Monday, May 19, 2008

BOE Family Reunion II

I attended the 'focus' group at the MNPS Board Room hosted by headhunters Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, Ltd. Their Joan Levy, John Simpson and Doyle Valdez were there to hear comments from former board members and current Board candidates. I was surprised at how few showed up. I was disappointed to see only five former Board members and only three candidates attend. We were only told of the meeting late last week so it's reasonable to assume that it wasn't enough advance notice for some folks. We did have the option of returning the questionnaire by mail or fax. Hopefully, most folks did that much.

Because one former Board member seemed concerned about 'press', they know I blog, I won't name names but there were some interesting comments and I have a few observations to make.

First off let me say that the Board Room has been completely renovated and it's palatial compared to most of our classrooms. That's just shameful. It's my opinion that the Board Room should be the last place to look so good, have such comfortable chairs and get a new paint job. They've also added some large screen TV screens and a huge panel that now blocks the view of their inner conference room door. I guess that's so folks won't see BOE members getting up and going back for snacks, making phone calls, etc. during meetings.

Speaking of privacy one former BOE member did bring up the question of sunshine laws. Were they, as consultants, acting as agents of the BOE and thus required to submit to sunshine laws? The headhunters hadn't dealt with Tennessee sunshine laws and so they perked up at the thought that what they considered was going to be off the record may not actually be. It'll be interesting to see how that works out. Already the meeting was providing valuable.

Ms Levy of Hazard, et al, said that the plan was to gather community input on what the new Director of Schools should look like, advertise for qualified candidates, go through the responses and present to the BOE 3-5 candidates for them to interview. The goal being to provide those names in September so they can offer a contract late in October. The public won't know the names until they're whittled down to the select few the BOE actually wants to interview. It'll all be out in the open then and the real vetting can begin. Errr....that is if Tennessee sunshine laws don't say differently.

If former Director of Schools Pedro Garcia had a fan in the room, they remained silent while much of the chaos that the system is currently in was laid at his feet. The group made it pretty clear that the new director will have a mess to clean up and have serious trust issues. Unless, as one former member wisely pointed out, the new guy is someone we already know and trust. One candidate actually voiced their opinion that the new director should be a Tennessean.

I believe we also agreed that Nashville has all the resources necessary to make this system work. World class leaders in education, lots of moneyed citizens, a committed core of citizens willing to do hard work.

After this meeting I'm wondering if a yearly summit of all former BOE members might be helpful. There has got to be a huge history reserve that could be utilized by the current BOE if only they had the opportunity to network. Names were mentioned this morning by some folks long off the Board that I had long ago forgotten. It might even help if MNPS at least provided some sort of timeline of former BOE members, directors, etc. so if someone wanted to reach out to them, they might be able to.

File under Petty Distractions: In expressing my views I repeatedly referred to the potential candidate as 'he'. I was interrupted by one former BOE member when they couldn't contain themself any longer and had to insert 'or she'. I don't care if it's a he or she. I do care about having to stumble over the s/he while I'm trying to get my thoughts out there as this complainant eventually did during their own comment time.

I am grateful for the opportunity to provide input for this search. I was glad to take some time to be as helpful as I can so that the children of MNPS will get better than what they've gotten. On my drive there I passed two public housing areas and was reminded again what a huge impact, for positive or ill, that the school experience of those children could be. I want to encourage you to take some time to provide the BOE with your own thoughts on who should next steer this system. It is absolutely clear to me that this system will not succeed if parents, taxpayers and voters don't remain involved.

Email all the BOE members with this link.

1 comment:

din819go said...

okay -- so what do you want to see in the new director? thanks!