Monday, January 27, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
Finalized consolidation plan heading to Legislature
Between smiles and handshakes after signing their final consolidation report Friday, members of the Commission on Starkville Consolidated School District Structure turned their focus to lobbying lawmakers for legislative language and funding streams needed to successfully consolidate Oktibbeha County School District and Starkville School District. The hardest work, they said, is ahead as the recommendations move to the Mississippi Legislature. The new consolidated school district will partner with Mississippi State University to create a demonstration school district. Through that partnership, MSU will help facilitate the construction of a grades 6-7 school on or near its campus, while the two entities will establish and operate a pre-kindergarten program for all 4-year-olds in Oktibbeha County. MSU is expected to expand Pre-K opportunities across the state.
Legislature gets commission's final report
A commission charged with consolidation of the Starkville and Oktibbeha County school systems by 2015 has sent its final report to the Mississippi Legislature. For months the commission on the new Starkville Consolidated School District has worked to come up with suggestions that now go before state lawmakers. One big part of the consolidation is a new partnership with Mississippi State University. Plans call for a new partnership school for grades six and seven that will work closely with MSU. State law tasked the group to deliver consolidation recommendations to the Legislature by March 1.
Legislature gets commission's final report
A ceremony in Starkville marked the formal consolidation report being submitted to the state Legislature. It comes from the commission that's charged with combining Starkville and Oktibbeha County Public Schools into one. Commission member Rex Buffington said, "This commission report is really a reflection of what the community has decided is the best path forward. That's really what we're celebrating today." One big part of the consolidation is a new partnership with Mississippi State University.
School Consolidation Plan Ready for Lawmakers
With the stroke of a pen, commissioners for the Starkville Consolidated School Structure signed their final report. It now heads to lawmakers in Jackson. "We have recommended some language to be put into the law that will make this easier to accomplish. I think as we look forward to other consolidations throughout the state that this report will be a model," said Dr. Lewis Holloway, superintendent for the Starkville School District. The commission recommendations include a strong partnership with Mississippi State University.
MSU Hosts Honor Band Clinic
Some of the best high school musicians in the Southeast are learning from some of the best teachers around. More than 200 high school musicians attended the Honor Band Clinic at Mississippi State University. In almost its 60th year, the clinic exposes the students to top instructors in a variety of music styles. In addition to the music experiences, the students and their families get a special insight to life as a MSU student. "The clinic if an outgrowth of a clinic that was begun actually over 60 years ago. Its original purpose was to introduce band directors to new music and it was referred to as the new materials clinic," says MSU Band Director Elva Kaye Lance.
First Lego Robotics Competition Begins in Starkville
When a natural disaster strikes, who will you turn to? "Nature's Fury" is the theme of the first Lego League Bulldog Qualifying Tournament, held Saturday in Starkville. Hundreds of middle school students from North Mississippi, Jackson and Vicksburg say their robotic projects may someday be the answer. "They competed in Core judging, Robot judging, and in Project judging. So they had to talk to the judges about a solution to a natural disaster, " says Mariah Morgan, who works for the MSU Extension Service.
Arts workshop targets artists who want to market their works
Turning creativity into cash can be a daunting task for artists, but it is possible through proper preparation. A free workshop designed to help artists market themselves and their creative works is set for this week in Meridian. "Just Create It: Creative Strategies for Economic Development" will be held at 10 a.m. at the MSU Riley Center on Thursday. "Using Arts to Enhance Education" will be the topic of discussion by Dr. Charlotte Tabereaux, education director for the MSU Riley Center; Clair Huff, Whole Schools educator; Dr. Penny Wallin of Mississippi Alliance for Arts in Education and Terrence Roberts, storyteller and MAC Teaching Artist.
Get ready for more cold temperatures
The National Weather Service office in Jackson has issued a wind chill advisory for this evening and into Tuesday morning for the Highway 82 corridor in Mississippi. The advisory includes Oktibbeha, Clay and Lowndes counties and means wind chill readings are expected to be in the single digits. Temperatures in the Golden Triangle area are expected to drop below freezing tonight -- into the 16 to 25 degree range -- and not rise above 30 degrees on Tuesday. The low on Wednesday is expected to be 16 degrees, according to the service's Jackson office. According to the latest forecast available this morning, the Golden Triangle area is not slated to receive any freezing precipitation.
Volunteers going door to door in C Spire fiber push in Starkville
Starkville's 10 potential "fiberhoods" are all well below the sign-up requirement to become Mississippi's first recipient of C Spire's Fiber to the Home program, but a local group of volunteers are going door to door in an effort to earn the distinction before eight other towns qualify. Adrian Marcus, a Starkville entrepreneur, is leading a team of about 10 volunteers as they target four Starkville neighborhoods for high-speed Internet access. His goal is to register 35-45 percent of South Montgomery, Timber Cove/College Station/Polos, Cotton District/Downtown/Historic Central Starkville and Oktibbeha Gardens/Old West Point Road residents for the program by Feb. 5.
'Made in Mississippi' has strong future in value-added ag exports, trade group says
The appetite for Mississippi's packaged agricultural products overseas is expected to grow along with packaged produce from other Southern states over the next decade. This presents potentially lucrative opportunities for Mississippi's small specialty farmers and packagers, says Jerry Hingle, executive director of the Southern United States Trade Association, a non-profit agricultural export trade development organization comprised of the Departments of Agriculture of Mississippi and 14 other states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Various geographic regions of the United States have their own agricultural trade export association. Cotton is king and poultry is a close second in Southern agricultural exports. But it's hard to miss the growth in items such as packaged meats, nuts, fruits, sweet potatoes, horticulture products and even condiments, Hingle said. "We're seeing the strongest demand in value-added (items) and (packaged) meats."
Wright: Let students 'test out' of high school courses
The head of Mississippi's school system wants to allow students to test out of high school courses. Speaking during Thursday's Corinth Education Summit, Carey Wright said she would be open to the state changing its "seat time" requirements that students must spend so many hours in the classroom in order to earn credit. Instead, she said, those who gain mastery should be able to advance more quickly. "I'm very interested in making sure we allow students to accelerate their pace," Wright said. "If a student has mastered the material, I'm looking at is it fair to require them to stay in that class or to test and move on?" The proposal must be looked at carefully, Wright said, and would require a change in the law. The state also would have to find a good test to use to measure mastery.
Bill would give universities more leeway in paying expenses
The state House of Representatives passed a bill Friday to keep state universities and colleges from violating existing law by prepaying for charter air service and other expenses. State Rep. Pat Nelson said Ole Miss and Mississippi State football teams' recent charter flights to bowl games technically broke state law because they had to pay in advance. "This is a bill that makes sense," Nelson said. Nelson said a similar bill passed the House last year but didn't make it out of the Senate. House Bill 433 passed unanimously last week after one lawmaker came back and changed his vote. College Board spokeswoman Caron Blanton said all the state's universities and colleges are meticulous in following the law and adhering to purchasing guidelines. However, in a few cases, industry practice requires a portion or all of a payment up front.
Three questions with... Pat Robertson, PERS executive director
Legislation has been filed to eliminate the cost of living increase for new retirees in the Public Employees Retirement System until they reach age 65, though the legislation is not expected to survive the 2014 session. Pat Robertson, PERS executive director, answered questions from the Daily Journal's Bobby Harrison about the retirement program for state and local government employees, university and community college faculty and public school teachers.
Analysis: Legislature has sharp partisan divide
Democrats are starting their third year as the minority party in both chambers of the Mississippi Legislature, and they're not making life easy for Republicans. One day last week, House and Senate Democrats gathered in the Capitol rotunda and called for a swift death to a Public Employees Retirement System bill filed by Republican Sen. Sean Tindell of Gulfport. Senate Bill 2140 would make state and local government retirees wait until 65 to collect an annual cost-of-living adjustment, even if they retire years earlier. "We've got another legislative session, and we've got another Republican attack on the retirement system," said Sen. Hob Bryan, D-Amory.
Cochran, McDaniel in fundraising mode
Both Republican U.S. Senate candidates in Mississippi's most closely watched election this year asked donors in Tupelo for campaign cash last week, part of an effort to raise millions of dollars in a race that may help define the GOP nationally. Both U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, 76, seeking a seventh term, and state Sen. Chris McDaniel, 41, parked their campaign buses downtown about four days and about a block apart, each asking for financial support. Cochran, a Pontotoc native known for a low-key approach his admirers call statesmanship, success bringing congressional earmarks to the nation's poorest state and easily winning elections, likely faces his toughest challenge in nearly 30 years.
New farm bill readied for final debate
After a two-year struggle and more perils than "Downton Abbey," Congress should finally see a new farm bill this week as House-Senate negotiators worked through the weekend in hopes of filing the legislation by Monday night. Going into Sunday night, disputes continued over livestock regulations. But afternoon staff briefings were already being held on the proposed agreement, and the hope was to call the conferees together for their signatures on Monday. Indeed, the mood was such that no one believed any longer that more time would help; instead, it was judged better to grab the opportunity for House action this week. And if the farm bill is filed Monday night, the leadership is proposing to call it up as early as Wednesday, a fast turnaround for a measure given up as dead by many just months ago.
As Data Meets Farm Fields, Concerns Begin to Grow
Farmers no longer just have to worry about whether it will rain too much or too little, or whether prices for their crops will be high enough to cover their costs. Now, growers increasingly are on edge about big data. They're concerned about the privacy of the remarkably precise data that's now being collected about every aspect of how they farm. That includes what types of seeds they plant and where; how much and what kinds of chemicals they're applying to their crops and where; and the exact crop yields at any single point in their fields. All that data is computerized and marked via GPS to the exact point on the farm where it's found. Until now, the information has been safely stored in the farmers' computerized tractors and combines or their home computers. But the biggest names in agribusiness are taking the technology to a new level of sophistication and usefulness by collecting and analyzing it for farmers online and via the cloud.
New face of food stamps: working-age Americans
In a first, working-age people now make up the majority in U.S. households that rely on food stamps -- a switch from a few years ago, when children and the elderly were the main recipients. Some of the change is due to demographics, such as the trend toward having fewer children. But a slow economic recovery with high unemployment, stagnant wages and an increasing gulf between low-wage and high-skill jobs also plays a big role. It suggests that government spending on the $80 billion-a-year food stamp program -- twice what it cost five years ago -- may not subside significantly anytime soon. Food stamp participation since 1980 has grown the fastest among workers with some college training, a sign that the safety net has stretched further to cover America's former middle class, according to an analysis of government data for The Associated Press by economists at the University of Kentucky.
As Overseas Costs Rise, More U.S. Companies Are 'Reshoring'
For decades, American companies have been sending their manufacturing work overseas. Extremely low wages in places like China, Vietnam and the Philippines reduced costs and translated into cheaper prices for consumers wanting flat-screen TVs, dishwashers and a range of gadgets. But now a growing number of American companies are reversing that trend, bringing manufacturing back to the United States in a trend known as "reshoring." Harry Moser, president of the Reshoring Initiative, which helps companies figure out if it's worth bringing manufacturing back to the U.S., agrees that making the move can be a challenge. And, he says, "There's challenges of getting the consumer to understand that the product is made in the U.S.A., and to give a little extra preference to that product."
Gates, former defense secretary, to speak
Former Defense Secretary and CIA Director Robert Gates will speak next month at the Saenger Theatre in Hattiesburg. Gates' appearance is part of the University of Southern Mississippi's Lt. Col. John H. Dale Sr. Distinguished Lecture Series in International Security and Global Policy. The lecture, set to begin at 7 p.m. Feb. 6, is free and open to the public.
Delta State receives largest donation in university's history
The Delta State nursing program is moving on up with a gift of $2.1 million released in the estate of the late Robert E. Smith. In recognition of his generous financial support, the Delta State University School of Nursing was officially renamed the Robert E. Smith School of Nursing during a dedication ceremony in 2009. "This gift from Robert Smith's estate, the largest in Delta State's history. It is transformational for our school of nursing," said Delta State President Bill LaForge. Smith was a graduate of Cleveland High School and he attended Mississippi State University and graduated with a bachelor of science degree from the school of agriculture.
Gaines new band director at MVSU
Blake Gaines has been named director of bands at Mississippi Valley State University. MVSU President Dr. William Bynum Jr. announced Gaines' hiring earlier this month. Gaines is scheduled to start work Feb. 3. The 59-year-old Gaines comes to MVSU from Morehouse College in Atlanta, where he was a member of the music faculty since 1990, most recently serving as director of bands. A native of New Orleans, Gaines earned his bachelor's degree in music education from Jackson State University. He went on to earn a master's degree in music education from the University of Central Oklahoma.
Jackson State University: Domed Stadium Not Dead
Vivian Fuller, the athletic director for Jackson State University, says that plans for the domed venue for the college are still very much alive. "It is not dead yet," Fuller said Friday morning at Koinonia Coffee House. However, she did recognize the challenges that stand in the way of breaking ground on the domed stadium and entertainment venue. Plans for the project show that the stadium is designed for football, basketball, concerts and special events. The biggest obstacle facing the project remains its funding. State Rep. Alyce Clarke, D-Jackson, has introduced legislation to authorize $75 million in bonds for Jackson State. A similar bill gained no traction during the 2013 legislative session.
Mississippi community colleges: Closer to mid-level funding goal?
It's a ritual of sorts. Each year the state's community college system asks the Legislature for a big boost toward its goal of mid-level funding. But, when the dust settles, the colleges see their final appropriation only widening the gap between them and funding for other public education entities. This year, the community colleges are once again asking for an additional $86.6 million -- a number that would bring them halfway to mid-level funding. "We don't know what's going to happen, but we're hopeful," said Eric Clark, executive director of the Community College Board, citing robust revenue numbers that have seen the state collect $100 million over estimates so far this fiscal year.
Community colleges seek to pay tuition for all
House members are considering a plan to pay community college tuition for high school graduates who are not covered by other financial aid for recent high school graduates. For a 75,000-student system, paying everyone's tuition might sound like a budget buster, but officials say it will cost less than $4.5 million a year. That's because the money would only be offered after a student sought all other aid they're eligible for from the federal and state governments and their community college. "It has the potential to be a great program," said Kell Smith, a spokesman for Mississippi's Community College Board.
Statewide tuition gap bill advances in House
A bill designed to develop a pilot program to cover tuition to a Mississippi community college for high school graduates has begun to move through the state House of Representatives. The bill, which has passed the House Universities and Colleges Committee and is pending before the Appropriations Committee, is modeled after programs established in Northeast Mississippi for Itawamba Community College and Northeast Mississippi Community College. Those programs fill in remaining tuition costs after a student's other sources of financial assistance are exhausted. Rep. Jerry Turner, R-Baldwyn, author of the legislation, said he developed it after seeing the success of the program in Northeast Mississippi. Sen. Bill Stone, D-Ashland, has offered similar bills in past years in the Senate.
Effort underway to honor veterans at Northeast Mississippi Community College
Area residents who want Northeast Mississippi Community College's football field renamed Veterans Memorial Field are working to gain the support of communities and officials in the counties served by the college. Booneville veteran Bobby Goddard and Alcorn County Tax Collector Larry Ross, also a veteran, made a presentation to the Alcorn County Board of Supervisors earlier this week, asking for a resolution supporting the change. Board President and District 1 Supervisor Lowell Hinton said the effort should begin with a request to the NEMCC Board of Trustees, although he believed other county supervisors favor the idea as he does.
Atlanta's Orange Duffel Bag Initiative co-founder to speak at Auburn event
Echo Garrett, a 1982 Auburn University alumna, award-winning author and co-founder of the Orange Duffel Bag Initiative, will provide the keynote address for the Women's Philanthropy Board 2014 Winter Workshop, Expo and Luncheon on Tuesday, Feb. 4, at The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center. Garrett's presentation, "Why It's Not Too Late for Our Nation's Most Vulnerable Teens," will cap off the day's events which include a morning leadership, mentoring and career panel session with three fellow Auburn alumni.
Craft beer gets introspective with U. of Kentucky symposium
The craft beer movement isn't built on hops alone: Writing and social media have played a major role in promoting craft beer, according to a University of Kentucky professor. "Craft Writing: Beer, the Digital, and Craft Culture" is the brainchild of UK writing, rhetoric and digital studies professor Jeff Rice, who will host a one-day symposium Feb. 15. Normally you think about drinking beer, Rice said, "but this will be about the ideas, the craft, the writing. And we tie it to the really strong emerging artisanal food movement in Kentucky." To warm everybody up to the topic, the symposium will open with a get-together at Country Boy Brewing in Lexington on Chair Avenue on Feb. 14 with a chance to meet the next day's speakers.
Website links co-eds with 'sugar daddies;' LSU student says she pays expenses, tuition with money
Ashley, a 20-year-old LSU student from Lafayette, has a secret. While she waits tables to supplement her college financial aid, she also regularly flies out to California to spend paid time with a "sugar daddy" she met on a website created to help wealthier men hook up with young people. Ashley said the money she gets from the more traditional sources doesn't stretch far enough to cover her tuition on top of her living expenses. Tuition in Louisiana has risen by 51 percent since she's been in school. She said her "sugar daddy" pays her a $1,200 "allowance" for every weekend they spend together. The website she used, Seeking Arrangement, is part of an online industry that operates close to the legal line.
Many, not all, UGA students glad legislators dropped concealed guns on campus proposal
Administrative reaction was muted this week to news that state lawmakers will apparently abandon a proposal to allow concealed guns on campus. Any reaction to Thursday's announcement should come from the state Board of Regents office, said UGA spokesman Tom Jackson. The Regents, which set policy for the state's public colleges and universities, voted unanimously this month to oppose concealed weapons on campuses. "We are happy with the current law, but I'm going to do whatever we're required to do," said UGA Police Chief Jimmy Williamson on Friday. On Thursday, legislative leaders said that proposed legislation to ease some state gun restrictions will be rewritten without a provision that would allow Georgians 21 or older with concealed weapons permits to carry their guns on college campuses, including the UGA campus.
Textbook experiment a success, say UGA students, faculty
Faculty and students in a University of Georgia experiment with free digital textbooks say the experiment worked. Students in two UGA introductory biology courses got the free textbooks last semester and this semester. Surveyed afterward, most said the free digital text from OpenStax was as good as or better than a traditional biology textbook. "For us it was like a proof of concept," said Eddie Watson, director of UGA's Center for Teaching and Learning. The concept, he explained, was simply that students in large classes might cumulatively save a lot of money with a free digital textbook. The experiment was part of a "Complete College Georgia" incubator grant program of the University System of Georgia, designed to make attending college more affordable, and therefore improve graduation rates.
UGA vice president Landrum honored by Blue Key
Retiring University of Georgia vice president Tom Landrum has gotten a rare honor from the national Blue Key Honor Society. Landrum recently received the society's Distinguished Service Award, given only four times in the past 12 years. Landrum, UGA's vice president for development and alumni relations, is co-adviser of the UGA Blue Key chapter. Landrum graduated from UGA in 1972 and has spent most of his working career at the university.
On U. of Florida campus, you can check in your gun at UPD
When Alex Rennert came three years ago to the University of Florida for his freshman year, he brought four shotguns along with the intention of starting a target shooting and gun competition club. But because he spent his first year living on campus, university policy prohibited Rennert from keeping his guns with him in the dorms. Instead, he checked them in at the University Police Department, just like someone in an Old West town leaving his gun with the sheriff. "They were pretty accommodating," said Rennert, now a 21-year-old junior in aerospace and mechanical engineering. For years, the university has provided storage service for free to students, faculty and staff who, for one reason or another, want to store their guns nearby.
New Nanotech at U. of Arkansas
University of Arkansas physicists in Fayetteville have engineered new properties within an ultra-thin material, opening the door to the creation of new types of nanomaterial for use in electronics and other devices. According to a release, the new properties, or "phases," were discovered by Jay Chakhalian, a professor of physics, and Jian Liu, a former doctoral student of Chakhalian's. The work was done at an atomic level on film that measures several angstroms per layer, a unit equal to 100 millionths of a centimeter.
Prosthetics from Texas A&M vet school give calf a chance
A tear slid down Kitty Martin's face Sunday afternoon as she watched her 11-month-old calf walk. Though a bit unsteady after spending most of his life sick, it was the result for which Martin hoped. "That was amazing. That was like Christmas for me," she said as she led the bovine around the Texas A&M Large Animal Hospital off University Drive in College Station, slipping him treats along the way. "I've never loved an animal so much in my life." Hero went into the vet hospital two months ago without the use of his back legs. He now walks fine with two prosthetics, thanks to the veterinarians at A&M.
Texas A&M's public affairs and policy education graduate programs rank No. 2 in nation
Texas A&M administrators and students are celebrating an online ranking that named the school second in the nation for graduate student public affairs and policy education. The ranking from the website, which provides peer-written ratings and reviews to prospective students, combines the Bush School of Government and Public Service and the Department of Political Science in the College of Liberal Arts. The website complied more than 40,000 ratings that were self-reported from graduate students at more than 1,200 programs nationwide. Brittany Bounds, president of the graduate student council, was not surprised by the rankings. "The faculty members that these grad students work with are phenomenal," Bounds said. "I think with the access we have to the presidential library here at Texas A&M, it definitely provides more ability for graduate students to see the workings of the government behind the scenes."
SEC student leaders exchange ideas in event at U. of Missouri
The University of Missouri hosted the SEC Exchange --- an event that brings student government leaders from all Southeastern Conference schools to the host institution to share ideas --- this weekend for the first time since it joined the group of schools. Student government presidents and vice presidents filed into Jesse Hall Friday afternoon for a kick-off ceremony before embarking on two days worth of tours and breakout sessions. Almost all of the 14 schools were represented, with the exception of Texas A&M University, whose student representatives were snowed in at College Station, Texas, before their Friday flight.
UM System president calls for review of U. of Missouri's response to Menu Courey case
The University of Missouri has turned over information about the alleged sexual assault of former MU swimmer Sasha Menu Courey to the Columbia Police Department for investigation, and the president of the University of Missouri System has said he will ask for an independent review of MU's handling of the situation. The moves come after a story by ESPN's program "Outside the Lines" that questioned MU's response to the alleged sexual assault of Menu Courey, a former MU swimmer who committed suicide in 2011, about 16 months after she allegedly was raped by a Missouri football player.
Committing to Play for a College, Then Starting 9th Grade
Before Haley Berg was done with middle school, she had the numbers for 16 college soccer coaches programmed into the iPhone she protected with a Justin Bieber case. She was all of 14, but Hales, as her friends call her, was already weighing offers to attend the University of Colorado, Texas A&M and the University of Texas, free of charge. Haley is not a once-in-a-generation talent like LeBron James. She just happens to be a very good soccer player, and that is now valuable enough to set off a frenzy among college coaches, even when -- or especially when -- the athlete in question has not attended a day of high school. For Haley, the process ended last summer, a few weeks before ninth grade began, when she called the coach at Texas to accept her offer of a scholarship four years later. The heated race to recruit ever younger players has drastically accelerated over the last five years, according to the coaches involved.
BILL CRAWFORD (OPINION): Farm Bill and Cochran important to Mississippi
Syndicated columnist Bill Crawford of Meridian writes: "How important is the Farm Bill to Mississippi? The answer is the same as for this question: How important are farms and forestry to Mississippi's economy? Well, 65 percent of Mississippi's 30 million acres of land is forest land. Approximately 125,000 landowners participate in $1.17 billion in forestry production per year. Forestry is the focus of Title VIII of the Farm Bill. ...Altogether, farms and forestry generated $7.3 billion in state economic impact in 2013, as estimated by the Mississippi State University Extension Service. That accounts for about 21 percent of the state's total economy and 29 percent of total state employment. ...Resolving issues and getting a bill passed will take strong, persistent leadership. ...If there is a leader who provides both, it is highly respected Sen. Thad Cochran. ...Be glad we have Thad."
SAM R. HALL (OPINION): Long-term jobless still a problem
The Clarion-Ledger's Sam R. Hall writes: "Gov. Phil Bryant's State of the State address Wednesday night was rather tame and uneventful, which -- all things considered -- was to be expected. Two years into his term, Bryant's agenda is well known. He's staked out his position on most issues before the Legislature, and he's been successful at getting much of what he wants. His third State of the State, therefore, was much more of a look at where we are and a reminder of the things he still wants to accomplish over the next two years. But, in my opinion, he didn't focus enough on those who are still looking for jobs."
GEOFF PENDER (OPINION): Teacher pay raise? Beware of them Dems
The Clarion-Ledger's Geoff Pender writes: "Note to Mississippi teachers: If you really want a pay raise this year, lay off the rallying -- or at least the rallying with Democrats. Work the phone lines, particularly to Senate Republicans. One might think hundreds of teachers rallying at the Capitol for legislation would help said legislation. But in the strange world of state politics, Monday's roof-raiser potentially hurt the cause for a pay raise. Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn, leading the charge for the raise, said as much after the rally, which he did not attend. The rally did increase the partisanship factor. And the teachers got used, or co-opted. Several things happened Monday."


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