On Thanksgiving Day, most of you will be able to thank God for being together with a loving family in a warm house with a big-screen television to watch the game. Or others may be thankful for a plentiful meal and the blessings of a good career or children safe by your side.
The women living at the Tennessee Prison for Women will have none of that this Thanksgiving. They never do. Their families may be far way, and their living arrangements have few of the pleasures of home. Many of them can only look ahead to many more holidays spent in the prison until their terms have been served.
But for nine of the women who have been involved in the LIFE Program at the prison since 2007, this year they have something more to look forward to: receiving their college associate’s degrees in just two weeks, and then, using that degree to better their lives and their families, once they are released. Several even hope to use their degree to help other prisoners while they are still incarcerated, acting as teachers and mentors among their friends.
Fifteen women began the LIFE program by taking a judicial process course along with 15 traditional Lipscomb students in January 2007. Due to transfers and paroles, that number has shrunk to eight women still at TPFW who are this week finishing up their final class (in physics) to earn a 63-hour associate’s degree in the liberal arts. On Friday, Dec. 13, those eight women (and one woman who has been transferred to another state prison), will become Lipscomb graduates, receiving their degrees in a commencement ceremony with all the pomp and circumstance of the traditional students who line up in Lipscomb’s Allen Arena each year.
They will wear graduation robes; they will formally proceed into the auditorium watched by friends, family and faculty; they will walk the stage to receive their degree; and when they are released and begin looking for a job, they can mark “college graduate.”
One of the greatest gifts we can be thankful for on Thanksgiving Day is our ability to imagine a better future. For so many of the women at TPFW, that ability has been stripped away. Yet this program, bringing quality higher education, with the bar set high, has allowed these graduates to realized what they can accomplish…today and once they are released, even 30 years from now. They have the ability to dream about the future again.
If you would like to learn more about the LIFE program, give me a call at 615.966.5748 or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more on online security:
check out Visiting Professor Frederick Scholl's Tennessean op-ed
or Adjunct Professor Debi Taylor Tate's Tennessean op-ed.
With internship and graduate school applications, as well as the job-hunting process, just over the horizon for many Lipscomb students, now is a great time of year to look at cleaning up your digital profile, especially since October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month.
Cleaning up a digital profile with inappropriate photos, evidence of unprofessional behavior or untoward comments is not easy (and never permanent); but faculty in the School of Computing and Informatics have suggested a few things prospective students and employees can do to put their best foot forward online.
- One of the first steps is cleaning up your Facebook profile. Remove tags from all unflattering photos posted on Facebook and remove such photos from your own profile. Users can request that others remove a photo or report photos that they don’t like, that they don’t think should be on Facebook or that are spam. Users can also set up their profile settings to require others to ask permission before tagging you in a photo on their profile.
- Step two is to stop posting any material that could be considered inappropriate. Certainly nothing illegal or sexually suggestive should ever go up on a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram profile, but absolutely not during times you are looking to impress those who will affect the rest of your life.
- Step three is to post positive items on your Facebook profile. Work on building a good brand for yourself. Admissions counselors and employers are looking and people lose out on opportunities based on their Facebook profiles every day. Use your Facebook profile as a showcase for accomplishments, service, academic work and thoughtful insights. Certainly, continue to use your Facebook for positive, appropriate interactions with friends and family, but remember that outside people are also looking at your profile, and when it comes to Facebook, less is more. What is posted should be intentional and show how well-rounded you are.
While a digital profile can be tidied up for future use, what’s already on the Internet, will always be on the Internet. There isn’t really a foolproof way to rebuild an online reputation, so the best way to make the most of your digital profile is to be mindful of what you are posting from the beginning.
In addition to lost opportunities, information released to the web can and has caused humiliation, vulnerability to criminal activity and long-term emotional damage. Stories of victimization and even suicide due to emotional abuse and cyberbullying are becoming more and more common each year. Many photos taken by a cell phone and posted online carry a digital tag that hackers can use to determine where the photo was taken--often your home. Threats made on the Internet are not considered idle chatter; they are considered real threats by law.
If you have experienced the dark side of social media, Assistant Professor of Psychology Chris Gonzalez offers a few tips for getting through what can be an emotionally devastating experience:
- Don’t continue to engage those providing negative feedback online. On the Internet things can and do go “unviral.” They do stop, but engaging it can keep it going and make the torment last even longer.
- Just get rid of your Facebook profile. The benefits of a Facebook profile do not outweigh the negative consequences once a cycle of cyber-harassment begins, he said.
- Find a positive community to engage in. Get new friends. Surround yourself with people who will be more positive. Building a safe face-to-face community is just as important as building a safe virtual community when bullying is taking place.
So when you sit down for a night of social media, don’t forget that the Internet is not written in pencil, it is written in ink. Everything you put on the Internet is like a social tattoo.
College of Pharmacy
Drive-Up Flu Shot Clinic
University Park Drive
Saturday, Oct. 5
10 a.m.-2 p.m.
College of Pharmacy
PharmFest Flu Shot Clinic
Bennett Campus Center
Thursday, Oct. 10
10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Three-strain vaccine: $20.
High-dose vaccine: $35
Thimerasol-free vaccine: $30
Vaccines can be provided for children as young as 4 years old.
Health information and screening booths will be on-site for patients to explore while waiting the required 15 minutes on-site.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends an annual flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses. Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine as soon as this season’s vaccines are available, especially those who are at high risk of serious flu complications including young children, people 65 years and older, pregnant women and those with chronic health conditions.
Vaccination is also important for health care workers, and other people who live with or care for high-risk people to keep from spreading flu to this group. A flu vaccine is needed every year because flu viruses are constantly changing. It’s not unusual for new flu viruses to appear each year. Manufacturers formulate the vaccine each year to keep up with the flu viruses as they change. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against influenza virus infection. In the meantime, you are still at risk for getting the flu. That’s why it’s better to get vaccinated early in the fall, before the flu season really gets under way.
There are multiple options for patients wanting to get protected against the flu virus. The most common type of protection is the inactivated flu vaccine. This vaccine is available by injection and will protect against three or four different influenza viruses. It is the least expensive of all of the influenza vaccine options and widely available in pharmacies, doctor’s offices and the student health clinic.
For those patients who prefer an option without a needle, there is a live, attenuated (weakened) vaccine available as a nasal spray. Since this vaccine is a live vaccine it should only be given to non-pregnant patients’ ages 2 to 49 years. Patients who are severely immunosuppressed or are taking immunosuppressant medications should not take this vaccine since there is a theoretical risk of transmission of the live attenuated vaccine virus.
For patients 65 years of age and older a “high-dose” flu vaccine is available. This option is good for older patients since their bodies typically do not mount as large of an immune response as younger patients.
There are a few people who should not get the flu vaccine. Most flu vaccines are created using egg products, so patients that have a severe allergy to eggs or any other component to the vaccine should avoid the vaccine. Also patients who have a history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a severe paralyzing illness, should not get the vaccine. If a person has a fever and is not feeling well they should also avoid getting the vaccine until their fever has subsided.
For more information on the flu vaccine or other vaccines go to www.cdc.gov/vaccines/ or talk to your local pharmacist or doctor.
The Tennessee Senate Education Committee held hearings on adoption of the Common Core State Standards last week. The hearings were called by the committee’s chairwoman, Sen. Delores Gresham, R-Somerville, to “enlighten our understanding, not provoke animosity” as controversy around the standards, which 47 states have adopted in part or whole, has been rampant in the last several months.
As with any issue, there are two sides to this spirited debate, but one side seems to be relying on mis-information, while the other is set on bringing Governor Bill Haslam’s initial intention of being a full-implementation Common Core state to fruition.
The ones in opposition to this decision cite improper student data usage, power-hungry textbook companies and the limiting of the state’s role in education as their main arguments. However, these arguments, when logically examined, hold very little weight.
Tennessee has been tracking and reporting student growth measures since 1991, a full 10 years prior to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. There has never been a question of the propriety of this tracking system. In fact, it has been lauded as the “most sophisticated and mature school accountability system in use today” (Education Consumers Foundation, 2012). Common Core data reporting will resemble current TVAAS reporting, and will give an accurate picture of a teacher’s ability to help students learn. If TVAAS reporting has never raised ethical issues, why are we debating the ethics of this type of reporting now?
The argument that seems to be most fundamental to the opponents of Common Core is the one regarding the limiting of the state’s role in determining the curriculum of its students. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Common Core State Standards simply provide research-based yearly benchmarks that show a student’s readiness for college and career. The consortium of states has left it to the individual states to determine the curricula for achieving those benchmarks. Common Core State Standards adoption is not a federalizing of education.
Another argument against Common Core adoption is that it limits a school district’s ability to choose textbooks. I would challenge any concerned citizen to take part in the textbook adoption process at his or her child’s school and compare the textbook choices we have had under our current Tennessee Content Standards to the textbook choices available with Common Core State Standards. The difference between number and quality of choice will be negligible. It does seem that this topic is of main concern, so the Tennessee Senate Education Committee will hold additional hearings on textbooks in November.
The arguments we should be focusing on are the ones from Tennessee exemplary teachers like Cicely Woodard and Philip Eller who have implemented Common Core practices and seen improvements in engagement, motivation and achievement. We should be focusing on the research behind these standards, and the fact that they were written by educators for educators. We need to focus on the obvious need for change, as evidenced by our students’ inability to compete in a global marketplace. We should be focusing on the promise of Common Core and not the price of implementation.
After all, if you think implementing a new set of standards is too expensive, try calculating the cost of an entire generation of American citizens who are unprepared for work or college. Einstein once defined insanity as doing the same thing, but expecting different results. If we derail the current educational course in Tennessee, we may just go down in history as proving Einstein’s definition.
By default, and with a little help from Vladimir Putin, President Obama seems to have come to the right decision about what America should do in Syria, which is nothing, or as next to nothing as possible.
It should be clear by now that the many and manifest problems of Syria will not be solved by bombing forces loyal to the dictator Bashar al-Assad, nor will they be solved by arming those groups who are opposed to the regime.
In the first place, the Syrian rebels are not freedom fighters in any sense that Americans understand, but rather a ragtag and fractious coalition of Islamic extremists, aggrieved moderates and local militias. And, unfortunately, as the conflict has dragged on, the most motivated, dedicated and effective rebel fighters, those who have inflicted the greatest losses on Syrian governmental forces, are those who have been most closely associated with Al-Qaeda and sundry other radical Islamist groups.
In the second place, Bashar al-Assad is a not a Sunni, a member of the dominant sect in Islam, but an Alawite, an adherent of a schismatic Shiite group that has millennia-old roots along the Mediterranean coast of northern Syria and southern Turkey. The Alawites have a long history of being oppressed and persecuted as heretics by fellow Muslims, right through the Ottoman period, until the French took control of the region in the aftermath of World War I. Like all colonial powers, the French divided and conquered local factions by elevating oppressed minorities to positions of power over the majority population, in Syria, the Sunnis. In the specific case of the Alawites, they proved especially adept at soldiering, and rose quickly through the ranks of the French-controlled Syrian military to hold many senior positions.
By the time Syria gained its independence following World War II, the Alawites were well-placed to protect themselves against the return of Sunni depredations, having allied with another historically oppressed minority, the Christians, to form a political bloc that was backed by a strong presence in the military. One of the ironies of the modern period is that the fascist Ba’ath movement, closely associated with both Saddam Hussein in Iraq and the Assads in Syria, was founded in 1947 by three Arabs, a Christian, a moderate Sunni Muslim, and an Alawite, as a way of helping all Arabs transcend their religious differences. Hafez al-Assad, the father of Bashar, joined the party as a teenager in the late 1940s, moved up the ranks as an air force pilot, and eventually become the Minister of Defense. From that position he was then able to seize power in a 1970 coup.
Finally, it has to be noted that the Christians of Syria, a kaleidoscopic assortment of Nestorians, Catholics, Chaldeans, Maronites and Orthodox groups representing about ten percent of the total population, are largely supporters of the dictator Bashar Assad. As the rulers of Syria, the Assads, like all the Ba’athists have been opponents of radical Islam in all its forms, and they’ve allowed Syrian Christians nearly total freedom of worship, including the right to teach, preach, proselytize and build churches, and American protestant missionaries worked openly in Syria right up until the civil war broke out last year. These Christians rightly fear that a hard-line Sunni take-over of Syria bodes ill for all of them, a belief reinforced by recent events in Egypt, where the brief tenure in power of the Muslim Brotherhood was accompanied by the murder of Coptic Christians and the sacking of Coptic churches and monasteries.
To use the American military to “send a message” does not acknowledge the complexity of factional and tribal politics in Syria. The destruction of Bashar al-Assad, as odious as he is, will have unintended but largely foreseeable consequences, including the inevitable persecution of Christians and the likely massacre of Alawites in Syria. There is simply no good answer to the problem of Syria, and because of that America should not be arming either side in this war, and we certainly should not be bombing anyone.