide, 48 percent of schools offer the rigorous math course.

On average, school districts spend around $11,000 per student each year, but the highest-poverty districts receive an average of $1,200 less per child than the least-poor districts, while districts serving the largest numbers of minority students get about $2,000 less than those serving the fewest students of color, according the study.

The authors called on Congress to create incentives for states to adopt equitable funding systems, to ensure adequate funding for students with disabilities and to increase federal funding to supplement local dollars for school districts that are underfunded.

“The reality is that the United States does not offer the educational opportunity that is consistent with our ideals,” commission chair Catherine Lhamon told the AP. “That’s appalling and it’s dangerous and all of us need for it to change.”

Education Department spokeswoman Liz Hill said the commission’s findings underscore the need for reform. Promoting charter schools, voucher programs and other forms of school choice are key goals of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

“This is further proof that too many children, simply because of where they live, are forced to attend schools that do not provide an equitable education,” Hill said in a statement. “Secretary DeVos has made clear her mission is to ensure every child has the opportunity to attend a school that offers an excellent education that meets their individual needs.”

Whether channeling more money to schools in underserved communities will help improve the quality of education is a subject of academic debate.

“Money matters. If you don’t have it, you cannot spend it,” said Bruce Baker, a professor of education at Rutgers University. Baker said that states should do a better job in raising education funding and in equalizing spending among school districts. He also called for a greater federal role in making sure that less affluent states that need additional education funding get it.

“Having federal money can help states that cannot help themselves and federal pressure can encourage states to do the right thing, to raise enough resources and put them where they are needed.”

But Eric Hanushek, a fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University, disagrees.

“Money is not the secret recipe,” Hanushek said. “How much is spent on schools is not as important as how the money is spent.” For instance, he said, simply increasing the salaries of all teachers in a high-need school district won’t have as much of an impact as identifying high-performing teachers and increasing their salaries.

CHIP Funding Lack Frightens WV Parents

The Free Press WV

Without renewed funding from Congress, the West Virginia Children’s Health Insurance program is running on fumes - which is worrying families.

At the end of next month, the program will stop new enrollment, a first step in winding down. That’s scary for the parents of the 50,000 or so West Virginia children who get some kind of care from CHIP each year.

Angie Iafrate is the single mother of a nine-year-old boy and a full-time private-school teacher in Charleston.

“I’m absolutely worried about it,“ she says. “I really don’t know what we’ll do. People say, well, maybe you can get insurance through the marketplace at an affordable rate, but the marketplace is constantly under attack in Congress too.“

In the past, CHIP has always had bipartisan support, but some Republicans in Congress are now arguing that funding has to be paid for by cuts to other health-care programs.

Federal support for CHIP ran out last fall. Critics have started describing the program and others like it as “welfare” in need of “reform.“ But the overwhelming majority of the nine million American children getting care through CHIP are in working families - households that are poor, but which by definition make too much to qualify for Medicaid.

Iafrate gets her insurance through her job. But she says there is no way she could afford the extra $500 a month it would cost to cover her son under her policy.

“No, I don’t have $500 extra at the end of the month,“ she laments. “If I’m lucky, I have a few hundred dollars, a couple hundred dollars, and that usually ends up going to an unexpected car repair or an unexpected medical bill or something like that.“

Congressional leaders are promising to include CHIP funding in a large piece of must-pass legislation due this month. But the corporate tax cut just signed by President Donald Trump is increasing the deficit, and many members of Congress are looking for funding cuts to offset that.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

Expansion of Petrochemical Industry in West Virginia Continues To Move Forward

Governor Justice Says Expansion of Petrochemical Industry in West Virginia Continues To Move Forward With U.S. DOE Announcement

The Free Press WV

Governor Jim Justice said today West Virginia has taken another major step toward expansion of its petrochemical industry with an announcement from the U.S. Department of Energy that it has approved the first part in the application process from the Appalachia Development Group for a $1.9 billion federal loan guarantee to construct a regional underground storage hub and pipeline network for shale gas.

“I’m extremely pleased that the West Virginia Department of Commerce, West Virginia University and the Mid-Atlantic Technology, Research and Innovation Center (MATRIC) have been able to move the process forward for establishing this storage hub,” said Gov. Jim Justice. “Thousands of potential jobs and numerous downstream businesses could result from development of this project. We are anxious to see it come to fruition over the next several months with the invitation for ADG to now complete part two of the application process and seek the issuing of the loan guarantees.”

Appalachia Development Group (ADG) LLC., is owned by MATRIC and the West Virginia University Innovation Corporation.

ADG plans detail a series of subsurface natural gas liquids storage facilities to be built in the Ohio River Valley and Kanawha River Valley in West Virginia along with other infrastructure development in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Kentucky.

Is online college for you? Answer 5 questions to find out

The Free Press WV

Amelia Roberts, a nurse in Washington, D.C., knew she needed to return to college for a bachelor’s degree if she wanted to win a care coordinator position at her hospital. But attending college on a campus wasn’t a practical option for her.

“I was in the workforce, so traveling to a class in the evening wasn’t going to work. Everything pointed to online university,” Roberts says. She enrolled in a bachelor’s of science program in nursing online through Thomas Edison State University in New Jersey. Soon after Roberts got the promotion.

Roberts found the independent and self-paced style of online learning suited her well.

Millions of college students enroll in online courses every year. Nearly a third of all college students take at least one online course, and one in seven students take online courses exclusively, according to the most recent data available from Babson Survey Research Group, which conducts national surveys annually on online learning in the U.S.

But it’s not for everyone. If you’re considering an online degree program, ask yourself these five questions.


1. ARE YOU SELF-MOTIVATED?

You need to be a self-starter to succeed in any classroom, but it’s critical for online learning. Online degree seekers are often older than typical freshmen, and classes aren’t always the top priority.

“The majority of our students are working adults with full-time jobs, children and other commitments outside of the classroom,” says Joe Chapman, director of student services for Arizona State University Online. “Attending in class on campus is not an option for them, and it’s been several years since they last attended school. ... It can be daunting and scary for some people.”

To thrive in an online setting, you’ll need self-discipline. You’ll also need a strategy to manage your time and energy to balance classwork with other responsibilities, experts say.


2. DO YOU HAVE THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT?

You can take a course online at any time and place — that’s its primary appeal. Yet that doesn’t mean you should be using your smartphone to do it, experts say.

“You may have a phone, an iPhone or an iPad and you can access our classes that way, but to be effective, you really should have a reliable computer,” says Lynne M. Lander Fleisher, director of Clarion University Online.

You’ll need a desktop or laptop and regular access to Wi-Fi to complete coursework online. You may need to download software your school requires as well.


3. CAN YOU ADAPT TO LEARNING ONLINE?

Learning in an online setting may not be the best way for you to absorb information. If you’re not a reader, then you probably won’t enjoy online courses, which tend to require a lot of reading. You’re unlikely to interact much with your professor or peers in an online course. A solo learning style may not be a fit if you rely on communicating with others.

“Everyone learns differently, so the people who can learn better by reading or hearing have an advantage,” says Megan Pederson, teaching specialist and online academic adviser for University of Minnesota Crookston. “People who learn by doing tend not to enjoy the online experience.”


4. IS THE SCHOOL YOU’RE INTERESTED IN LEGITIMATE?

An online degree program’s quality will vary by institution. Programs offered by established, nonprofit public or private schools are usually safe bets. You should research the credentials of schools without a brick-and-mortar counterpart.

Start by finding top online colleges from “best of” lists by reputable publications. For an extra layer of quality control, inquire about accreditation , both institutional and program-specific, with the admissions department.


5. HOW WILL YOU PAY?

If you can’t afford to pay for your degree with savings and income, the financial aid process is the same as if you were attending a traditional college campus. You’ll need to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Then you’ll receive a Student Aid Report detailing aid you qualify for.

The amount of aid you can get will depend on your enrollment status, dependency status and income. The rule of thumb is to accept any grants and scholarships, followed by work-study, before taking on a loan.

Schools that are accredited will offer financial aid. Be wary if your school does not offer federal financial aid or pushes its own loan programs.

_______


RELATED LINKS:

NerdWallet: FAFSA 2018-19: How to get free money for college https://nerd.me/fafsa-guide

U.S. Department of Education: Accreditation: Universities and Higher Education https://www.ed.gov/accreditation

U.S. Department of Education: Student Aid Report https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa/next-steps/student-aid-report

As child care costs soar, public preschool spots are limited

The Free Press WV

In perhaps an unexpected twist, historically conservative strongholds like Oklahoma and West Virginia are leading efforts to bring preschool to all.

“They have in common a low-wage workforce, relatively low education levels and the desire to change that,” said Steven Barnett of the National Institute for Early Education Research. “Whatever they say, politicians in West Virginia know the future of their state is not coal miners.”

Other red states that have notable programs include Alabama and Georgia. But some liberal-leaning cities like Seattle and New York also are running public pre-K programs.

Advocates say more universal programs are needed to address what they call an alarming increase in child care costs. Studies have shown that children who attend a high-quality preschool are more adjusted for the rest of their academic lives and have better outcomes as adults, from higher incomes to healthier lifestyles.

Around the country, some budding programs say there are not enough seats to meet demand and not enough money to make it happen.

Programs in Seattle and New York enjoy overwhelming support locally, which in turn puts pressure on their state lawmakers to act as they face growing inequity in public education and research that touts the benefits of high-quality education in the critical early years.

“Clearly, a statewide program would be so much better, and it should be available to all 3- and 4-year-olds. It’s the best investment we can make to right the wrongs of generations,” said Tim Burgess, a retired Seattle mayor and city councilman credited with creating the Seattle Preschool Program.

It is now in its third year, serving 979 children with a sliding scale tuition model. About 80 percent of them go for free. Burgess is now pushing for a universal statewide offering in Washington, beyond its program for low-income children.

Aanchal Mehrotra’s 4-year-old son is one of 300 kids now on the waiting list for the Seattle Preschool Program, but she says she doesn’t have much hope that he’ll get in. The Seattle preschool class would cost the family just $365 a month. She’s paying almost four times that much for a month at a private day care franchise.

“It’s so expensive and become so difficult to afford,” said Mehrotra, a research scientist. “I’m just waiting for him to turn 5 so he can get into kindergarten.”

The universal preschool movement hit peak momentum under the Obama administration but has been virtually unaddressed by President Donald Trump. Instead, Trump’s daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump has dabbled with policies aimed at tackling child care costs.

A report by Democrats on the Joint Economic Committee in Congress this year indicated that less than half of the nation’s 3- and 4-year-olds were in a pre-K program, ranging from 75 percent in Washington, D.C., to just 30 percent in Idaho.

The programs vary in quality and structure, with some offering just a few hours a week of learning sessions and others that are more similar to a full school day.

One of the central goals of preschool is social development, which advocates say will help children get adjusted to learning in a structured setting and is especially important for low-income children.

But for many families, cost is a major factor.

Child Care Aware of America reports that the average cost of child care per year for a 4-year-old in a licensed facility ranged from $14,000 in Massachusetts to $4,500 in Mississippi.

In Oklahoma and West Virginia, preschool is offered to virtually all 4-year-olds.

West Virginia’s program last year cost $142 million — nearly a third of which was covered through federal funding — to educate 14,940 children, including 3-year-olds with special needs and all 4-year-olds.

The program was built up slowly over the past decade through layers of legislative wins that strengthened accessibility, partnerships, and most critically, funding.

“We have some very dedicated champions at the Legislature who really felt the need to look at the welfare of the children in our state,” said Monica DellaMea, who oversees early learning at the state education department.

Access to preschool is also widely available in Washington, D.C., Vermont and Florida.

Though other cities and states have been able to launch preschool programs, funding often limits access, creating programs for the poor or disabled or limited to a certain district — instead of a truly universal one.

That’s the case in Washington state, where only 9 percent of 4-year-olds were enrolled in preschool in 2016, according to National Institute for Early Education Research.

“For a decade, nothing has really changed in terms of access for the non-poor working families,” Barnett said.

The Christmas when the fighting stopped

The Free Press WV

Has there ever been a Christmas when there was no war, no fighting in any corner of our planet?  It’s difficult to imagine since the world’s history has been a series of conquests and defenses.

But there was once a Christmas when the fighting did stop, when enemies shook hands and laughed and even sang Christmas carols together.

The First World War had been underway just a few months in December 1914, but it was clear a long, bloody fight was ahead.  The Germans and the English were dug in their muddy trenches separated sometimes by just 60 yards.

Between them was a No-Man’s land of mud, debris and the casualties of both sides, left unburied for weeks.

But something remarkable happened along the battle lines on Christmas 103 years ago; the German and British soldiers stopped fighting.

It wasn’t that they were afraid to fight. The trenches of both sides were filled with brave men who faced death each day.  No, the peace began as an informal truce casually agreed to by the officers in the field, but not the generals safely in the rear.

At night the English first saw the lights of Christmas decorations in the German trenches, and then heard the sounds of the German soldiers singing Christmas carols.  The British soldiers responded in kind.

All along the Western Front the scene repeated itself.  The impromptu truce spread.  In some places along the lines the warring soldiers emerged from their trenches, leaving their guns behind, and met in No-Man’s land where they exchanged food and conversed as best they could.  One group of soldiers played a game of soccer.

Percy Jones of the Queen’s Westminster Regiment said, “Altogether we had a great day with our enemies, and parted with much hand-shaking and mutual goodwill.”  Corporal John Ferguson of the Seaforth Highlanders remarked, “Here we were, laughing and chatting to men whom only a few hours before we were trying to kill.”

Well behind the trenches the British High Command was distressed, fearing it might not be able to get the men to start fighting again.  The war might grind to a halt. Headquarters issued a statement blaming the lack of fighting at the front on “stormy weather.”

Eventually, the soldiers at the front drifted back to their positions.  At some locations along the front the Christmas Spirit carried to the New Year before fighting resumed.  The fighting of course did start again and continued for nearly four more bloody years.

This Christmas as we search for good news in a troubled world we can remember that Christmas 103 years ago when the spirit of peace on earth and good will toward men was strong enough to—for a time at least—stop a world war.

Congressional Delays In CHIP Funding Bringing Chaos

The Free Press WV

Healthcare systems are now bracing for chaos as Congress failed to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

According to a new analysis by the Georgetown Center for Children and Families, half of all state CHIP programs will have to shut down by the end of next month. Five states, including Virginia, won’t even last that long.

Linda Nablo helps run the Virginia Family Access to Medical Insurance Security program. As Congress has broken repeated promises to deal with the issue, she said they may now have to tell the families of 100,000 children their health coverage could end in a few weeks.

“I may now have to mail out another letter, saying. ‘No, it’s not January 31, it’s much earlier than that.’” Nablo said. “If you’re a parent, especially if you’re a parent of a very sick child, what do you think?“

West Virginia expects to run out of funding in March.

A plan to fund CHIP by cutting preventive and other care has backing in the House. But congressional leaders set that aside to pass the big tax bill, which includes corporate and estate tax cuts.

Some House Republicans argue that CHIP funding has to be offset to avoid increasing the federal deficit. But as they debate those issues, emergency room doctors say they’re planning for when the FAMIS children start showing up after losing coverage - often much sicker than they would be with it.

Dr. Sam Bartle at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond said he expects to see those parents trying to make heartbreaking decisions about their children’s illnesses.

“‘Should I bring them in now or can I wait? Is his wheezing, his difficulty breathing bad enough yet to come in? Can I wait until later and see if it gets better?‘ For some conditions, that can be deadly,” Bartle said.

Virginia is not the only state in this situation. Alabama reduced the number of children without health coverage to 3 percent - in part by getting 95,000 kids into the CHIP program.

Alabama CHIP director, Cathy Caldwell, said many of those families are starting to panic.

“Our phones are ringing off the wall,” Caldwell said. “We have panicked families wondering what in the world they have as options.“

Caldwell and Nablo both stressed, as the funding runs low, programs start to incur long-term damage.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

The Republican gamble on tax reform

The Free Press WV

In 2010, Democratic California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi famously said of the Affordable Care Act, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it away from the fog of the controversy.”

The statement was taken by Obamacare opponents as an indication of how Democrats crafted a complicated bill remaking the nation’s healthcare delivery system without a full understanding of its impact.

Now Republicans are passing, and President Trump will sign, the biggest tax reform plan since the Reagan tax cuts of 1981.  Certainly more details are known about the tax bill than the ACA.  There are numerous websites where you can enter your tax information and see how you will be affected.

However, that does not mean the tax bill is widely understood by Americans or, even if they understand it, they may not want it.

The New York Times did a survey of people that could expect a tax cut.  It found that “even among people with more than 90 percent chance of getting a cut, about half said they did not expect to get one.”

That helps explain why the tax cuts are not popular. The statistical website FiveThirtyEight reports, “According to an average of nine surveys taken this month, 33 percent of Americans are in favor of it, and 52 percent are opposed.”  Contrast that with the Reagan tax cuts when a Gallup Poll found 51 percent approved, while 26 percent were opposed.

These numbers and others put Republicans in a precarious position heading into 2018. The GOP is already bracing for losses often suffered by the party in power in midterm elections, especially when the President is of the same party and has low approval ratings.

West Virginia’s three Republican members of the House of  Representatives—David McKinley (R-WV1), Alex Mooney (R-WV2) and Evan Jenkins (R-WV3)–along with Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito all supported the tax bill.

Capito is not up for re-election until 2020. However, McKinley and Mooney have to defend their seats next year, and Jenkins is running for the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate.  They have to own the tax bill during the 2018 election cycle.

They are banking on that working out for them. Their best arguments are that more than 80 percent of West Virginia taxpayers use the standard deduction rather than itemizing and those folks all get a tax break. Additionally, small businesses, which dominate the state’s economy, will also see a lower tax liability.

But a lot of things could go wrong. There could be a massive correction in the stock market.  The economy could hit one of its cyclical downturns.  What if big corporations, which stand to benefit most from the tax bill, see profits surge, but wages do not follow?  What if the deficit explodes?

The political fallout could be dramatic.  Americans, who according to surveys never saw taxes as their top issue, will take out their frustrations on the party in power, giving Democrats in West Virginia and across the country a foothold to try to regain their majorities.

Republicans said they needed the tax bill; they and President Trump had to have a legislative victory to carry them through the midterms.  We will know in a few months whether that was the correct calculus.

A Republican version of the Pelosi blunder might be, “Let’s pass the tax bill and see what happens.”

Effects of Final Tax Bill on Higher-Ed

Final Tax Bill Would Spare Some Higher-Ed Worries, but Could Lead to State Budget Cuts
The Free Press WV

 

The Republican-backed tax overhaul is headed for final floor votes in Congress without some of the measures that would directly target higher education. Notably, a proposed tax on tuition waivers for graduate students and other college employees is no longer in the compromise legislation. But a high-profile tax on the investment earnings of some of the largest college endowments stayed in the bill.

A conference committee, convened by Republican leaders in Congress, agreed on Friday to the final terms of the bill, which now faces votes in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. The House is expected to vote on December 21. Odds for the bill’s passage increased on Friday when two potential holdouts, Sen. Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, and Sen. Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, said they would support it. If majorities in both chambers approve the bill, President Trump is expected to sign it.

But even without some controversial measures, the overall package is still expected to have a significant effect on higher-education budgets. Within the bill are provisions that could curtail both state appropriations and college fund raising.

For example, the bill would double the standard deduction for tax filers, cutting the number of people who would itemize their charitable contributions. Many critics fear such changes would act as disincentives for donations to colleges. In addition, laws in many states require their tax rates to change with federal rates, a pattern that could lead to steep state-budget shortfalls as tax revenues decline.

Thomas L. Harnisch, director of state relations and policy analysis at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, told a recent gathering of state higher-education lobbyists that the tax bill would leave public higher education vulnerable to deep cuts at a time when many state budgets have still not fully recovered from the Great Recession.

Lucy Dadayan, a senior researcher at the Rockefeller Institute of Government, part of the State University of New York, said the bill would reshuffle the “tax burden among various income groups without any coherent strategy,” but could have the greatest impact on high-tax states such as California, New York, and New Jersey.

“In general,” she said by email, “the tax-reform bill is complex and rushed, and would lead to many unexpected ramifications.”


Hits to Higher Ed

Over all, the legislation would lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, decrease the number of tax brackets for individual filers, and double the standard deduction for individual filers. Other notable measures include limiting deductions for mortgage interest paid and for state and local taxes paid.

The cost of those changes would add more than a trillion dollars to the federal deficit over the next decade, with some of that money offset by tax increases, including for some colleges.

A proposed tax on the endowment earnings of the wealthiest colleges remained in the bill. The legislation would place a 1.4-percent tax on the investment earnings of endowments at colleges with more than 500 students and $500,000 in endowment per student. The provision is expected to affect fewer than 30 colleges nationwide, though the number could certainly grow. A small change in this section states that the tax applies only to “institutions more than 50 percent of the tuition paying students of which are located in the United States.”

During debate over the Senate’s version of the bill, Sen. Pat Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, proposed an exemption from the tax for colleges that decline to accept federal funds, a plan seen as helping a single institution, Michigan’s Hillsdale College, the beneficiary of many conservative donors. The “Hillsdale Carve-Out,” as it came to be known, was rejected in the Senate’s final bill.

Larry Arnn, the college’s president, wrote that he believed the proposal was “fair” because institutions like his do not accept taxpayers dollars. But, he added, “as a matter of principle the government should reduce its subsidies to universities rather than taxing endowments.” Principia College, a small, private institution in Illinois that does not receive Title IV funds, would be at risk of being subject to the tax if it were to grow by roughly 20 students.

In addition to those measures, the bill would impose a 21-percent tax on annual compensation in excess of $1 million paid to any of a nonprofit organization’s five highest-paid employees. That’s a one-percentage-point increase from the legislation’s original measures. The provision would apply to colleges but appears to exempt medical professionals, such as medical faculty members who work at academic hospitals, according to higher-education experts who have examined the bill.

The final legislation would eliminate the 80-percent tax deduction that sports fans get to take for  “seat-license fees” paid to buy tickets to sporting events — a major revenue stream to big-time college-sports programs. Another provision would prohibit colleges from using a loss in one unrelated business to offset a gain in a different such business, potentially increasing their overall tax burden. Unrelated businesses are those not directly connected to their academic mission, such as recreation or fitness centers, sports camps, facility rentals, and golf courses.

Some of the most controversial measures affecting higher education, however, were dropped from the final bill. The compromise bill would avoid proposed changes in the Lifetime Learning Credit, valued at up to $2,000, and the $5,250 corporate deduction for employee education-assistance plans.

A provision to tax tuition waivers as income was scuttled after widespread protests by graduate students. The bill also would not remove the $2,500 deduction for interest paid on student loans.

And special bonds, called Private Activity Bonds, would still be available to nonprofit organizations such as private colleges and alumni foundations. An earlier version of the tax bill would have eliminated those bonds, which are often used for building projects.

A proposed tax on the royalties from licensing a college’s logo — for athletic clothing, for example — was also eliminated from the compromise bill.


Long-Term Effects

The most profound impacts on higher education will be detectable only in the long term and will be harder to calculate.

The provision limiting the deduction for state and local taxes paid would put pressure on states to constrain their own spending in areas such as higher education, says a report by Moody’s Investors Service, which counts the tax bill as a possible negative for the higher-education sector.

The provision doubling the standard deduction — the amount of income that tax filers are allowed to automatically shield from taxes — could hamper fund raising by colleges. The change, if enacted, would be expected to decrease the percentage of taxpayers who itemize their tax deductions, such as donations to alumni funds, from about 30 percent of filers to just 5 percent. Nonprofit leaders have estimated the provision would lead to a $13-billion drop in charitable giving nationwide.

Doubling the standard deduction could also put a huge dent in some state budgets, leading to cuts in appropriations for public colleges and state student-aid programs.

Some states have laws requiring their tax codes to conform with federal changes as they occur, according to the Tax Policy Center. Enactment of the final tax legislation could mean tax cuts for many people in those states, but also big drops in state tax revenue. Officials in Missouri, for example, have estimated the state will lose as much as $1 billion in tax revenue with the proposed changes in federal taxes, according to The Columbia Tribune.

States that rely on taxes on oil and gas drilling could also lose some of that money, according to Stateline.org. That could happen if the new legislation, if enacted, triggers the automatic suspension of those taxes under a 2010 budget deal that also requires cuts in federal spending, called “sequestration.”

Republicans in Congress are also now raising the possibility of more reductions in federal programs to pay for the tax cuts they are seeking. That could lead to more budget instability at the state level, said Kim Rueben, a researcher at the Tax Policy Center, because a third of state budgets come from federal dollars for programs such as Medicaid. “Future federal cuts are state cuts,” Ms. Rueben told the recent gathering of state higher-education lobbyists.

Ms. Dadayan, of the Rockefeller Institute, said the bill would “put fiscal pressure on some middle-class taxpayers as well as on some state and local governments.”

“In short,” she said, “there is a huge fiscal and economic uncertainty in front of state and local governments.”

Eric Kelderman writes about money and accountability in higher education, including such areas as state policy, accreditation, and legal affairs.

Meet the Miss USA Contestant from Gilmer County, WV Accusing Trump of Sexual Misconduct

Five senators are now calling on President Trump to resign over allegations that he sexually harassed or assaulted women, and 56 House lawmakers with the Democratic Women’s Working Group are calling for a congressional investigation into the allegations.

This comes as three of the 16 women who have publicly accused Trump of sexual harassment held a press conference in New York, demanding that Congress take action.

We speak with one of them: Samantha Holvey, a former Miss USA contestant for North Carolina and from Gilmer County, WV when Trump owned the pageant.

We are also joined by Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and we play an excerpt from the Brave New Films documentary “16 Women and Donald Trump.”


The Transcript:

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Five senators are now calling on President Trump to resign over allegations that he sexually harassed or assaulted women. This is New York’s Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand speaking Monday on CNN.

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: President Trump should resign. These allegations are credible; they are numerous. I’ve heard these women’s testimony, and many of them are heartbreaking.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Senator Gillibrand joins Senators Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden in calling on President Trump to step down. Meanwhile, 56 House lawmakers with the Democratic Women’s Working Group are also calling for a congressional investigation into the allegations against Trump.

AMY GOODMAN: This comes as three of the 16 women who have publicly accused President Trump of sexual harassment held a news conference in New York on Monday, demanding Congress take action. The women shared accounts in which they said Trump groped, fondled and forcibly kissed them. Monday’s news conference was held by Brave New Films, which released the documentary 16 Women and Donald Trump in November.

JILL HARTH: He groped me. He absolutely groped me. And he just slipped his hand there, touching my private parts.

TEMPLE TAGGART: He turned to me and embraced me and gave me a kiss on the lips. And I remember being shocked and—because I would have just thought to shake somebody’s hand. But that was his first response with me.

JESSICA LEEDS: It was a real shock when all of the sudden his hands were all over me. But it’s when he started putting his hand up my skirt, and that was it. That was it.

KRISTIN ANDERSON: The person on my right, who, unbeknownst to me at that time, was Donald Trump, put their hand up my skirt. He did touch my ###### through my underwear.

LISA BOYNE: As the women walked across the table, Donald Trump would look up under their skirt and, you know, comment on whether they had underwear or didn’t have underwear. I didn’t want to have to walk across the table. I wanted to get out of there.

KARENA VIRGINIA: Then his hand touched the right inside of my breast. I felt intimidated, and I felt powerless.

MINDY McGILLIVRAY: Melania was standing right next to him when he touched my butt.

JESSICA DRAKE: When we entered the room, he grabbed each of us tightly in a hug and kissed each one of us without asking permission. After that, I received another call from either Donald or a male calling on his behalf, offering me $10,000. His actions are a huge testament to his character, that of uncontrollable misogyny, entitlement and being a sexual assault apologist.

SAMANTHA HOLVEY: I’m, you know, sitting there in my robe and having, you know, my makeup and hair done and everything, and he comes walking in. And I was just like, “Oh, my goodness!” Like what is he doing back here? I saw him walk into the dressing room.

TASHA DIXON: He just came strolling right in. There was no second to put a robe on or any sort of clothing or anything. Some girls were topless. Other girls were naked. Waltzing in, when we’re naked or half-naked, in a very physically vulnerable position.

SUMMER ZERVOS: And he came to me and started kissing me open-mouthed as he was pulling me towards him. He then grabbed my shoulder, and he began kissing me again very aggressively and placed his hand on my breast. And I said, “Come on, man. Get real.” He repeated my words back to me—”Get reeeeeal”—as he began thrusting his genitals.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s an excerpt from the documentary 16 Women and Donald Trump. The women are now calling for a congressional investigation into sexual misconduct by President Trump. Last year, several Republican lawmakers distanced themselves from Donald Trump’s presidential campaign following the release of the 2005 videotape showing Trump boasting about sexually assaulting women.

Trump responded this morning on Twitter to the allegations, writing, quote, “Despite thousands of hours wasted and many millions of dollars spent, the Democrats have been unable to show any collusion with Russia—so now they are moving on to the false accusations and fabricated stories of women who I don’t know and/or have never met. FAKE NEWS!” he tweeted.

Well, for more, we’re joined by Samantha Holvey, former Miss North Carolina. She was a U.S.—Miss USA contestant in the pageant that Trump owned. She’s one of the 16 women who has accused President Trump of sexual misconduct, and she spoke out at the news conference on Monday.

Welcome, Samantha, to Democracy Now!

SAMANTHA HOLVEY: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you just—we just played the video, of which you’re a part. Can you talk about your experience of Donald Trump and then what he’s saying—”I don’t know them, I never met them”?

SAMANTHA HOLVEY: So, the first time I met Donald Trump, we were in New York City doing a media tour, all 51 of the Miss USA contestants. And we were at Trump Tower. They lined us all up, and so he could meet all of us. And I’m thinking this is going to be a meet and greet, you know, lots of eye contact. That was not the case at all. He walks by, and by every one of us, or at the very least me. He just looked me up and down like I was a piece of meat. There was no “Hi. How are you doing? Are you excited to be here?” None of that. I was just a piece of meat that was his property. And I thought, “Oh, goodness. I hope I never have to deal with him again. I don’t want to be around him.”

And then finals night rolls around. And I’m, you know, in hair and makeup. I’ve got curlers in my hair, nothing but a robe on. I’m just 20 years old. And he comes waltzing in to hair and makeup and is just looking around, not talking to us, asking us how we’re doing. And by the way, you know, Miss USA was not my first pageant. I’ve been—I’ve competed in other pageants. And the directors, no men were ever backstage. So this is not something that happens.

So, I see him walk in to hair and makeup, and he’s looking us all over. And then he waltzed right into the dressing room, where we have two big security guards making sure that nobody but female contestants and chaperones are allowed in there. But he walks right on in.

And to hear him talking about he’s never met any of us—you know, this is what happens every year. It wasn’t just 2006. He bragged about this on Howard Stern. And silly me, I should have been watching Howard Stern, because he bragged about it the year before I competed at Miss USA. So this was a known thing that he did. And so, it’s just amazing to call me a liar, when I’m just verifying his own words.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders responded to the allegations against Trump during Monday’s press briefing. This is what she said.

PRESS SECRETARY SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS: As the president said himself, he thinks it’s a good thing that women are coming forward. But he also feels strongly that a mere allegation shouldn’t determine the course. And in this case, the president has denied any of these allegations, as have eyewitnesses. And several reports have shown those eyewitnesses also back up the president’s claim in this process. And again, the American people knew this and voted for the president, and we feel like we’re ready to move forward in that process.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Samantha, your response to Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ statement? Also, you initially raised these allegations, as did many of the women, last year during the campaign. What’s the change now, the decision now to come to this press conference yesterday?

SAMANTHA HOLVEY: You know, it was a tough decision to come back out, because I did get a lot of backlash last year when I spoke out, and so I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go through all of that again. But when the—the idea was that all of us would come together, that all 16 women would come together, and seeing us as a group, seeing us there supporting each other, as well as telling our stories, there’s power in numbers. And that’s what I was just hoping, that maybe this year it would be different, since the climate is different.

AMY GOODMAN: Yesterday, I went to the news conference, Samantha. You were there, along with Jessica Leeds, a woman who says Donald Trump attacked her, sitting next to her in first class in a plane, groping her, until she got up and left. And this is Rachel Crooks, who also spoke at the news conference with you, who said Trump forcibly kissed her, against her will, in 2005.

RACHEL CROOKS: About 12 years ago, as a young receptionist in Trump Tower, I was forcibly kissed by Mr. Trump during our first introduction. Mr. Trump repeatedly kissed my cheeks, and ultimately my lips, in an encounter that has since impacted my life well beyond the initial occurrence, in feelings of self-doubt and insignificance I had.

Unfortunately, given Mr. Trump’s notoriety and the fact that he was a partner of my employers, not to mention the owner of the building, I felt there was nothing I could do. Given this hostile work environment, my only solution at the time was to simply avoid additional encounters with him.

I do realize that, in the grand scheme of things, there are far worse cases of sexual harassment, misconduct and assault. But make no mistake: There is no acceptable level of such behavior.

That some men think they can use their power, position or notoriety to demean and attack women speaks to their character, not ours, which, believe me, is a tough lesson learned. In my case, I only felt the redemption of knowing it was not my own flaws to blame, when I read the account of Temple Taggart, whose story had so mirrored my own that I finally felt absolved of the guilt that I had somehow projected an image that made me an easy target. Instead, this was serial misconduct and perversion on the part of Mr. Trump.

AMY GOODMAN: Rachel Crooks. Now, Donald Trump has just fired back this morning on tweet. Five senators have called for him to resign. He fired back at New York Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, after she joined the four other senators and at least 56 lawmakers in the House who have called for a congressional investigation into the sexual misconduct accusations against him. This morning, Trump tweeted, “Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office ‘begging’ for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!”

I want to bring—I want to bring Cecile Richards into this conversation, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, CEO of the organization, as well. As you listen to Samantha and Rachel, some of the 16 women who have accused Donald Trump, and then see what he is tweeting today, attacking the senators, particularly the female senator, of the five—

CECILE RICHARDS: Correct.

AMY GOODMAN: —who are calling for him to resign, with sexual innuendo in his tweet, your thoughts?

CECILE RICHARDS: Well, first, I just think Samantha is extraordinarily brave, and the other 15 women, because you can see now why women don’t come forward. I think, obviously, it’s time for an investigation of Donald Trump. And the fact that he is in fact going after women, I think, is going to embolden women. I mean, you know, as difficult as this is to experience, the outpouring of women now supporting each other and telling their stories is like nothing I’ve ever seen in my lifetime, including women that we see at Planned Parenthood.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And the impacts across the spectrum in terms of Washington itself, in terms of lawmakers now, as more and more calls for investigations of individual lawmakers are occurring.

CECILE RICHARDS: Right. Well, I think this is—I mean, the story that Amy refers to this morning of now women in Congress finally saying, who have been—you know, have basically suffered this kind of treatment for their entire careers, are now saying it’s time to investigate this, and holding people to a standard, is incredibly important. I don’t think any of us saw this happening. And ironically, I believe the president is actually encouraging more women to now stand up and come forward, particularly—and I’m sorry that he said this about Samantha—the fact that he’s actually saying that he doesn’t even know who these women are, trying to essentially erase them in every way. And it’s because women are saying “Enough” and standing with each other that I think we’re going to see change.

How To Argue About Net Neutrality (And Why You Should)

The Free Press WV

This is the net-neutrality debate guide you’ve been waiting for, because the subject is sure to come up—and you need to be ready.

OK, maybe not. But an argument about net neutrality is worth having, if only with yourself, because internet regulations can affect your browsing and streaming experiences, and an informed consumer should have an opinion on such things, right?

Net neutrality is the principle that internet providers should make all content available at the same speed. That doesn’t mean loading Netflix on a 25-megabits-per-second connection just as quickly as on a 100-megabits-per-second connection; it means treating Netflix and Hulu the same on whichever kind of connection a consumer has.

That is what a regulation mandates, but the FCC is poised to vote next month to repeal the Obama-era rule. Below are some leading arguments for repealing and keeping the net-neutrality regulation.

- Repeal it

First of all, the current regulation is, as the National Review’s editorial board put it, an example of the “kind of lawlessness (that) ran rampant in the Obama administration.“ The FCC derives its authority from the Federal Communications Act, and the law does not say anything about the power to tell internet providers how they can or can’t distribute content.

If there is going to be a net-neutrality mandate, it should come from Congress.

True net neutrality can’t be achieved, anyway. Multiple factors affect content delivery speeds, and regulations can’t ensure across-the-board equality. Sure, a start-up streaming service could theoretically match Netflix and Hulu; in practice, however, a start-up can’t fix bugs and update software rapidly enough to keep pace.

The regulation is a solution in search of a problem. The internet worked just fine before the Democratic-controlled FCC passed the net-neutrality regulation in 2015, and it will work just fine after the rule is repealed. That’s because internet providers understand that it is in their own interests to maintain a level playing field.

Could Comcast, a part-owner of Hulu, artificially slow down Netflix? Sure. But it wouldn’t do that because it wouldn’t risk losing Netflix users to Verizon. Capitalism works.

- Keep it

The real threat is not to fair competition between giants such as Hulu and Netflix; the threat is to fair competition between big companies and small ones. Small companies face enough barriers. The last thing they need is for larger competitors to be able to buy faster delivery speeds that start-ups cannot afford.

Imagine a new travel-booking website that always loads slower than Kayak and Orbitz. Impatient customers will quickly give up on it, and the new site will fail. That means fewer competitors in the travel industry, which is bad for consumers.

Free speech could suffer without a net-neutrality regulation. Under the repeal plan outlined by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, internet providers could block websites they don’t like.

Market demands would probably prevent them from exercising that right very often, but why give huge corporations that kind of power? Consumers should be free to make their own decisions about content.

A repeal would encourage further consolidation. The Justice Department is suing a major Internet provider, AT&T, to block the company’s acquisition of a major content producer, Time Warner. President Donald Trump has said the deal would result in “too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.“

So why on Earth would the Trump administration roll back the net-neutrality regulation and give internet providers such as AT&T more incentive to buy content producers such as Time Warner? It makes no sense. If internet providers suddenly have the power to speed up content they own or slow down content owned by rivals, then they will want to own as much content as possible - which means more business deals such as the one Trump opposes.

Fracking and Other Human Activities Are Causing Texas Earthquakes, Study Suggests

The Free Press WV

An unnatural number of earthquakes hit Texas in the past decade, and the region’s seismic activity is increasing. In 2008, two earthquakes stronger than magnitude 3 struck the state. Eight years later, 12 did.

Natural forces trigger most earthquakes. But humans are causing earthquakes, too, with mining and dam construction the most frequent suspects. There has been a recent increase in natural gas extraction - including fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, but other techniques as well - which produces a lot of wastewater. To get rid of it, the water is injected deep into the ground. When wastewater works its way into dormant faults, the thinking goes, the water’s pressure nudges the ancient cracks. Pent-up tectonic stress releases and the ground shakes.

But for any given earthquake, it is virtually impossible to tell whether humans or nature triggered the quake. There are no known characteristics of a quake, not in magnitude nor in the shape of its seismic waves, that provide hints to its origins.

“It’s been a head-scratching period for scientists,“ said Maria Beatrice Magnani, who studies earthquakes at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Along with a team of researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey, Magnani, an author of a new report published Friday in the journal Science Advances, attempted to better identify what has been causing the rash of Texas quakes.

A cluster of earthquakes around a drilling project can, at best, suggest a relationship. “The main approach has been to correlate the location to where there has been human activity,“ said Michael Blanpied, a USGS geophysicist and co-author of the new study.

The study authors took a different approach in the new work - they hunted for deformed faults below Texas. “This technique is called high-resolution seismic reflection imaging,“ Magnani said. Seismic reflection is the same tool that allows extractors to find oil and gas deposits in underground structures.

To collect seismic reflection data, an artificially generated wave ripples through the ground and reflects back to the surface, like light off a mirror. The result is “a little bit like an ultrasound,“ Magnani said, revealing not baby toes but twisted rock.

The scientists compared the Texas earth with Mississippi, another seismically active region that, like Texas, is not close to a turbulent edge of a tectonic plate. Unlike Texas, though, north Mississippi has a much longer history of recorded earthquakes, going back to the early 1800s.

An underground ultrasound revealed that, beneath Texas, the most recent signs of active faults were in a geologic layer 300 million years old - 70 million years before the first dinosaur took its first step. All the younger layers above it were stable.

“All the displacement was stopping at a layer that is 300 million years old,“ Magnani said. “The fault did not move after that layer was deposited.“

In the Mississippi region, in contrast, the rock told a story of continuous fault activity, unbroken for the last 65 million years.

Given the lack of faults in Texas’s most recent 300 million years of history, there is no known geologic process that could explain its sudden quake outbreak. “There is no other explanation” except that these earthquakes are caused by human activity, Magnani said.

The study is in line with what other earthquake experts had surmised using different analyses. “We don’t expect a lot of pushback” from the scientific community, Blanpied said.

“This is a landmark contribution in the question of whether the Fort Worth basin earthquakes are man-made,“ said Cliff Frohlich, a geophysicist at the University of Texas, Austin who was not involved with the study. Frohlich said this research eliminates the possibility, sometimes raised by the oil and gas industry, that the Texas quakes are part of a natural cycle of faults that awaken every few thousand or million years.

The seismic reflection data provide a powerful argument “that these earthquakes are something new and different,“ he said - activity stemming from the injection of wastewater deep into basement rock. (“Most of the time it’s the large volume injection,“ he said, “not the little frack jobs.“)

In March 2016, the USGS published a map of the likely areas where human-made earthquakes will strike in the United States. About 7 million people are at risk of these events, with Texas and nearby Oklahoma among the most susceptible states.

“We hope that the response from our colleagues will be to deploy this [technique] elsewhere,“ Blanpied said. Magnani said she would like to apply seismic reflection to Oklahoma, which has also experienced an unusual uptick in earthquakes.

But seismic reflection data are difficult and expensive to collect, though the oil and gas industry will sell the information. As for why no one else had attempted to do this before, the authors said Magnani was simply the first person to have the idea to use seismic reflection to look for old faults.

There is still more work to do. Any successful regulatory process, Magnani said, will require an understanding of the physical processes that trigger human-made earthquakes.

Reading Trump

The Free Press WV

Writing about politics for a living means I must think about President Trump more often than is healthy to think about any person who does not live in my own household.

The man is inescapable. As Andrew Sullivan put it at New York shortly after the inauguration, Trump is always “barging into [my] consciousness.“ Like George Orwell’s Big Brother, “His face bears down on you on every flickering screen. He begins to permeate your psyche and soul; he dominates every news cycle and issues pronouncements — each one shocking and destabilizing — round the clock.“

So sometime in 2016, trying to create some mental distance from Trump for the sake of my own sanity, I stopped watching and listening to him almost entirely. Sure, there are occasional exceptions — if, for example, I’m tasked with covering a speech in real time, or if a bit of Trump happens to appear in some late-night TV clip I watch — but for the most part I avoid all video and audio recordings of the president.

Instead, I read him.

Transcripts are available so quickly and easily online these days that this is ever more feasible. And in the process of making this switch, I’ve found its benefits go well beyond clearing my mind of Trumpian clutter. Perhaps most notably, it makes it possible for me to fairly recognize when Trump gets something right.

Readers of my work here at The Week and elsewhere will know that, as a Christian and a libertarian alike, I rarely find common ground with this administration. And I confess — whether as a result of something unique about Trump, or my own lack of charity, or simply this incessant familiarity breeding an instinctive hostility — my default at this point is to assume I will disagree with whatever Trump says. When I watch Trump’s words coming out of Trump’s mouth, I often struggle to assess their policy content independent of the president’s personal manner and history of ethically gross behavior.

Reading him helps to level my mental playing field, to evaluate what he says dispassionately and on its own merits rather than those of its source. For instance, as messy as Trump’s messaging on NATO burden-sharing tends to be, I’ve argued that he is right to raise the question of rethinking how the United States relates to this alliance. Reading his speeches on the subject helped me see the value in what he said.

Lest this seem like an exercise in giving Trump more benefit of the doubt than he is due, let me now add that reading Trump is also worthwhile for those whose default reaction to him is the opposite of my own. You see, Trump is in a narrow sense an excellent salesman. He is something of a one-trick pony in this regard — his sales shtick does not work on every audience, not by a long shot — but when he’s talking to his people he has this down to a science.

But here’s the thing: It’s a package deal. I’ve found when talking to older relatives who reflexively like Trump that the fastest way to get them to seriously assess whether something the president said is good and sensible is to help them hear the words without Trump himself being involved. Because reading the president (particularly if you watch him regularly) can result in hearing his words in his voice in your head, I do this by reading aloud for them a Trump statement, ideally at least one paragraph long.

As it turns out, encountering a Trump comment divorced from Trump’s salesmanship changes the experience enormously. Gone is the staccato rhythm of speech, the pregnant pauses, the evocative gestures, the crude imitations of people he doesn’t like. Instead, I read Trump’s words out loud with normal inflection and all the enthusiasm of an 11th-grader tasked with reading the part of Brutus for the class. Granted, my sample size is small, but so far I’ve found this practice is universally successful at negating Trump’s personal appeal and forcing my listener to examine what he says as they would if they heard it from anyone else.

Consider, for example, what may be Trump’s single most famous sentence, a 285-word run-on monstrosity:

Look, having nuclear — my uncle was a great professor and scientist and engineer, Dr. John Trump at MIT; good genes, very good genes, okay, very smart, the Wharton School of Finance, very good, very smart — you know, if you’re a conservative Republican, if I were a liberal, if, like, okay, if I ran as a liberal Democrat, they would say I’m one of the smartest people anywhere in the world — it’s true! — but when you’re a conservative Republican they try — oh, do they do a number — that’s why I always start off: Went to Wharton, was a good student, went there, went there, did this, built a fortune — you know I have to give my like credentials all the time, because we’re a little disadvantaged — but you look at the nuclear deal, the thing that really bothers me — it would have been so easy, and it’s not as important as these lives are (nuclear is powerful; my uncle explained that to me many, many years ago, the power and that was 35 years ago; he would explain the power of what’s going to happen and he was right — who would have thought?), but when you look at what’s going on with the four prisoners — now it used to be three, now it’s four — but when it was three and even now, I would have said it’s all in the messenger; fellas, and it is fellas because, you know, they don’t, they haven’t figured that the women are smarter right now than the men, so, you know, it’s gonna take them about another 150 years — but the Persians are great negotiators, the Iranians are great negotiators, so, and they, they just killed, they just killed us. [President Trump]

Watching and hearing Trump say this, if you’re a Trump supporter, may not raise any red flags. But try reading it out loud in a normal voice, making sure not to include pauses for the nonexistent sentence breaks in the middle, and any persuasive power goes out the window. It’s just the rambling of a sleep-deprived man who should have given up boasting of his college career half a century ago. It includes no articulate policy statement about the subject at hand, which is ostensibly the Iran nuclear deal.

The third advantage I’ve found in reading Trump is it has encouraged me to do the same thing with other politicians and public figures. I especially suggest this method when evaluating women, as it helps us sidestep petty considerations about voice and manner that too often distract from the real questions of women’s competence in and contribution to the public square. I am no supporter of Hillary Clinton, for example, but I never want to see her lose elections because of something as inconsequential as her voice.

~~  Bonnie Kristian ~~

Wolves’ Return To Oregon Brings Conflict And Opportunity

The Free Press WV

Wolves were once so plentiful in the abundant forests that would become Oregon that the earliest settlers gathered from far and wide to discuss how to kill them.

Those “wolf meetings” in the 1840s, spawned by a common interest, eventually led to the formation of the Oregon territory, the precursor for statehood in 1859.

Today, Oregon’s statehood is secure, but the future of its wolf population once more hangs in the balance. Wolves have returned after decades, and this time, humans are having a much more contentious discussion about what to do with them.

It’s a political debate playing out against the backdrop of a rapidly growing wolf population, a jump in wolf poaching and demands from ranchers and hunters who say the predators are decimating herds and spooking big game.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission will vote in January on whether to adopt a new wolf management plan that could eventually open the door for a wolf hunt for the first time since bounty hunting wiped out wolves in the state 70 years ago. Idaho, which has a much larger population of the animals, allows wolf hunting.

Conservationists worry the plan will erode recent progress, particularly given a rash of unsolved poaching cases and an uptick in state-sanctioned wolf killings in response to wolf attacks on livestock. They are adamantly opposed to wolf hunting and say the population is a long way from supporting it.

The species lost its endangered status under Oregon law two years ago - when the population hit 81 wolves - and is no longer federally protected in the eastern third of the state. Wolves, which were wiped out in the continental U.S. in all but a slice of Minnesota, also are rebounding in other Western states, prompting similar debates about human co-existence.

Oregon wildlife officials have killed or authorized the killing of 14 wolves since 2009, including 10 in the past two years, and 12 more have been poached, including eight since 2015, according to state wildlife officials.

“When we had zero wolves 10 years ago, and now when we have 112 wolves, that’s certainly a success story - but we’re not done,” said Rob Klavins, a wolf specialist with Oregon Wild, a conservation organization. “Can you imagine if there were only 81 known elk in the state of Oregon, or if there were 81 salmon? We wouldn’t think of delisting them.”

Early explorers noted wolves were “exceedingly numerous” in what would become Oregon, and the so-called wolf meetings that led to the region’s first civic government established a bounty for wolves in 1843 that paid $3 per hide. The state later took over the bounty and offered $20 per wolf in 1913 - the equivalent of nearly $500 today.

The last bounty payment was recorded in 1947, and the wolf vanished from Oregon for decades.

In the mid-1990s, wolves were reintroduced to central Idaho, and in 1999, a lone wolf wandered into northeastern Oregon. It was trapped and returned to Idaho.

Two more were found dead in Oregon in 2000. But the first definitive proof wolves had returned to the state came in 2007, when a wolf was found shot to death. The following year, a wolf nicknamed Sophie by conservationists gave birth to the first litter of pups born in Oregon in decades.

Last year, state biologists counted 112 wolves in the northeastern and southwestern corners of the state - and they believe that is an undercount.

Wolf conflicts with ranchers have risen and, for the first time, an elk hunter this month reported killing a wolf in self-defense.

That wolf was previously unknown to biologists, and the case has become a flashpoint in the fight over wolves. A local prosecutor declined to press charges, prompting 18 conservation groups to petition Gov. Kate Brown to intervene without success.

Ranchers who run cattle and sheep in northeastern Oregon also believe there are more wolves than officially documented - and say they are paying the price.

Todd Nash, head of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, estimates he’s lost $50,000 in dead calves and in herds that are underweight from being too spooked to graze properly.

The state requires ranchers to prove wolves have killed two animals or killed one and attempted to kill three others before it will consider killing a wolf to protect livestock. The ranchers also must show they have tried other deterrents, such as special fencing and flashing lights.

The state killed four wolves this summer and authorized a rancher to kill one more, but Nash said it’s almost impossible to prove most cases because the wolves eat the carcasses or drag them away. Ranchers in his area are fed up because the bulk of Oregon’s wolves live in just a few remote counties where he says abundant cattle make easy prey.

Killing a few wolves “does nothing but infuriate the conservation folks, and it doesn’t serve to placate the ranchers because they know it’s not going to do any good,” Nash said.

Yet the fact that Oregonians are debating when and how to kill wolves at all is incredible given the predators didn’t exist here a decade ago, said Derek Broman, carnivore coordinator with the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife.

As the point person on the upcoming wolf management plan, he hears from dozens of competing interests on what to do with wolves.

“It wasn’t all that long ago that people were worried about wolves blinking out and there just being a handful of them,” Broman said.

“Wolves are so contentious, and there’s a lot of baggage that comes with them - but there’s also a lot of interest, which is nice.”

For YOU...By YOU

West Virginia

United States

Will New Tax Law Reduce Corporate Offshoring?

The Free Press WVThere are said to be 3,000 subsidiaries of U.S. corporations headquartered in one small Cayman Islands building [ .... ]  Read More

Confusion Abounds After Sessions’ Big Marijuana Move

The Free Press WVAnnounced he’ll rescind policy that had let legalized marijuana flourish   [ .... ]  Read More

Tax Bill Could Raise WV Health Insurance Costs, Reduce Access

The Free Press WV The tax bill now being debated in Congress could have a major impact on West Virginians’ health insurance.

Energy Efficiency Program Likely to Survive Regulatory Challenge

The Free Press WVThe American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ranks West Virginia 47th among states in terms of energy efficiency.

Net Neutrality Protests Planned

The Free Press WV Four protests are planned in West Virginia, including in Charleston and Huntington.

Mountain Valley Pipeline

The Free Press WV Mountain Valley Pipeline asks federal judge to override permit denial

Mountain Valley Pipeline gets Forest Service OK

The Free Press WV  The U.S. Forest Service has given the Mountain Valley Pipeline its approval to cross federal forestland in Virginia and West Virginia.

From an Open Internet, Back to the Dark Ages

The Free Press WVCan anyone still doubt that access to a relatively free and open internet is rapidly coming to an end in America?

A Growing Number Of Young Americans Are Leaving Desk Jobs To Farm

The Free Press WVLiz Whitehurst dabbled in several careers before she ended up here, crating fistfuls of fresh-cut arugula in the early-November chill.

Driverless Cars

The Free Press WVDriverless cars promise far greater mobility for the elderly and people with disabilities

Gift Wrapping

The Free Press WVHoliday gift-wrapping tips and tricks

Psychologist: Mass Shootings “Not a Mental Health Issue”

The Free Press WVCountries that restrict access to military-style weapons have far fewer mass shootings.

Fracking and Other Human Activities Are Causing Texas Earthquakes, Study Suggests

The Free Press WV An unnatural number of earthquakes hit Texas in the past decade, and the region’s seismic activity is increasing. In 2008, two earthquakes stronger than magnitude 3 struck the state. Eight years later, 12 did.

Report Claims Sugar Industry Hid Connection to Heart Disease for Decades

The Free Press WV Report found data suggesting that sugar was harmful, the powerful industry pointed a finger at fats.

Children’s Health Programs

The Free Press WV States prepare to shut down children’s health programs if Congress doesn’t act

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FBI Created Fake Job to Get Suspected Mole to U.S.

The Free Press WV Jerry Lee was allowed to leave after evidence obtained   [ .... ]  Read More

State No. 51? Backers Envision ‘New California’

The Free Press WVHere is what’s behind the longshot ‘New California’ movement   [ .... ]  Read More

Deportation fears have legal immigrants avoiding health care

The Free Press WV The number of legal immigrants from Latin American nations who access public health services and enroll in federally subsidized insurance plans has dipped substantially since President Donald Trump took office, many of them fearing their information could be used to identify and deport relatives living in the U.S. illegally, according to health advocates across the country [ .... ]  Read More

Boys Face Felony Charges After 500K Bees Killed

The Free Press WV Police say boys destroyed 50 beehives on Iowa honey farm   [ .... ]  Read More

Government shutdown begins and so does the finger-pointing

The Free Press WVAmericans awoke Saturday to learn that bickering politicians in Washington had failed to keep their government in business, halting all but the most essential operations and marring the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump’s inauguration [ .... ]  Read More

HHS Announces New Conscience and Religious Freedom Division

The Free Press WVThe U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is pleased to announce the formation of a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division in the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR)  [ .... ]  Read More

Anti-smoking plan may kill cigarettes—and save Big Tobacco

The Free Press WVImagine if cigarettes were no longer addictive and smoking itself became almost obsolete; only a tiny segment of Americans still lit up. That’s the goal of an unprecedented anti-smoking plan being carefully fashioned by U.S. health officials [ .... ]  Read More

Arizona guarantees Grand Canyon won’t close over shutdown

The Free Press WVArizona officials on Friday guaranteed that Grand Canyon National Park will remain in full operation if Congress fails to pass a budget and a government shutdown ensues [ .... ]  Read More

Headless chickens found in Connecticut courtroom

The Free Press WVJudicial marshals and maintenance staff investigating a putrid smell made the grisly discovery in the public seating area of a courtroom in a state courthouse [ .... ]  Read More

Federal responsibility in nuclear attack alerts is unclear

The Free Press WVA timeline shows Hawaii officials botched efforts to immediately correct a false missile alert over the weekend, taking more than 20 minutes to contact federal authorities for approval they didn’t need and then taking another 15 minutes to cancel the alert that was sent to mobile devices statewide [ .... ]  Read More

Walmart offers way to turn leftover opioids into useless gel

The Free Press WVWhen mixed with warm water, the powder turns the pills into a biodegradable gel that can be thrown in the trash [ .... ]  Read More

Motion-sensing cameras capture candid wildlife shots

The Free Press WVRemote cameras — which can be left in the backcountry for days, weeks or even months — help fill in blanks by showing how many animals are on the move over a given period [ .... ]  Read More

From his big appetite to his big button: a year in Trump

The Free Press WVDonald Trump has proven himself an unconventional leader time and time again in his first year in office. Here are some of the more memorable moments [ .... ]  Read More

Slow-moving landslide has Washington town on high alert

The Free Press WVA slow-moving landslide in a fertile farming region in Washington state has forced evacuations as officials prepare for what they say is inevitable — the collapse of a ridge that sits above a few dozen homes and a key highway [ .... ]  Read More

German linguists: ‘Alternative facts’ the non-word of 2017

The Free Press WV   [ .... ]  Read More

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Readers' Recent Comments

Reduce requirements.
Lower teacher standards.

Produce less educated students.
Continue WV’s downward education spiral.

The current State Board of Education is less prepared to lead than back in the Gayle Manchin
days of failure.

Do not fool yourselves. Realize Paine is pain.
Do not expect WV educational leaders to improve education.

They have been showing us for years that goal is
out of their reach.

By Failed State BOE on 01.18.2018

From the entry: 'West Virginia board revises high school requirement, grading'.

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Does anyone know the County’s plan for getting us out of the State’s bottom group for college and trades ready after high school?

What are the causes for our being at the bottom for being ready and what is being done to solve them?

Causes never cease by themselves and the only solution is top quality leadership pushing a highly focused corrective program.

By Rusty Moore on 01.16.2018

From the entry: 'West Virginia board revises high school requirement, grading'.

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Example of a yes/but situation. Just because kids are pushed through does not mean that they are college and career ready. Read past comments about Gilmer’s being in the failing category for academic preparation. The way WV info is reported allows selective use of results to bloat up claims of how well a high school does in preparing students for the real world.

By R. Wells on 01.16.2018

From the entry: 'WEST VIRGINIA HIGH SCHOOLS RECOGNIZED FOR EXEMPLARY GRADUATION RATES'.

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Sunday’s Charleston Gazette-Mail had a warning that just because a high school has a high graduation rate that does not mean that its students are college ready. Gilmer County is one of them to put us in the State’s bottom category for readiness, but you won’t hear about it locally. Kids call it dumbing down.

By Give Citizens The Facts on 01.14.2018

From the entry: 'West Virginia board revises high school requirement, grading'.

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What about all the septic in the hollers that is draining into the creeks??

By Ugly on 01.10.2018

From the entry: 'PSC Investigates Impact of New Corporate Tax Law on Utilities'.

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This point should be kept in mind i.e. “The Commission has directed all privately owned electric, gas, water, sewer and solid waste facilities to track the tax savings resulting from the 2017 Federal Tax Act on a monthly basis beginning January 01, 2018. “.

By Michell J. Hill on 01.07.2018

From the entry: 'PSC Investigates Impact of New Corporate Tax Law on Utilities'.

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Troyan advocates for competition among schools with survival of the top performers. Her point is that the lack of accountability for county school system administrators must change to be similar to the way corporate America functions. Failure must have consequences!

By Accountabilty Needed on 01.03.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education Minutes of Regular Meeting - 11.27.17'.

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Gilmer singled out again in article by Jessi Troyan for our being at the bottom for preparing high school grads for college. We know we have a serious problem. We await on top school system leadership to devise a workable remedial plan for the County. Denial of having problems cannot be used anymore to cover up

By B. Post on 01.02.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education Minutes of Regular Meeting - 11.27.17'.

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You were in my life for what seemed like a short time but will be in my heart forever. I’ll see you at the family reunion one day again.

By Dana Linger on 12.29.2017

From the entry: 'Kathern Fay (Cogar) Linger'.

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Concerns about urgent need to upgrade student learning have persisted for too long in the County. 

We are tired of hearing lame excuses that under-achievement is caused by uncaring parents who do not emphasize the importance of education.

Parents are keenly important for contributing to student learning, but they cannot compensate for school “culture” deficiencies linked to leadership short comings.

By Parents For Better Leadership on 12.29.2017

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education Minutes of Regular Meeting - 11.27.17'.

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Those who go to college perform down at the bottom in comparison to high school graduates in other WV counties. This evidence suggests that Gilmer’s students who don’t go to college are short changed too. Immediate leadership changes to straighten out under achievement are in order!

By E. Moore on 12.28.2017

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education Minutes of Regular Meeting - 11.27.17'.

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Jeanette,
I am so sorry for your loss.

By Margie Shook on 12.18.2017

From the entry: 'Warren Curtis Pierce'.

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The whole child concept is admirable, but with GCHS grads being behind in proficiency for academic subjects we need to make changes to drastically improve learning to enable our kids to compete in the highly competitive modern world.

Our being the 52nd worse off among 55 WV counties for college remediation rates is undeniable proof.

Administrators must determine legitimate causes of our bottom ranking for use in improving learning instead of applying usual low payoff tinkering to be passed off as progress.

By B. K. Brooks on 12.15.2017

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education Minutes of Regular Meeting - 11.27.17'.

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That’s the #### dems new ploy, they can’t win on policy so they charge sexual harassment.

By The Silent Majority on 12.15.2017

From the entry: 'Meet the Miss USA Contestant from Gilmer County, WV Accusing Trump of Sexual Misconduct'.

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Why was there no outrage like this when Billy Boy was doing his deed in the White House? and other places?

Oh, I forgot.  He was the media’s boy?

By HOW COME NOW ? on 12.14.2017

From the entry: 'Meet the Miss USA Contestant from Gilmer County, WV Accusing Trump of Sexual Misconduct'.

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Wanna bet that in green counties when results sag there is no hesitancy to make administrative changes when needed? In Gilmer County the approach has been to hide facts and to manufacture rosy ones to report to citizens.

By Moore on 12.11.2017

From the entry: 'More college-going students in WV need remedial classes'.

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This is basically the process for an improvement plan. A school board specifies student achievement standards and it assigns a superintendent to work with central office staff and school administrators to produce a comprehensive plan for making needed changes. After putting a plan in place results are closely monitored by a school board while holding a superintendent personally accountable for achieving the standards.

By School Board Member In A Top Performing County on 12.10.2017

From the entry: 'More college-going students in WV need remedial classes'.

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Did I miss the County Commission Agenda for the December meeting?  The GFP site is displaying a little differently and I can’t seem to find it.  Do they still meet on First and Third Fridays??

By Searching on 12.10.2017

From the entry: 'More college-going students in WV need remedial classes'.

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The no excuse rate for Gilmer County is 59% and there are only three other WV counties worse off. This alarming information flags dire need for the County’s school board to do its job by implementing an improvement plan.

By Gilmer Students Ripped Off on 12.08.2017

From the entry: 'More college-going students in WV need remedial classes'.

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“We’re going to see a sea change in American agriculture as the next generation gets on the land,“

Yeah, right.  That will last about as long as it takes to discover exactly how hard farming is, and the amount of work it takes to make even a minimal living.

Sincerely

Pat McGroyne

By Pat McGroyne on 11.30.2017

From the entry: 'A Growing Number Of Young Americans Are Leaving Desk Jobs To Farm'.

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I always thought a Harvard education was something special.  Well, I guess it is.  Just a week ago they had ‘sex week’.  One of the course offerings was analsex101.  That’s right.  Google it.  Plenty of coverage. True story.

By Harvard 'taint what it used to be? on 11.23.2017

From the entry: 'Feds Threaten To Sue Harvard Over Asian-American Admissions'.

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This is nothing new.  It has been happening for years and no attempt to stop it.  Just quiet it down when word leaks out.  The court system thumbs their noses and laughs at ‘their hillbillies’.

Remember the hub-bub about $100,000.00 bathrooms in the Capitol building a few months ago?

Think they have them all remodeled so those whom you elected can krap in style the next legislative session?  lol

By Web on 11.18.2017

From the entry: 'Legislators Turn Focus on Supreme Court Spending Following Report on Luxury Purchases'.

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The justices are part of the aristocracy. Does anybody think that they care what the peons think?

By Skip Beyer on 11.18.2017

From the entry: 'Legislators Turn Focus on Supreme Court Spending Following Report on Luxury Purchases'.

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Why are Gilmer’s voters kept in the dark about activities of the two LSICs in the County? No published agendas before meetings, no published meeting minutes, and plans with details for school improvements are not disclosed. Violation of WV’s open meeting laws? To top it off memberships of LSIC’s and who selected the individuals are kept secret from voters.

By Gilmer Voter on 11.16.2017

From the entry: 'Board of Education Takes Action on Policies to Provide Flexibility to Counties'.

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LSIC plans are short on specifics for measurable academic improvements to be achieved. That way no matter what happens extraordinary successes can be proclaimed. The strategy is designed to make meaningful accountability impossible for school system administrators.

By More Of Same For WV Schools on 11.15.2017

From the entry: 'Board of Education Takes Action on Policies to Provide Flexibility to Counties'.

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A food pantry opens at Marshall University?

For students I can understand.
But its also for faculty and staff?

Really now?  Their salaries are that poor they need access to a food pantry?

Times area really tough in West Virginia.  Really are.

By Tough Times at Marshall University on 11.14.2017

From the entry: 'West Virginia News'.

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LSIC=Local School Improvement Council. Each WV school has one. Google to learn what each one is supposed to do to improve a school. Ask for plans for your schools.

By POGO on 11.13.2017

From the entry: 'Board of Education Takes Action on Policies to Provide Flexibility to Counties'.

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What is this “LSIC” commenter speaks about?
Who and what is that all about?

By reader on 11.12.2017

From the entry: 'Board of Education Takes Action on Policies to Provide Flexibility to Counties'.

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Fellow West Virginian’s.  What is being seen here is Paine’s return to ‘power’ and the continued 20 years charade by the WVBOE.

They spend your tax dollars.  They do their best to cover their failed efforts.  They cheat our children of a good education. 

They play (think manipulate) with the grading system every couple years, making it impossible to follow students upward or downward progressions.

Don’t expect any good, any progress, any improvement to happen in West Virginia.  It’s not in the cards.  Well, that is not in the ‘administrators’.

By 20 years of WVBOE 'playing' school on 11.12.2017

From the entry: 'Board of Education Takes Action on Policies to Provide Flexibility to Counties'.

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All high schools in WV have ACT Profile Reports for each graduating class.

The only performance information typically cited in school districts is average ACT scores for graduating classes.

If you can get copies of Reports for your high schools read them to independently evaluate testing results for career and college readiness, science, technology engineering and math (STEM), and other categories.

Chances are that your local administrators gloated that average ACT scores for graduating classes are commendable to give your high schools passing marks, but other testing outcomes in the Reports may show otherwise.

It is doubtful if LSIC members for your high schools know about the Reports to be grounds for demanding academic improvement plans. Check Reports for high schools in your school district to make up your own minds.

By WVDOE Fact Checker on 11.11.2017

From the entry: 'Board of Education Takes Action on Policies to Provide Flexibility to Counties'.

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Policy 2510 is an admission by the West Virginia Board of Education of their own failure.

Dumb down the standards in order that students can get a passing grade.

You grand pooh-bahs in Charleston BOE should be ashamed of yourselves!  But you have no shame. Obviously so.

Steve Paine, leading the failure of education in West Virginia.

By # 2510 policy--WVBOE ADMITS OWN FAILURE on 11.10.2017

From the entry: 'Board of Education Takes Action on Policies to Provide Flexibility to Counties'.

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With a deal like this—WHY—are we selling road bonds and—WHY—were all the motor vehicle fees INCREASED on West Virginia’s citizens?  WHY ! ?

Thanks for nothing Jim Justice and the WV legislators.

By WEST VIRGINIA TAXPAYER on 11.10.2017

From the entry: 'WV Signes $84 Billion Shale Gas Deal with China Energy'.

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The Rosie Bell will be a nice addition to the Park !

A thank you to Donna Waddell and her leadership and the FRN for making the Park happen !

By Thank America's Rosie's ! on 11.10.2017

From the entry: 'What This Bell Means to Gilmer County'.

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Aren’t they supposed to have agendas AND minutes for each and every meeting, by law?  They put it right there on the agendas that there were None. And months’ go by without even Seeing an Agenda.  It’s a citizen’s right to go in and ask to see them ALL.  Someone needs to look into this.  Especially with all the speculation that goes on around legal issues in the county!

By GilmerCountyCommission? on 11.03.2017

From the entry: 'Did You Know?'.

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The grade 7 spike in math in comparison to lowered performances in higher grades begs the question about reasons. What is being done to ensure that math skills will not drop by graduation time? Has anyone looked at adverse effects of block scheduling and other factors?

By Answers Needed on 11.03.2017

From the entry: 'SEEING MATH IN NEW WAYS'.

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We’ll.  It’s a step forward to see the Commission AGENDA - but what about the minutes?  The last two agendas have said “ Approve County Commission Minutes-None”      Aren’t there supposed to legally be minutes for the public to read?????  This makes NO sense unless things are going on that the Commission doesn’t want the public to know.  Obviously.  SHOW THE MINUTES Jean Butcher, do your job!

By 304 More Issues on 11.02.2017

From the entry: 'Did You Know?'.

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This posting is very informative and it documents what can be done with innovative approaches to teaching math. For too long we were fed the party line that all was well in our schools for math and everything else. That myth prevailed because facts were hidden to hold down the County’s demands for accountability. Hats are off to Kelly Barr and Traci DeWall.

During intervention it was commonly known that school board members made repeated requests for all kinds of student progress information, but it was kept from them. That era has ended and the County’s school board is expected to focus on its top priority responsibility that is to continually improve student learning in our schools. Our kids can perform if they are given the chance.

By Gilmer County Parents on 11.02.2017

From the entry: 'SEEING MATH IN NEW WAYS'.

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Gilmer look at this Did You Know. If you look at the State’s data on Zoom Dashboard to review changes in mastery of math and reading for the GCHS’s 11th grade for the 2011 and 2017 testing years it is clear the you have a problem with your math program. In 2011 the math pass rate was 36.92 compared to 37.29% in 2017. Progress with reading was truly commendable. The pass rate went from 26.98 in 2011 to 64.41% in 2017. Why the lack of progress for math? We know that your school board members are trying to get information about plans for improvements for math and science, but is full disclosure of details any better than it was under intervention? Let us know.

By B. Cummings on 10.30.2017

From the entry: 'Did You Know?'.

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Lots to learn kids. By the way,  How’s the Commission coming along with the September meeting minutes?

By 304 on 10.30.2017

From the entry: 'GSC Criminal Justice Students Take Part in Scenario-Based Training with RJA'.

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Most of America lives in denial of toll the government approved ‘life-style’ that is shortening everyone’s lives.

We are living in an era where the government has been lobbied (think bought) in approval of many, many things that are destructive to life.

This article shows the result of a cumulative toll effect that vaccines, pesticides, GMO foods, chemtrails, and other poisons are taking on the American population.

This is likely the globalists dream of “depopulation” coming true.  Enjoy what time you, your children, and grandchildren have left.

By Your Government Taking Care of You on 10.25.2017

From the entry: 'Americans Are Retiring Later, Dying Sooner and Sicker In-Between'.

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I don’t care Who or What he killed.  He shouldn’t be doing it in a West Virginia Police hat.  It sends a bad message to do it with a Police hat on.

By Hunter on 10.24.2017

From the entry: 'Special Antlerless Deer Season Opens October 21 and December 26-27'.

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Your outrage is misplaced Hunter. He killed Bambi, who will no longer will frolic through the forest.

By Democrats Against Deer Hunting on 10.23.2017

From the entry: 'Special Antlerless Deer Season Opens October 21 and December 26-27'.

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It doesn’t seem like Gilmer County Law Officials seem to care about the murders in the area. In my opinion. We don’t hear anything from the law on Any of the pertinent local situations.  Why IS that?  We know MUCH more about national news that we know about the goings on in Gilmer. Crimes, drug busts, investigations and Answers to those investigations.  Why don’t we Ever hear any news from the Sheriff’s Department??  Still wondering why Deputy Wheeler was reassigned to school patrol officer and who took over his murder investigative duties.  Can’t get anyone to pick up the phone or an answer when I call.  Maybe someone on the Gilmer Free Press can shed some light?

By Where is the Law? on 10.23.2017

From the entry: 'Governor Justice, DOT Sec. Smith Announce First GARVEE Bond Sale for Roads, Bridges'.

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“We should welcome refugees and immigrants to the United States because it’s good for our society, for our economy, and for our nation.“

WRONG - Diversity in populations has been proven to be, not helpful to society, but harmful.  Immigrant groups who refuse to assimilate are a problem not a benefit, and will remain a problem until they do assimilate.

It’s understood that not all Muslims are terrorists, but for practical purposes all terrorists are Muslims.  And please spare me the Timothy McVey arguments.  McVey and his ilk were loners.  Muslim terrorists are part of an organized movement.

I think almost all immigration should cease until the present immigrant population can be dealt with, through assimilation or otherwise.

Sincerely

Pat McGroyne

By Pat McGroyne on 10.22.2017

From the entry: 'Trump’s Muslim Bans Impoverish Us All'.

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Will the persons involved in Poor Fred’s murder ever be held accountable?  Ever?  Yet they walk among us every day?

Did not realize it has been 7 years since poor ol’ Willard met his fate?  There is plenty dirt kicked around there to cover the wrong doings too?

By Poor Fred is Dead on 10.21.2017

From the entry: 'Did You Know?'.

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Hold on Gub’ner Justiss….
The juery stil’ be outs on yer barrering’ game….

Ways to er’ly ta be countin’ hens an roosters….

By no chickens yet... on 10.21.2017

From the entry: 'Governor Justice, DOT Sec. Smith Announce First GARVEE Bond Sale for Roads, Bridges'.

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Wanna get votes for the school levy? Simply get truth out about where the County stands with low reading, math, and science scores and publicize a rational plan for fixing problems.

By Truth Will Win Levy Votes on 10.21.2017

From the entry: 'ICYMI™: Former Boone County Board of Education Members Indicted'.

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I get it that it’s a pose for the camera, but should he Really be wearing a Police hat for hunting?

By Hunter on 10.20.2017

From the entry: 'Special Antlerless Deer Season Opens October 21 and December 26-27'.

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Nice to see the Gilmer County Commission finally reveal their meeting minutes after long lapses of no information.  Can’t help but wonder if this was posted specifically because of the topic -  Sheriff Gerwig being assigned to another estate case before closing out others. Memories of Willard F. Cottrill today. d. 10/20/10 R.I.P.  The minutes should be interesting.  Let freedom ring.

By MC on 10.20.2017

From the entry: 'Did You Know?'.

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From WV Zoom Dash Board. GCES 6th grade student proficiency rate=20% for math and 31% for reading. Gilmer County demands a K-12 improvement plan everyone can understand and promote!!! We have had enough of the everything is just fine claims.

By School Kids Are Cheated on 10.20.2017

From the entry: 'ICYMI™: Former Boone County Board of Education Members Indicted'.

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It is a common occurrence for school administrators to carefully select one small piece of information to purposely give a school a rosy performance rating for student learning and to hide unflattering information from an LSIC and a local BOE. The way to prevent the censorship is for superintendents to routinely provide access to all testing results so performance evaluations for a school can be based on a full set of facts.

By WVDOE Employee For Complete Transparency on 10.19.2017

From the entry: 'ICYMI™: Former Boone County Board of Education Members Indicted'.

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The community has observed that there is an improved way of doing business by the GCBOE and the new superintendent after the State pulled out. One problem to solve after the State’s neglect for six years of intervention is low student success at the GCHS for math and science. There is documentation on the ZoomWV Dashboard kept by the WV Education Department. The pass rate for GCHS students for M & S is in the 30s. What is the HS’s LSIC group doing to improve those scores? Does it have a detailed improvement plan for the school and if it does it should be disclosed. M and S under achievement underscores why it is important to know what the County’s LSICs are doing to improve our schools academically.

By Gilmer Business Executive on 10.19.2017

From the entry: 'New 4-H Office in Glenville'.

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Should not have to get LSIC membership from principals. The information should be published for the public record for all interested citizens including taxpayers to know. Gilmer’s secrecy has been a long time tool used to undermine accountability and it must stop!

By Stop Secrecy! on 10.19.2017

From the entry: 'ICYMI™: Former Boone County Board of Education Members Indicted'.

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Is it true the GC Board of Education sold this to 4H for one dollar?  I should hope so!

This community has always supported our children and their 4H works.

Very good of our Board of Education to do this!
Thank all you board members!
Doing what you were elected to do!
Take care of the kids and community!

By WONDERFULL USE OF TRAILER on 10.17.2017

From the entry: 'New 4-H Office in Glenville'.

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We 4-H supporters wish to express our appreciation to Mrs. Hurley and the other board of Education members with the 100% vote to hold and sell this trailer for 4-H use/utilization.  This new office space for the very nominal fee is much appreciated.

Kudos to Hurley for staying in contact with the past 4-H director and making sure all was well and agenda requirements were met.  We had heard we were not going to get the trailer.  Thanks goodness the fake news was totally wrong.

Moving out of the old infirmary building will be a real blessing.  The group has learned a valuable lesson.

Do not take the word of ANY others about what the Board of Ed tries to do for each and every community in Gilmer County.  Go to the source.

By Thanks Mz. Hurley & Board of Ed ! on 10.17.2017

From the entry: 'New 4-H Office in Glenville'.

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smile It’s no secret that the Gilmer Board of Ed sets up a public meeting with the LSIC of each school presenting every year agenda and all. Always have.
 
If you want to know who’s on it or when it meets call your school Principal.  That’s who sets up this internal governance committee per code and will probably be glad to talk with you about it.

By Just Takes a Phone Call on 10.17.2017

From the entry: 'ICYMI™: Former Boone County Board of Education Members Indicted'.

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Why the secrecy in not disclosing names of those on the County’s LSIC councils and when they meet with published agendas and official meeting minutes?

By Transparency Suffering on 10.16.2017

From the entry: 'ICYMI™: Former Boone County Board of Education Members Indicted'.

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This information is generally unknown in Gilmer County. Google WVDOE LSIC and chick on the item for frequently asked questions about local school improvement councils. Details covers how individuals are selected to serve on councils and what councils are supposed to do to continually improve our schools with keen focus on student learning.

By How Gilmer's LSICs Should Work on 10.16.2017

From the entry: 'ICYMI™: Former Boone County Board of Education Members Indicted'.

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I love the picture of Kenny because that is a true reflection of him.  I never saw him without a smile on his face.  Even when we would speak on the phone sharing our cancer struggles, Kenny would be laughing.  He always brightened my day when times were hard for me.  Linda, God bless you for what wonderful care you took of Kenny.  When we spoke he was always eager to tell me all you had done for him & how loved & cared about that made him feel.  He always said he could never have made it without you.  God bless you & May God bring you the peace, comfort, & happiness Kenny would want you to have.  My prayers are with you.

By Sue Holvey on 10.15.2017

From the entry: 'Kenneth Jackson Foglesong'.

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Still keeping up on Gilmer County after ending of your intervention. Been reading your test score information too. Your Local School Improvement Councils are responsible for defining specific approaches for improving student performances. The WV Statute covering roles of councils is 18-5a-2. The Department of Eduction has details on its web site for how councils are selected, their responsibilities, and how elected school boards fit in. Too often the problem has been that detailed results for student performance testing were withheld from councils and their members do not know that there are student performance problems in critical need of correcting. The solution is to ensure that all council members are fully advised of testing results and the full range of their official responsibilities.

By WVDOE Observer on 10.14.2017

From the entry: 'ICYMI™: Former Boone County Board of Education Members Indicted'.

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Look at the WVDOE’s Zoom Dashboard. The State’s official results for 2017 testing are alarming. Eleventh graders tested out to be 37% proficient in math compared to 36% in science for 10th graders. Our kids can do much better than this. When will an improvement plan for the high school be developed for application with meaningful built in accountability?

By Fix GCHS' Science And Math Problems on 10.14.2017

From the entry: 'ICYMI™: Former Boone County Board of Education Members Indicted'.

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Don’t believe all the Liberal propaganda being printed as facts….fake news from the left is an epidemic…if we cared so much about pollution and respiratory illnesses, we’d have outlawed cigarettes decades ago…don’t kill West Virginia’s economy over a few objectors.

By Truth?? on 10.13.2017

From the entry: 'Health Consequences from Carbon Pollution Rollback'.

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My child graduated from the GCHS with a high GPA and an ACT exceeding 30. Sounded good at first. At WVU the child was deficient in science and math and dual credit classes taken at the HS didn’t measure up. What is the GCBOE doing to make academic improvements at the HS and when will parents and taxpayers in general be informed of the details?

By GCHS Science and Math Programs Suffering on 10.12.2017

From the entry: 'ICYMI™: Former Boone County Board of Education Members Indicted'.

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Here’s a prediction for you:

Half the money will be wasted on environmental impact statements, feasibility studies and the like.

Of the remaining half, most will go to wages and salaries, and damned few roads or bridges will be repaired.

Anyone want to dispute that?

Sincerely

Pat McGroyne

By Pat McGroyne on 10.10.2017

From the entry: 'Politics Aside, Voters Say, They Want WV’s Roads Fixed'.

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What a scoop!  One county gets 18% of pie!

Mon County wins!  Everyone else looses.

By nepotism will rule the day! on 10.09.2017

From the entry: 'Governor Justice Issues Statement on Passage of Roads to Prosperity Bond Referendum'.

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There have been repeated pleas for a detailed accounting for all the County’s education money spent on facilities and everything associated with them during State control. Why has nothing been done to verify how public money was spent? With use of modern computer records it should be relatively simple to do detailed accounting. Without one and the continuing secrecy lid suspicions are worsened. Didn’t the County have a seizable surplus before intervention and now we face going into the red?

By Where Did Gilmer's School Money Go? on 10.07.2017

From the entry: 'ICYMI™: Former Boone County Board of Education Members Indicted'.

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Positive press out of GSC is always good for the community and the College.

What is not good for the community and GSC is the ongoing telephone scam GSC has nothing to do with.

The phone will ring, there is a GSC entry on caller ID, and a 304-462 number is given. If you answer thinking that it is a legitimate GSC call you get surprised.

The caller, usually with a strange accent, will make a pitch for money and it is obviously a scam.

It is common for the caller to try to convince a person that a grand child or another relative is in bad trouble and thousands of dollars are needed quickly for a lawyer or some other expense.

When the 304 number is called back there is nothing there. It would help if GSC officials would alert the public to the cruel scam and to involve high level law enforcement to stop the nuisance calls.

By Fed Up Glenville Resident on 10.05.2017

From the entry: 'GSC History Book Authors to be on hand for Signing'.

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So sorry.  You and your family have my thoughts and prayers. Butch, you may not remember me but you did such a wonderful job at my farm in Lewis County, dozing, ditching, etc. etc.  a few years ago.  I so appreciated your work. God Bless you and your family during this difficult time.

By Betty Woofter on 10.03.2017

From the entry: 'Florence Marie Hall'.

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West Virginia has 55 counties.

Mon County will get almost 20% of the highway money.  Actually about 1/8th.

Does that seem lop-sided to anyone? 

One county gets one-fifth.  Who gets the ‘payola’ ?

By watcher on 10.01.2017

From the entry: 'Latest Numbers on Road Bond Vote'.

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Nice letter and thought Senator Manchin.

Maybe now a letter to Milan corp, requesting Heather Bresch requesting a epi-pen price roll back?

By How About it Mr. Manchin? on 09.29.2017

From the entry: 'Manchin Letter Urges for Patient Access to Non-Opioid Painkillers'.

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That is the standard operating procedure for the Charleston Board of Ed and their mismanagement style. 

Is it any wonder the state has financial issues?

By truth seeker's answer on 09.28.2017

From the entry: 'ICYMI™: Former Boone County Board of Education Members Indicted'.

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Apparently the 5 year, GC school news embargo, by the West Virginia Board of Education has been lifted ?  Hope so.

By will we get more news? on 09.28.2017

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education Regular Meeting Minutes'.

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We want investigative accounting for all the County’s school money spent on facilities during intervention. We are entitled to details for planning money, money paid out to architects, all money sent on Leading Creek, everything spent on the Arbuckle land plan and Cedar Creek, what was spent to get us at the new GCES, and a complete list for all money paid out for no bid work from start to where we are today.

By Citizens Deserve Facts on 09.28.2017

From the entry: 'ICYMI™: Former Boone County Board of Education Members Indicted'.

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Can someone explain to me why in Gilmer County schools projects were given to certain companies without any bid? Even when these companies kept screwing up, they kept getting paid for fixing their own screw ups? A good example is our supposed to be brand new elementary school. I hear these all the time. What is the real truth?

By truth seeker on 09.27.2017

From the entry: 'ICYMI™: Former Boone County Board of Education Members Indicted'.

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Where are all the Obama and Clinton haters now? Why aren’t they comment about the state of the country and the world now?

By wondering on 09.27.2017

From the entry: 'National News'.

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