Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Tempers flare and emotions spill over at School Board meeting. Calls for the firing of Dr. Joseph.

I have sometimes said Metro Council meetings are about as exciting to watch as watching paint dry. Most of the time that is true and it is also usually true of Metro School Board meetings.  Well, it was not true of the last school board meeting.  This meeting was reported in the Tennessean as, Nashville schools board tensions fly in contentious night as group calls for Director Shawn Joseph's ouster.

I have not watched the meeting in detail but skimmed and skipped looking for the good parts.  If you want to watch the meeting it helps if you have an agenda. You can get the agenda at this link.

The meeting starts full of good cheer and cordiality but then deteriorates. Below are timestamp notations of the good parts. I use the term "good parts," meaning the most interesting parts, not as parts that exemplify harmony and good behavior.

Timestamp 25:54: Erick Huth president of the teachers union speaks to the board lamenting the schools finances and that the school board has to sell property to fund day-to-day operating expenses, that instead of a qualified teacher in every class room many class rooms have substitute teachers, that the city instead of paying money to hire new teachers  the city pays money for millionaires to move to town, lack of support staff the schools need, and lack of text books. I know unions are always going to want more funding, but this sounds more serious than usual. He says the schools are drastically underfunded.
Continue watching: Kelly Watlington does not say who she is with, but talks of the findings of a recent school audit. She says there are several areas where there is potential for money to be misspend. Some checks that require two signatures only have one, gift cards are issued with no record of what was purchased with them or who they were given to, voided checks are missing.  She says the director of schools has not fixed the problems, will not take advice from his staff and she calls for his firing. She gets a round of applause.

Continue watching: Laura Leonard, a teacher, says teachers are not respected, they are abused and forced to work for free and other complaints. Other speakers also voice similar complaints.

Timestamp 1:36:50: In a discussion over surplussing a piece of property in Amy Frogge's district she argues against it and Will Pinkerston argues in favor. Members show frustration and tempers flare. Board members accuse other board members of not showing them respect.

Timestamp 2:50:51: In discussion following presentation on a reading program called CKLA, Amy Frogge says the program is experimental, our kids are being used as "guinea pigs,"  pressure is put on principals to use the program even though they don't want to do so, teachers are forced to sign consent forms and when they try to opp out of the program they are told they can't. She said it is a "lie" that teachers want to participate in the program. She said in truth teachers hate the program. She says teachers are pressured to say they like it. She says the program does not work. She appears bitter and disgusted not only about this issue but says last years they were lied to about improving test scores when scores are really flat. She says presentations are often deceptive "dog and pony shows."

Timestamp 3.9.36: Rachel Anne Elrod, gets emotional  and can hardly talk.

It is obvious that there are serious problems at the Metro School Board and that our schools are failing. Two things testify to this. Despite Nashville's population growth, school enrollment is declining. Either people with school age children are sending their children to private schools or they are locating in surrounding counties to avoid Nashville's pubic schools. The other indications that things are not gong well is that the number of Nashville schools classified by the State as failing schools is growing.

I hear from some council members and others who are engaged in civic affairs that Dr. Joseph is not a good leader, that he is manipulative, waste money, does not manage in a collaborative manner, and is not respectful of teachers and many say he needs to be fired.

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