Yesterday's real surprise wasn't what the Chamber thinks needs to be done about MNPS or even Fred's dropping out. It was David Fox's out of the blue statement that the BOE he was elected to serve on should be, instead, appointed by the mayor. How are his fellow BOE members not supposed to be insulted by this?
According to the usual media sources, Fox made his statement to a gaggle of reporters after the Nashville Chamber of Commerce's Report Card report. I hung out a bit afterward and there was no 'gather 'round folks' at all. This was a very low key announcement. Maybe he wanted to take advantage of the reporters being there without taking away any of the Chamber's thunder. Well, that didn't work.
To have a truly effective superintendent requires a truly effective board of education. And now, after a few decades of electing school board members, we must do whatever is necessary to ensure that people with the appropriate expertise and experiences are governing the school system.Ooookay. Does this read elitist to anyone else? I agree that we need an effective BOE and I agree that if they're effective the superintendent will be effective. But I'm concerned about what Fox (or any mayor) will consider 'appropriate expertise and experience'. For the most part we've got lawyers and teachers on the BOE. How's that working for you? Oh, you want " people who have experience successfully leading or governing big organizations through challenging times." Define successfully, big and challenging.
How's this mayor appointed board going to sit with those that balk at non-users of the public education system running the system? He made a non-public school choice. I don't fault him for making the choice but there are those out there that did/do. Some of them were apoplectic about about a BOE member not having had their children in the system. What are the chances that those with 'appropriate expertise and experience' didn't make the same decision the mayor did?
The problem is that the unions, the chamber and the system got, for the most part, the members and superintendent they wanted. Maybe that's where we need to make some changes.
MNPS is a large, complicated organization. More than 10,000 employees, a budget approaching $600 million, fast-shifting demographics among its customer base, pervasive governmental regulations. Transforming this system into a district that provides a high performing school for every student requires a skill set you just can’t get through public elections.And how is this different from the mayoral position or the council, or congress? Who should appoint them to ensure they have the 'appropriate expertise and experience?" The reality is it's up to voters to decide what is 'appropriate expertise and experience'. They're going to blow it occasionally, and it's a messy process, granted. Taking this power out of their hands is a very wrong move.
This only works when the elected mayor is one you agree with. The disconnect from the voting public, parents and taxpayers will be huge. An appointed board will be accountable to the mayor and not the citizens whose money and children will be subject to this board. You think your BOE rep isn't responsive now? Just wait.
The biggest understatement in the coverage comes from the City Paper:
These efforts may not make Fox popular with the other eight members of the Board of Education. They thought MNPS BOE Chair Marsha Warden's direct order to Garcia was a problem. What are they going to do with this? While I don't agree with Fox's suggestion...I'm thrilled he rocked their world.
The Education Mayor: Aligning leadership, experience and accountability
David A. Fox
January 22, 2008
Right now, all eyes are focused on who the next director of schools in Nashville will be. Speaking only for myself and not for the school board, I don’t think that’s where everyone should be looking.
To have a truly effective superintendent requires a truly effective board of education. And now, after a few decades of electing school board members, we must do whatever is necessary to ensure that people with the appropriate expertise and experiences are governing the school system.
Beyond that, as the Chamber’s Education Report Card today points out, “the governance structure of our school system represents a misalignment of funding authority, policymaking responsibility and managerial effectiveness.”
MNPS is a large, complicated organization. More than 10,000 employees, a budget approaching $600 million, fast-shifting demographics among its customer base, pervasive governmental regulations. Transforming this system into a district that provides a high performing school for every student requires a skill set you just can’t get through public elections.
On the school board, we must have people who have experience successfully leading or governing big organizations through challenging times. You can assemble a board populated with those rare skills and experiences only through a careful appointment process.
You know the omnipresent bumper sticker: “Education is the most important thing our community does?” I believe that really is more than just a feel-good slogan. And if I am right about that, then most Nashvillians should be ready now to embrace the changes needed to see to it that our most qualified citizens are on the school board…governing with experienced hands this institution that is so vital to Nashville’s future.
It is exceptional good fortune that our city is led by a mayor whose educational mantra is “I want to be as involved in schools as I possibly can be.” Mayor Karl Dean is a rarity among elected officials – a man who seems eager not just to have some authority over public schools but also to take responsibility for their results.
Were he given authority by the state, Nashville’s mayor could use the influence of his position to draft our community’s most qualified residents to form a successful and diverse Metro Nashville Board of Education. And the mayor’s profile in the city could help keep public education one of Nashville’s highest priorities.In order to ensure that each student in Nashville realizes his or her ability to excel at levels not previously imagined, I request that as soon as practically and legally possible, Governor Bredesen empower the Mayor with authority over Metro Nashville Public Schools and support legislative efforts to give Nashville’s mayor the power to appoint all members of the Metro Nashville Board of Public Education. Nashville Scene (warning: adult site)