Monday, December 25, 2006

Gloria in Excelsis Deo

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God,
Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.
Isaiah 9

He's no longer the babe in the manger--

To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor
and glory and power,
for ever and ever!
Revelation 5
Yes, I am coming soon.


Come, Lord Jesus.

Revelation 22

Friday, December 22, 2006

Lump of Coal second year in a row

TCPR's annual Lump of Coal award goes again this year to Governor Phil Bredesen and the Tennessee General Assembly--

for raiding the state’s budget surplus to fund wasteful pork projects instead of returning the money to taxpayers by suspending the sales tax on groceries.
The state’s grocery tax, which disproportionately burdens the state’s poorest families, generated $483 million last year. Had state leaders decided to return part of the surplus to overtaxed Tennesseans by suspending the sales tax on groceries for a year, every family in the state would have an average of $210 more in their pockets this holiday season to pay bills, visit loved ones or have a few extra presents under the tree. The governor and state legislators chose instead to waste the money.
When it was within their power to legitimately help the poor--the Governor and the legislature ignored the fact the money isn't theirs and decided to keep it for such important projects as golf courses, secret meeting rooms and the "Speaker Jimmy Naifeh National Guard Armory".

Maybe these folks shop at a different Kroger--but mine won't take any of the above in trade for bread, milk and eggs. So what I, and a LOT of other families need, is our hard earned cash back--not signage, not a smoke filled room, and certainly not another lawn to maintain.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

They're all pro-education

Some statements from the Nashville mayoral candidates to consider. Yes, it's still early but I was curious to see how they stood at this point in time. CM At-Large Buck Dozier has certainly given the rest of the field some things to consider. He's exactly right--they'll all say they're 'pro-education' but what does that really mean? Buck's pretty clear, but the rest...

David Briley: "As your Mayor, I'll remain committed to building on the progress we've made in education. With continued proper funding and accountability, our children will get the quality education they need to succeed in today's global marketplace." David Briley's website

Bob Clement: "As a native Nashvillian, Bob Clement attended Metro public schools and graduated from Hillsboro High School. As the former president of Cumberland University, Bob Clement understands the challenges that principals, teachers, and students constantly face. He is committed to providing a QUALITY EDUCATION for all students. As Mayor, he will oppose efforts to drain money from public education and fight to make Nashville schools stronger. Educational opportunities are critically important for our students." Bob Clement's website

Karl Dean: On education, Dean said it is “the key to our identity…. As mayor, I pledge that I will be a tireless advocate for creative management of our school system. I will be a tireless advocate for adequate funding for our school system. I firmly believe that if we had schools that our children deserve, that we would not have to spend a penny on business recruitment. People would be flocking to Nashville. My goal is that people would move to Nashville for the schools — that’s what we’ll accomplish.” Nashville City Paper 12-20-2006

Note the David Fox in the article is NOT the David Fox currently on the school board.

Buck Dozier: [Who is getting more space because he's proposed more.] Read his 11 page statement calling for this mayoral race to be a referendum on education. This is from the City Paper of 12/15/06.

Laying out a preliminary eight-point plan for improving education in Nashville, which he called the The Athens Project, Dozier said he would use the mayor’s office as a bully pulpit to advocate for education reform and would strongly support school choice if elected.

And he would launch a 10-year capital campaign to create a $1 billion capital endowment for the public school system — with a goal of providing $75 million annually for “additional teachers, smaller class sizes, pre-K programs, music and art instruction” among other educational programs.

“Once upon a time, Nashville was regarded as the Athens of the South … We earned the title because Nashville was regarded back in the 1800s as a place of progressive thinkers, a place that was home to numerous institutions of higher learning, a place where, as in the times of Ancient Greece, thinking and learning were held in high regard,” Dozier said in a speech at the announcement, held in the Metro Council chamber downtown.

“Nashville is still home to numerous higher education institutions, and we have many progressive thinkers — but somehow we lost the title of Athens over time. What remains of this distinction are symbols that many citizens do not even recognize,” Dozier continued, saying he would fashion Nashville into the “Athens of Education in America.”

Dozier said he would commission an independent audit of the school system to determine how many dollars are flowing unnecessarily into the bureaucracy.

Dozier also said he would firmly support school choice — “A key success to learning starts with parental buy-in to their child’s education. One way I see to ensure greater buy-in is to give parents real options for schooling,” Dozier said.

Then, after the press conference, he elaborated: “I am 100 percent behind choice — charter schools, home schooling are some of the … aspects of choice in our community. … I welcome quality alternatives to public education — I don’t see them as a threat to public education at all; they actually enhance the learning environment in Nashville.”
Kenneth Eaton: "I will improve education by improving Technology in the schools . Improvements in computers and software, as well as more classes offering Technology training. This will improve our workforce's preparedness for this new movement to a Technology based economy." Kenneth Eaton's website

Howard Gentry: No specific comments from this candidate and nothing on his website.

David Pelton: “Education is the foundation from which everything else can grow. As my own children go through the public education system I want them and every other child in Nashville to have the tools they need to compete in a world economy. Great education will help reduce crime and attract business investment.” Dave Pelton's website

Monday, December 18, 2006

Grading Teachers

Teacher certification and effectiveness are not the same and North Carolina gives us some very interesting evidence.

The study focused on North Carolina, which has embraced National Board certification and has 9,801 certified teachers -- tops in the nation.

The researchers looked at student achievement in three school districts, comparing classrooms instructed by board-certified teachers with those with teachers lacking the certification.

Although the study indicated that the board-certified teachers excelled in areas such as planning and using high-quality materials, it found "no clear pattern of effects on student achievement based on whether the teacher was Board certified." Orlando Sentinal

And student achievement is THE goal. The goal isn't what parchment is in the teacher's personnel file--it's ensuring that children leave the system with an education. More evidence that releasing teacher TVAAS scores is important to evaluating their effectiveness. And in case I haven't mentioned it recently, great teachers earn great pay.

Cutting line

Great news for the students at Julia Green Elementary in Green Hills--a Frist family donation of several million dollars will allow this school to cut to the front of the capital improvement budget and move it from 68th on the list for repair/renovation to near first.

I'm looking at the Capital Improvement Budget for 2006-2012 provided to me while on the School Board this summer. This document has a renovation score included in it. A survey was done of facilities and each was given various numerical scores based on its condition. Julia Green Elementary was very near the end of the list at 68 of 76. 67 other buildings were in line before Julia Green Elementary. In the first 8 most needing of repair were 4 schools in East Nashville's District 5 alone-Isaac Litton Middle School whose recent lead levels in the drinking water has made headlines, Rosebank Elementary whose electrical problems literally blew out light bulbs and sent shards of glass showering down on people, Maplewood High and Stratford high where I witnessed a serious water leak in a computer lab among other things. On this chart District 5 schools (BOE member Gracie Porter's responsibility) are highlighted.

And so here we have a perfect example of the tension between the haves and the have nots in what is supposed to be a free and equal public education system. Your mileage will vary. This is what makes suggestions like Councilman and mayoral candidate Buck Dozier's to create a billion dollar endowment for the public schools an idea worth discussing. We have got to seriously consider long term funding for maintenance and building projects. Here we have a school in a wealthy section of town, with merely a 25.7% economically disadvantaged population leap frogging ahead of dozens of other schools with thousands of children who have parents who could never dream of cobbling together $30,000 let alone $3 million.

I know full well that the Frist family has been at the forefront of many worthy public projects--my children have benefited from their donations to the zoo and the museum. I do appreciate their generosity, however, I know full well that we have schools with more serious and immediate needs. Julia Green parents may be rightly concerned about the condition of their school but I challenge them to cross the river and see what other people's children are having to live with and without.

This is good news for 37215 but sobering news for 37206 as we wait in line for our turn.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Mixed holiday message

My 10-year old gets it. "It's just kinda weird to have a Muslim girl on a Christmas card."

We didn't get one of these cards first hand--we saw it in this morning's paper.

The portrait on Gov. Bredesen's Christmas card is very reminiscent of the National Geographic cover of June 1985 which has been been replicated over and over in various mediums.

However well intended Gov. Bredesen's Christmas greeting, he did miss the mark. In trying to please many, I dare say he pleased few. It's hard to tell who his target audience was with this mixed message. Jesus being THE Savior of THE world doesn't work very well in society's tortured attempts at inclusiveness.

I can agree with the Governor here:

The back of the card closes with, "May the miracle of Christmas help bring peace to this young woman and her wounded land."
Let's be clear though--the miracle of Christmas was the birth of a Savior, God's only son born of a virgin, for a fallen world that He loves dearly and wants to restore to full relationship with Him. When that restoration happens, there will be peace on Earth and good will toward men.

Education 2.0

This week's must read comes from the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce. While I'm wary of business interests helping shape education policy (Chambers of Commerce come to mind) I am certainly willing to at least give their POV a listen/read. I do frame their comments with the fact that their interest is in obtaining worker bees and consumers. Yes, that's a very narrow description but this study group's own site states something similar:

The final report proposes a restructuring that America’s economic preeminence hinges on the preeminence of our educational system. Skills
There are certainly some things in this report that I can support and would encourage others to seriously consider. The first being to dump what I call 'time in seat'. Too often the educrats are appalled at the mere mention of the fact that it is possible for a child to obtain a normal K-12 education in less than 13 years. I've advocated for years that these children be allowed to take the appropriate tests to prove their skill level and then be released to go on and get the skills/education they and their parents determine is best for them. There are many children out there that consider K-12 a jail sentence. If they knew that it was possible to shorten the jail term I believe they'd be energized and encouraged to pass those tests in exchange for their freedom. This report echoes my thoughts this way:
One of the biggest proposed changes - the state board examinations that would allow qualified 10th graders to move on to college - would eventually add up to $67 billion in savings that could be reallocated elsewhere, the report estimates. Christian Science Monitor
Further they suggest:
Improve school salaries in exchange for reducing secure pension benefits, and pay teachers more to work with at-risk kids, for longer hours, or for high performance.
I've always advocated for paying great teachers great wages. And I'm all behind allowing people to handle their own pensions. I certainly think that some sort of 'combat' pay to reward teachers for successfully taking on the really hard jobs is right.

The article on this study goes on--
"We've squeezed everything we can out of a system that was designed a century ago," says Marc Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy, and vice chairman of the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce, which produced the report. "We've not only put in lots more money and not gotten significantly better results, we've also tried every program we can think of and not gotten significantly better results at scale. This is the sign of a system that has reached its limits."
He's right. It's been some 100 years since those industrial giants created our current education system for an economy that hardly exists anymore. The trick will be to persuade those whose livelihood or political power depend on the current system continuing as is to put the needs of the children at the forefront.

I do not agree with their recommendation to scrap local school funding for state-wide funding. I am a firm believer in local control of schools. See "Local Control is a Must" regarding our own Tennessee Comptroller's reach.

You can order the entire study here for about $20.

We've got some Nashville mayoral candidates who've already made the education of the children here part of their political platforms--let's hope they're willing to use that bully pulpit to encourage some legitimate reform.

Update: This was done before.
The commission is the second of the same name. In 1990 the first commission released a report similarly detailing the failings of American education, and its influence helped advance the standards movement that culminated in the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, which became law in 2002.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Thursday 12/14/06

Life is keeping me pretty busy. I'll make some quick comments on the following.

MNPS Chief Instructional Officer Sandra Johnson is, frankly, not well liked by many of our public education consumers. News in this morning's City Paper that she's up for a job anywhere else will be welcome.

Currently, Johnson oversees nearly all departments for the school district, answering only to Garcia.
And that's part of the problem for many parents. She wasn't accountable to the board and an obvious favorite of Garcia. If Glendale, Arizona wants her--God bless 'em.
“I think she’s done an admirable job and I certainly think it would be a loss to the district,” Thompson said. “And it may well be she has trained others enough to carry on.”
"Admirable?"--so there's one man's opinion. George is up for reelection in 2008. Let's see what tune he sings then.

LEAD Academy gets approval from the BOE. I'm very glad to see us get another charter school. This is an important option for some very needy students. MNPS isn't meeting their needs with what they have available--there is no good reason to keep there where they're not learning.
“A large part of the Pearl-Cohn district is in the district I serve,” [BOE member George] Thompson said. “My concern is how will we deal with maintaining Pearl-Cohn in the public school system if we’re going to help to populate a competing charter for that same population.”
Ask Sandra Johnson, George, she's been doing an 'admirable' job.

Actually, Mr. Thompson, the needs of the students should take precedence over saving any system. These students are not getting the education their parents were promised. We've got to try a different system. Regardless the board will protect the system despite the cost to students:
The board agreed to add language into LEAD’s contract to clarify the issue and guarantee the school would not drain the Pearl-Cohn cluster.
Pearl-Cohn cluster parents should contact the BOE members now and let them know how they feel about being excluded from a charter school that may very well be the answer to their child's education needs.

Traditional v. Balanced: Thank goodness the BOE members (well 7 at least) understood that a change was merely window dressing. That change for changes sake (a hallmark of public education) isn't beneficial for the children. Lacking any reliable evidence that the change will benefit the children and families the system serves it was given a thumbs down by the BOE.
“I hope tonight… that we don’t adopt policy simply to make a change and that we finally and permanently dump the balanced calendar matter into the dustbin of school board history,” Fox said. City Paper
Thank you, Mr. Fox. And for some illuminating information you may want to cruise over to the comments section of the Tennessean's article where "Magoo" posted the scores of local systems by calendar and it clearly shows that traditional scores higher. In our impatience and love for flash, glamour and NEW! we too easily abandon the boring and traditional forgetting that one of the reasons most traditions hang around is because they work. Sorry guys but it may be boring--but I'll take boring and effective over flashy and iffy every day when it comes to the essential education of our children.

Now maybe we can move that calendar all the way back to traditional and start after Labor Day and save some AC costs.

Cell phones for students--just not board members. This article in the City Paper Monday made me snort-laugh. After all the fuss the BOE went through over their cell phone use, the return of the phones, the vote over what equipment we could and couldn't have provided we now have MNPS handing out free phones to students.
The students have been allotted 500 minutes a month and all incoming calls are free of charge. Students are also encouraged to give out their cell phone numbers to fellow students to get feedback regarding district issues.
And what do we know about teens and allotted minutes? Let's see if teens are better than BOE members at limiting their minutes.

Irony aside, if this 'narc-phone network' works I'll be happy to pay the bill.

The Robert Bowers dismissal hearing continues according to yesterday's City Paper. It's these sorts of hearing that are exceptionally draining on BOE members. And it's these hearings that prove to me that the MNEA (Metro Nashville Education Association) is a union and not a professional organization. Yes, everyone deserves their day in court, but if MNEA were a true professional organization they'd be equally appalled that the unprofessionalism of some of their members and do some housekeeping of their own. Instead, if my summer dismissal experience and this current one are reliable indicators, they make excuses for the employee and point accusatory fingers at others in a desperate attempts to keep the employee employed--at the expense of children.
Bowers’ attorney Vince Wyatt implied during questioning of Mansfield that most of the errors were the fault of previous guidance counselors, not Bowers.
Then why wasn't Bower's complaining from the get go about the mess he'd inherited and why wasn't he begging for additional help?

It's time to work on the budget and so it's time to lead and stand. It doesn't look like Steve Glover understands that.
“I’m nervous about stepping out saying we’re going to cut this position or we’re going to cut these positions,” Glover said. “We’re really just so early in the game.” City Paper
Someone's got to start the process. I dearly hope there is a leader on that Board that will. Looks like Mr. Fox has taken over former BOE member Kathy Nevill's number crunching job for the BOE. Bless him and his calculator.

That's it for now, life calls.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Hispanics say yes to English as official language

Backing up Nashville Councilman Eric Crafton's recent efforts to follow Tennessee state law makers and declare English the official language for doing government business is a new study conducted by Zogby.

Nearly two-thirds of Hispanic adults living in the United States favor making English the official language of the United States, according to a new poll from Zogby International. The survey found that the majority of Hispanics want the federal government to conduct business overwhelmingly in English, including majorities of those not born on U.S. soil. The survey of 903 Hispanic adults was conducted Nov. 17-20, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percent.


The Zogby poll found widespread support for making English the official language among all subgroups, including Democrats, Republicans and Independents. More than three-in-four immigrants to the United States favored the legislation, as did nearly 60 percent of first-generation and 70 percent of second-generation Americans. Majority support was also noted across all income groups, age levels and education levels. Hispanics of Mexican descent, who made up more than half of those surveyed, approved of official English legislation at a near 70 percent rate. US Newswire
And quoted in the Washington Times:
"As an immigrant to the U.S., I am not surprised by the strong support for official English among Hispanics," said Mr. Mujica, who came here from Chile in 1965. "The majority of immigrants understand that coming to a new country means learning the language of that country. While individuals are free to speak the language of their choice, they cannot expect the government to provide information in every foreign language."


Though 160 members of Congress recently supported H.R. 997, the English Language Unity act, which would make English the official national language, local governments are increasingly calling the shots in their own regions. Towns and counties in Maryland, Nevada, Texas, Arizona, Pennsylvania and California are among those passing English language referendums. The Cherokee County Board of Commissioners in Georgia votes today on their own measure, which also includes a proposal to fine landlords who rent to illegal aliens.
This study is certainly interesting news shedding new light on allegations of racism toward anyone supporting this officially English effort. These newcomer to America don't consider it "unfriendly" or racist to enact these laws.
They understand language is unifying and an important part of assimilation into their new country.

America used to be considered a melting pot but every time a group refuses to 'melt' we fragment our society and become more Balkanized. When that happens we cease to become the America most of these immigrants wanted to be a part of. I understand this. These survey respondents understand this. CM Crafton understands this. Why don't those who make a living advocating for immigrants not understand this?

Don't go wobbly, CM Crafton. You're on the right track.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Saturday 12/09/06

From here and there--

Bredesen's legacy target: Comprehensive pre-K--

He may devote about $25 million more to continue to expand pre-K in the state’s next budget.

“That would get us to a comprehensive pre-K program by the end of my time as governor,” Bredesen said, “which I would consider a great legacy.” (snip)
But their older brothers and sisters--

The governor wants to add truancy officers in all of the state’s 400 public high schools to improve attendance and, hopefully, result in more high school students graduating.

Adding those positions would cost more than $16 million annually, which Bredesen isn’t 100 percent confident the state can fully afford in its next budget. City Paper

Attendance does not equal education. As I've said many times before--these pre-K children have time yet but there are thousands of near adults leaving the system frustrated and lacking basic skills every year and for too many that directly leads to criminal behavior that endangers us all. THAT's where the focus needs to be. We can't just consider them lost causes and turn our backs on them in favor of toddlers. The mantra 'for the children' usually conjures up images of those cuddly small ones but those high school drop outs are still children too.

We'd save more than $350M I'm sure--
The Alliance for Excellent Education, based in Washington, D.C., estimates that if all Tennessee high school students graduated, the state government would save $350 million a year. The project was funded by the MetLife Foundation and is based on evidence that high school graduation is an essential element in upward mobility. (snip) The savings, calculated for each state, is based on a dropout's utilization of Medicaid and other public expenditures. Tennessee has made huge strides in graduation rates, raising it from 59 percent in 2001 to about 64 percent today. But that's still behind the national average of about 74 percent. Memphis Business Journal
[Hamilton County Mayor Claude] Ramsey said Loftis, as the lobbyist for Hamilton County Schools, has met with the governor, education commissioner, state senators and representatives.

He added "Governor Bredesen says it's a positive thing. He agrees with us, or the four large counties, that we're getting short changed and he's going to make some changes."

While no one disputes Loftis' work has been good for schools it was made public recently that he never registered as a lobbyist with the Tennessee Ethics Commission. (snip)

Tennessee Ethics Commission records show Loftis registered as a lobbyist for Hamilton County Schools last Thursday. WTVC Chattanooga
Core Curriculum--
“A lot of us struggle not with finding a warm body, but a warm body that comes to work every day,” said Gary Dies of Saia-Burgess Automotive Actuators Inc. “When you get [workers] below about 32, there’s a substantial difference in attitude, willingness to take responsibility. There’s a huge gap.” (snip)

There are a number of trends that could be contributing to the decline. Zinkiewicz points first to rising teenage unemployment levels, brought about by more older workers, welfare recipients and immigrants competing for jobs in industries like retail and fast food that were traditionally good places for teens to get their first jobs. (snip)

Herrman said Metro Schools recently received a six-year, $6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education that, in part, takes measures to incorporate soft skills into the curriculum by decentralizing and personalizing Nashville’s eight largest schools, which all have at least 1,000 students. City Paper

KY Special Need scholarships--

In Kentucky, a prefiled bill [BR 98] by Lexington Rep. Stan Lee [R-Lexington] would not only make the commonwealth the fifth state to offer such scholarships, it would also be the Bluegrass State’s first statewide school-choice program controlled by parents.

State law currently allows special-needs students to attend schools providing educational services not available in their resident district schools. However, this system is largely ineffective and relatively few students participate because school districts – not parents – control the process. Edpresso

If just 1 percent of Kentucky’s special-needs children – roughly 1,100 students – could have participated in the proposed scholarship program in 2005, state and local school districts would have realized an estimated savings of $5.7 million. Ed News
I hope some Tennessee legislators will consider following suit.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Then what's an 'R' mean?

Tennessee State Senator Mike Williams (R-Maynardville) is likely to vote for the 'D' side of the aisle and it appears he'll get a walk by the 'R's' if today's City Paper is to be believed.

[Sen. Diane Black (R-Hendersonville)] said she doesn’t believe that GOP Senators have the authority to punish fellow Republican lawmakers who don’t the party line for Senate Speaker.
Does getting to use that 'R' on a ballot have no requirements at all? There should be some things are are non-negotiable in using that 'R'--not voting for your own team to be in power when it has the majority of the players in the game being the biggie. C'mon, R's we need some solid leadership here and shrugging your shoulders and saying you're powerless to stop this isn't going to cut it. He should not be allowed to get away with this twice.

First snowball of the year

I left the Isaac Litton PTA meeting this morning watching disappointed children disembarking school buses and heading into school while the light snow was coming down. I felt for them.

At home the story was quite different. We managed to find enough of the light dusting to play with. Next chocolate for everyone!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Balancing the numbers

Bruce Barry at the Nashville Scene has being doing some number crunching. He's wondering why they don't add up.

The problem is that the cluster data do not match the overall data. The results released Friday by MNPS show the balanced calendar prevailing in nine of eleven clusters, in all but one case by a margin of at least five percentage points. This might give most board members the impression that their constituents favor the change by a non-trivial margin. But: How can there be such cluster-by-cluster support for the balanced calendar when the overall household poll showed an evenly divided survey result?
Here's the link to his Pith in the Wind post hosted by the Nashville Scene. You'll want to read the rest.

(Remember, I consider the Scene to be an adult publication. You never know what ad will appear in the sidebar to be forwarned.)

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Consider all the calls

A comment at the City Paper regarding the balanced calendar shouldn't be overlooked. "dec" reminded folks that a huge number calls were 'answered' but no vote was recorded. "dec" is correct in stating that if the balanced calendar was an important issue to them they most likely would have voted for it. The fact that they didn't vote for it shouldn't be hidden in a shuffle of the numbers thrown out in the Friday news dump. So here's a chart showing all the calls and all the responses as reported by MNPS for another, and important, perspective.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Balanced Calendar

Here's the .pdf of the MNPS calendar survey broken down various ways: family, staff, teacher, elementary, middle, high, cluster...

While the total response was 48 to 42% the more important response by families was 45 to 44%. Couple that with the staff preference that was nearly as close (45 to 47%) and there is good reason to wait. This just too close to make such a radical change without specific evidence that the change will actually benefit the children and their families. I suggest proponents come back when they have reliable data that shows this change will be an improvement in the lives of children.

The McGavock cluster was far more in favor of a balanced calendar than any other: 54 to 36%.

Faculty preference was solidly behind the balanced calendar. 71 to 25%. (We don't yet know if those were just MNEA members that voted or if every teacher got a vote.)

Balanced wins--again

The results are in. The balanced calendar wins in this attempt at determining the preferences of families using the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools. Remember this attempt to set the 2008-2009 calendar must still be voted on by the MNPS Board of Education. That's scheduled for December 12.

Next to weigh in--the Chamber of Commerce, the TEA and the SEIU, et al.

While the press release points folks to the MNPS website--I don't see any comprehensive information there yet.


Contact: Woody McMillin
(615) 259-8405

MNPS releases results of calendar survey

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Dec. 1, 2006) – Metro Schools today released results of its telephone survey of families and staff regarding their calendar preference for the 2008-2009 school year.

MNPS provided three opportunities for families and staff to vote – Nov. 16, Nov. 17 and Nov. 20. In addition to calls to English-speaking families, the survey was recorded and issued in Spanish. After a home was designated as having received the survey call by a household member answering the phone, that number was not called again. Homes where calls were unanswered or answered by machine were redialed on the second and third nights.

Because the district’s call-home system automatically sorts phone numbers to eliminate duplicates, homes with multiple employees and/or students were called just once. MNPS has a total of 58,945 “unique” telephone numbers associated with staff and students of the district. For survey purposes, this also allowed MNPS to peg one vote per family.

During the three-night period of the telephone survey, MNPS made 95,814 total calls to its 58,945 unique phone numbers. A person answered the survey call at 42,215 homes. Of those 42,215 calls, a total of 23,000 households choose to register a calendar preference while 19,215 chose not to respond. It is important to note these 19,215 were logged as "no response" because they listened to the entire message or a large portion of the message before disconnecting from the call.

The overall survey results show:
Balanced 11,216 48.8%
Traditional 9,655 42.0%
No Preference 2,129 9.3%
Note: percentage affected by rounding

Results have also been sorted based on preferences by families, faculty, staff, tier and cluster. Complete charts are posted on the school district’s website,

These survey results will be included as information for members of the Board of Education to consider as they decide which school calendar to adopt for the 2008-2009 school year. That discussion is set to go before the Board at its Dec. 12 meeting.

This is the second time the district has polled families regarding their school calendar preference. A paper ballot survey conducted in December 2005 yielded 10,942 family responses, with 43% preferring balanced, 38% preferring traditional and 19% having no calendar preference.

Metro Nashville Public Schools provide a range of educational opportunities to nearly 74,000 students in Nashville and Davidson County. The governing body for MNPS is the Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County Board of Public Education, a nine-member group elected by residents of Metropolitan Nashville. For more information, please visit

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