“Go Home. Cut your losses. Stay. Go for it. You are a republic of voices tonight. Unfortunately, that republic is Italy. All these voices waving their arms and screaming at one another.”
“We are all of us born with a letter inside us, and that only if we are true to ourselves, may we be allowed to read it before we die.”
Before we get started, I need to offer a hearty congratulations to Tennessee State Commissioner of Education Penny Schwinn. Much has been written, and discussed, about the disarray of the apartment and her many shortcomings. Step back though and you’ll see that she has actually been quite efficient over the past year.
She was initially unhappy about the list of ELA curriculum approved for adoption by the state’s review process, so she halts the process, installs a new head mid-stream, changes the rubric, and bang her preferences – CKLA and Wit and Wisdom – suddenly make the list. Though improprieties with the process are well documented, nobody says a word and the conversation is all but over.
Charged with seeing through the implementation of a voucher program she doesn’t support, she puts together a no-bid grant contract to manage applications and awards it to friends. Legislators get angry, start bloviating and then shut up. Governor says hush, and they hush. Yea, sure, they are going to put together some legislation that ensures this doesn’t happen again, but essentially they are just closing the barn door while the horses run free. Well played.
The true test begins Tuesday when what’s being referred to as the “reading bill” makes its first appearance in committee. HB2229 is scheduled to be discussed during the House subcommittee meeting at noon on Tuesday. This is the one that will establish one way to teach reading for all districts, increase testing for students in grades k – 2, mandate additional training for all teachers, and dictate to deans of education at the state’s colleges and universities exactly what their institutions should teach. This one is going to be a fun ride and it’s all Penny through and through. Well, with a little help from the state of Texas which recently passed a very similar bill.
If passed, it will touch portions of every segment of education in Tennessee and the legislation will expressly dictate to districts what and how they are to teach,
The department shall approve the instructional programming and services that must be used to provide evidence-based and scientifically-based systematic phonics instruction, and that are implemented with a focus on phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, fluency, oral reading, and reading comprehension.
It will call for, despite parents repeated demands for less testing, an increase in standardized tests while completely removing local control,
(4) A candidate for an elementary school teaching position in any of the grades kindergarten through three (K-3), or any grade for which the teaching credential covers any of the grades kindergarten through three (K-3), must pass a test developed or identified by the department that tests the candidate’s knowledge of evidence-based and scientifically-based reading instruction in order to receive a teacher license. The department shall determine the score that constitutes passage of the test required under this subdivision (b)(4).
An LEA may apply for and receive literacy-related implementation and coaching support from service providers approved by the department.
Sure, the TNDOE would love if you adopted some of their preferred vendors’ materials, but what they really want is for individual districts to buy some of that additional coaching, professional development, data management software, and test prep. That’s where the money gets made.
(f) The requirements of subsection (a) are mandatory for each LEA, except LEAs in which the percentage of third-grade students who are enrolled in the LEA and proficient in reading:
(1) Is at least fifteen (15) percentage points above the state average;
(2) Is more than fifty-five percent (55%) at each school, as measured by the Tennessee comprehensive assessment program (TCAP) tests; and
(3) For each student group, as defined pursuant to the accountability model established pursuant to § 49-1-602, is at least fifteen (15) percentage
(g) For each school year, the department shall publish a list of the LEAs that are
eligible for the exemption described in subsection (f). The department may adjust the third-grade reading proficiency percentages required for an exemption under subsection (f) to reflect changes in statewide reading proficiency.
a) By June 30, 2020, the department shall convene an advisory group of stakeholders to advise the department on the meaningful integration of third-grade reading proficiency into the performance goals and measures established pursuant to § 49-1-602 for schools and LEAs.
(b) In consultation with the advisory group convened under subsection (a), the department shall review changes to the accountability performance designations required by § 49-1-602 for schools and LEAs serving students in any of the grades kindergarten through three (K-3) regarding the weight attributed to the third-grade reading proficiency levels demonstrated by student performance on TCAP tests. Upon completing the review, if the department, after consultation with the advisory group, believes that revisions to the accountability performance designations under § 49-1-602 are warranted, then the department shall submit the revisions to the state board of education for approval and to the United States department of education, if required.
- Coordination of teacher training and the development of materials for teacher training.
- Data management and coordinated response for new assessments.
- Assurance of compliment by LEA’s
- Data management for K-3 teachers as it relates to the completion of training and licensure
- Assurance of compliance by institutions of higher education.
That’s just 6 areas off of the top of my head. A head not trained in policy implementation. Imagine the areas someone with greater knowledge and experience would identify.
There is a continual flapping of the arms over the threat of the state taking over a part, or all of individual districts. This bill tells districts what to teach, how to teach, what to access, when to assess and how to report results. What else is involved in managing a district?
This bill may not be as sexy and flashy as vouchers or charter school proliferation, but trust me, it has the potential to be even more damaging. Here’s hoping some clearer heads prevail before it’s too late. If Schwinn is allowed to continue her winning streak…we all lose.
WHO”LL BE IN CHARGE
By now most of you have seen the list of 19 candidates for the job of director of schools for MNPS. Just in case you haven’t:
- Adrienne Battle — Metro Nashville Public Schools interim director of schools
- Christopher Bonn — Fort Sage Unified School District superintendent (Herlong, California)
- Ann Bueche — King George County Schools supervisor of special services (Virginia)
- Bernard Chandler — Birmingham City Schools instructional superintendent (Alabama)
- Benjamin Edmondson — GEM Advocacy Group CEO (Canton, Michigan)
- Brenda Elliott — District of Columbia Public Schools chief of school improvement and supports and chief of equity (Washington, DC)
- Versie Hamlett — Humboldt City Schools superintendent
- Brian Kingsley — Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools chief academic officer (North Carolina)
- Chris Marczak —Maury County Schools superintendent
- Richard Miller — Santa Ana Unified School District former superintendent (California)
- Thomas Parker — Allentown School District superintendent (Pennsylvania)
- Shelley Redinger — Spokane Public Schools superintendent (Washington)
- Roderick Richmond — Shelby County Schools executive director of student support services
- Willis Smith — Utica Elementary Middle School principal, Hinds County Schools (Mississippi)
- Daniel Snowberger — Durango School District superintendent (Colorado)
- Joe Toomey — Murphy High School principal, Mobile County Public School System (Alabama)
- Stephen Williams — W.A. Bass Learning Center assistant principal, Metro Nashville Public Schools
- Alexis Wilson— Balsz School District assistant superintendent of administrative services (Scottsdale, Arizona)
- Janet Womack — Education consultant and former superintendent
It’s a fine list. I don’t want to risk giving anyone an advantage or put them at a disadvantage, by mentioning individual names. It is worth noting that many have recognized Brenda Elliot as the former Strattford principal. Next week TSBA will reveal the 5 finalists and after they do we’ll take a closer look.
This week, MNPS lost another talented young principal. Megan Galloway has resigned from her position of leadership at Haywood ES. My experiences with Ms. Galloway were always exemplary and I hate to see her go. Like many schools in MNPS, this has been a very difficult year and losing a principal in the midst of it doesn’t help. My prayers are with both principal Galloway and the staff at Haywood ES.
Over at the TNEd Report, Andy Spears highlights a recent Commissioner Schwinn admission that $10 million out of $24 million in the state budget for Charter Facilities is actually earmarked to bring charter schools to rural districts. Hmmm…this is an interesting twist because public schools in rural districts tend to enjoy favorable opinions by locals. Further complicating things, is that in smaller districts they are often the community’s biggest employer. It seems to me that this would be a plan for legislators to get plenty of earfuls while standing in line at their hometown Wal-Mart and just one more recipe for disaster.
Overton High School is doing a little bragging this morning. They have the most State Wrestling qualifiers of any Metro school and the most female wrestlers of any school. Props.
On Monday, at 5pm, MNEA will be bringing teachers and parents together in an effort to explore ways the two can align their advocacy. Childcare will be provided.
Mayor Cooper is standing by his commitment to increasing funding for Metro Public Schools. Today he submitted his first Capital Spending budget. This year’s CSP is $154 million, equally split between General Government and Metro Nashville Public Schools. The $72 million of Metro Schools projects (not including $10 million for contingencies) is a $12 million increase or 20% over what MNPS received in last fiscal year’s Capital Spending Plan. MNPS funding highlights include the following:
- $22.9 million for Goodlettsville Elementary School replacement
- $4.8 million for bus and fleet vehicle replacements to meet state replacement schedules
- $1.0 million in roof repair
- $9.4 million in technology needs, comprised of student and staff computers and software
- $11.4 million in electrical upgrades across the district
- $20.7 million in HVAC upgrades across the district
Thank you, Mayor Cooper.
That’s it for today. Thank you, teachers and administrators, for everything you do.
Don’t forget to answer the poll questions at the end. Your voice matters.
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