Welcome back to school and hopefully everyone had a wonderful holiday. Personally, I’m a little melancholy today as over the holidays, I received news that one of my favorite high school teachers, Mr. Demarest, passed away. He was a good, hard working, deeply caring, self sacrificing individual who had a profound impact on my life.
Back when I went to school, Pocono Mountain High School didn’t have a soccer program. Mr. Demarest was instrumental in establishing the sport as a varsity offering. I’m proud to have played on the school’s very first varsity team, though we were a pitiful bunch. He wasn’t the head coach, but as the assistant coach, he did as much as anybody to impact the growth of the sport at Pocono Mountain High School. The head coach had a fiery temper, but Mr. Demarest was alway cool and collected with a dry wit. He maintained a similar disposition in the classroom. Godspeed and thank you, sir.
Today’s offering is going to be like Thanksgiving leftovers. A little of this and a little of that mixed together and thrown in the microwave. Just because it was the holidays doesn’t mean it was quiet.
Over the holidays, Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced that for the third time she would be convening a testing task force to evaluate and make recommendations on Tennessee’s testing policies. It seems that task forces are the go-to method of crisis management these days. Something failed? Are people calling for your head? Convene a task force. It’s the perfect vehicle to appear as if you are taking decisive and measured action while actually doing nothing.
Perhaps this new task force will discuss the public relations plan where parents were encouraged to take their TNReady results with them to parent/teacher conferences. Only problem with that is that it’s nearly December, and parents still don’t have those results. Perhaps they’ll be here in time for parents to take those results with them to holiday parties. I think they would make great starters for the yule time log.
Meanwhile, over here in parent and educator land, we’ve already convened a de facto task force – since none of us will be asked to participate in an official capacity – and we have some recommendations. And no, I’m not referring to the secret plan. Though I’m not dismissing those suggestions outright either. Parents and educators, for the most part, would like to see testing untied from accountability for at least three years, though preferably permanently, so the state can actually create some untainted, meaningful data that can be released in a timely fashion.
If McQueen would let parents and educators run the task force meeting, we could knock it out in an hour, take some great press photos, and then head on over to the Gerst House for lunch. If you needed us to, I think we could even put on our deep thinking faces for the photos. Instead, I’m sure we’ll get another postulating press release filled with more back slapping and promises of future success, reminding us that 4 years ago we were the fastest rising state in the country. Oh… you thought that fastest rising state in the country meme was new. Nah… that was from 2013, and we’ve been riding it since despite newer results being not quite as laudatory.
Keep your eyes peeled during the upcoming Tennessee State Governor race for the educational advocacy group Tennesseans For Student Success. They are vowing to be very active in the upcoming election. They recently released their Legislator Scorecard. I could do an in-depth analysis of the scorecard, or I could just tell you that they gave Jim Tracy, Brian Kelsey, and Glen Casada an “A,” Fitzhugh a “C,” and Stewart a “D.” That should about tell you everything you need to know about this group.
I came across this interesting bit of reading this past weekend. The name of the article is The HR joke is on us and it was printed in the News-Gazette. In it, the author references a recent court case involving a long time MNPS employee named Vicky Crawford. Her boss, Gene Hughes, was accused of sexual harassment. Crawford never filed a complaint, but when the district conducted an investigation, she verified the accusations along with two other women. The district fired all 3 women. Vicky Crawford got paid.
For over a year now, I’ve been pointing out how similar Dr. Joseph’s reign is to that of former director of schools Pedro Garcia. A year ago I wrote a piece comparing the two, and this weekend I re-read that piece, You Can’t Bottle up the Truth. I have to say I think what I wrote almost a year ago continues to be borne out, and I urge all of you to re-read it. And since you new folks to the district don’t really read history, I’d study that Crawford case a little bit before you go too far down the road in regards to these latest allegations.
Does anyone know what’s going on with MNPS’s current director of STEAM? He’s been out on administrative leave for over a month now with no commentary from the district or resolution of issues. Seeing as the district is involved in a STEAM initiative this year, we probably ought to get that resolved. Hard to be the fastest improving when you don’t have all of your players.
Tuesday is an MNPS School Board meeting. The second day after a major holiday is always a good time to reward consultants by putting things on the consent agenda. Everybody is tired after a long weekend, and therefore the agenda doesn’t usually garner a lot of scrutiny. Imagine my shock when I looked and saw three new items relating to The University of Pittsburgh (dba as the Institute For Learning, or IFL) on the agenda totaling… wait for it… $1,110,457.
In case you are not familiar with IFL, they are the folks behind the units attached to this year’s disastrous literacy scope and sequence. They are behind the units designed for math as well. The University of Pittsburgh, coincidently enough, is where Dr. Sito Narcisse, the district’s number 2 man, earned his doctorate. There is also some money on the consent agenda for The New Teacher Project (TNTP). Which should give all of you heading out on Thursday to protest Betsy DeVos something to talk about.
Speaking of Dr. Narcisse, has anybody seen his wife, Executive Director of Equity and Diversity Dr. Gonzalez, this year? Just asking. Maybe she’s been out helping Community Outreach Specialist Allison Buzard with the ongoing Parent Leadership Institute.
There is an exciting event taking place this Wednesday at Croft Middle Design Center. What the difference between a Middle Design Center, a Middle Prep, and a Middle School is I don’t know, but Croft Middle Design Center will introduce a virtual learning initiative that expands its 15-year partnership with Nashville Zoo and introduces educational partnerships with T-Mobile, Vanderbilt University’s Department of Teaching and Learning and the Center for Science Outreach, Dell Computers, and Discovery Education.
That’s the verbiage coming from the official release, and what it’s basically saying is that on Wednesday, Croft will be unveiling some cool stuff. Something they do on a fairly regular basis because they are a damn good school under any moniker. The event is at 10AM, and I’ll be there, so if you get a chance, say “hey.”
There are 49 Teams in Division 6 TN HS Football. The Cane Ridge Ravens are one of two playing for the State Championship! Congratulations Ravens! Congratulations also to Pearl Cohn who are playing for the Division 2 Championship.
The Adventure Science Center is currently accepting applications for its Youth CR3W program, a volunteer youth engagement program for 9th-12th graders who are interested in gaining real world working experience in a science or museum setting. Apply: http://www.adventuresci.org/youthcr3w
|That Ron Woodard’s cover-up/victim blaming exposed||1|
|Project LIT successes||1|
|Children are learning.||1|
|MNPS teachers: dedicated & resilient.||1|
|Project Lit- hands down!||1|
|Narcisse & Felder gotta go||1|
|The coffee shop in the wellness center. Must be nice to work in Berry Hill.||1|
|None…results are horrible in schools||1|
|the sheer determination of teachers where I teach, regardless of the chaos||1|
|Community Achieves and Pearl HS winning national awards of excellence||1|
|Lead results ignored||1|
|Dr Felder resigning…oh wait, nvm|
|splitting classes due to no subs!!!!||1|
|Don’t talk to me about harassment until someone does something about Pinkston.||1|
|1, 5, 6, 7||1|
|Several of these: violence, capital improvements, raises, also family leave for||1|
|All above except getting out of Joseph’s way…||1|
|Wrong people leading & wrong people hiring them!!||1|
|weak school and community discipline = crime||1|
|Student behavior, teacher concerns, curriculum needs, parents need to know||1|
|Clear out the school board & central office. Overpaid & underqualified.||1|
|We need money! Salaries AND capital improvements||1|
|You’re not the chairman of the FCC, so stop ignoring the people.|