I know candidates from the last two school board races are going to scoff at me when I say this aloud, but it’s two days into early voting and I’m already worn out. I know that this year’s race pales in comparison to previous races in both scope and commitment, but still, running a campaign is hard work.
You may think that since you’ve helped out people in the past, you have an understanding of just how all-encompassing it is. I know I used to think that way, but trust me, it is so much more than you could ever imagine. Being a candidate has a way of overtaking everything in your life and pushing it to the background. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like in the past when the intensity started ratcheting up in early May. I don’t know that I could stand up to 3 months of what the last month has been like. So my hat is off to my predecessors.
I’ve come to realize how many really nice people there are out here. I’ve met some real decent people at doors and at polls. My favorite quote comes from a woman who, leaving the polls, stopped me and said, “I voted for you, though I don’t know anything about you. But you talked to me going in and standing in the hot sun has its rewards.”
I’ve also come to realize that we like to talk about fair elections and how everybody has a shot to win a position. That’s another nice myth, but the reality is that the game is rigged for those in the political class. Sure anybody can print fliers, place signs, and knock on doors. The reality is that all of those require a certain knowledge and understanding in order to execute them in an effective manner.
Access to donors is something that is contingent upon who in the political class you have relationships with. You quickly find out that people aren’t just standing out here handing out money.
Left to your own devices, the simple task creating of a flier, getting it printed at a reasonable cost, and effectively distributed, can eat up the majority of your campaign time. And you still have to create walk lists to effectively knock on doors, design mailers, and coordinate volunteers. It’s all very daunting.
I’m not saying any of this to complain – okay, maybe a little bit – but merely to point out that 8 of the 11 candidates seeking a seat on the school board are participating in their first campaign as a candidate. That’s a big deal, and I’d like to give a little shout out to my fellow rookies. I’d be willing to bet that few of us knew exactly what we were getting into.
NO, IT’S NOT SWEEPS WEEK
School starts in about three weeks and MNPS can’t stay off the news again. Last week, Board Vice Chair Jill Speering appeared in a story that Channel 4 News aired on MNPS Director of Schools Dr. Shawn Joseph’s evaluation by the MNPS school board. Speering and fellow board member Amy Frogge were quite critical of Joseph, and Speering was very frank in her responses to Channel 4’s questions.
While some may have taken exception to Speering’s remarks, I think it’s worth noting that for over a year she tried to deal with issues behind closed doors. Unfortunately, behind closed doors, answers to questions were not quite forthcoming or even adequate. There was little correlation between what she was hearing from teachers and what was being told to her by the administration. It would behoove us to remember that Speering taught for 35 years and she might know a thing or two about best practices.
Some have tried to mute her criticism by claiming that she only began speaking out after Joseph refused to fund Speering’s favored reading program, Reading Recovery. That argument falls apart, though, when you look at the timeline. Joseph, in fact, cut Reading Recovery in an apparent response to Speering’s increased criticism. Speering was critical well before RR was cut.
It’s also worth noting that virtually all school board candidates have been critical of Joseph to some degree. Is the expectation that whomever wins a seat on the board will become muzzled once they are on the board or will the board start to outwardly address the growing criticism by the public? Time will tell.
It looks like Phil Williams over at Channel 5 News has a new series of stories ready to drop come Monday. I must admit that I’m not sure exactly what he plans on covering, but if the promo is any indication, it’ll be on the rampant sexual misconduct occuring throughout the district. The stories that I have personally heard over the last two years are simply appalling, and the district’s response to some of these cases has been seriously lacking. Again, I don’t know what stories Williams is covering in this report, but you might want to tune in on Monday.
TNReady results came out this week. Their release was conveniently timed with Dr. Joseph’s vacation to Spain. After all the hoopla over MAP scores over the last several months, expectations were running high. Unfortunately the results did not meet the hype. Per an article in the Tennessean, MNPS students scored as follows:
- English — 26.7 percent of third through eighth students are on track or higher in the subject, up from 25.4 percent in the 2016-17 school year; 18.1 percent of high school students are on track or higher, down from 24.4 percent last year.
- Math — 26.1 percent of third through eighth students scored on track or higher, down from 27.2 last year; 9.5 percent of high school students are on track or higher, down from 12.1 percent last year.
- Science — 42.7 percent of third through eighth students were on track or higher, down from 46 percent last year ; 25.6 percent of high school students are on track or higher, down from 35.7 percent last year.
- U.S. History — And 10.3 percent of the district’s students scored on track or mastered the subject, down from 14.9 percent in the previous year.
I’ll look at scores a lot closer this weekend and offer some thoughts on Monday. My preliminary thoughts are that I don’t think these scores exceed anybody’s expectations.
I’m hearing this week that belated congratulations are due to recently departed Executive Director of Innovative Schools LeTrecia Gloster. Word is that she is expecting a child. I know ladies at central office are disappointed that she left before they had a chance to throw a baby shower. Everybody loves a shower.
Two weeks ago, DGW ran a poll on who y’all thought would win the school board seat in District 6 and the result was a big win for the incumbent. This past weekend there was a forum held in District 6, and the results of the straw poll taken afterwards were a bit different. I’ve got to say, in Aaron McGee and Fran Bush, District 6 has two really good candidates. Take time to talk with them, to get to know them, you’ll be impressed. I’m glad it’s not me having to choose between them.
Remember that time when we told everybody we were really broke, but then we went from 5 LTDS leads to 8. But one quit the day before training started and we asked current LTDS’s to apply for the job even though the LTDS pool was empty and a replacement would have to come from a classroom teacher, therefore leaving a classroom uncovered? Fun times.
Remember that other time when we told board members that we only had 186 teacher openings which was better than last year when we had 266 openings, but we didn’t remind board members that this year we had 500 students fewer than last year? Fun times.
Out in Denver, Superintendent Tom Boasberg is stepping down after nearly 10 years. Per ChalkbeatCO:
Boasberg, 52, and his wife have three children, ages 17, 15, and 14. He said his decision was personal and not driven by the politics of the district. His oldest daughter, Nola, graduated from high school this year – a milestone he said made him stop and think about his commitments to his family, as well as his commitments to the district and to Denver students.
I wonder if they’ve gotten Sito Narcisse’s resume yet?
This is the time of year when my social media feed is filled up with pictures of administrators and teachers engaged in data sharing activities. Not to hurt anyone’s feelings, but few things inspire me less. Just saying.
Wish I had more for ya this week, but that’s all I got. Tomorrow it’s back to the campaign trail.
Hope y’all have an awesome weekend. Don’t forget to answer the poll questions. And if you are eligible to vote in District 2, please get out and vote. If you need to contact me, you can do so at Norinrad10@yahoo.com. I’m always looking for more opinions and 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.