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state & regional education

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Southern Living names this resort best in the South

Southern Living recently polled its readers to discover their picks for the top places to visit in the SouthBlackberry Farm, in Walland, Tennessee, south of Knoxville, took home the top prize.

>> Florida beach named nation's best in TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice awards

Southern Living noted, "Blackberry Farm emanates hospitality, from its farm-to-table offerings to the porches on guest cottages."

Blackberry Farm is a luxury hotel and resort situated on a 4,200-acre estate in the Great Smoky Mountains.

There is a spa, brewery and working farm on the property. The resort offers plenty of wine and dining options, musical entertainment, workshops and more. 

Activities include horseback riding, archery, fly fishing, hiking and paintball.

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One Facebook reviewer noted, "Have traveled quite well in my 50+ years, but Blackberry Farm stands out as the BEST of all. They anticipate your every wish and deliver it with cordial efficiency. Understated, approachable elegance. Go there, go there, go there! It is transforming."

Southern Living honored The Barn at Blackberry Farm by awarding it the best restaurant in Tennessee, too.

California lawmaker proposes parents get paid time off for kids' school activities

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Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D- Los Angeles, proposed a bill last week that would give parents paid time off from work to attend school activities for their children, according to KTLA.

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The bill, AB 2405, would allow parents three paid days off a year, or 24 hours.

“Being involved in your child’s education shouldn’t be limited by your family’s income, and it shouldn’t come down to a choice between meeting with a teacher or volunteering in the classroom, versus paying the bills," Gatto said in a news release Thursday.

"You shouldn’t have to be a cast member of the ‘Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ to be involved in your child’s education," he said.

The release cites a 2013 EdSource survey in which 24 percent of parents with incomes of $30,000 or less described themselves as "very involved" in their children's education.

The bill would update California's existing Family-School and Partnership Act.

Passed in 1995, the act currently allows parents, grandparents and guardians to take up to 40 hours of unpaid time off for school activities and related emergencies. The time off is protected.

AB 2405 would require 24 or those hours be paid time off.

"Too many parents are prevented from participating in their children's education due to economic barriers," Gatto said. "Parents shouldn't have to choose between paying the bills and being involved in their child's education."

According to Gatto's spokesman, the legislation should be referred to a committee hearing  next month, followed by a vote on it by the Assembly.

It will go to the state Senate if it passes.

CNN Money reported that, according to the spokesman, small businesses with 25 employees or less would not be required to follow this law, if passed.

School lunches: Here’s what your kids will be eating if this bill passes

A bipartisan Senate agreement expected to be voted on Wednesday will include some changes to the meals your children will be offered at school, and it may be changes that would bring them to the table.

The bill, which is expected to be passed by the full Senate, will offer more flexibility to the nations nearly 100,000 public schools as it eases requirements on the use of whole grains and delays a deadline to cut the level of sodium in school lunches.

The legislation has grown out of complaints by some schools that the requirements for their meals – changed in 2012 with the support of first lady Michelle Obama – are burdensome and that children are not eating the food.

To qualify for federal reimbursements for free and reduced-cost meals, schools are required to meet federal government nutrition guidelines. The guidelines set in 2012 imposed limits on the amount of fats, calories, sugar and sodium that meals could include.

Many schools balked at the standards, saying children would not eat the healthier options. Wednesday’s vote comes after a bill that would have allowed schools to opt out of the program entirely failed in 2014.

Per the bill, the Agriculture Department would be required to revised the whole grain and sodium standards for meals within 90 days of its passage.

Here’s how the legislation would change what school lunchrooms are serving:

Grains: Currently, all grains served in public schools must be whole grains, meaning the food made from grain must have been made using 100 percent of the original grain kernel. The new legislation requires that 80 percent  of the grains used be whole grain or more than half whole grain. (Currently, schools may request waivers from the whole grain requirement.)

Salt: The implementation of stricter standards for the amount of sodium in school meals would be delayed until 2019 under the new legislation. The bill would also fund a study into the benefits of lowering salt levels in school meals.

Waste: The problem of waste is a big one in school lunches. Under the new legislation, the Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would be tasked with coming up with a way to reduce what is not eaten by students – particularly fruits and vegetables. Children are currently required to take the food on the lunch line, but many toss them without touching a bite.

Summer programs: More money would be allocated for summer feeding programs – where school lunchrooms offer meals for children who qualify.

University sends 450 mistaken acceptance brochures

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More than 450 students received acceptance brochures to Texas State University last month only to be told it was a mistake.

University spokesman Jayme Blaschke said that on March 27, an outside vendor accidentally mailed acceptance brochures to hundreds of students with incomplete admissions applications. Some of those students have completed their applications and received formal acceptance letters, but many applications are still incomplete.

The brochure contained orientation and residence hall information.

The university plans on mailing out a letter today to brochure recipients acknowledging the error and clarifying their status.

Blaschke said that a mistake of this nature has not happened before at the university in San Marcos.

“Texas State is reviewing the process to understand how this happened and to ensure it does not happen again,” he said.

In December, John Hopkins University accidentally sent 294 applicants a welcome message even though most of them were denied admission or had been deferred.

In February, Carnegie Mellon University accidentally accepted about 800 applicants into its computer science graduate program. They all had been rejected.

Teacher returns to job after video shows her dragging boy down hallway

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A teacher is back on the job after dragging a 6-year-old boy down a school hallway in Kentucky.

Surveillance video shows teacher Ashley Silas dragging the first grader to the principal’s office. Silas said the boy refused to walk on his own after being disruptive and threatening another student.

Silas was fired after the incident, but she filed an appeal. She told a review board that she wasn’t hurting the boy and that he, “enjoyed” sliding down the hall.

The review board reduced the teacher’s punishment to a suspension.

An attorney for the school said they didn’t want to hire Silas back, but the appeals systems left them no choice. 

Back to School Bash: Get Involved

WFTV9 Family Connection and Star 94.5 is proud to be supporting Hope Now International's annual FREE Back to School Bash. The event has been moved from the Amway Center to the Citrus Bowl this year. The event will be held on Saturday, August 10th from 8am-Noon. Last year more than 8,000 local students received free backpacks full of school supplies along with free haircuts, immunizations and health screenings. We need your help! You can sponsor a student for just $10! We want to thank the community for the overwhelming response the past week when the event was in jeopardy. We are happy to announce the event will go on!

We are thankful for so many companies who have stepped up to help out last minute. Those companies include Office Depot Foundation, Nemours Children's Hospital, Costco and many more. Many local individuals have also donated to help.

Get involved! You can sponsor a student for just $10! To DONATE: click here! . We are also looking for businesses who want to get involved and show these children how important they are in our community. If you can help, visit Hope Now online at www.hopenowinternational.org

The event needs hundreds of volunteers as well. To VOLUNTEER: click here!

 The event is crucial in our community so we need the community's support to make sure students have the tools they need to start off a successful school year.

To register for immunizations, click here!

For more, visit www.hopenowinternational.org

APS cheating scandal as the AJC reported it

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