NAACP Snubs Nose at Parents of Color (press release)

CINCINNATI – Members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Board of Directors ratified a resolution Saturday adopted by delegates at its 2016 107th National Convention calling for a moratorium on charter school expansion and for the strengthening of oversight in governance and practice.
“The NAACP has been in the forefront of the struggle for and a staunch advocate of free, high-quality, fully and equitably-funded public education for all children,” said Roslyn M. Brock, Chairman of the National NAACP Board of Directors. “We are dedicated to eliminating the severe racial inequities that continue to plague the education system.”
The National Board’s decision to ratify this resolution reaffirms prior resolutions regarding charter schools and the importance of public education, and is one of 47 resolutions adopted today by the Board of Directors. The National Board’s decision to ratify supports its 2014 Resolution, ‘School Privatization Threat to Public Education’, in which the NAACP opposes privatization of public schools and public subsidizing or funding of for-profit or charter schools. Additionally, in 1998 the Association adopted a resolution which unequivocally opposed the establishment and granting of charter schools which are not subject to the same accountability and standardization of qualifications/certification of teachers as public schools and divert already-limited funds from public schools.
We are calling for a moratorium on the expansion of the charter schools at least until such time as:

(1) Charter schools are subject to the same transparency and accountability standards as public schools

(2) Public funds are not diverted to charter schools at the expense of the public school system

(3) Charter schools cease expelling students that public schools have a duty to educate and

(4) Cease to perpetuate de facto segregation of the highest performing children from those whose aspirations may be high but whose talents are not yet as obvious.
Historically the NAACP has been in strong support of public education and has denounced movements toward privatization that divert public funds to support non-public school choices.
“We are moving forward to require that charter schools receive the same level of oversight, civil rights protections and provide the same level of transparency, and we require the same of traditional public schools,” Chairman Brock said. “Our decision today is driven by a long held principle and policy of the NAACP that high quality, free, public education should be afforded to all children.”
While we have reservations about charter schools, we recognize that many children attend traditional public schools that are inadequately and inequitably equipped to prepare them for the innovative and competitive environment they will face as adults. Underfunded and under-supported, these traditional public schools have much work to do to transform curriculum, prepare teachers, and give students the resources they need to have thriving careers in a technologically advanced society that is changing every year. There is no time to wait. Our children immediately deserve the best education we can provide.
“Our ultimate goal is that all children receive a quality public education that prepares them to be a contributing and productive citizen,” said Adora Obi Nweze, Chair of the National NAACP Education Committee, President of the Florida State Conference of the NAACP and a former educator whose committee guides educational policy for the Association.
“The NAACP’s resolution is not inspired by ideological opposition to charter schools but by our historical support of public schools – as well as today’s data and the present experience of NAACP branches in nearly every school district in the nation,” said Cornell William Brooks, President and CEO of the NAACP. “Our NAACP members, who as citizen advocates, not professional lobbyists, are those who attend school board meetings, engage with state legislatures and support both parents and teachers.”
“The vote taken by the NAACP is a declaratory statement by this Association that the proliferation of charter schools should be halted as we address the concerns raised in our resolution,” said Chairman Brock.

Cincy Bound, For the Babies

150 perfect strangers bound together by the love for America’s children, our future. Because for our children we permit ourselves to dream the best dreams for our country.

Our visions are magnificent! And though we may have missed the mark, we revel in the beauty of transferring the dream to the next generation. For a dream deferred is not dead.

We are good knowing that today’s sacrifices make for tomorrow’s proud returns. 

We will rest well on the understanding that we fought the good fight and left it all on the battlefield. 

Our children deserve every ounce of fight and worry and love and attention and debate that we have at our disposal. 

Parents: I fought (and fight, still) for my children. I stand with you in the fight for yours. Understand your power and use it wisely. 

NAACP:  if not for the babies, then who?

I’m Not the Only One Who’s “GotYourBack”, Dr. Joseph

Admittedly, I was little worried. After Monday’s Volume and Light post calling attention to Diane Ravitch’s “ill-advised” (taking a line from her hymnal) blog about Nashville’s director of schools, Dr. Shawn Joseph, the future began to look bleak for the illogically defamed director.

At first, I was relieved to see some others take the time to join me in expressing their outrage and/or support.

Then This Happened!

In a move befitting a true leader, newly elected school board chair Anna Shepherd requested the community’s continued support of the director.  According to the Tennessean’s Jason Gonzales, Chairwoman Shepherd laid down the law at Tuesday night’s board meeting.

I’ll be sleeping pretty soundly tonight.  Sweet dreams.

Ignore the Righteous Haters, Dr. Joseph, Because I’ve Got Your Back

“Autocratic, power-hungry, tone-deaf bureaucrat.”

These are the venom-laced words written by Diane Ravitch, reverend of edu-righteousness, in an October 8th blog post about Nashville’s director of schools. Ravitch, a “born-again” anti-reformer, has decided to use her lofty pulpit to raise up the Nashville naysayers on the 100-day-old contract for director of schools Dr. Shawn Joseph.

Taking her cues from a local public school parent (for more on that, local blogger Zack Barnes discusses that relationship), Ravitch titled the fire and brimstone post using words like “neuter” and “havoc” to describe the mild-mannered, parent-engaging, professionally-developing leader. Further, she makes fiery presumptions of “wasteful spending” and “ill-advised hires.” But, wait… that’s not all!

By the hem of her entitlement, Ravitch calls for OUR school board to amend or terminate the good doctor’s contract. I’m sorry, what?

Diane, You’re WRONG

First, I recall there being a unanimous vote on the Dr. Joseph’s contract (watch the celebratory announcement)—even after his request to amend to reflect his expectations of school board behavior. Interestingly, eight of those nine contract-voting board members are still serving. What has changed since May?

Second, wasteful spending has traditionally been judged by outcomes. So, give it a minute, please.

Third, “ill-advised hires” is pretty much a load of crap. I’m not going to pretend to ignore what she really means here. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Dr. Joseph recently hired Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) chief of staff Jana Carlisle, who, upon recognizing Nashville’s issues with charters, “removed all charter references from her public profile.” Welcome, Jana!

Fourth, good leaders travel with familiar talent. Our former schools chief, Dr. Garcia, certainly brought with him Californians to Nashville. Dr. Register hired from his former district in Chattanooga. What makes Dr. Joseph’s hires any different?

Lastly, why in fresh hell are we having this conversation so early in the director’s tenure? The blasting of a performance too premature to assess raises all kinds of red flags. One can’t help but create conspiracy theories, as MNPS parent Kelley Dement commented: “I knew the Shady Bunch would try something when he wouldn’t dance to their music. Hang in there, Dr. Joseph.”

Singing His Praises

One thing I’ve observed is that parents love Dr. Joseph.

Former MNPS teacher Pam Rowe noted that he has reached out to parents more than any other director in the last 20 years. Case in point, tomorrow the director is starting a second series of meetings on various topics for the sole purpose of obtaining parent input.

Another thing, a portion of that “wasteful spending” is providing professional development to staff district-wide, not just the teachers. As someone who spent a decade working for the district, this screams ALL EMPLOYEES MATTER. I gotta tell ya, that has not always been the case.

Let’s be clear, this is not to say the man can do no wrong. But I refuse to allow a few disgruntled choir members to malign the new director because their long-held solos were reassigned.


I’ve said it before and I’m happy to repeat it: I’ve got Dr. Joseph’s back. Join me in denouncing these premature and inane attacks on the director of schools by using @MNPSDirector #GotYourBack.

Dollars and Sense

Rounding out his first 90 days, director of schools Dr. Joseph is on a search and find mission to eliminate waste. Led by numbers wonk Chris Henson, an internal committee loaded with MNPS staff, Metro Government finance staffers and a Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce representative will perform exploratory surgery on the $800 million dollar budget. The committee is also charged with auditing every contract $100,000 and greater. Sounds like a blast.

According to MNPS’ blog, the motivation behind the assessment is to align dollars with priorities of the current administration.  Makes sense.

“My first day in Metro Schools was also the first day of the fiscal year, and my team and I found ourselves in charge of a budget we didn’t design that was built around priorities we didn’t set,” said Dr. Joseph.

I’m particularly impressed to see this taking place in the October as opposed to January!  I like the good doctor’s direction.

We may even confirm or deny the played out narrative of charter schools’ drain on traditional schools. We’ll be waiting…

ACT Struggles Revisited

As mentioned  in yesterday’s post, “achievement gaps are neither new nor unique,” particularly as it relates to race and class. What’s troubling is that for more than a decade we’ve unsuccessfully aligned, boosted, and restructured standards to ensure every student exiting Metro Schools’ doors leaves with a minimum of 21 on the ACT.

Unable to sleep, I googled my way down memory lane to refresh the old thinker on the district’s ACT struggles from the not too distant past. Take a look:

Blog post from Kay Brooks who served a brief stint as school board member – May 1, 2006:

“Regarding College Entrance the goal is to have 65% of the students meeting the college entrance requirement (mostly via ACT score of 19 and above) by 2007. It’s only at 57% to date with new data not available until the fall. It became obvious that it was unlikely, considering the past rates, that this goal was going to be met.”

2001 46%
2002 46.2%
2003 49.2%
2004 48.7%
2005 51%


Nashville Scene’s Liz Garrigan article March 22, 2007:

“…the recently released Citizens Panel Report Card, researched and written by a diverse group of Nashvillians under the auspices of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce.

…it offered a mild dressing down of the system for the widening gap in achievement between rich and poor, white and black, and “the lag of academic success at the high school level and the high rate of suspensions of African American students,”


Local blogger ElyssaD whose 2010 Reality Bytes post is surprisingly similar to my “solemn story” entry:

“If, as stated in Wednesday’s article, the ACT is a curriculum-based measure of readiness in English, mathematics, reading and science, then all these scores show us is that we have failed in our mission to provide an adequate education for all our citizens.
I am not sure exactly what readiness is, but I am certain that our schools are failing miserably at educating those children who need us the most. Let’s level the playing field for a change and start talking about equity in education if we truly expect teachers to leave no child behind, we must first give them the tools they need to move forward.”

Let that marinate.  To be continued…

ACT Scores tell solemn story for Nashville’s black students

Metro Schools’ director Dr. Shawn Joseph expressed his displeasure with the college-ready gaps represented by the 2016 ACT scores published last week.  The Tennessean’s Jason Gonzalez reported that the scores of non-economically disadvantaged black and white students were 17.9 and 22.3, respectively. Further, economically disadvantaged black students scored 16.9, while white students in the same category scored 18.5.

Achievement gaps are neither new nor unique, however, it still shocks the system to see the dominance of racial disparities in performance outcomes. Equally disappointing is the role economics plays in performance. Tragically, students of color eligible for free and reduced lunch have little chance of being adequately prepared for college.

The good news is that Nashville is replete with community partners who offer ACT prep, tutoring, and even underwrite fees. Still, there is something missing. Parents!

My hope is to see Dr. Joseph identify a platform that engages and educates families on the importance of college preparedness. We can argue the test’s relevance or whether we should prepare students who are not interested in college. In today’s world, a score of 21 is the readiness minimum and parents must partner with schools to ensure their child is more than ready.

Parents: don’t let your child’s decision to go to college be made for them! Begin asking teachers as early as middle school how to successfully prepare for the ACT. Additionally, students can register to take the ACT anytime; practice makes perfect.