Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Chamber speaks and says nothing

For 16 years the Nashville Chamber of Commerce has been creating report cards for the Metro Nashville Public Schools. You'll have to take our word on that as they do not have 16 years worth of report cards on their website. That's probably because they do not want folks grading them on their report cards over that time and their lack of impact on the system. It's great PR to rent space, call a meeting, alert the press and pass out slick looking brochures (or promise their mailing at a later date) but it's another thing to actually have a cumulative record of how many of those 16 years they've said nearly the same thing about MNPS.

And not one of those report cards includes an apology for helping hire Pedro Garcia or elect BOE members that have enabled the system to be exactly where it is...on the cusp of being taken over by the State of Tennessee with an embarrassing graduation rate and a system that is losing its middle class base and no longer reflects our city on the whole.

Today's article in the Tennessean could have been written with just a few tweaks nearly every one of the past 16 years.

The article in the Tennessean ends with what is supposed to be the very good news of a miserly pilot program involving 40 out of 75,000 students that will teach them "about career tracks, resumes, fundraising, and job shadowing". According to the City Paper "The kids involved — 20 from each school — will meet two days each week to help kids internalize the reality of life after high school." Seriously, how hard is that to incorporate into every high school and how completely inadequate is this effort? The reality of life is that this is too small an effort to make any real difference to the students at MNPS and really only provides a photo op and line for his upcoming gubernatorial bio for the Superintendent of Schools Mayor Karl Dean.

Again, from the Tennessean article:

"Among other things, the report would like to see comparison data so Nashville could compare its school performance with other American cities;"
The Chamber doesn't have to wish for this, it already exists and if they'd been paying attention to more than their own agenda they'd have encouraged its use. Much of that data was provided by the Save Our Students folks the past several years or can be found at the excellent Education Consumers Foundation here:


Nashteach said...

Much of that data was provided by the Save Our Students folks the past several years

Link to what they have publicly available. Your point about having more data from the Chamber available is a great one, but then you tout SOS which has nothing available except maybe to Councilman Crafton. I recall you'd somehow gotten a few graphs but they aren't under the tags I'd thought you would have assigned them.

I'm a little skeptical of the CoC's involvement, but on the other hand, I do see they've done some things to help. It would be nice, not only if they provided PDFs going back 16 years, but a document with all that data and more- and yes- that compares us to other cities- that would indeed be a move that really serves as an aide more than a slick pr document that you can't manipulate at all. That aside, as slick documents about mnps go, I'm fairly impressed with it.

Nashteach said...

Here it is. But no links to SOS.

din819go said...

Guys -- agree or disagree with the report and its content. However it was the chamber report card that first started reporting school performance data several years ago that the board had been demanding and never got. Talk about showing up the district and the director.

It is the report card that has made the district address some but no where near all of the challenges facing middle school, start advanced classes in middle school (sadly these are now a thing of the past) and other items.

If you look at nothing else in the report card please review the data. There are several years of comparative data. At the high school level please look at the disparity in the ACT scores.

Please realize only two of the high schools have an average ACT score that is more than enough for the HOPE scholarship and out of remedial classes in colleges. The remaining high schools do not prepare the majority of the kids for college. If the students go to college they land in remedial classes that do NOT count for college credit, cost additional money and receive NO benefit from the HOPE scholarship.

The other area of focus which I believe the whole city should focus on is teacher quality. Isn't that really the most important issue? We need a strong curriculum and great teachers in every classroom that motive and do all in their power to help children excel at their highest potential?

We are a long way from having the best teachers in every classroom in this district.

Kay Brooks said...

The SOS folks haven't created a website and I know that's frustrating. They have always provided copies to the BOE and the Tennessean regularly hosted much of it but, of course, it falls behind their paid section after a couple of weeks.

The SOS folks already made the point about the ACT scores: Focus on the Message from last year and from 2005 at The Charts (scroll down). I've probably got the other years info here somewhere.

Yes, teacher quality is very important. At what point are we going to be allowed to evaluate them and fire them when they're inadequate for the job without it requiring near abuse of a child and 30 hours of hearings?