FIRST POLL IN MAY RESULTS

Happy Monday morning! Only 2 more left in Nashville until the end of school. That means I’m soon to have a 2nd and a 3rd grader in the house. Who’d a ever thunk?

There was a lot of input in this weekends poll and as always, some very interesting results. I’ve never been able to predict what will hit a nerve with people and this weekend was certainly no exception. That said, let’s review the outcomes.

We’ll start off with the question that referenced teacher raises. As mentioned previously, Mayor Barry did not approve the entire proposed budget of Director of Schools Dr. Joseph. She approved $36 out of $59 million in additional funding with the caveat that it be dedicated to staff raises, English Language Learners, Literacy, and Social Emotional Learning. Dr. Joseph decided that despite her wishes, he was going to re-submit a budget that kept many of his personal initiatives and reduced the proposed teacher salary increases to 2%. In doing so, he attempted to throw a little shade at the mayor. I was curious as to who y’all blamed.

Overwelmingly you placed the blame at the feet of the one who proposed the cut, Dr. Joseph. By a margin of over three to one you said that Dr. Joseph should bear the brunt of the blame instead of the  mayor. What did surprise me is who you said deserved secondary blame. It wasn’t the Mayor, but rather the school board since they are the ones who approve the budget.

These results fuel my sense of confusion about the strategy that Dr. Joseph is employing here. In several pieces of communication he has squarely taken shots at the mayor for not fully funding his proposed budget. In a piece he sent out to teachers, sent to me by a third party, he wrote that we would be, “aligning our salary increase with that of Mayor Barry’s – and reducing our salary increase from 3% to 2% with a step increase for those who qualify.” The problem with that is, that while MNPS gets the bulk of their funding from Metro, MNPS employees are not Metro employees. Therfore there is no real need for cordination between entities.

I just don’t see where bringing Mayor Barry into the fray is going to end well for anybody. I’ll go on record as saying that if I was a betting person, I’d bet on Megan being here a lot longer then Dr. Joseph. Sorry Dr. J but I’ve watched her work for a number of years and she ain’t no light weight. So even if she did dictate aligning the two entities, I’d play the long game and sell the proposal without evoking her name. Nothing is to be gained by making her the straw man.

Now I do understand that Dr. Joseph feels the need to jump start his incentives. The problem with his incentives is that they all require outside consultants to implement. Whether it’s Scholastic for Literacy or TNTP for culture, every iniative comes with its own personal set of outside consultants. We’ve used so many consultants over the past year that you have to begin to wonder what promises have been made to these folks? Couple the consultants with the increased hiring at central office, and you have a lot of spending that, in my opinion, the mayor felt was not prudent. I’m inclined to agree with her. Dr. Joseph needs to stop playing games and just give the staff the 3%, a bare minimum, that they deserve and start implementing his iniatives sans consultants. If the people recently hired can’t do the work, perhaps we’ve hired the wrong people.

This question had a lot of  “other” answers as well. Here they are (warning: Not all answers are safe for work):

Dr. Joseph’s 3% was a slap in yhe face. I blame both him and Megan Barry. 1
No one in particular. It doesn’t surprise me. It’s par for the course. 1
All Above. 1
Barry and Joseph 1
Voters 1
The State of Tennessee BEP 1
State 1
poor school funding across TN 1
They’re all culpable 1
No one. It’s business. 1
Jesse Register 1
All the above 1
Fuck Dr Joseph & his squad 1
State Edu Dept and TN Legislators 1
A collective decision either through support and/or lack of opposition 1
The voters 1
Mayor and Dr J equally 1
All of the above. 1
All three! A budget of 59 mil was a stretch. 1
Both Joseph and the school board. Apparently they never disagree.

Question two asked for your opinion on the newly hired, or as MNPS likes to say, repurposed community superintendents. Based upon your responses, I would have to say that the district hasn’t done a very good job communicating what exactly a community superinndents role is, as 34% of respondents said they didn’t have enough information about the position to evaluate those selected. Of those who knew enough about the position to evaluate the selections, 23% were unimpressed. Out of 160 respondents, only 6 thought these were inspired choices. That’s a bit of a concern, wouldn’t you think?

It seems that the district seems to define communication as talking and then the process ending. Communicating is a process made up of sending and receiving components. If I’m sending a message and you are not recieving it, we are not communicating. That’s means you have to evaluate how you are sending the message to ensure that it’s in a format that I am fluent in recieving messages. Too often the message is sent in a format that is comfortable for the sender with little regard for the receiver. In order to effectively communicate you have to figure out how the reciever is most comfortable in recieving communications and then utilize that method and then evaluate whether it was effectively communicated or not. The format could be physical or electronic, direct or indirect, written or oral, but you have to figure out how your audience communicates and let that dictate the format. It’s communications 101 but is so often disregarded. Evidently that’s the case here.

Before I share the “other” answers, I want to address the issue of all those selected being employed by MNPS prior to Dr. Joseph’s arrival in Nashville. I understand that was a major qualification for the position and I consider it a grave mistake. There is no doubt that Dr. Joseph and the people he brought to Nashville have not been as respectful to our veteran educators as they deserve. Hopefully, they are adjusting their attitudes. At some point this “Nashville” against “Maryland” culture has to be addressed. When do you officially become recognized as a MNPS team member? Is it after one year? Five years? By selecting only people who were previously with MNPS as community superintendents an opportunity to erase that line has been missed.  It may happen when the new superintendents join the executive team, made up almost entirely of new hires, but I have my doubts.

Here’s the other replies:

As long as they actually spend time in the communities they represent 1
We need professionals respected and known by the teachers on the front lin es 1
I’m just glad they are from Nashville and not PGC 1
Here we go again. 1
how much $ is being used for Dr. J’s central office admin friends 1
I’m relieved that they were MNPS veterans with actual on the ground experience.

If we could get Will Pinkston to stop talking about charter schools and Jesse Register we could wipe out the top three answers, which accounted for 74% of responses, to the last question. Pinkston’s continued abhorant behavior is particularily troubling to me because of the role I played, regrettably, in getting him re-elected. I’m sure he’ll tell you my input was minimal, but I was extensively quoted in a Scene article on the school board race and wrote several pieces in defense of his behavior. Maybe it was enough to scare up 36 extra votes.

The point is, he’s doubled down on the boorish behavior, making it impossible to engage in any kind of healthy dialog about Nashville education policies. It seems that it’s all personal with Pinkston. He wasn’t anti-charter until he and Ravi Grupta had a falling out. He wasn’t anti-Achievement School District – hell he helped create it – till he had a falling out with Chris Barbic. The Nashville Chamber of Commerce was a contributer to his first campaign as was Holly McCall, but apparently there was a personal falling out with them as well because they too are subject to frequent social media attacks.

STEM Prep is apparently a “good” charter, despite their questionable ELL results, because he likes Kristin L. McGraner who is friends with Renato Soto of Conexion and he likes her as well, though Karl Dean sits on Conexion’s board of directors, so who knows who’ll be colateral damage in that vendetta. The personal attacks on Jesse Register are well documented and there is no need to explore that any further. Dr. Looney turned the job of director of Schools down and that became personal. State Democrat Party Chair Mary Mancini has also become fodder for his personal attacks as has Courtney Rogers who recently ran for the Democratic nomination for the House District 63 seat. It would take another page to list all the personal grudges Pinkston holds and that would probably just scratch the surface. All I can say is that, thank god there is, like, 86 people per day moving to Nashville.

Will is a smart man, brilliant is a term that gets tossed around too loosely, but he seems incapable of having a philosophical conversation without making it personal. This comes at a time when we have someone in the White House that is more than adequately modeling that style of behavior. If you abhore President Trump’s behavior but you excuse Pinkston’s behavior then you are being hypocritical. Where you stand on issues does not give you a right to personally attack people who disagree with you. It’s not a license to be an assclown. There is no difference between Trump refering to Senator Warren as “Pocahantas” and Pinkston refering to recent school board candidate Miranda Christy as “Morticia”.  One thing AA taught me was to focus more on the philosopies and less on the personalities. I’m far from perfect at that but, I do try. It’s past time for Will Pinkston to make that effort and to realize that the school board does not exist to serve as a pulpit for him to grind his personal axes.

Do I harbor any illusions that Pinkston will actually listen? No. Do I think he’ll read this? Maybe. Do I think it’ll have any effect? No. Because Will Pinkston only will listen’s to Will Pinkston. Unfortunately, that’s not good for anyone.

It should be noted that 9% percent of respondents answered that “The percieved short comings of Dr. Joseph” was the topic they were the most tired of discussing. Here are the “other” responses:

Constantly changing programs 1
Focus on real issues in schools like mnps mandated testing like FAST And MAP. 1
becoming the fastest improving district 1
Restorative justice 1
The emphasis on which schools are “best” based on student test scores 1
Test scores 1
Charter schools and test scores. 1
charter advocates calling everyone who disagrees with them racist 1
“Choice”

That does it for the recap. Hopefully next week-end I won’t be sleeping with the fishes and I’ll be back with some more questions. I’m still working on those other blog topics and I promise that someday soon I’ll get another podcast out. Till next time, keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.

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