Monday, July 31, 2006

TCAP update

A full week after my request for TCAP scores for District 5 I, and the rest of the board members, were given access to the State's website containing the information.

The information is still considered 'embargoed' and unavailable to the public or media at this point according to the instructions received. In my phone conversation with Dr. Pedro Garcia (Director) late yesterday afternoon he told me the information would not be available to the public until the 14th or 15th of August.

Candidate Survey Magnet Cluster

The Metro-Nashville Magnet School Cluster Parent Group has posted candidate responses to their survey to

I've organized them into districts and provided links to those that did answer the survey.

District 2
JoAnn Brannon
Terri Harris
Michael Kerstetter

District 4
Steve Glover (unopposed)

District 5
Kay Brooks
Lawrence Hart
Gracie Porter
Charles Townsend

District 6
Mebenin Awipi
Duane Dominey
Kathy Johnson

District 8
David Fox
Kathleen Harkey

Here are my responses:

Kay Brooks

(Unedited Responses to Magnet Cluster Survey)

1. If you had to make a one sentence statement that would express why you should get my vote for the school board, what would it be?

I have a valuable alternative view of MNPS and education issues, I am effective in my advocacy efforts and have communication skills that will help you stay informed regarding MNPS so that you can continue your advocacy efforts for your children.

2. What is your passion? Why are you pursuing this position and what do you plan to do different than those who have held this position before you to improve education in our city?

I’m pursuing this position because the children in my neighborhood are not getting the education they should and this is a natural extension of my efforts to improve my neighborhood. What I’m going to do differently is examine everything from a different point of view that, until I came to the board, was not represented on the board. No one, no entity, no program gets a free pass.

3. What does “school choice” mean to you? What kind of choices within the public school system do you think Nashville’ children should have?

School choice means having available programs, teachers and facilities that can provide the right education delivery system for the child’s learning style and needs.

4. What is your commitment to the unique programming set in place by our school district? (i.e. academic magnet, thematic magnet, arts, Montessori, Paideia)

My commitment is not to any program at all. My focus and commitment is on ensuring that our neighborhood’s children are reliably obtaining a good foundational education and allowing them the freedom to move on from there.

5. Do you support equal access to MNPS’ choice programs including magnet schools? Why or why not?

Yes, because they are public schools.

6. What marketing strategies do you plan to employ to gain our community’s support insuring adequate and predictable funding for our schools and continued support of choice schools?6

I’m not a marketing person so I may be the wrong person to ask. What I do think is of paramount importance is providing reliable and verifiable information about the system on a timely basis so that the community can vet the information. Once MNPS improves that communication effort and the citizens can see that their tax money is being spent wisely the funding issues will be much easier to settle.

7. How will you continue to raise the academic bar for all students including highly gifted and talented?

We must begin by ensuring that every child reads well. It’s appalling that both of the comprehensive high school principals in District 5 are having to beg for reading teachers. This fundamental skill cannot be overlooked any longer.

One program that seems very promising for all children is the Middle College program. I can support these students spending a portion of their day finishing their high school requirements and then being released to actually attend college where they can be challenged and get a leg up on their life plans.

Like every school district, MNPS has limited resources and so I am reluctant to expend those resources on AP classes where the child isn’t required to take the final test to obtain the college credit. And I would limit their access to more AP classes if they hadn’t qualified for those college credits in previous AP tests.

8. With the Governor’s new pre-school initiative in place are you willing to change the mission of our district to include pre-school and pre-k educational programming for students? How would you propose to fund such a plan?

No. When I look at District 5 it seems obvious that we’re not reliably educating the K-12 population we have. Until we do that we don’t need to take on additional children. There are private alternatives for children that need additional help getting ready for kindergarten and we have a bit of time to accomplish that. But every year hundreds of our high schoolers are failing to graduate. For them there is no time left and we’ve got to focus our finite resources there.

9. What else would you like to share with the magnet cluster parents that we have not asked?

You have worked hard at ensuring your children get the best public education possible. I would ask you to consider mentoring families without your resources and knowledge so that they are better able to advocate for their children in MNPS. Some of you are most probably doing this already but I have yet to hear of a more comprehensive effort.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Thursday 7/27/06

Last evening I attended the Leadership Nashville Alumni Association School Board Candidate Q & A Forum at the Adventure Science Center. 9 of the candidates attended. Notebly absent were Dr. Awipi and Karen Johnson of the 6th District. No explanation was given for their absence and so Mr. Dominey had free reign. Predictably the flap over Ms. Harkey's attempt to help a child get into a magnet school was brought up.

I felt pretty fortunate to get fairly easy questions regarding whether the system was better of now than 5 years ago (not in District 5) and should Intelligent Design be taught in MNPS along with evolution? My response was something like: "What I know about science is that it's fundamental to question everything. If our children are not allowed to do the same with every theory of where we've come from, if we don't give them the tools and criticial thinking skills they need we've failed them."

This morning the four District 5 candidates and the two District 8 candidates were on NewsChannel 5's "Newsline" program.

I choose to use a good portion of my introductory minute to point out the downward trend in Ms. Porter's last school (showed the chart) and remind viewers that the very folks that had brought District 5 to the hard place it is now were endorsing her for this race. Her excuse for the performance was that the entire district was trending down.

Mr. Hart piggybacked on that and asked Ms. Porter to reveal what PAC's were giving her money and how much. His premise being she'd be beholden to them if she got on the board. She responded that it would be on the financial reports. However Mr. Hart wasn't buying that asserting that the money would surely not have been given until after the reporting date and so still hidden from the public until after the election. She pointed people to her website for the endorsements but didn't go ahead and just name the PACs and the amounts. I did have a copy of her website endorsements with me handed it to the moderator. But he decided to move on.

I learned from the Harkey / Fox segment that Ms. Harkey had actually nominated Pedro Garcia for the Superintendent's position. When asked if she'd vote to renew his contract she responded by saying that was up to the new board. Mr. Fox said as long as the system was 'trending in the right direction' Garcia will get his vote.

This evening I'll attend the Summer School Graduation at Hillsboro. Certainly, better late than never. Thanks for hanging in there guys. :-)

Just a week left in this election cycle. You can still vote early today, tomorrow and Saturday. Election day is Thursday, August 3 from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Cream Puff Award goes to Tennessee

While we wait for those TCAP scores Education Next tells us we've won their "Cream Puff Award".

"For each state where both NAEP and state accountability measures were available, we computed a score based on the difference between the percentage of students said to be proficient by the state and the percentage identified as proficient on the NAEP in years 2003 and 2005."
"In addition, states with already low standards have done nothing to raise them. Oklahoma and Tennessee once again share the cream puff award, with both states earning Fs because their self-reported performance is much higher than can be justified by the NAEP results. "
On their chart, we're dead last. 48 out of 48. They show a drop of .2%.


The Nashville Scene's Bruce Barry picks up the story and got the same information I did and posted here and here.

"The answers aren’t adding up. “Last year we had the exact same embargo,” says state Department of Education spokeswoman Rachel Woods. [Chief Instructional Officer Dr. Sandy] Johnson says Metro didn’t violate the embargo last year to go public with the upbeat numbers, but Woods has a different view: “They weren’t free to do it last year; they just went ahead and did it.” She says that the state provided Metro schools with the data last year because they asked for it, and that they provided similar data last week on this year’s test results."

(Note, I consider the Scene to be an adult publication. Their advertising may not be suitable for all eyes.)

TCAP clarification

At last evening's MNPS BOE meeting board members were handed a copy of a letter from Dr. Garcia to Lana Seivers, TN Education Commissioner dated 7/25/06

A snip:

"Could you please provide a clarification reflecting what information can be released and when it can be released to whom? I want to make sure we are in compliance with all state rules on this matter, and that we also provide the information here in Nashville as soon as possible."

I was told last evening that staff is diligently working on providing me the scores I requested Monday. Apparently so.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Where are the scores?

The City Paper picks up on the frustration the community is experiencing regarding the announcement of MNPS scores. The NashvillePTOTalk list has had some interesting back and forth about the status of the scores and the politics that may behind their release. The allegations are that the scores are bad or flat and because we've got a fairly hot school board race that could radically change the board make up and a director that is on his last contract year bad news is being quashed as long as possible.

Much of the City Paper article rehashes MNPS's press release which I posted to the NashvillePTOTalk list last week and I've posted below.

What I didn't know, and what as a BOE member caught my attention was this:

"MNPS is consistently among the last, if not the last, to submit writing and achievement test information to the state. As such, it is one of the last districts in the state to get results back."
I'd like to know what that paragraph is based on. I'd like to know why we're last. I'm sure that part of that comes from testing so late and the size of our district. However, those are not excuses enough.

I called Rachel Woods spokesperson for the Tn DOE this morning. She tells me that last year MNPS made a special request for an electronic copy of the information and the DOE was told that it was necessary for planning purposes. And then MNPS 'broke the embargo' and issued press releases touting the improvements. MNPS has not made that same special request this year and frankly I wouldn't blame the state if they declined the request based on last year's actions. Ms. Woods did say that she didn't know of any penalty in the TCA for breaking that embargo and conveyed that it would be better to wait and ensure the information is fully vetted (my words not hers). It will be the 2nd week in August before we have the AYP information and November before the full report is done.

I've also asked the BOE administrative assistant to get me a copy of the information for the schools in my district based on Ms. Wood's assuring me that BOE members are permitted this information for planning purposes and that does not constitute breaking the embargo.

Again from the City Paper article:
Changas said the school system has looked at trying to distribute test results over the summer. However, that would involve hiring temporary staff, which could cost the system between $40,000-$50,000.
I dare say that a $40K out of a half a billion dollar budget may be a good investment so we know where we are before the new school year begins, before BOE elections and in plenty of time to evaluate the director. Let's not be penny wise and pound foolish. It won't cost 40K to create .pdfs of this information and post them to the website where individuals and community groups could obtain them and begin their own efforts at crunching these numbers.

It is insane to go through this dance every year. This must improve. We're accountable to the community for the educational welfare of these children. We cannot drag our feet on this. This is the sort of nonsense that creates distrust in the community and makes them all the more reluctant to support us with their tax dollars.

Here's the original press release from MNPS:

-----Original Message-----
From: McMillin, Woody W (MNPS) []
Thursday, July 20, 2006 1:15 PM
To:;;;;; kay brooks;;; Mebinin Awipi;
Cc: Bryant, Melissa (MNPS); Waters, Julie W (MNPS); Garcia, Pedro E (MNPS)
Subject: test data

We have had several inquiries from the media concerning the impending release of 2005-06 test scores. Because the answers are complex, we have been responding in writing to help them get the facts straight. The explanation may also be helpful to all of you because various media may be calling you for quotes.

* * * * * *

As the backdrop for the information below, MNPS did not get any individual student or school/system-level reports by the June dates targeted by the state. That said, here’s the status of the individual student data.

The district received the student data somewhat later than the target date of June 15, as paper copies only, in a number of boxes that arrived over several days. Those copies were picked up by our principals July 19 as part of their first day back to work for the new school year. Although a date has not been set for distribution of this data to students and their families, our goal is to do this as quickly as possible (we were very close to our Aug. 25 target date last year).

The principals also received some school-level summary data concerning the TCAP achievement tests and the writing tests. This data came to the district the first week in July, again in paper format only. This information is under embargo by the state – and we’ve not been informed of the eventual release date – but even if it weren’t, it’s not sufficient for the principals to ascertain if their schools have met their NCLB targets.

A note about the embargo: The embargo time between the release of the data to the districts and the formal release to the public is built in to allow the district to check the data and make any appeals based on district information that doesn’t correspond to the state’s results. Again, the state has not informed us as to when the embargo will be lifted.

Concerning system data:

Last year, we were able to release some preliminary scores because we received the data electronically from the state in June and because the state’s embargo was not as strict. This year, neither circumstance applies. The state has been emphatic about the embargo and until just a couple days ago, we had received only paper copies, which are insufficient for compilation of preliminary data.

In addition, the state’s target date for embargoed release of NCLB data was July 7, but that information has still not been released to the districts. That distinction is important, because the NCLB calculations reflect such factors as students who are continuously enrolled in a school or who take alternative or out-of-level tests in the special education program.

We can only release data of any variety when the state lifts its embargo, which usually coincides with the state’s first announcement of test score results. That release came very near Aug. 1 last year, the earliest ever in my memory, but the state has not informed us of this year’s expected release date.

We understand the public’s eagerness to get the scores. We share that anticipation because the data is important to our planning process for the coming school year and because it is an important aspect of accountability to our community.

Woody W. McMillin
Director - Public Information & Community Relations
Metro Nashville Public Schools
2601 Bransford Avenue
, TN 37204

Friday, July 21, 2006

BOE agenda July 25, 2006

Here's a link to a .pdf of the agenda for Tuesday's BOE meeting. If you've got a minute cruise through that and let me know if anything jumps out at you.

The BOE is allowing 13 BOE candidates to have 3 minutes each to speak to the public.

The Organized Neighbors of Edgehill have asked to speak as has the Encore Parents Advisory Council.

Contracts for approval:
West End Middle to Robert S. Biscane & Co.
Eakin Elementary to Porter Roofing
Hillsboro High to Shankle-Lind (ADA upgrade)
East Literature to Competition Athletic Construction

Textbooks for approval:
Appleby, et al, The Language of Literature; World Liteature, 2006, McDougal Littell

Interesting comments about the book here.

"Such texts bastardize literature and history, reducing authors and their works to historical facts to be memorized - what Alfie Kohn, author of The Schools Our Children Deserve, calls "the bunch o' facts" theory of learning. Students are jerked from one excerpt of literature to another, given no chance for the kind of sustained reading that stimulates the imagination."
We're into reading whole books around our home. The only 'jerking" that occurs is when chores haven't been done or it's dinner time.

Negotiation issues with the MNEA.

A zero tolerance discipline hearing appeal.

We'll hear from Steve Heyneman of Vandy regarding Poverty and Academic Achievement.

The Director will report on Gifted testing and Pre-K.
They'll be reports from the Naming of Schools Committee, the Committee to Evaluate the Director and the Governance Committee.

All between 5:00 p.m. and 8:10 p.m. this Tuesday, July 25, 2006 at the Board office 2601 Bransford Avenue.

Thanks for noticing

The Tennessean threw their editorial support behind Gracie Porter this school board election cycle and so it did seem a bit like I'd entered an alternative universe when I read in their editorial this morning:

"As board members weigh the [BOE Policy Governance] committee proposal, they should consider the opinion of the board's newest member, Kay Brooks, who said that while she understands the need for a computer or fax machine, she would prefer that not-for-profits or community groups provide them. Metro should give board members the resources they need, but Brooks' point is that priorities are important in using school funds. Taxpayers need to see cost-effectiveness at every turn. " Tennessean editorial

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Board Benefits

Today's Tennessean reports that at yesterday's policy governance meeting we discussed the pay and benefits of being on the school board.

Board member Kay Brooks said she understands the need for a computer or a fax machine but would prefer to see a not-for-profit or community group step up and supply them. Currently, the district provides the equipment.

"I just can't agree with supplying that … I would say no," Brooks said. "We're still having to deal with the perception of the board taking it away from small children."

That 'it" being money.

Part of the problem in providing these items, as I've said before, is the comingling of personal and board business on the same equipment. I don't know of any way to do that cleanly and it seems best to not even go there.

When Ms. Warden expressed concern that people of means would be discouraged from running for the school board because they couldn't afford these tools I suggested that perhaps these tools could come from another source.

I was also fairly blunt in opining that anyone seeking a position on the school board ought to start with the understanding that they're adults and this is a serious responsibility. They ought to know that it will require these or similar tools and arrange for obtaining and maintaining them. No board member, or potential board member, should whine about not being able to communicate with the Central Office or other board members because tax payers didn't provide these tools.

What wasn't reported was that I announced that I will recuse myself from the vote on these benefits because I'm running for the office.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Tennessean errors

Today's Tennessean continues their look at the school board races they started in yesterday's edition. It's been interesting reading. I did notice two glaring errors in today's segment that should be corrected.

"While Brooks was nominated by Councilman Mike Jameson of Lockeland Springs, five of six council members who live in the district voted for Porter and expressed frustration that the governing body went against the will of the area's representatives."
It was CM Michael Craddock that nominated me. According to this page at MNPS District 5 has only four councilmen representing it: Pam Murray, Mike Jameson, Erick Cole and Jason Hart. But the point is still valid--only Jason Hart voted for me after trying to defer the vote. [Yes, he's the son of school board candidate Lawrence Hart.]

and under the box of information for Lawrence Hart:

"chairman of the Eaglewood Development District, "

I believe that should have been Inglewood Development District. I also know that shortly after I started on the Inglewood Neighborhood Association's board several years back I asked him for financial information and information about who comprised this board. I've never received it.

UPDATE: The Tennessean has corrected the online version. It's tough to make a mistake that you know you know better than to do, and I'm sure Ms. Riley does, but then have it printed for all the world to see, well, that's tough. Some Monday mornings are tougher than others.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Early voting begins

I and other candidates were at Howard School bright and early this morning to welcome early voters and thank them for participating in the process.

There were a couple of folks that weren't appreciative of any candidate's thanks. There's just no need to respond to a cheery thank you with rudeness. You've had your say on the ballot. Going on and on about why you didn't vote for the thanker only makes you look petty and, maybe more importantly, reflects badly on your candidate.

School Board Members also there were Dr. Mebinin Awipi and Kathleen Harkey. I didn't notice any of the other school board candidates there. [Correction: Candidate Karen Johnson was there.] By 9:00 it was plenty hot on that gravel parking lot. Ms. Harkey was sharing her ice cold water and Judge Dalton her sunscreen and the shade from her large sign truck.

The new voting machines were demonstrated at our Inglewood Neighborhood Alliance meeting last Thursday. The demonstrator model was a bit shakey but these were plenty sturdy. I did have a bit of trouble with the touch screen. Maybe it was the sunscreen on my finger but sometimes I had to hit the name several times or come back to it after touching other names before it would 'take'. Don't give up too soon. The ballot is screens and screens long (13 for me) and the school board candidates are at the very end. Hang in there.

Here's a link to the schedule for early voting. It's only at Howard School this week and will include other locations beginning Saturday 7/22. I would encourage you to vote early. You never know what unexpected thing may come up.

In what all too often seems like a battle of the signs it really does come down to votes. So no matter how you vote, I'm glad you did.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Of course

To set it up I'll refer you to a great Tennessean piece by Claudette Riley highlighting teacher absenteeism. NewsChannel 5 also covered this here and here. You may remember that Director of Schools Dr. Pedro Garcia was also concerned enough about this issue to mention it in his State of the Schools speech in February.

So here's a snip from the Tennessean article from April 29:

McGavock High teacher Erick Huth has been excused from 42½ days of work this school year to conduct business on behalf of the local teachers' union.

And here's the clarifying comment from the City Paper this morning indicating they tried to be fair in their coverage:

Eric Huth, MNEA’s chief negotiator, could not be reached for comment.
Of course.

I believe Mr. Huth needs to decide who he works for. He needs to choose either the MNEA or the children of MNPS. But it's enough of having both feet firmly planted in two camps.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Legitimate voice

I've come across two interesting quotes in the last couple of months. I've been critized in some quarters as not having a legitimate voice in public education because my children don't attend public schools. I maintain that as long as the system requires my vote and my tax money to operate I have a legitimate voice and should not be denied full partnership in the process.

I'm not alone in my thinking.

"Ownership: Nashville's schools belong to all of us. We need to include parents and community members as invested contributors to our schools, not silent partners."

Gracie Porter 34 year MNPS employee and candidate for the 5th District. [the page isn't loading currently.]

"Every citizen in the community has special gifts to bring to the table. I'm just really interested in communities owning and being involved in their public schools. It's not going to be enough for professional educators to be the only ones that have an investment. Our whole city has an investment in the health of our public schools, whether or not we have children in them."

Reverand Lisa Hunt [who preceeded me as the representative of the 5th District and resigned after 3 years to take another job] quoted in The Tennessean
July 5, 2003 in clarifying her opinion that more community involvement was the answer to problems facing schools. This said about a month after her appointment to the Metro School Board by the Metro Council following the resignation of her predecessor Patricia Crotwell.

Thanks for the support, ladies.

This is an important issue. Because if they can silence me they can silence others who are "only" voters and taxpayers. This whole system is accountable to voters and taxpayers. Let's hold their feet to the fire and demand a full return for our investment. Our future, as well as the future of the children who will inherit this world, depends upon our taking a stand and saying "This is not good enough."

We can do better. We MUST do better.

Gracie Porter's scores

Anyone can go to the State of Tennessee's Department of Education website and look at the scores for local schools. They've changed the format over time so it's a bit difficult to compare information over the ten years the information is available. What is readily available are the scores for Gracie Porter's principalship at Alex Green Elementary School from 2001 to 2003

I've graphed those scores for your review. If this performance is good enough--vote for Gracie Porter. If not--maybe what we need is a real fresh face that will actually require better from our administrators. But I suspect that if a downward trend was good enough for Ms. Porter for her own school--she probably thinks it's good enough for the rest of Nashville and won't hold her colleagues to any higher a standard. That should not be. We can do better for these children. We MUST do better.

And because I know my scanner isn't the best I'll post the actual scores here:

Language Arts:
2001 47
2002 47
2003 47

2001 46
2002 45
2003 45

2001 45
2002 46
2003 46

Social Studies:
2001 45
2002 44
2003 43

2001 41
2002 40
2003 37

Fresh face?

When is the newbie not a fresh face? When after just 7 weeks on the board of education she's lumped with two full-termers. Oddly, the candidate with 34 years in the system that's in serious need of repair does get the endorsement under the headline "Chamber wants only fresh faces on the school board".

To be fair, I didn't fill in the Chamber's survey. I'm not convinced the Chamber really has the interests of the children at heart. I asked their Bob Obrohta at the Mayor's State of Metro speech to provide the community with website links to back copies of their report cards so we would have a better understanding of where we'd been over time. They have invested a huge amount of time and resources in producing those report cards but they are not on the Chamber's website for comparative review. Mr. Obrohta has been unable to provide those even after being reminded weeks later. On 6/5/06 he wrote me that he was only involved in the last two and

"Prior to that it was other individuals and I have had difficulty finding their records."
For a group of business people who depend on accurate information to be successful I have a hard time believing that they'd tolerate this loss of cumulative information in their own enterprises. It shouldn't be anything less in regard to the education of Nashville's children.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

School supply lists

Members of the Nashville BOE were sent an e-mail this afternoon with this suggestion from a parent:

I am aware of the fact that the State of Tennessee is to have a sales tax holiday aimed at helping parents purchase school supplies for their children. This is to happen the first weekend in August.

It would be helpful if each school could make supply lists available prior to that time. The lists could be posted on each school's website. Granted, this information might not be readily available to each family but it would be available to the majority of them.

That's a great idea!

And I'll remind folks of my own plea from two years ago:

To Miss Young and her collegues.

This isn’t a story about us…it’s a recounting of the struggle of two other families and my hope that by my telling it, something better can be done.

"This afternoon two of my daughters and I were in Wal-mart at Rivergate looking for a pencil sharpener. Last week their shelves had been crammed with supplies and the aisles filled with parents jostling with lists in their hands and their faces displaying the earnestness of Christmas Eve shoppers. Everything you could have wanted or needed was there. But by today…read the rest

We dismissed a teacher

At about 2:00 a.m. this morning the Metro Nashville School Board dismissed a tenured teacher by a vote of 6 to 1. The teacher was charged by the administration in March of this year with incompetence, insubordination, neglect of duties and conduct unbecoming a member of the teaching profession--all as outlined in TCA 49-5-501. The BOE members upheld each of those charges and finally voted that dismissal was appropriate.

Dr. Mebenin Awipi abstained on the conduct unbecoming charge and voted no on the insubordination charge but did vote to dismiss.

Mr. Ed Kendall abstained on the neglect of duty charge and no on all the others including the vote to dismiss. He even moved that we dismiss the charges which failed for lack of a second.

The other BOE members voting yes on all charges and for the dismissal were: myself, George Blue, Pam Garrett, Kathy Nevill, and Marsha Warden.

It was an unpleasant task for everyone. It involved the lives of children, parents, co-workers, attorneys, union representatives, administrators, and eventually 7 members of the BOE and their staff. We heard nearly 30 39 hours of testimony that went long into the nights and reviewed a two inch stack of exhibits dating from October of 2002 involving two different principals in two different schools and several other education professionals that had interacted with this teacher.

For my part I found it impossible to review some of the lengthier exhibits and give proper attention to testimony at the same time and so at the end of the first session asked to take the stack of exhibits home. This request broke tradition but was allowed and I discovered that one page of a letter from the teacher had been left out. It was provided the next evening. It turned out to not be vital but, for the teacher's sake, I believe a complete record is important.

The teacher was given extreme latitude in presenting their testimony. Often their comments went far afield and frequently included unsubstantiated charges and conclusions about the conduct of others and those were rarely challenged. I'm convinced that they had every opportunity to have their full say in their defense.

What I would love to have had available and what wasn't provided by the teacher, were the Value Added scores for the classes. THAT, in my opinion, would have been a clear demonstration of their teaching effectiveness. But it wasn't offered. However, the testimony and exhibits showed a clear pattern of behavior that could not continue even with the best Value Added scores.

Kudos to the board, the staff and those tireless court reporters, they all acted with serious concern for the rights of the teacher while keeping the welfare of the children foremost in their minds.

All in all it shouldn't take four years, some 30 hours times 15 immediate participants, who knows how much other time and money in trying to handle the situation over four years' time and then preparing the case in order to remove a teacher. We've got to be able to more efficiently learn which employees just don't fit the job and encourage them on to better career paths.

I do hope this teacher finds a better path for their talents and skills that turns this very difficult time into the beginning of a much better season of their life.