A LOOK AT WEEKEND POLL RESULTS 3/27/2017

As always the results of the weekend poll were interesting. I created these polls to have a little fun and to get an idea of what was on people’s minds. If you never solicit feedback it becomes very easy to get locked into a silo. Furthermore, I find it reaffirming when you see evidence that you are not alone in your thinking. In everything I do I like to inject a little humor, some of it may be gallows humor, but humor all the same. Some of the humor may fall flat, but I try. With that said, let’s take a look at the results from this week’s questions.

The question on whether or not you would support an accountability plan that limited student achievement’s value to 51% or less produced the most interesting responses. 46% of respondents said they would support such a system with only 3% saying that student achievement scores needed to have more weight. Interestingly enough there were several responses under “other” that called for test scores to not count at all. I find this very positive because perhaps it’s an indicator that people are starting to recognize the fallacy of tests scores and we’ll see us start to evaluate schools in a more authentic manner.

Under the question of whether or not it was a good idea or not for the state to create a facilities fund for charter schools, a whopping 79% said absolutely not. Only 13% said it was a good idea. One person mentioned that if the district were able to get a charter authorizer fee out of it, then maybe it was a good deal. As a side note, I remember last year during the voucher wars asking Rep. Sargent why if the legislation cared so much about kids they didn’t help struggling districts with capital projects. He indignantly replied that the state does not build schools and for me to suggest such a thing clearly demonstrated a lack of understanding about how things work on my part. So why they would now consider funding facilities for charter schools defies my comprehension.

The last question referencing how long former director of schools Jesse Register should be held responsible for current district shortcomings was one of those tongue in cheek questions. A question that one respondent took exception to, stating that, “Your weekly poll question regarding Pinkston is hurting your credibility.” Ironic that my poking a little fun brings my credibility into question yet Pinkston’s continual transformation into a character that more closely resembles President Trump than traditional democratic leaders, leaves his intact. Some folks did get the stab at humor by replying, “Depends on who he wiretapped and when.” 62% of respondents answered in a way that indicated we are all ready to move one with only 23% answering in a way that indicated Register still bears some accountability.

Friday we’ll have another poll, I’m always open for suggestions, so if you have a question you’d like to ask, email me at norinrad10@yahoo.com. Remember if you are here in Nashville there is a ENCORE meeting on Thursday at 6pm at West End Middle School. It promises to be very informative. I anticipate having a post this week on the importance of extraciricular activities and hopely by week’s end I’ll have my interview with Jared Amato ready to drop. If you care at all about literacy you’ll want to check it out. Here’s hoping everyone has a great week and thank you for all your support.

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DAD GONE WILD PODCAST episode 5

Here it is! Hot off the deck, episode number 5! In this episode we take a look at Trump’s budget plans. We report on reaction to Knoxville’s new school’s superintendent hire. While vouchers seem to be on the ropes in Tennessee, there is another little bill we need to be watching out for. And I say nothing but positive things about Nashville Metropolitan Public Schools.  Enjoy and let me know your thoughts.

 

FRIDAY POLL 3/25/2017

It’s Friday again. My, but how these weeks fly by. I have three more poll questions this week. Two are on education policies and the third relates to how long you can blame some one for a systems failings.

Currently in Maryland the state board is creating, as prescribed by ESSA, a new accountability model. As part of that model they are considering legislation limiting the amount that student achievement can play to 51%. The remainder would be made up of school quality indicators like class size, opportunities to enroll in advanced classes, case loads, opportunities for dual credit etc. I know where I fall on this legislation but I’m curious about your thoughts.

In Tennessee, legislation is currently making its way through the house that would create a facilities fund that charter schools could apply to for grants to upgrade facilities. The fund would initially be seeded with 6 million dollars. Good idea or bad idea?

Lastly, Dr. Register used to be the superintendent of schools for MNPS. Well, he’s been gone for 633 days. Still, some try to attach blame to him and his policies every time criticism is raised against MNPS. Is this fair or is it time we moved on and those that presntly hold the position are held accountable?

As always I appreciate your input and look forward to your answers. Comments are welcome.

FRIDAY POLL 3/25/17

It’s Friday again. My, but how these weeks fly by. I have three more poll questions this week. Two are on education policies and the third relates to how long you can blame some one for a systems failings.

Currently in Maryland the state board is creating, as prescribed by ESSA, a new accountability model. As part of that model they are considering legislation limiting the amount that student achievement can play to 51%. The remainder would be made up of school quality indicators like class size, opportunities to enroll in advanced classes, case loads, opportunities for dual credit etc. I know where I fall on this legislation but I’m curious about your thoughts.

In Tennessee, legislation is currently making its way through the house that would create a facilities fund that charter schools could apply to for grants to upgrade facilities. The fund would initially be seeded with 6 million dollars. Good idea or bad idea?

Lastly, Dr. Register used to be the superintendent of schools for MNPS. Well, he’s been gone for 633 days. Still, some try to attach blame to him and his policies every time criticism is raised against MNPS. Is this fair or is it time we moved on and those that presntly hold the position are held accountable?

As always I appreciate your input and look forward to your answers. Comments are welcome.

 

 

TALKING COMMUNITY SCHOOLS WITH ALISON McARTHUR

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Over the last several years in public education, we’ve seen the pendulum start to swing away from an over reliance on assessment data as we enter the beginning stages of recognizing the depth of challenges faced by children in poverty. This recognition has fueled a push back to the over reliance on standardized testing and assessment data being used an indicator of school success and a community school movement has begun to take root. Community schools do more than just provide wraparound services for children. They reclaim the role public schools previously played as centers of the community. Each one of these community schools differs in that each one is responsive to the community they serve. It is early in the process of data collection, but so far the results look promising. Metro Nashville Public Schools has been growing its number of community schools for a while now.

I sat down at Istanbul Café and over a couple of gyros, Community Achieves  program coordinator Alison McArthur and I discussed community schools and their potential.

Dad Gone Wild: Alison, thanks for joining me today and filling me in on community schools.

Alison McArthur: You are welcome. We always welcome the chance to talk about our schools.

DGW: Before we get rolling on community schools, I’ve always been interested in how people came to where they are in life. You were a high school teacher, right?

AM: I was a high school teacher at Glencliff. Right around the corner from here.

DGW: Very cool. For how many years?

AM: I taught for 13 years, and I was an Academy Coach for 5. So 18 years all together.

DGW: How’d you like high school?

AM: I can’t imagine any other grade. Elementary kids scare me.

DGW: It’s funny how teachers gravitate to the grades they teach. My wife went from middle school to elementary school, and she actually misses middle school, whereas other people would run screaming from middle school. But she’s found things to love about elementary school as well.

AM: (smiling) Yeah, I think middle school would send me running and screaming as well.

DGW: What was your area of instruction at Glencliff?

AM: I taught career technical education (CTE) courses. So I was a business education teacher, and I taught economics, accounting, keyboarding, spreadsheet, software type programs. We actually started an academy at Glencliff in the mid-90s, kind of the predecessor to the academies that are in all of our high schools now. We had a business academy at Glencliff High School.

DGW: The demographics at Glencliff have changed dramatically over the years. What were they like when you were there?

AM: Well, it has changed over time. In my 18 years there, it just grew to be more and more diverse, and at one point we were the most diverse school in the state. I don’t think they still hold that title. But while I was there they did.

DGW: Eakin Elementary School likes to argue with me that they are.

AM: I’ve heard them say that as well.

DGW: I think the reason that they say that they’re the most diverse is because they have a diverse economic demographic as well as ethnic diversity. They have that socioeconomic element, whereas some of our other diverse schools don’t. They are made up almost exclusively of poor kids. I’ve watched the Glencliff neighborhood over the last 10 years change firsthand. I’m from the neighborhood, and it’s had a large Hispanic population, but now it’s starting to gentrify a little bit too.

AM: Before we got really diverse at Glencliff, we had a really high Asian population that lived right in this area.

DGW: I forgot all about that. That was right when I moved into this area. The Asian gangs were all over the place, and I would hear all the horror stories. You’d see groups of kids walking down the street wearing red gang colors.

AM: Lutie Street.

DGW: Yep, that’s right, Lutie Street. I lived on Valeria Street, about 3 blocks away from Lutie Street, and on occasion you’d hear gunshots.  Sometimes you forget how much things change. Even in a short time period. Seems like a natural environment for a community school to take root. Tell me how that transition began.

AM: At Glencliff, I was part of the Academies of Nashville from the very beginning. There were eight schools, and I was one of the original academy coaches. So I was on the front end of that system change and while we were implementing academies at Glencliff, the district was about to be taken over by the state. We had a terrible graduation rate. Dr. Tony Majors, who is now the Executive Officer of Student Supports in MNPS, was the principal, and he started looking at the graduation rate and searching for possible reasons why it was so low. He saw there was a large percentage of pregnant teens and teen parents.

And so he said, “I have no idea how to help these kids stay in school.” So he reached out to the community and that was really the start of us involving the community and bringing them in for some of the wraparound supports. It was a community school, but we didn’t do it because were trying to create a community school per se, it was just us trying to solve some of the challenges our students were facing. We did it because it was what our students and families needed.

When people came to us and said, “I want to work at a community school.” We said, “What’s that?” And they would say, “It’s Glencliff. It’s what you’re doing.” Dr. Majors eventually got transferred to the central office, and he wanted to take that model and help a lot of schools try to replicate it on their own. It’s really hard to research how the work should be done and do the work at the same time. Dr. Majors wanted to create the resources so it could be a systems change kind of thing. I was interested in it. I wanted the challenge of implementing something new and helping it grow. And grow it has.

DGW: And what year was that?

AM: It was in the spring of 2012. Race to the Top funds were available for us to use to pay my position.

DGW: Oh wow, I did not realize that. So this was under Dr. Register, who was Director of Schools at the time. Did he embrace the change?

AM: He did. He was familiar with the work that Dr. Majors had done at Glencliff and liked what he saw. At the same time Glencliff was doing the work, Dr. Register had formed a (TLG) Transformational Leadership Group that brought district administrators and representatives from community organizations to explore implementation of the community school strategy. MNPS also sent a team of school-level representatives to the Coalition for Community Schools conference in 2010 to learn about the strategy. Alignment Nashville also brought the Children’s Aid Society from New York to discuss the community school strategy and research.

I recently learned about this history that was taking place in Nashville and MNPS at the same time we were doing the work at Glencliff when we (Community Achieves) were asked to write a chapter in a book. The book is The Community School Book Series: A Strategy for Connecting Minds and Hearts. Our Chapter is The Role of the School District. Writing that chapter and looking at the history of community schools, I realized while we were doing this work at Glencliff, Alignment Nashville had brought some people from New York, and other people in the community were looking at the community school model and how they could make it happen. So while we didn’t realize it at the time, a lot of things were happening at once.

DGW: And now how many schools in MNPS do we have now working as community schools?

AM: This year we have 23. We had 20 last year. And they are all over the city in ten of 12 clusters. Currently, we’re not in the Hillsboro or Hillwood clusters.

DGW: We probably need to pause here a second and step back. Dr. Majors and I had a conversation earlier in the week about this. So often when we pursue these policies, we get so excited by getting to the work that we never really spend any time defining our terms. We end up with people out there doing their own thing based on their interpretation of it. This is true whether we are talking about restorative justice, community schools, or grading for learning – people think they are practicing that concept with fidelity, and the reality is what they’re doing is some kind of variation, so the success is mixed.

AM: Correct.

DGW: We probably ought to stop and define what exactly we consider a community school in MNPS.

AM: A community school is a place with a set of partnerships. The school and these partners address academics, youth development, and health and wellness, and they incorporate the community and families. Schools are open for extended hours. There are programs for people other than just the school members; we include community members. Some of our schools have GED classes and parenting classes that communities can come to. It’s all dependent on the individual school’s needs.

DGW: And how do you decide which services go to which school? Is there a model that lays out a strict set of guidelines that says, “Here’s what we do and this is your community school”?

AM: So Community Achieves hired people, and we’ve developed a framework. Immediately after i was hired we hired an external program evaluator to help develop a results focused framework. We brought leaders from MNPS, non profits, and Metro government together to look at outcomes and determine what could be measured. We built a framework with what we might call standards; we call them principles. Principles of what a community school should look like. We really wanted to build that strong foundation.

As part of that process, our evaluator pulls a data report together. We focus on four areas: health and wellness, college and career readiness, family engagement, and social services. We look at data in those areas. School teams consisting of various members – site managers, administrators, teachers, counselors, social workers, come together in the summer and they conduct a needs assessment. They use assessment data but the data report also contains non-academic data.

We look at all the data, we develop a strategic plan around what we need the community partnerships to help us with. We really want people to work from that strategic plan. So the partner comes to the table and they say, “How can I help?”

The kind of conversations we see all the time, and are trying to avoid, are the ones that go back and forth between the partners and the school, with each asking how they can help. What we’re really trying to train our schools to do is utilize the needs assessment. We are saying to the schools, “We’ve walked you through a strategic plan, now hand that to your partners and say, ‘Here’s my data. This is what I need. Where do you fit in?’”

Some of them are doing that better than others. When you start something new, there are challenges. This is just our second year of having site managers funded in all our community schools. Before we did that, schools might identify someone to do this work, but they would have other jobs in the building. They may have been an assistant principal, a teacher, the Title I coordinator, or the family resource center manager, and they had other jobs competing for their time. Once we designated specific people to focus on the community school, they could really sit in with those administrative teams and see the needs first hand. And if something changed, they could add that to their strategic plan. We became better at really managing those partnerships and programs.

DG: All of this makes complete sense to me because it reminds me, and I’m a little older than you are, but when I went to schools, schools were a big part of the community. You were in the schools quite a bit, after hours, before school, and on weekends. Schools were considered a central focus of the community, and this seems to tie right back into that. Instead of just focusing on reading, writing, and arithmetic, this makes citizenship, community, and a lot of other things come into play too.

AM: Also, one thing that we’ve seen in our schools is the increased participation of the community. Maybe they don’t have kids in the school, but they become invested in the school and in the students in their community. They see the value, and they’re really giving back.

DGW: This makes me think of Glencliff High School and their alumni, most of whom graduated in ’68 and ‘69 when the school looked a whole lot different. They’ve got an alumni room over there, and they actually funded uniforms for the boys and girls basketball team the last several years. They take a great deal of pride in the school and have been extremely generous because it’s a touchstone of the community.

AM: Right. Another example is over in Germantown, where the area is changing. One of the apartment complexes there holds regular neighborhood meetings, and the community school’s site manager goes to all them and updates the community on what is happening at the school. They are able to communicate what they need, where their students are coming from, and the progress being made. This has resulted in bringing a lot of those residents to the table. They just had a big fundraiser for the school at one of the apartment complexes, and all of these young professionals who have moved in have become invested in Buena Vista Elementary School, a truly high needs school, as a result.

DGW: That’s incredible. I’m reading a book called Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis by Robert Putman. One of the things that Putman talks about is how we all went to school with kids from each economic stratosphere and so it was harder for these kids to disappear between the cracks. That’s no longer true as our society has become more insular. We know what’s going on in our silo, but not in others.

It seems like with community schools, by going into the community like you describe and actually finding out what’s going on in the community and what the needs are, we could start to break down some of the silos and seal up some of those cracks.

AM: Yes. Another thing that Community Achieves is going to focus on next year is getting parents more deeply invested in their community school. A lot of times we don’t have many parents at the table. Having programs, services, and events where they feel welcome is vital, and as a result, we are starting to see our numbers increase. We’ve done some surveys for parents in the past – we’ve done that as a district – but we’re developing more for our schools because we want to know what is it that you need? What is it that you would like to see? We really want that voice and investment.

DGW: That’s the other thing – people tend to default to PTAs as the be-all and end-all for parent involvement. My kids go to a school that has no PTA for a variety of reasons. We have a lot of refugee families who are new to the country, a lot of people working two or three jobs, and a lot of people who don’t know how to navigate the system. So it’s not as easy as people always think it is, and just because they are not joining a PTA doesn’t mean they don’t care about the school.

AM: Right. One thing that we’ve added in a lot of our schools that’s been really successful is a program called Parents as Partners. It is offered through Conexion Americas, and it’s been wildly successful.  It has taught parents to advocate for their children, like showing them what a report card is and how to read it, and that you can talk to the principal. Whitsitt ES presented to the school board this week, and they had two parents who actually got up and spoke. That’s a big deal. They had gone through Parents as Partners. So they had that confidence that comes from graduating from a program. A lot of times they need things like that before they’re going to be in PTA.

DGW: So where do you envision all of this going? Is there a three-year, a five-year, a ten-year plan?

AM: Our plan originally was to not have more than 32 schools across the district. We feel like we do need to expand in the clusters where we don’t have a presence. But we are very strategic in how we are aligned. So while you can have a community school that lives on its own, we like to think that we have a system of community schools and we’ve got some vertical alignment.

When looking at areas to expand this year, we decided to add three middle schools. That’s because we had some elementary schools that were community schools, and the families had become used to the culture of the wraparound services. When they got to middle school, it wasn’t a community school, and therefore there weren’t as many supports. Kids would struggle because of this. Our families struggled.

So we pulled a lot of people together in central office and had those conversations about where we should expand. Moving into middle schools seemed a natural progression. We just need to continue to be strategic. Look at the demographics, look at discipline data, and look at attendance data because there’s usually something that needs to be fixed.

DGW: Now for the elephant that always lives in the room. We now live in a culture that if you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist. So I’m sure you have data that backs up and tells the story of your successes.

AM: Again, we’ve been very strategic. The first thing we did was to identify 10 desired outcomes, or Key Performance Indicators (KPI), as they are commonly referred to. We’re starting to see some of those indicators move up and there are pockets of success, but we’ve spent a lot of time laying the foundation so that we can build and expand. An area of measure that is often not considered is in the area of implementation. We expect to see outcomes when the fidelity of using the framework is not there. We have a rubric to measure the level of implementation. One of the challenges is stability and the potential negative impacts from a lack of stability. If there’s a principal turnover, if there’s a site manager turnover, these things can have adverse affects, but we’ve got things in place to help with that sustainability. It takes a while to gather meaningful data.

We’ve added some new things this year. Deep diving in to make sure we are serving families but always being good financial stewards. We want to make sure that we’re not paying the salary for a site manager and they’re only serving ten families for the whole year. It could look like we’re giving out lots of food or clothing or we’ve got all these programs that were only serving ten kids. So we’re really trying to look and be intentional about the numbers that we’re serving.

We’re also going to focus next year on being intentional about getting the word out to all stakeholders about what we are doing, why we are doing it, and how. A lot of times in schools you have the manager, but people don’t know exactly what is it that they do and how they can help. Community members and businesses want to just jump in and do something to help these schools, but does it meet the needs spelled out in the strategic plan? We really need to always ensure that we are getting the most of our partnerships.

For example, recently one of our site managers held a meeting for all partners. Soles4Souls is one of our partners, and they’ve been fantastic. But at the partner meeting, they heard the principal say we want to do some experiential learning. Our teachers want to do something to go deeper with the standards that they’ve been teaching.

Soles4Souls was in the room, and they said, “We can totally do that.” So they started at Gra-Mar Middle Prep, and they created an experiential program that includes, decision making, writing, speaking, a field-trip and a service learning component. Now S4s has taken that program to three or four middle schools and they are deeply invested.

I think our community really wants to help us in the schools. But we have to let them know this is what our goal is, and a lot of times the best ideas don’t come from the school. If we say, “This is our data and this is where we need to be,” sometimes our partners will come up with some great ideas.

DGW: It’s been my experience that communities want to take pride in their schools. It’s always been frustrating to me that people will rate schools across the country as terrible except the one they go to, the one with their kid. I think you change that narrative when you get communities invested in schools. Nationally, there’s a movement towards community schools as well. Are you closely aligned with that’s going on nationally, or is there a lot of difference in what we’re doing here in Nashville?

AM: Every model looks different. The Coalition For Community Schools, convenes people from across the nation. They’re in Washington, DC. We started working with them from the very beginning. We can lean on them for support. But we’ve looked everywhere; we’ve been to Oakland, we’ve been to Rhode Island, we’ve been to DC, we’ve been to Austin, we’ve been to Cincinnati – they have a popular and successful community school movement. We look at what their models are like and then look at what we have in place here in Nashville. And so we’re trying to create a model that works best for Nashville.

DGW: Now, how about the state? Are they being supportive?

AM: The state is just now starting to look at the model.There is a community school in Knoxville that has been in place for a while, Pond Gap Elementary School. They also have a system of 14 schools through Great Schools Partnership. We are going to visit them this month. Our school board has been very supportive, especially board members Jill Speering and Amy Frogge, who’ve joined us on several visits.

DGW: Sounds like things are exciting, and we’re on a good track with this.

AM: It is exciting. We have laid a strong foundation, and I think we are ready to go to the next level.

We finish up our gyros, and I thank Alison for taking the time with me. I’m excited about the possibilities community schools present. In reality, they are not that different from the schools I grew up with, and I’m happy to seeing us get back to our roots. Somehow in our pursuit of increased rigor, we’ve lost sight of the breadth of roles a quality school can play in a community. It’s time to reclaim those roles.

ST PADDY’S DAY POLL OVERVIEW

Thank you to everyone who participated in this week ends poll. As always the results were very interesting. Here’s a brief summary.

With question one I tried to get a bit of an idea on exactly who reads the Dad Gone Wild Blog. I was very proud to discover that 42% of respondents were teachers, with an additional 19% being administrators. An additional 19% self identified as parents. These numbers line up with my goal to create a forum were parents and educators can exchange ideas. Parents need a place to go where they can get a better understanding of the success and challenges of our schools. Having such a large number of professional educators help ensure that the information I try to share has a high level of authenticity. I always say, when I get it right, it’s not because I’m so smart but rather because I talk to a lot of smart and experienced people.

Question two concerned the performance satisfaction level readers held for the newly arrived central office folks. I would say this one was a bit concerning, as over 80% of respondents answered “color me unimpressed”. Dr. Shawn Joseph managed to garner only 14% of the vote with a few votes scattered over the other new arrivals. Good news is that everyone managed to garner at least one vote. I would say those results indicate that the new administration might want to devote a little priority to increasing buy in. The new proposed budget does include 3% raises and step increases, but is more money enough to change perception alone?

Question three asked for an opinion on school board member Will Pinkston’s social media actions. Pinkston is a tireless public education advocate who cut his political teeth under former Governor Bredesen. His online behavior has long been heavily scrutinized as Pinkston often brutishly attacks his perceived enemies. While his efforts have proven successful in helping to stem the proliferation of charter school growth, it seems that in this Trumpian age people have grown less tolerant of elected officials attacking their opponents via social media. 80% of respondents reacted negatively to his online attacks, while only 10% defended his online activity.

After last summer’s election, Pinkston was visibly shaken by the intensity and the closeness of the election. A election he won by only 37 votes. At the time I encouraged him to shake it off and just be his self. At the time I don’t think I realized what that exactly that meant nor did I anticipate the shifting cultural sands. I now believe that in a time when we have a president that tweets with impunity, we all need to pick our game up a bit. We also need to recognize that our political enemies are not the only ones that are watching our social media battles. Sometimes it’s the ones that we are fighting for that are watching our actions and using them as a model of interaction. We all need to do better.

Speaking of doing better, we need you all for a civic activity. Please join us for a day on the hill THIS TUESDAY, March 21, to fight against the harmful voucher efforts that are attacking our public schools. Today is your day to look lawmakers in the eye and let them know parents do not want school vouchers in the State of Tennessee.

Arrive by 7:30 am at the Tennessee Education Association Building on 2nd Ave. and get a free breakfast, free parking and a shuttle ride to the Capitol.

Can’t make the breakfast? Arrive Tuesday, March 21st BEFORE 9 am. The House Education Administration and Planning will hear HB0126 voucher bill. It is first up on the agenda in Legislative Plaza room 29. And they may try to push it through quickly. If you can please make it.

Meanwhile, make sure and read Mary Holden’s excellent piece on vouchers. It’ll let you know what to expect.

https://maryjholden.wordpress.com/2017/03/14/my-day-on-the-hill/

I hope everybody has a great week. Look this week for an interview with Community Achieves Program Coordinator Alison McArthur. We’ll be talking community schools. Episode 5 of the podcast will be available mid-week. If anybody has any proposed questions for our weekly poll, feel free to send them to norinrad10@yahoo.com.  Hope everybody has a great week and thank you for your support.

 

DAD GONE WILD POLL FOR ST. PADDY’S WEEKEND.

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Hope everybody is having a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day. It is a Friday, and that means I’m back with three more questions. The first one is for everybody. The second two are mostly for Nashville residents. First of all, I’m trying to get a better idea of who the typical Dad Gone Wild reader is, so I though I’d ask. Secondly, MNPS has a whole new leadership team this year, and by now most of us should have formed an opinion. Please share it. Lastly, this past Thursday night, Twitter followers saw a Nashville School Board member engage in an all-too-frequent attack on people with whom he holds grudges. I’m curious about how people feel about that. As always, your comments are welcome and anonymous. I appreciate you sharing them. On Monday, I’ll give you a little wrap up of what we’ve discovered. Thanks again for all your support.

NASHVILLE SCHOOL’S PROJECT FAIR

In education circles we spend so much time talking about what we are against. Today, I’d like to show you what I’m for. The last couple of days Metro Nashville School’s showed off the results of their work through Project Based Learning(PBL) this year.

If you don’t know, and a lot of people don’t, PBL is a learning strategy that allows students of all ages to utilize the skills they acquire in class to plan and execute a project of their choice. A sampling of projects this year include gender equality, trash disposal, why people move from place to place, and many other themes.

Students choose the project, research, plan the presentation, and then present. PBL gives students the opportunity to pursue areas of interest that might not be covered in regular classes and then explore the subject in depth through skills that they’ve acquired in their regular classes. It’s incredible to see the fruits of the student’s labor. The project fair truly demonstrates the power of education and the positive things going on in our public schools.

I could write all day about PBL but in this case pictures really do tell the whole story.So enjoy and spread the word!

Quick update, Tusculum Elementary School took the silver!

 

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QUICK THOUGHTS ON WEEKEND POLL

Just wanted to drop a few quick thoughts on this week’s poll. These are my observations and probably debatable, but it’s my blog so I get to make them. Feel free to add your own in the comments section.

  • The school board member you trust the most question garnered the most attention with 288 responses. Amy Frogge and Mary Pierce finished in a virtual tie, seperated by only 2 votes and securing 28% of the vote each. Not surprising since both are considered the leaders of their de facto camps. Nice to see that we have readership representing both camps. Coming in just under those two was “none of the above” with 16% of the vote. That might bear watching. Christiane Buggs still enjoys robust support as she came in with 11% of the vote. Everything else shook out to about what you would expect.
  • On the question of the amount of energy the board focuses on charter schools, there were 258 responses with a whopping 69% coming in with the opinion that the board over focuses on charter schools. We do have an “other” optition where respondents can enter personalized answers. That’s where my faorite comment comes from, “Needs to chill the fuck out and realize there are other issues.” That kind of sums it up. 17% of respondents felt the board was giving the right amount of attention to charter schools.
  • The last question was about reasons for leaving the district. This one was a bit of an eye opener for me. Out of 208 respondents, 42% cited safety as the number one issue. Followed by 29% who cited lack of academic rigor.  Primary among the responses under “other ” was a lack of stability, with several expressing that concern in various ways. In discussing why people leave public schools here in Nashville I don’t think we focus nearly as much on safety as we do the other issue. It’ll be interesting to watch how this plays out with the districts ongoing Restorative Justice initiative. I look forward to that conversation.

That’s the reflections on this weeks poll. We’ll have a whole another set come Friday. So be safe out there and make sure you keep checking in with Dad Gone Wild.