“If there is any human tragedy, there is only one, and it occurs when we forget who we are and remain silent while a stranger takes up residence inside our skin.”
― The Glass Rainbow
“…’I’ve never told you this, but when you were in your teens one of your teachers called us. He said you’d been fighting in the playground again. With two of the boys from the grade above, but this time it hadn’t turned out so well–they’d had to send you to the hospital to have your lip sewn and a tooth taken out. I stopped your allowance, remember? Anyway, Øystein told me about the fight later. You flew at them because they’d filled Tresko’s knapsack with water from the school fountain. If I remember correctly, you didn’t even like Tresko much. Øystein said the reason you’d been hurt so badly was that you didn’t give in. You got up time after time and in the end you were bleeding so much that the big boys became alarmed and went on their way.’
Olav Hole laughed quietly. ‘I didn’t think I could tell you that at the time–it would only have been asking for more fights–but I was so proud I could have wept. You were brave, Harry. You were scared of the dark, but that didn’t stop you going there.’…”
The beautiful thing about the internet is that it brings forth resources that illuminate the past. Over the weekend I spent time at TnTel.info researching Core Knowledge Curriculum and its history in MNPS. It was fascinating reading and leaves me wondering why the district would engage in a study that has already been conducted in Nashville?
Initially, I was under the impression that CKLA was just one of may curriculums that have been implemented over the years. After reading all the archives it is clear to me that it was so much more and it came with quite a few political ramifications.
As I’ve previously stated, the curriculum was brought to MNPS through the urging of then-Mayor Phil Bredesen. Bredesen wanted to give schools more money but wanted evidence that they were producing results. His opinion was that Core Knowledge would be the pathway to those results. Not everybody agreed though, including the Dean at Peabody College. Teachers were also not big fans. After a bit of a fight, Bredesen ended up getting what he wanted.
The actual curriculum was written by a core group of MNPS teachers based on E.D. Hersch’s theories. Again I wonder how much of that writing has been incorporated into the current product. Metro’s curriculum was intended to dictate exactly what teachers were going to teach every day of every semester, uniformly through every grade. The impact and success of Core Knowledge continued to be debated over the next several years. The primary complaints were that there was too much information to cover and everybody hated the timers that were utilized throughout the lessons. Imagine trying to teach with a kitchen timer clicking in the back to ensure you didn’t get off track.
Some teachers who were previously opposed, warmed to the curriculum with time. They appreciated the exposure children received to previously untouched subjects. It helped that within the first two months changes were approved that addressed the challenges that teachers were facing around grade appropriateness and pacing.
After 3 years, teachers began to give the curriculum a tepid thumbs up. The pacing still concerned many and core knowledge was shown to be not very effective with EL students and special ed students. Unfortunately for proponents, later that year, MNPS hired a new director of schools, Pedro Garcia, who’s chief academic officer quickly pointed out that core kowledge wasn’t aligned with standards and that the district’s curriculum was too confusing and needed to be re-organized. The Core Knowledge experiment was over.
In 2002, Bredesen ran for Governor and was forced to defend the adoption of core knowledge curriculum. In the end the results ended up being mixed. Scores went up a bit, but there was no way to credit those results exclusively to core knowledge. Some parents loved the curriculum, and some didn’t. Same goes for teachers. I suspect the results from the just begun FSU study will produce very similar results. So the question becomes, why choose to conduct a study, without acknowledging the history of the subject in the district, when so much information and data has already been produced?
I have a couple of theories. The first involves Bredesen lap dog and Common Core supporter Will Pinkston. Pinkston has reportedly been telling people that he is the one actually pulling the strings when it comes to Metro Schools. If that is the case, perhaps the reintroduction of CK is a means to clear up a tarnished portion of his bosses legacy. That’s fine, but if that is the case, why not just simply re-introduce the curriculum instead of hiding behind a study. Though it should be noted that the study is paying for materials, so this could be a means to implementation without a budgetary impact. Everybody loves a chance to go back and try to get things right. I have no problem envisioning Pinkston and Bredesen sitting around the fireplace, drinking scotches, smoking cigars, with a couple of dogs at their feet, celebrating the return of a championed agenda.
My second theory involves curriculum creator E.D. Hersch’s proclamation of core knowledge as a social justice issue. Joseph and his team often envision themselves as social justice warriors and as such this curriculum would be right in their wheelhouse. Per usual though, they didn’t do their homework. They never took the time to research past MNPS implementations and where things went right or wrong.Factor in that most of the people with institutional knowledge have left the district and odds are, Joseph and team are probably learning the history of CKLA in Nashville the same way most people are, through Dad Gone Wild blog posts.
I understand that schools need to address social justice issues, but I would argue basic education comes first. I’ll take care of the social justice issues at home. This situation is not unlike the new discipline policy, where the district addressed social issues before addressing basic behavioral issues. A body of work by Joseph continues to develop that leaves the community to raise the question of exactly what kind of leader does Nashville want to lead its school system? Do we want an educator or a social justice warrior? Are we educating children or waking them? Time will tell.
Still no word on who Tennessee Governor-elect Bill Lee plans to pick to lead the state’s education department. The latest name to rise to the top is Jamie Woodson. Speculation has been fuel by her recent announcement that she will leave her job as CEO of the State Collaborative on Reforming Education, also known as SCORE, to become the group’s senior adviser. Woodson downplays her candidacy for state superintendent. In her words, as quoted by Chalkbeat,
“My goal right now,” Woodson said, “is to make sure that the next governor and the next commissioner get off to a great start and continue the momentum that’s been created by partners all across Tennessee and the nation to help Tennessee students achieve their full promise and potential.”
Tomorrow is the annual unveiling of the Chamber of Commerce’s Education Committee’s Report Card on Schools. Every year the committee unveils its report in a lavish ceremony and every year most people forget what is in the report by the first of the year. Will this time be any different? I’m hoping so because I have a great deal of respect for the folks that make up the committee. Unfortunately, much of the data they use to arrive at their recommendations is supplied by MNPS itself, which despite Dr. Joseph’s protestations, has a history of being…distorted. This year the committee has chosen to focus on SEL issues. I look forward to hearing what they have to report. The report card will be released on Tuesday, December 18th at the downtown library from 10:00-11:30.
In a sign of a major political shift in Prince George’s County, the outspoken leader of a minority bloc on the Board of Education was chosen Thursday night as vice chairman. Edward J Burroughs III who at age 26 is the board’s longest-serving rep, was elected as vice-chair by his colleagues. Burroughs was previously part of a minority bloc that drew attention to inflated graduation rates, large pay raises to executive staff and a nearly $800,000 contract payout to outgoing CEO Kevin M. Maxwell. Now, Burroughs takes a leadership role beside Alvin Thornton, 70, a longtime college professor and education expert recently named board chairman by County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks (D). Alsobrooks had said that she would let the board select its own vice chairman.
Any word on that HR evaluation that Bone, McAllester, Norton PLLC was doing? I thought it was supposed to be complete by the end of November but now it’s almost Christmas and no word. Maybe it’ll come out at the same time as the Tennessee State School board’s review of district discipline reporting practices.
I’m thinking the investigations can’t wrap up soon enough because today another shoe dropped in the ongoing sexual harassment cases against MNPS under Shawn Joseph’s leadership. Former HR investigator Scott Lindsey filed his lawsuit today after he was forced out over the results of an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment by longtime Joseph associate Mo Carrasco. According to Lindsey number, HR executive Sharon Pertiller told him there where certain expectations and if he didn’t meet them he could expect repercussions. Per Lindsey’s attorney Gary Blackburn,
“She told Mr. Lindsay that the director of schools, Mr. Joseph, was aware of this and that he expected it to ‘turn out right’ and there would be difficulties for him if it didn’t turn out right,”
I suspect this one is far from over and like my parents told me, “Be careful the company you keep.” Rumor has it Carrasco is currently enjoying the tropical climate of the Dominican Republic. No word if that is a holiday visit or permanent.
McKissack Middle School was awarded a portion of Tennessee’s 8.25 million Title I Grant for school improvement. The grant awarded was $275,000 per year for the next three years to help improve Literacy, Numeracy, Social Emotional Learning, and Leadership. The total grant is worth $825,000 for McKissack. Way to go guys!
Robert Churchwell Elementary School received the “We Shall Overcome Exhibit” on loan from the Frist Museum. At the grand opening of the exhibit, panelists included some of the original Civil Rights activist; Mr. Errol Groves, Ms. Gloria McKissick, Mr. Kramer Lillard, and Ms. Lajuanda Street Harley. The plan is to share this exhibit with other schools after the Holiday Break.
Warner Arts Magnet Elementary School scholars have started a new musical unit learning all about Chinese drumming. The scholars at Warner are being instructed by a guest teacher Ms. Jen Lin who is a renowned master for contemporary dance and Chinese drumming. This musical unit will extend to the classroom as students will explore ancient Chinese cultures with a culminating task of writing an essay about cultural customs.
Overton High School will host a group of district and school leaders from Knoxville for a Cambridge study visit. Results of Overton’s fall ACT show a 3% year over year increase in the number of students earning a 21 or higher and a 4% increase in the number of students who earned above a score of 30. Excellent news.
Here’s a snippet from this week’s SNL that I’m sure many of you parents can relate to.
As we do every Monday, we now review the results of this weekends poll questions.
At last weeks board meeting, Dr. Joseph swore that MNPS never fudges, fakes, or makes up data. I must admit that statement made me laugh out loud, but I thought I’d get your opinion. Results paint a picture that doesn’t align with Dr. Joseph’s statement. Sixty-four percent of you said the district does it on a regular basis. Thirteen percent of you asked if that was really a question. What that translates to, is that three-quarters of you do not trust the data presented by the district. I’d say that’s a problem.
Not one single person indicated that they feel the district is completely transparent. You can’t call yourself transparent if nobody believes that you are transparent. At some point Dr. Joseph and his team are going to have to own the fact that they haven’t built any trust and address the problem. Perhaps this could be a job for the new chief of staff Marcy Singer-Gabella. Though she should proceed with caution as that was what the previous chief of staff Jana Carlisle was working on before she got shown the door. Here are the write-in votes,
|They get data to tell their narrative and I’m NOT okay with that.||1|
|They have the disease of selective hearing and Changas is complicit||1|
|They do it to fit the narrative, and I’m not OK with that.||1|
|Data, educator license, compensation and sorts of facts amd figures||1|
|The don’t share all the data. That’s a problem.||1|
|Its the Nashville Way||1|
|They write the narrative, then collect the data to support it.||1|
|I think they get it to tell their narrative||1|
|That’s what SJ and Sito do. Sit in meetings and spin data to justify salary||1|
|Yes. To justify ridiculous salaries at the top. It’s obvious how it’s spun.||1|
Question 2 asked if you were offended by Amy Frogge calling the CKLA presentation a “dog and Pony” show. The number one answer with 53% of the vote was that you were glad someone was finally telling the truth. 18% of you were more concerned about the disrespect that takes place outside of the boardroom. Only 4% of you found it extremely disturbing.
The write-in votes tell the rest of the story,
|It’s hard to strike the right tone when Gentry isn’t running meetings right||1|
|More concerned about teacher vacancies doubling since August #facts||1|
|As a teacher, it feels like Amy is the only one listening.||1|
|Not at all||1|
|It was not the right time for the comment||1|
|Not at all, CKLA SUCKS||1|
|She was right||1|
|Nail meet head just poorly expressed||1|
|Amy deals in hyperbole. Overreact, stir the pot, rinse and repeat.||1|
|she saw right through the district- find people to tell positive things about it||1|
|Why have most of Phil Williams stories been taken down off Newschannel5?||1|
|People missed her point, she wants truth not a show||1|
|She said exactlyHow the teachers doing it feel.||1|
|More insulted by my teachers salary.||1|
|We know Any Frogge is a champion for teachers!!!||1|
|complains but gets nothing done. Teachers need action. Not words.|
The last question asked how you felt about the return of CKLA. The number one answer with 32% of the vote was “why do I care? It’ll be gone in two years.” Coming up second was at 27% was “absolutely against the CKLA curriculum”. One person was very excited about the curriculums return. I want to take this moment to once again thank Dr. Felder for her patronage.
One of the write-in comments deserves individual attention, “Rather than try to unify what good work is happening they’d rather reinvent the wheel”. I really wish that was what we were doing as a district, finding out the successes and expanding on them. But alas, that’s just a pipe dream. Here are the rest of the write-ins,
|I know nothing about it. I just hope for good results||1|
|Rather than try to unify what good work is happening theyd rather reinvent wheel||1|
|Hard for teachers, awful for kids.||1|
|Anything is better than our current scope & sequen||1|
|There are pro/con with this …should be well understood before leaping||1|
|MNPS is a cess pool run by incompetent board and admin||1|
|I’m excited to hear the spin on why we won’t get/deserve a raise f|
And that is a wrap. As always, you can contact me at email@example.com. Make sure you check out the Dad Gone Wild Facebook page. if you think what I write has value, please support me through Patreon. I ain’t going to lie, we could use the support. Thanks and peace out.
the hits just keep on coming at MNPS. when will the 5 joseph puppets on the board finally act?
Yes. When will GPW & RAE wake the heck up???? This admin is full of actual creeps.
GPW won’t – she works for an org that does business with the district. she has a financial interest in protecting the status quo.
RAE has gone radio silent.
Better get ready to sell more properties. This latest lawsuit alone is almost $10 million…. 🤦🏿♀️
Uh there is amendment to one of the MANY lawsuits ongoing.. this was not the way to start my morning. Usually I spit take wine at the 6:00 news but today it was coffee… dear God..
Hirsch was trying, in his time, to straddle the “back to basics” and “new” (as in ‘new math’, etc.) movements by recommending we teach content and not skills. Very similar to the article being reviewed in this piece: https://www.forbes.com/sites/petergreene/2018/11/20/can-standardized-tests-be-rescued.
In the sense that Hirsch presaged a need to fight against a curriculum-narrowing standards movement before it really took hold… the experiment conducted by Bredesen at the time cannot be compared to the present day. This is because so much more is currently dictated by the common core.
Nonetheless, we have indeed been down the road before to /some/ degree. Trying to teach background knowledge, via content, to students who might otherwise elude background knowledge is a plausible and not entirely debunked idea. But you have every right to be skeptical of a research study being run by a Hirschite out of Florida as a “favor” to the district.