Today starts the first week of MNPS Encore camp. Encore is the districts program for academically gifted children. The kid’s went last year and absolutely loved it. I must say I was very pleasantly surprised this morning when I dropped the kids off because this year’s families were looking a whole lot more diverse then in the past. The Encore program has been making a concentrated effort to get children from more diverse backgrounds involved. Hopefully today was an indication of success with that initiative.

I want to remind you that this saturday is the MNPS Fatherhood Festival. The festival, according to a district press release, welcomes MNPS fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers, mentors and other men to spend a day of family fun including games, activities, music and food at the event. It is from 10 – 2 on Saturday at the Watkins Park Community Center.

As we all know, MNPS loves a focus group and they love feigning listening. They’ll be doing the latter this summer, but I’m confident it’ll lead to the former. Four community meetings have been announced this summer to get your input on the following:

  • The grade structure of elementary and middle schools
  • The ways in which our school buildings support academic programs
  • Strategies for better distributing academic programs throughout our county
  • The availability of optional schools in the district
  • And more

The first meeting is June 15th at Creswell Middle Prep with 3 more to follow during the last two weeks of the month. There will be free food and child care, and attendees will have the chance to take home free books and passes to the Frist Center of the Visual Arts and the Country Music Hall of Fame. I encourage you to go if possible.


Now that we have the announcements out of the way, let’s get to poll results. Our first question inquired about the purpose of public education. The potential answers were written by people who worked in public education throughout the state. It’s my personal belief that we’ve never spent enough time defining the purpose of public education and that lack of discussion has contributed to us not having a congruent education policy. If I asked you to create a design for, say a car, would you start designing the car before you quized me on exactly what it’s pupose would be? I didn’t think so, yet we do it all the time in designing education policy.

When tallying up the results, the number one answer, with 28% of the responses was “To expose all children to basic concepts and big ideas, to enlighten them on our shared human history and culture, to build character, teach critical thinking, so they grow into adults who can improve our world.” It was supplied by Anna Thorenson. Anna is the former head of the Eakin PTO and a tireless advocate for children with Dyslexia. The number 2 answer, with 22%, was “A foundation for life-long learning, building blocks for social interaction, and fundamentals for life.”  It was provided by former school board candidate Jane Grimes Meneely. Hopefully reading through potential answers made you stop and think about what you think is the purpose of public education.

Question 2 wanted to know your thoughts on vocational schools. 73% of you said that you support them and that we need more. It was in the “other” answers that qualms were brought up.

I believe in their value, but don’t have enough info to know if we need more. 1
I worry that they will become a way of segrating society 1
Traditional vocational schools tracked students. Academies are better. 1
We already serve our students by providing career and technical pathways within 1
Depending on how they are used–tracking ‘problem kids’ is no good

I’ll be honest, I never considered the practice of tracking when thinking about vocational schools. In case you didn’t know as well, according to Wikipedia, Tracking is separating pupils by academic ability into groups for all subjects[1] or certain classes and curriculum[2] within a school.[1][2] It may be referred to as streaming or phasing in certain schools. It is a very prevelant practice, unfortunately, when it comes to vocational tech programs. While it’s certainly something we need to be cognizant of, I certainly believe there can be a great deal of good in vocational tech programs and offerings should be expanded.

The last question asked what part of Nashville readers were from. I wasn’t surprised to find that the majority of readers come from the west and south sides. I was very happy though to see East and North also represented as well as out of towners. The more people you talk to, the more dimensions you get to your conversations. Hopefully I will continue to develop readers from all over. There were a few write-in answers on this one as well.

downtown, baby! 1
Live outside the city 1
All over. I rep Nashville to the fullest. ????

That’s it for this weeks results. Look for a piece on Charter Schools coming in the next day or so. The Wendy Tucker interview is still being edited. I’m also keeping an eye on what appears to me to be a lot teacher movement this summer. Several schools are losing over a third of their staff. That should be concerning to people. I’ll let you know what I discover. Thanks for all your support.

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