One of the most frequently asked questions as of late is, “When is the school board going to evaluate the director of schools?” I now finally have an answer. This week, the board completed their assignment, and the results are in.
Upon hearing that all evaluations were completed, I filed an open records request. Here are the evaluations for your evaluation.
I reviewed these evaluations yesterday and weighed my opinion. In the end, I decided that my opinion was no more important than anyone else’s, therefore I would just share the evaluations with minimal commentary in order to allow you to form your own opinions unencumbered. Hopefully, some of you will choose to share your observations with me.
That said, there are a few things that I would be remiss if I didn’t point out.
Many of you have already read board member Jill Speering’s evaluation, as she’s posted it on her Facebook page. To say that Ms. Speering is critical would be an understatement. To say that she lacks supporting evidence to support that position would also be an understatement.
At a time when leaders repeatedly refuse to lead, Speering should be applauded for her courage and her diligence. It is never easy to be the one who speaks out and calls attention to problems. It’s even harder to dedicate the personal time and resources to do the work and document why you are being critical. Speering does both.
Agree or disagree with Speering’s position, you can’t refute that she has done her homework and presented her arguments in a clear, concise manner. As a reward for her efforts, others have attempted to ostracize her, marginalize her, and outright dismiss her. Through it all, Speering has kept her feet on the path and continued to move forward.
I always find it ironic that we loudly proclaim that we want children to be “critical thinkers,” yet we castigate adults who actually display those traits. Doing the research, evaluating the research, forming an opinion based upon conducted research, and then defending that opinion is not always a pleasant task. In fact, as the kids say, often it sucks. Many leaders try to stick their toe in the water and then succumb to the pressure and back out of the pool. It’s nice to see one walk the talk.
Secondly, there seems to be an entrenched narrative that when Dr. Joseph took over, MNPS was in a state of utter disrepair. Much like Trump declaring that he had to save America, there is an attempt to paint Dr. Joseph as a savior striding into the wasteland to save the natives from themselves. That story is not rooted in reality, and is perpetrated by those who are attempting to drive an agenda or are ignorant of history.
In 2009, when Dr. Register arrived in MNPS, the district was under corrective action and on the cusp of being taken over by the state. Register’s arrival coincided with a time where the district had failed to meet state achievement goals 5 years running and a 6th failure could lead to the school board being disbanded and the state completely taking over the district. In short, the “old white dude” from Chattanooga had his work cut out for him.
In contrast, Joseph arrived at a time when the district was no longer in corrective action. The Academies had been established at our high schools and were receiving national recognition. MNPS’s EL department had begun consistently meeting state established goals. Enrollment in MNPS was growing and schools had begun making academic gains. Board member Will Pinkston himself even recognized that Register had made some positive gains:
“If you’re flying an airplane and you start spinning out of control, the first thing that they teach you is to get the wings level so you can keep flying,” says Will Pinkston, a school board member. “No one argues that Register got the wings level, and that’s a monumental feat.”
Now that doesn’t mean that the world was perfectly rosy under Register. There were definite improvements needed, and upon arrival, Joseph has faced some daunting challenges. Interestingly enough, upon arrival Joseph listed one of those challenges as follows: “When I walked in, I saw 22 principal vacancies; I think we had 10 or 15 central office vacancies.”
This year has seen 27 principal vacancies filled and at least 15 central office positions filled. It should be noted that most of those vacancies upon Joseph’s arrival were due to the board chair ordering a pause in hiring, in order that the new director could choose some of his own candidates. District leaders were on a pace at the time to have all positions filled by Memorial Day.
Three years after his departure, I’m not sure how relevant it is to continue to make comparisons with Dr. Register. Continually bashing Register is like blasting a man who just emerged from a hole for not building a house. Sometimes you need an excavator and sometimes you need a contractor. Both are difficult jobs and both have their unique challenges.
I encourage you to read the director evaluations and form your own opinions. Keep in mind after reading them that this year, the even-numbered seats on the school board are up for election. Early voting starts this Friday and election day is August 2nd. There is no better way to voice your evaluation than through the voting process.
WHAT’S GOOD FOR THE GOOSE…
On Friday, I told you about the SEL training that was canceled due to a lack of funding. A move that many found troubling, as it’s hard to grasp why the district would have financial shortfalls one week into the new fiscal year.
In a true Marie Antoinette moment, district leaders headed off this week to Harvard to discuss the very subject that Nashville teachers were poised to receive training on. Reportedly at a cost of $30K for a team of 8 to participate in a week of training. Our team of 8 consisted of Dr. Joseph, Tony Majors, Shree Walker, Robin Wall (McGavock), Watrecia Lawless (Napier), Pippa Merriwether, Judge Calloway, and Melissa Jaggers (Alignment Nashville). It should be noted that Calloway and Jaggers paid their own airfare.
Sometimes in writing this blog, I’m put in a position where I have to criticize people I truly respect. This is one of those cases.
SEL implementation falls under the Department of Student Services, which is headed up by Tony Majors. It’s bad enough for district leadership to participate in this trip after failing teachers, but it is particularly galling for Majors to be a participant. SEL training should be a priority and as such, to not recognize that training for MNPS teachers was not adequately funded in a timely manner is a major fail on many different levels. One that shouldn’t earn a trip to Harvard. Think about the difference in perception if Majors had owned the failing and recused himself from the trip as a result. That’s called modeling and it’s a form of instruction that is continually lacking from a district that continually touts the importance of SEL while not backing up those words through its actions.
The funding of teacher training stipends was an issue that arose last year and therefore should have been on people’s radars; that it wasn’t is inexcusable. I write this down as another example of the price we are paying for having a culture where leadership is not held accountable, and personal gain is placed as a priority. It is hard to get children to buy in to SEL principles when adults refuse to adopt them themselves. I continue to be a big fan of Majors and I’m sure I’ve irritated him with this assessment. But the truth is, on this one he struck out, and one never wants to get a reputation of giving a pass to those you favor.
Putting out a statement that training was canceled due to budget constraints is going to have implications throughout the year. Whenever a resource is not made available for any initiative, the perception will be that it is because the district is broke. During my years in the restaurant business, it was always drilled into me to never let people think you are financially struggling or else they will go somewhere different. I can’t help but think the same holds true with a school district. Let’s cross our fingers that this doesn’t hold true.
I have been meaning to mention this one for a while. It appears that buses for field trips are going up in cost this year – from $120 to $175 for three hours (overtime cost is also going up per hour). This will impact equity. Economically disadvantaged kids need the rich experiences of field trips they may not otherwise have, yet they’ll have to stretch the most to absorb the additional cost. Title I schools can almost always find reduced admission or grants to cover admission cost for field trips, but the buses (and paying for them) are kind of a separate piece, harder to get donations to cover. I hate to think about all the teams now having to decide what field trips to cut from their kids because of this hike. (Teachers will probably just dig deeper into their own pockets to make up the difference.)
The increase is without a doubt reasonable, as rates have probably been static for at least a decade, but I wish that we would put more thought into the impact on ED kids when making these moves. Once again, we talk about equity while our actions say otherwise.
Speaking of experiences, long time readers know how important I think recess and play is. And when I say recess, I mean unstructured play. I’ve posted in the past how recess increases learning and decreases discipline issues. Despite mounds of evidence touting its benefits, play has to continually fight for space in the school day. Peter Greene writes an excellent piece on why we have to fight even harder to preserve its importance. As he states, “There’s a certain kind of adult in the world, a kind of adult who looks at a bunch of children running around a yard laughing and playing and thinks, ‘Man, somebody needs to get those kids organized.'” Don’t be that adult.
Man, the rumors about the motivation for the departure of recent Maryland transfers are swirling like sands through the hourglass.
At today’s principal meeting, number 2 guy Sito Narcisse purportedly announced that the budget freeze for schools has been lifted. Though he won’t be putting that in an email. Plausible deniability?
Lisa Coons has become the new EDSSI in charge of priority schools. Coons has been doing a lot of the work already so this should be a seamless transfer, and actually an upgrade at the position.
Congratulations are in order! Dr. Braina Corke, assistant director of Metro Schools’ Nutrition Services, was recently awarded the President’s Award of Achievement at the National School Nutrition Conference. Dr. Corke currently serves as the president of Tennessee’s School Nutrition Association.
Let’s take a quick look at last week’s poll results.
The first question asked for your opinion on growth mindset theory. This one received quite a few comments emailed to me. Those comments fell on both sides of the discussion. Everybody does agree, though, that it is important to try to be as positive as possible.
I did receive some comments about the value of students who work hard versus those with a general aptitude who refuse to work hard. It’s always been my experience that if you have an inbred disposition towards something, you will naturally work harder at it. Those who practice guitar the most diligently tend to be those who have some innate talent. That makes it hard to separate where innate talent ends and hard work begins.
Furthermore, when we say kids aren’t working hard at something or applying themselves, often that relates to what adults want them to work hard on or apply themselves to as opposed to actually depicting their work effort. At some point I’ll try to explore how much of measuring learning is really about measuring compliance. That should heat things up.
The number one answer to the first question, 36%, was ‘I take some, I leave some.” The answer “A bunch of bunk” came in second with 29% of the vote. Here are the write-in votes:
|Not surprised something new is on the horizon without research to back it.||1|
|Sounds bogus, but somebody is going to make a bundle of money off of this.||1|
|It’s good to try your best and then try again but no student is ever the same||1|
|It does help show that there is room for growth. It encourages effort. What’s wr||1|
|I’m on board with it for the purposes MNPS is using it for. Not for extreme case||1|
|Dweck’s work was never meant as an intervention||1|
|agree with your take on it||1|
|Another case of academics who haven’t been in a school for a minute||1|
|A fad that isn’t even implemented well…|
Question two asked which of Dr. Joseph’s recently departed hires you’ll miss the most. This one was won by the write-ins with 47 responses. Number two was “my favorite is still in the wings” with 36 votes. Mo Carrasco came in third with 8. Here are those write-ins, though I must admit that I’m confused by the inclusion of Hank Clay:
|None of the above||5|
|Who are these people?||1|
|Joseph is still here…||1|
|None of them! I hope the rest leave SOON!!||1|
|All were awful||1|
|Good riddance to bad rubbish||1|
|I’m supposed to miss them?||1|
|won’t miss any of them and wish more would leave||1|
|Maybe they should all go?||1|
|You are using sarcasm, right?||1|
|I won’t miss any of them.||1|
|LOL please leave Sito||1|
|I’ll be happy when we see tail lights of the entire entourage.||1|
|None.. will be glad when he, Felder, & Narcisse leave||1|
|LOL fire them all||1|
|I wish more would go||1|
|None of these.||1|
|Sito needs to leave! He does nothing!||1|
|Don’t let the door hit you where the good Lord split you.||1|
|None! Can more leave?||1|
|These folks sit in the ivory tower. I never interact with them in my school.||1|
|How long until Michelle Michaud is gone?||1|
|Can Sito please leave already….||1|
|Who are these people? Temps?||1|
|Nobody! None of them helped me or the kids I teach, but they made some money.||1|
|Peace out to them all.||1|
|Won’t miss any of these||1|
|How can we miss them when they didn’t do anything?||1|
|None of them||1|
|The ones yet to hit the exit door||1|
|none of the above?||1|
|None of them! He should go too!||1|
|Waiting for Joseph’s departure. What a mess.||1|
|At the end of the day, what did they contribute?||1|
The last question asked for who you thought was going to win the school board race for District 6. I must admit that I’m surprised that Tyese Hunter comes out on top with 42% of the vote. Knowing the number of readers I have in the Antioch area, I would give some weight to those numbers. Fran Bush comes in number 2, trailed by Aaron McGee. What I suspect is happening is that McGee and Bush are splitting the vote and allowing Hunter to potentially win re-election. There is a candidate forum scheduled or this Saturday.
Here are the write-ins:
|Someone who will speak TRUTH on Dr. J||1|
|Anyone but Hunter please!!!||1|
|Who I want to win and who I think will aren’t the same.||1|
|Does Joseph have a favorite||1|
|I will attend the forum with an open mind||1|
|Hopefully not Tyese||1|
|hopefully someone other than Hunter|
And that’s a wrap. Hope y’all have an awesome week. If you need to contact me, you can do so at Norinrad10@yahoo.com. Feedback is always welcome and I will try to promote as many of the events that you send me as possible, but I do apologize in advance if I fall short and don’t get them all out there.
I have started using Patreon as a funding source. If you think what I do has monetary value, you can go there and make a donation/pledge.Just because Andy Spears is also on Patreon doesn’t mean you can’t support us both. Trust me, I know I ain’t going to get rich, but at the end of the day I’m just a Dad trying to get by. Check out the Dad Gone Wild Facebook page as well. And if you are so inclined, check out my new campaign web page and sign up to help if you can. Early voting starts in just a couple of weeks.