I just finished reading an article in today’s Tennessean where Metro Nashville Public Schools will be making special efforts to turn around 10 of the worst-performing schools in the system, as measured by “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) standards.
With these schools identified, it is great to see immediate action taking place to lift these schools up to acceptable performance levels and school leaders need to be commended for their prompt actions. Here is the article:
Of the ten schools identified, one is elementary, seven are middle and two are high schools. The NCLB act calls for the state to take over underperforming schools, but state leaders are encouraged by the new plans and do not plan a take-over anytime soon.
These schools will now belong to an “innovation cluster” where teachers and school officials will work closely with a consulting group developing and implementing plans to turn these schools around. The article failed to mention any specifics, so we will have to have some faith and a watchful eye. Like Ronald Reagan once said, “Trust, but verify!”
The consulting firm, Tribal Group, (a British firm) will receive $6 million dollars over the next five years for their guidance. WOW…that is $1.2 million each year, or $23k each week! (I wonder how many consultants will be assigned to this project… and if they might need another member on the team! :0) I’m in!
I attended Metro Public Schools for all of my school years. My mother taught in the system for 35+ years. It does not take a consultant to identify the three main problems our schools face:
1) Lack of discipline – teachers are powerless to enforce proper conduct and learning habits. When I was in third grade, my teacher, Corinne Judd, had a big paddle and could swing it well. Anytime anyone did not have their homework, they got the paddle…at least three whacks! No parents complained, and a whole lot of homework got done, at least in Mrs. Judd’s class!
2) Lack of Accountability – Again back to my third grade, we were told on day one of the school year that we would know the multiplication table up to 12×12 from memory before the school year ended or we would fail. We would also be proficient in cursive writing, or we would fail. Every parent wanted Mrs. Judd to be their child’s teacher. And guess what…rather than being the “unwanted other 3rd Grade teacher,” the other teachers picked up their “game” also.
During the summer break, my mother used to spend a huge amount of time preparing for the coming school year. She had my dad making or repairing furniture for her classroom, and spent many days looking for materials to turn into projects for upcoming students. I would always tell her….”Mom, you get paid the same whether you do this stuff or not…why?” She would simply answer…”I get paid to give my students the best education possible and that is what I’m doing.” By the way, she and Mrs. Judd were good friends, which made 3rd grade a bitch for me! :0)
3) Parental Involvement – Most parents still do support our teachers, but it seems everything has changed to support those parents that do not, which is unfortunate. “Make my child do right and I’ll back you up” has evolved to “touch my child and I will sue you!” And in today’s PC world, “say something that makes my child uncomfortable and I’ll sue you” is something I can imagine as well. Perhaps a constitutional amendment giving teachers the right to teach would work?
Many compare Metro Public Schools to the systems of surrounding counties. Metro spends more money per student than any of them and Nashville, being the growing city that it is, faces many challenges. The international population of the city is growing, requiring more bi-lingual teachers. New schools are needed in many areas and those needs are being addressed.
All of us have an opportunity to become involved for the betterment of our schools. We need to take those opportunities and encourage others also, while Nashville is still at a peak for sustaining growth and quality of life.
A dear friend and educator once told me, “the apple rots from the core.”
For those that do not live in Davidson County, this is your problem too. If we cannot all work together in improving public education in Nashville, watch closely and see the quality of life erode in all adjoining counties, even the more-affluent ones.
Last I checked, there were no commercial airline flights into Williamson County International Airport…come to think of it, Williamson County doesn’t even have an airport. :0)
For now, I am going to hope someone like Mrs. Judd will be in the new consultant group! The past may be a great place to start in “innovating” the future.
Trey Lewis is a licensed Real Estate Broker in the State of Tennessee with Ole South Realty, 615.896.0019 direct 615.593.6340. Specializing in new homes in the Greater Nashville area to include Nashville, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Clarksville, and Spring Hill, Tennessee