Thursday, January 31, 2008

BOE is unsure--I'm not

It's the sub-headline that tells the real story regarding the MNPS BOE and Nashville Mayor Karl Dean's 'partnership' to find a new superintendent for Metro schools. That sub-headline at the Tennessean is:

"Board members seem unsure about next step in process"
And that's exactly it. We've hired 9 people to run the district, they rubber stamped pretty much everything former superintendent Dr. Pedro Garcia wanted, they were propped up by the business establishment and the unions and haven't been held accountable by the electorate, it was assumed that since they had legal and education experience they were qualified and so here we are. They are unsure about how to hire one employee. Like nearly everything else they've decided to 'hire' out the hard work which will then allow them to avoid accepting all the blame later. They'll let the mayor help, they'll call in the Tennessee School Boards Association and before the final decision is made they'll have created a community group to advise them. What are these folks getting paid to actually do? When things are cruising along they wield that rubber stamp pretty well, but let the system wobble a bit and they just aren't up for the task. One of them needs to grow a backbone and start leading.

From BOE member's Karen Johnson blog:
"...the School Board in a 7-2 (Marsha Warden, Steve Glover, JoAnn Brannon, Mark North, George Thompson, Gracie Porter and Ed Kindall -7) (Karen Johnson, David Fox -2) vote moved the following motion from Board Member George Thompson "I move that we request the involvement and participation of Mayor Karl Dean in helping to identify a candidate for interim director of schools to be selected by this board....then at the appropriate time the Mayor would further be involved to participate with the board in a search for a permanent Director that will be hired by the board."
Karen Johnson offered an amendment to include 'all stakeholders' in this motion. It was voted down:
The amendment failed by a 5-4 vote (Marsha Warden, Steve Glover, Mark North, JoAnn Brannon, and David Fox -5) (Karen Johnson, Ed Kindall, George Thompson, Gracie Porter -4)

From the City Paper:
[Mayor Karl] Dean later added that he believes the interim director position should be filled quickly, and that he believes the best process would be for Dean himself to find members of the community willing and qualified to fill the temporary position. The board could then make the final decision.
This is just a bad idea. first of's not his job. He's got enough on his plate. It is the BOE's job and they need to earn their paychecks. What quickly hiring someone will do is give the appearance of stability and progress in time for the August BOE election.

At this point in time the MNPS staff doesn't need the distraction of taking on a new person and training them in the finer points of running the school system. Something like this will slow them down and eat up valuable resources at a time when we don't have them to spare.

For now, Chris Henson needs to focus on the budget. I suggest the other 'cabinet members' can step up and finish out the school year and begin planning for the next. They've been around long enough to have done this several times, this isn't reinventing the wheel. They can do this. Likely, without the heavy hand of the former superintendent they'll have a great opportunity to shine and show us just how successfully they can work together and actually get the job done.

This season of change is a great time to see which of the BOE members is up to the task of actually running the system and has earned the right to stay on the BOE. Pay attention and remember this August. Remember, all but North, gave former superintendent Pedro Garcia a hefty raise and voted to renew his contract, Porter once, the rest over, and over and over again.

From left to right:
Ed Kindall on the BOE 23 years since 7/9/1985,
George Thompson, more than 12 years: 4 months on the BOE in 1991 and then back on 8/1/1996,
MNPS BOE Chair Marsha Warden on the BOE since 8/24/2004 ,
Gracie Porter elected in August of 2006 and
Mark North since spring of 2007.


din819go said...

Sadly - I am not so sure the board can guide an application, interviewing and hiring of it new school director. What leads me to this conclusion is the fact that they had a succession plan in place but nothing further. Looks like they assumed the successor would be the new director. There is no plan for doing a search for either an interim or "permanent" director. Out with all the board members.

The resolution accepted by the board from George Thompson just passes yet again accountability on to someone else if that group does not come up with a good candidate.

I am not so sure the current cabinet can get the district through the planning process for the next year either. (I imagine they can get the district through the balance of the year.) The cabinet is not made up of the strongest cookies either.

Very, very sad days for Nashville!

Question -- do you by chance know who is running for the board seats that are up for election? My fear is either there are no new candidates or equally weak ones. I am not sure when the deadline is for filing papers either.

Kay Brooks said...

I haven't heard/read anything about who is running or even running for reelection. I don't know the deadline for filing either. Check with the Election Commission.

I don't know if they even seriously thought that Henson would be the interim director or not. What I do believe is that the system has been on cruise control and suddenly that's not going to even half work. It dramatically points out the need to find and support great BOE candidates. Not just the usual crop of lawyers and former educators.

Nashteach said...

In 2006, the filing deadline for August SB races was April 6.