Mayor, Register make pitch to secretary of education

Wednesday, December 2, 2009 at 4:44am
Mayor Karl Dean and Director of Schools Jesse Register talked Tuesday with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan about Nashville's work to improve public education.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sat down with Mayor Karl Dean and Director of Schools Jesse Register on Tuesday, time the trio used to discuss Tennessee’s efforts to land coveted federal “Race to the Top” funds.

Duncan, in Nashville yesterday for the Federal Student Aid Conference, is obligated to distribute financial resources to five to 10 states that show a commitment to reform, according to the “Race to the Top” initiative outlined in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Up to $400 million is believed available for each state.

Under the program, federal officials are to award states that show innovation in teacher effectiveness, school turnaround, data systems and standardized assessments.

“One of the critical things that led to this meeting was the fact that this city has been on a journey of urban school reform in the last couple of years,” Dean said. “And Dr. Register is pushing this forward.”

Highlights of that “journey” include Dean’s recruitment of Teach For America and the New Teacher Project to Nashville, the launching of a new after-school programming initiative, and Dean and Register’s recently formed task force assigned to analyze alternative pay structures for teachers. On the state level, the legislature last session passed sweeping charter school reform, opening eligibility to thousands more students.

“I think it’s very significant to note that the secretary of education is not just after the status quo,” Register said. “He’s looking for a few states that are ready to break the mold.”

A group of Tennessee superintendents Monday met with Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Tim Webb and officials from Gov. Phil Bredesen’s administration to discuss the state’s attempt to score the dollars.

That gathering followed a letter written by the Coalition of Large School Systems — a group comprised of the state’s five largest school district’s — that called for “collective strength” among the state and school systems to improve Tennessee’s candidacy.

“We feel like we’re very well-positioned in Tennessee to be one of the five to 10 states in the country that are ready to take aggressive action to reform public education,” Register said. “We think we’re being received very, very well.”

One of the strong points for Metro Nashville Public Schools in helping the state’s bid to bring home the dollars could be the recruitment of statistician Dr. William Sanders, known to some as the “father of value-added data.”

Rather than comparing students to other classmates when assessing performance, the value-added approach compares students to themselves year to year so results are not skewed by income, parental involvement or gender.

“We actually talked about the work Dr. Sanders has done here,” Register. “It absolutely puts us I think out front in the country because of the value-added data that we have.”

2 Comments on this post:

By: idgaf on 12/2/09 at 6:37

When are they going to realize that no matter how much money they pour into the system a failing system will fail?

When are they going to return to the basics and teach the kids how to think not what to think?

When are they going to realize that the Feds have no money, that is ours too. Its not "free" money and shouldn't be wasted.

Germany and Japan spend twice the time on the basics as we do and don't try to social engineer/indoctronate the kids. That is not their function or the function of a free society.

By: TharonChandler on 12/2/09 at 2:38

A captive audience? Guys, I love school and I've been blessed to attend college for 10 years (sometimes even enrolled). The blessing has included a lot of good Library books and my chance to write about news articles and sometimes, in moments of inspiration, to write 'short stories' such as 'travel-adventure' and etc. At such a time I look back on some of my earlier work that i now submit to you, in case you would even care. This one was first submitted, by me to others in 2003, under the genre style or caption 'pulp-fiction for Halloween' (punctuated with a question Mark), and is actually a True story. Thanks for the space in NCP.

Whisky Bent, Adventures of a Reform Candidate from Tennessee

Jed Starky is the kind of guy you think of when you refer to the old saying that "it's hard to keep a good man down". Jed had not made a lot of money since his graduation from Lambuth, at the time of an unspeakable adventure. He had majored in Analytical Philosophy which had gotten him some attention from both major political parties but had not yet netted him a lucrative career. He had not originally cared for politics but more about the meaning of life, and as he was successful at applying for student loans and usually able to earn a few extra dollars with his lawn service business, he had not yet succumbed to the forces of money. This was one factor of his life that would be all encompassing. Only a select few types of persons would aknowledge anything extraordinary about a guy like Jed Starky; persons such as liberal daughters of wealthy men, college proffessors whom had graduated near the top of their class, and upmobile persons of a minority race, would have usually noticed anything extraordinary about a guy like Jed Starky.

Many persons have the love of home and old freinds, even as we each are originally from somewhere else, as to our ancestry. Jed was somewhat unique in the fact that he was about 1/8 Chickasaw Indian, or Native American. Persons would not have noticed as much but could see some resemblance if they looked for it in his features. There were others around of mixed ancestry, of whose attatchement to the group made up some of his identity; yet Jed was also much more, in style. Jed made a pair of Sunglasses look great on a person. The brownish, tortoise shell style made a good compliment to his short but wavy red hair, and his preppy atire.

Though he had been driving his fathers old Cadillac for years now, the car had a timeless style and he knew how to keep it running. He had been attending the Thursday evening gatherings at the Lounge of the big ole hotel. The hotel overlooks the big muddy at a flattering angle and by the time for Sunset the Fall temperatures made for a great swaray.

Revelene had been nice to him before, at some of these types of parties, around town, even though that she was not the type who usually really liked him. He did get some play around town, and was a gentleman, contrary to his loose reputation. It was easy for him to remember Revelene, even after several drinks, cause he always called her "Revelene with the Valvoline". Rev did have some lovely, light brown hair, often pulled back into a thick horsey tail; so that sometimes he would say to her, over a drink of course, as he would touch the hair "I dream of Revelene with the Valvoline". This time Rev introduced him to a freind of hers, a clean cut fellow of about 31 years in age.

Luke Perrin was a successful guy who, as they informed Jed, had reserved a room in the hotel for the evening. They went up the elevator to enjoy an air-conditioned view of ole man river, and to have some shots of whiskey without having to pay bar tab prices. Rev then gave Jed, rather than Luke, a breif kiss, which later he would recall and refer to as a kiss of death.

Jed had no real reason to suspect danger, unless it was the danger of driving drunk, and he knew he could walk home from the big old hotel, or back to his one room apartment with a lawncare trailor in the one car garage. He had always believed that three was a crowd whenever two of the other participants were not each a woman, so he bid Luke and Revelene farewell as he headed back toward the elevators. He breezed through the lobby, out the doors, and sauntered back toward his car, wondering whether to hike it home right away, stop in to the steak-house next door, or maybe catch a ride by the girly bar ("Trix" was the one he had been to, on Butcher Block Row). But then he saw Luke and Rev again, out in the far parking lot where he had parked, and they seemed calmly seductive.

Jed had always known that he wanted Revelene, even though they were little more than new acquaintances, and their quick freindship had seemed so good that he had not pushed his luck. This guy Luke was a puzzle, and though Jed was not about to do anything homo, he surely wouldn't mind this guy watching if Revelene wanted to come on. He certainly did feel woosey and horny, even more so than a few whiskey drinks would usually cause him, so he took them up on it when they offered him a ride.

They two had asked Jed where he was going and then informed him that they would drive him in his own car. Jed didn't make too much regard of the fact that if they were going to drop him by his own place then they would need to find another way back, if they were going to leave before morning, and Jed was up for some company. The story gets good here folks.

As Jed had originally sat down in the driver seat of the car, before he was even certain of whether he was about to drive it anywhere, he just scooted toward the center to let Luke hop on in, while Rev got in on Jed's other side, through the passenger side door. The two new entrants buckled up and Jed was now riding in the front middle, "ridin bitch" so to speak.

Jed was really sweet on Revelene and had twice enjoyed sweeping her out on to a crowded dance floor, but it was something new to imagine that she just really wanted to be with him, even while she was obviously popular herself. She was not a tiny girl, and as the car was not overly big, they were now close together and it felt so natural when she reached over and got his hand. Jed was enjoying the ride and was somehow so high that he didn't even mind when Luke asked if he would also hold his hand too. Jed was just riding bitch in his own car, in the middle of the night, holding hands with some new acquaintances; a precedent for such an occurance, really. Then Jed felt them each hold tight and sort of pull the slack out of his "wing-span" as Luke started to speed up purposely.

The curve on Flanigan Drive is a 90 degree left and has an ample row of reflectice curve markers, along with an arc of a metal rail, mounted on short but solid wood posts. Luke was still pickin up speed when he veered right in to the barrier.

The ambulance driver woke Jed up by bending one of his fingers back til it would have woke the dead. Jed was not dead. He had a pug knot and a neat slice on his forhead, but was hardly the worse for wear, considering that his noggin had punched a neat round hole right through the front glass of his Cadyllac ElDorado. The other two had left him for dead; for some damned reason. tc