It was the week before vacation and all through the house people were scrambling to make arrangements for the morning departure. That’s right the Dad Gone Wild crew is hitting the highway and heading north to visit family in Pennsylvania. It’ll be good for all of us to get away. However, I couldn’t leave without recapping this past weekend’s poll and setting the table for the week. Today’s writing music is the final recording by the man himself – Chuck Berry.
Let’s start off with a couple things I got wrong last time out. You might remember that I made a comment about the new LTDS – literacy teacher development specialist – training going well? Yea, not so much. Apparently the first day of training for the elementary LTDS got off to a good start but by Friday things had gone completely south. Word I get is that leadership continues to contract consultants that insist on repeating work that has already been done in the district. One LTDS finally got frustrated and stood up and asked for the who, what, why, and when from the consulting group. We are getting ready for year two and it appears we’ve learned little from year one.
I also got the acronym wrong for the position that the Executive Principal position has evolved into. The proper title is Executive Director of School Support and Improvement – EDSSI. This coming week is going to be very exciting for them and the district. On Monday they’ll find out who has what cluster and which schools and they’ll begin 3 days of intensive training in preparation for the new responsibilities. Going to be a lot of work, but hopefully will pay huge dividends.
Monday or Tuesday will find us saying good bye to another central office fixture. Since we won’t be here to say farewell, we’ll be camping in Blacksburg, DGW would like to say so long and thanks for the fish. Hopefully others will just say thank you and good luck, and leave their personal agenda on the shelf for the day.
Strains of the Clash continue to play throughout central office.
Word also has it that Moses will be coming down from the mount with an addition for the tablets. Look for a new homework policy to be in place when school starts back up. From what I’m told homework will now be a requirement. Kids should expect 10 minutes a night for every grade level they’ve attained – 3rd graders 30 minutes, 6th graders 60 minutes, etc. Homework must be “meaningful” and there will be a spot on the report card where students will recieve a rating on whether or not they are meeting expectations. Who wants to bet on this getting walked back by October?
Anybody miss Jill Peeples yet?
There is a school board meeting this week. This is the one with no public comment so I assume getting a quorum won’t be a problem. Perusing the agenda and I see Mary Pierce will be once again attempting to introduce her resolution – Committing to Advocacy and Respect for the Entire Organization of MNPS and all of its Students and Families. It should spark an interesting conversation but its passing should be a no brainer. However, that’s not a guarantee by any stretch of the imagination.
Can I miss you if I never knew you were here?
I continue to keep an eye on Prince George County Schools and things there are not getting any prettier. Over the weekend the Governor of Maryland called for a state investigation into alleged improprieties at PGCS. I don’t know if the allegations are true or not, but I do know that stories continue to paint a picture of a toxic culture. The Prince George County way is clearly different then the Nashville way. Let’s make sure that is always true.
Let’s take a look at our poll questions. It never ceases to amaze me what get reactions and what doesn’t. I figured y’all would love talking about summer camps. Not so much. I figured I’d get about 10 responses to this week’s questions, yet I received over 70 responses. I know 70 doesn’t sound like a high number, but remember, total attendance for all four events was probably about 350. So I’m pretty tickled by the number I got. Though nobody should be tickled by the story they tell.
We’ll start with question number 1, which asked, “How did you hear about the MNPS Next meetings?” The hands down number one answer was via email. The next most popular answer was robocall. It’s good to know that those calls produced some results. Here’s the write-in answers.
|From just about all of these.||1|
|Twitter post from board mtg||1|
|MNPS email notice||1|
|Family Involvement Specialist (Gracie)||1|
|Email from MNPS||1|
|Multiple outlets-email, social media||1|
|Mnps Twitter and Facebook||1|
|Facebook, both MNPS and my school’s pages|
Question 2 is where the wheels begin to fall off. The question asked people to give their impression of the poll that was connected to the meetings. Forty-four percent of respondents answered that they felt like it led them towards preconcieved conclusions. Another fourteen percent found the questions very confusing. I have to agree with both the top answers. I’ll go a step further, I found the poll to be worthless.
There was nothing to prevent me from going to all four meetings, taking the poll, and then going on-line and taking it again. There was nothing that connected the answers to either me, a particular school, or even a cluster. There were questions asking for an evaluation of a zoned school and a choice school, but Croft is an example of both. Often times there were answers to questions that seemed to contradict each other when results should be similar and vice versa. In other words, the poll produced a big bag of data out of which one could construct just about any narrative they desired. Only two respondents found it well constructed. Hence, my calling it useless. Here’s the write-in answers.
|Some questions were fairly written, some were poorly done.||1|
|Why poll? They still do what they want||1|
|Too many questions||1|
|I thought it was adequately prepared but I think the process is meaningless.||1|
|Knew but didn’t take it|
Here’s where things got real interesting. Forty-three percent less people answered the question about the small group discussions than answered the question about the poll. The small groups discussion followed the portion of the program dedicated to the poll. Those numbers would concern me a little bit. It would appear that a lot of people left before taking part in the small group discussion or took the poll on-line and never even went to the meetings. I wouldn’t call either scenario desirous. One solution might be to flip flop the two agenda items. Here’s the write-in votes.
|They continue to do shady things behind the scenes||1|
|I missed the meeting and did the poll online||1|
|Unable to attend so far||1|
|Haven’t been yet; going tomorrow.||1|
|I had to leave before the discussions|
Before I head to bed and then head out on the road, I want to leave you with this advice.
Parents and community members, buckle up. If you don’t own a seat belt, go buy one. The next couple years are going to require some patience. The MNPS Next meetings, while nothing was spelled out, gave me the feeling that big changes are on the horizon. Landscape altering changes are coming and it’s important that you do your part and support the ideas when they seem good and be ready to push back on the bad ones. I think most of the changes will be for the betterment of the district but remember, recognizing good policy is only half the battle. Recognition must be coupled with execution. Knowing good policy is only good if you have the ability to implement it and that’s where the jury is still out in regards to Dr. Joseph’s team.
My advice for Dr. Joseph’s team is the same as it has been all year. You have to earn some trust. Let me say it again, you have to earn some trust. Do not fool yourself into thinking you have any now. You do not. Look for some small victories and celebrate them. Hold meetings with teachers and then actually fix the problems they tell you about. Show that it’s causation and not correlation between calling a problem to your attention and the problem getting fixed. Because if you try to undertake the things I suspect you are are aiming to try and undertake and you still don’t have trust, it is going to get painful. You have a lot of good, talented, hard working people out here willing to help you if you would just take the time to validate them and earn their trust.
That’s it. I’ll be monitoring from afar this week but will be back soon.