Monday, January 21, 2008

And so we begin anew

Garcia is gone. The search starts for a new leader for the MNPS system. If ever there was time for prayer...this is one of them.

I don't have any problem leaving the system in the hands of Chris Henson in the meantime. From the moment I met him he has always been friendly, helpful, gracious and very professional. I never got the impression from him that I did from others that I was the enemy in the camp. I don't think the BOE members should be in a big rush to fill this position. First order of business is to create a budget for the upcoming year...and there isn't anyone else better equipped to help them do that than the man that's been doing it, the new interim Director of Schools Chris Henson.

We also need to consider that this August 5/9ths of the board is up for re-election. Should the very folks that gave Garcia a raise last year (or extended his contract for 3 years the year before) really be the folks to bring in a new superintendent? My concern is that they believed what Garcia had been telling them all along. Will they also believe and fail to properly vet the information any new candidate will provide? A tool we have now that they didn't really have back in 2001 when they hired Garcia is the Internet. It's going to be easier than ever to check a candidates qualifications and BS factor---if the BOE actually takes the time to do their research.

My advice to the mayor...don't jump on this too quickly. Certainly, let the BOE know your opinion, offer whatever resources you have available but don't do their job for them, don't protect them from themselves. They made this bed, they need to lie in it a while. They don't need to create a separate search committee that they can later blame for not getting it right. They need to roll up their sleeves and earn the money they're being paid.

This from this morning's City Paper:

The troubles of the school system became directly linked to the city’s political life as well. First, in 2006, the Metro School Board saw a huge turnover in its ranks at the ballot box. The board members turned out of office were largely those who opposed keeping Garcia. The successful, insurgent board candidates were backed by major players in the city’s business community who built a protective political wall around Garcia.
As one of those turned out of office I appreciate this paragraph. And when the political players who have been orchestrating the makeup of the BOE and protecting Garcia start up again to present their favorite for his replacement, will the city pause to consider their track record?

Whoever replaces Garcia must recognize that we live in a new education world. One that is filled with more and more options and people with means and will are leaving the system. Will the new director recognize the changing educational delivery system landscape or will the be stuck in the old way of doing things? If they value brick and mortar and placating the adults running the system more than the needs of the students and their education consuming parents don't bother coming. If they realize that the public system is no longer the monopoly it was and is actually in competition with other education choices and is prepared to retool the system to meet those realities, lets talk about how they would bring Nashville into the 21st Century.

Karen Johnson has original documentation regarding Garcia's departure.

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