Sunday, January 19, 2014

School Board meeting of Jan. 14th. Pre-K expansion, Teach for America contract, the NCS Pearson contract.

This school board meeting is two hour and eight minutes long.  The School Board produces very informative agendas. To view the 54-page agenda click on this link and click, "01.14.14 Regular Meeting."

Forty schools have signed up for Watch Dogs, which is "Dads of Great Students." This program It is "an innovative father involvement, educational initiative of the National Center For Fathering.
It began in 1998 in a single school in Springdale, Arkansas and has since grown into a nationally
recognized program that has brought hundreds of thousands of fathers and father figures into our
nation’s classrooms and hallways." To learn more about this program, follow this link.

School Board member Jill Speering discusses the contract with NCS Pearson, Inc. and the Aimsweb math and reading assessment for elementary and middle school students. Speering a retired teacher and reading expert has been an outspoken critic of high-stakes testing. Last month she got the contract with NCS Pearson deferred to this meeting. Since then she successfully got the contract modified so NCS will not use "nonsence" words to teach literacy and got some other changes. To read more about this, see this story in the Tennessean: Reading assessment with 'nonsense words' gives Metro school board pause. To see the discussion go to time stamp 0:13:50.

The school board voted to renew a contract with Teach For America for the next three years. TFA would provide up to 100 teachers a year for the next three years. The contract is for $2.1 million which includes services in addition to the teachers. There are currently about 300 TFA teachers in Nashville schools. MNPS hires about 600 new teachers a year, so about one-sixth of all new hires are TFA teachers. The MNPS administrators speak very highly of TFA and say they out perform other new hires.  School Board member Amy Frogge ask some probing questions about the contract which seem to indicate hostility to the program. To see the discussion go to time stamp 17:13- 33:49.

The most important part of the meeting is Dr. Register's presentation of a plan to expand Pre-K. See time stamp 35:49- 2:06:51 for his presentation, a slide show, and discussion. The plan would add 500 kindergarten seats in the spring and add seats until by 2018 every parent who wanted to send their child to kindergarten would be allowed to do so. The State has no plans to increase funding for pre-K and Mayor Dean has said Schools should not expect a blank check next budget year. Several studies show pre-K shows no improvement in a child's long-term education outcome. The school board is almost giddy with enthusiasm for the program.  Here is the Tennessean's report of this topic: Plan to expand pre-K in Nashville earns high marks at school board meeting.

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