Affordable Housing in Williamson County

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By Maddie VanHorn
(10/19/17)-The population of Williamson County has grown dramatically in the last decade. While the county has accommodated for the growing population by building new schools and expanding roads, it has neglected to provide for the lower classes. Many of the low income families that reach out for help from organizations, like the Franklin Housing Authority, do not receive it, as it currently has “ a waitlist of about 100 people for its properties” (Buie). Not only does the county have an insufficient number of affordable housing units, but many historically poor neighborhoods in Franklin have begun the process of gentrification, the renovation of homes to raise their values and make them more suitable for middle class families. Gentrification causes higher property values and subsequently higher property taxes. Therefore, many underprivileged families can no longer afford to live in Williamson County. To ensure these low-income residents do not lose their homes or their jobs, the county should provide more public housing opportunities.
According to Steve Murray, the Executive Director of Community Housing in Williamson County, it is not only minimum wage earning families that are struggling to find homes, but also “people earning up to 60 percent of the median household income, which in Williamson County is $104,367, the seventh highest median county household income in the country” (Buie). It is unacceptable that even some middle class families cannot afford to live in the county, let alone the lower class workers that we need to fill job positions. In order to preserve our low-income workforce, we must provide more opportunities for these workers to live in the county.
This is becoming increasingly difficult, as higher property taxes are a result of the gentrification of disadvantaged communities and the scarcity of undeveloped land. Residents in communities experiencing gentrification may experience higher taxes than their incomes may be unable to support. If unable to pay, they will likely find cheaper homes in surrounding counties. Nonprofit organizations such as the Community Housing Partnership, Habitat for Humanity, and the Hard Bargain Association, have struggled to buy old houses to remodel due to high competition with builders. The county must step in to help these organizations, as they can more easily compete with these builders buying land.
It is unfair that because of the growing population, families can no longer afford to live in the home that has so much sentimental value to them. Not only do these people have to leave the homes their families have owned for generations, but they must also leave their schools and churches. For people that have lived in Franklin their entire lives, moving may mean a loss of identity, and a hard transition into their new environment.We must provide a more diverse selection of housing options to accommodate for all classes to live here. The number of public housing units in Franklin must be increased to adequately serve the population.
In what ways have you been affected by population growth in Middle Tennessee?

Buie, Jordan. “Williamson Affordable Housing Crunch Hits Working Class Hard.” The Tennessean. The Tennessean, 29 June 2017. www.tennessean.com/story/news/local
/williamson/2017/01/10/non-profits-affordable-housing-almost-non-existent-working-
class/95966648. Accessed 24 September 2017.

Smaller Class Sizes

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By Noa Pope
(10/10/17)
School is the first step into the real world, the first extended time away from home, the first experience without the comfort of parents. School is the place where teens learn who they are and find their place in society; it is where they learn the majority of lessons needed to live their life away from home. Parents trust that their teen is getting the care, protection, and attention he or she needs to thrive and have the best possible experience in school. However, many teens, including myself, have found themselves feeling neglected and almost invisible to the people who are supposed to be helping them grow and thrive in their new environment. For the most part, this neglect does not come from poor teachers. In fact, I found that despite the invisibility I felt, my previous high school teachers worked very hard and were overall some of the best teachers I have ever had. This shows that the neglect comes from an overpopulation of schools and classrooms that leads to teachers being incapable of providing sufficient attention to each individual student. Counties with high schools with thousands of students in one school, such as Williamson County, need to decrease class sizes in schools to allow better student-teacher relationships that will lead to a better education and ultimately a better life after graduation.
Independence High School, a Williamson County school consisting of 1413 students, is one example of a Williamson County School (“School Facts & Figures”). Like myself, many of these students are quiet and shy. Without the appropriate attention, these introverted teens struggle to learn how to be confident, ask questions, or reach out for help. Being at a school with over 1000 students and up to 35 students per classroom made me feel overwhelmed and too nervous to even raise my hand in class. I felt as if my teachers did not know my personal learning needs and did not give me the attention I needed to find confidence in myself. This unintentional neglect can lead to dropping grades and poor self esteem that follows students into their adult lives. Often times “[w]hen a child has low self-esteem they tend to avoid situations where they think there’s risk of failure, embarrassment or making mistakes. These can involve school work, making friends, and trying new activities” (“Self-Esteem and Teenagers”). Unattended teens struggling with low self-esteem can end up feeling anxious and angry, have a negative view of their bodies, and may even turn to “alcohol and drugs to feel better about themselves” (“Self-Esteem and Teenagers”).
The shy students are not the only ones who feel the effects of overpopulated classrooms; students suffering from attention disorders, such as ADHD, or even students that simply have a hard time staying motivated and on task in class are also affected. With too big of a class teachers are unable to control all of the students at once, meaning those who struggle to stay focused have noone to bring their attention back to their schoolwork. It has been found that “[s]tudents behave better and pay more attention in smaller groups” because it is more difficult for students to get off topic and get distracted, when the instructor has less students to handle (Higgins).
Surprisingly, it can also be the gifted, intelligent students who do not get sufficient teacher attention. Teachers feel as if they do not need to dedicate as much time to the gifted because they will do great in school regardless. What teachers do not realize is “that those who [are not] challenged in school [are] less likely to live up to the potential indicated by their test scores,” and “under-stimulated gifted students quickly become bored and frustrated” (Crawford). Because gifted students have unique learning needs, it is common for students to have lower grades than what they could potentially have when teachers are unable to meet these needs.
Class sizes need to be decreased to allow teachers more time to give each individual student personal attention. Smaller classes will allow students the attention they need to excel in school, both with their academic studies and their ability to empathize with others and find success after high school.

Works Cited
Crawford, Amy. “The Poor Neglected Gifted Child – The Boston Globe.” BostonGlobe.com, 16
Mar. 2014,
www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2014/03/15/the-poor-neglected-gifted-child/rJpv8G4oeawWBBvXVtZyFM/story.html. Accessed 25 Sep. 2017.
Higgins, John. “Does Class Size Matter? Research Reveals Surprises.” The Seattle Times, The
Seattle Times Company, 28 Oct. 2014,
www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/education/does-class-size-matter-research-reveals-surprises/. Accessed 25 Sep. 2017.
“School Facts & Figures – High Schools.” Williamson County Schools,
www.wcs.edu/schools/school-facts-high-schools/. Accessed 25 Sep. 2017.
“Self-Esteem and Teenagers.” Reachout.com,
parents.au.reachout.com/common-concerns/everyday-issues/self-esteem-and-teenagers.
Accessed 25 Sep. 2017.

Do you think smaller class sizes are an effective way to improve education? Why or why not?

The Deadliest Mass Shooting in US History

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By Maddie VanHorn
(10/10/2017) Last week I wrote about a terrorist attack in London and about London’s unarmed police force. I said that an unarmed police force would never work in the United States due to the cultural differences, and the amount of guns owned by American citizens. I said that due to the high amount of violence within the last year,it is essential for police to have guns. Now less than two weeks later, the United States is left devastated by the deadliest mass shooting in American History.
On October 1st, sixty four year old Stephen Paddock, open fired on a crowd of more than twenty two thousand people attending the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival on the Las Vegas strip. Shooting from the fifty eighth floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel, armed with more than a dozen firearms, Paddock killed fifty eight people and left more than five hundred injured. He purchased all of these guns legally.
After every gun related tragedy, the gun control debate is brought up again. People argue if these heinous attacks could have been prevented or not. While I agree that we must honor our constitution and the second amendment, we obviously need more gun control regulations, as the United States has experienced 9 mass shootings in 2017 alone. The government definition of a mass shooting involves criteria that 4 or more people must be killed, and the victims must be selected randomly (Diehm). This rules out many other gun related crimes than have occurred this year, such as the “baseball practice shooting, in June, because the gunman didn’t kill four people”(Diehm).
However, it is extremely difficult to find a balance for a topic like this, which is so controversial and puts so much at stake. I believe that while people should still have the right to have guns, whether it be for hunting or for protection, there is no need for these guns to shoot anymore than one bullet at a time. Automatic or semiautomatic guns should not be permitted, as they are not necessary for everyday Americans. Gun “bump stocks”, which make semi automatic weapons operate like automatic guns, were used by Paddock in his attack. The United States must also impose greater control over the possession of devices like these, as they are currently legal in the US. In addition, stricter criteria must be put in place to purchase firearms, including extensive background checks and mental health exams. While many may argue that the people responsible for these massacres get these guns illegally, imposing some restrictions on guns is essential, as we cannot afford to wait until the next deadly shooting to take action.
What is your opinion on gun control regulations in the United States?

Bui, Lynh, et al. “At Least 59 Killed in Las Vegas Shooting Rampage, More than 500 Others Injured.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 2 Oct. 2017, www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/10/02/police-shut-down-part-of-las-vegas-strip-due-to-shooting/?utm_term=.d6ce5f01f47c.

An Unarmed Police Force?

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London 

by Maddie VanHorn
(9/21/17)- By Maddie VanHorn
Last week I wrote about a terrorist attack in London and about London’s unarmed police force. I said that an unarmed police force would never work in the United States due to the cultural differences, and the amount of guns owned by American citizens. I said that due to the high amount of violence within the last year,it is essential for police to have guns. Now less than two weeks later, the United States is left devastated by the deadliest mass shooting in American history.
On October 1, 64- year-old Stephen Paddock, open fired on a crowd of more than twenty two thousand people attending the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival on the Las Vegas strip. Shooting from the fifty-eighth floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel, armed with more than a dozen firearms, Paddock killed 58 people and left more than 500 injured. He purchased all of these guns legally.
After every gun-related tragedy, the gun control debate is brought up again. People argue if these heinous attacks could have been prevented or not. While I agree that we must honor our constitution and the second amendment, we obviously need more gun control regulations, as the United States has experienced nine mass shootings in 2017 alone. The government definition of a mass shooting involves criteria that four or more people must be killed, and the victims must be selected randomly (Diehm). This rules out many other gun-related crimes than have occurred this year, such as the “baseball practice shooting, in June, because the gunman didn’t kill four people”(Diehm).
However, it is extremely difficult to find a balance for a topic like this, which is so controversial and puts so much at stake. Some people believe that people should still have the right to have guns, whether it be for hunting or for protection. However, others wonder why they need to have gune that there is no need for these guns to shoot anymore than one bullet at a time. Automatic or semiautomatic guns should not be permitted, as they are not necessary for everyday Americans. Gun “bump stocks,” which make semi-automatic weapons operate like automatic guns, were used by Paddock in his attack. The United States must also impose greater control over the possession of devices like these, as they are currently legal in the US. In addition, stricter criteria must be put in place to purchase firearms, including extensive background checks and mental health exams. While some may argue that most people responsible for these massacres get these guns illegally, Stephen Paddock got them legally. Stricter gun control is the first step in addressing the issue of mass shootings in the US, and while it may not prevent all future shootings, it is an important step in taking action instead of just talking about it.
What is your opinion on gun control regulations in the United States?

Alex Smith. “The Vast Majority of U.K. Police Don’t Carry Guns. Here’s Why.”NBCNews.com. NBCUniversal News Group, 15 Sept. 2017. Web. 27 Sept. 2017.