Sunday, September 27, 2015

Deck stacked in proposed MNPS Director Search Advisory Committee

School board member Will Pinkston posted the following notice to Facebook today.

Friends: Today, the nine-member Nashville School Board officially rebooted the search for the next director of Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) in a breakfast dialogue with Mayor Megan Barry. During our conversation, Mayor Barry agreed to serve on a proposed MNPS Director Search Advisory Committee that would include Vice Mayor David Briley as well as representatives from the following community organizations: Conexión Américas, Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship (IMF), Metropolitan Nashville Education Association (MNEA), MNPS Parent Advisory Council (PAC), NAACP, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, Nashville Organized for Action and Hope (NOAH), and Nashville Public Education Foundation (NPEF). The objectives for this Committee: Assist the school board in gathering data about higher performing urban school systems in the U.S., and help the school board in recruiting leadership talent from those school systems. The next chapter of the MNPS director search remains a work in progress, but I believe the school board has a profound opportunity to work with the new mayor and a broad-based community coalition to move one of America's largest school systems forward in a productive way. I'll keep you updated this fall as the work progresses.
This is properly not good news. I say "probably," because I am unsure how the Black organizations will stand on education reform and school choice. I am not sure what they will seek in a new Director. Some of the strongest advocates for charter schools are now coming from members of the Black community.  Charter schools have proven that Black children born in poverty can achieve academic success if expectation are high and the school environment encourages success.  This has not gone unnoticed in the Black community and many Blacks are breaking with liberal orthodoxy on this issue.

Also, I am not sure how Barry and Briley stand.  Mayor Dean was an advocate of charter schools. Barry's position is unclear. No one can any longer assume that just because someone is labeled a liberal or progressive that they oppose education reform and charter schools. While school choice and advocacy for excellent schools has most often been a position advocated by conservatives, there is by no means a clear cut left-right divide on the issue.  Quite a few liberals now advocates for school choice and tough standards while some conservatives have taken issue against tough standards and appear to favor the status quo and mediocrity. Among some populist conservatives there is a view shared by many liberals that looks at success and excellence as elitism.

MNEA, the teachers union, is opposed to any competition to traditional public schools and they take the labor union position of  opposing any out sourcing of functions or other cost saving measures if it causes any employees to lose their job.  They will also oppose any efforts that would make it easier to dismiss bad teachers.  They are basically a labor union concerned with protected the interest of their members. They will not support a reformer for Director of schools.

NOAH is the group that pushed the local hire amendment and the inclusionary zoning proposal.  I would not expect them to support a reformer.  The NAACP seems much more concerned about the proper racial balance in schools than schools that educate children. Some of the other organizations I do not know too much about. The makeup of the advisory committee should not surprise us. Elections have consequences.

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