School board's Simmons wants Hillsboro's IB program monitored

Thursday, April 14, 2011 at 6:28pm

Metro Nashville Board of Education member Kay Simmons hopes to have regular reports detailing the progress of Hillsboro High School’s International Baccalaureate program become a staple at future meetings.

Simmons’ request, delivered to fellow members at Tuesday’s board meeting, comes as frustration from parents and students mount over the direction of Hillsboro’s IB program following the district’s decision to transfer Mary Catherine Bradshaw, HHS’s popular IB director.

“This is something more than just about Ms. Bradshaw,” Simmons said of the growing concerns. “It’s about the perception of our academics. It’s about poor communication with stakeholders. It’s about the message we’re sending about the importance of excellent teachers and academic excellence in our schools.”

Bradshaw, a 27-year veteran teacher at the school, is credited with shepherding the IB program at Hillsboro, turning it into one of the most successful versions of the academically demanding program in the state. Hillsboro’s cluster has Tennessee’s only K-12 IB continuum.

Sharon Chaney has replaced Bradshaw on an interim basis, but reasons behind the transfer are unclear.

Simmons, whose district does not include Hillsboro but encompasses the Belle Meade and West Nashville areas, said she has received more emails about Bradshaw’s transfer than about any other subject during her brief stint on the school board.

“We, as district leaders, can’t ignore what our stakeholders are demanding,” Simmons said.

Acknowledging it’s not the board’s role –– nor does it have the power –– to inject itself in personnel decision, Simmons said she wants the board to monitor Hillsboro’s IB program through regulars reports on its progress, new leadership, teacher effectiveness and ongoing expansion.

“We need to monitor the situation, just as we monitor charter schools,” she said, adding that she fully supports Director of Schools Jesse Register and his administration.

This year, more Hillsboro students than ever before have applied for IB diplomas. Moving forward, IB at Hillsboro is set to expand to include two new courses: business and management, as well as sports, exercise and health sciences. 

The IB program is also expanding throughout the Hillsboro cluster. Approval of the IB Program to launch at Eakin Elementary School, which feeds into Hillsboro, is expected later this year. Eakin would join Julia Green Elementary School as elementary schools in the Hillsboro cluster that feature the program. 

10 Comments on this post:

By: sickofstupidity on 4/15/11 at 7:11

Hillsboro is a ghetto school just like all the rest...the only difference is about 50 to 60 juniors and seniors are in the IB program. Outside of that, its only saving grace is its in a better neighborhood. And I'm sure most of its neighbors would be glad to see it moved to Edgehill where the majority of its students are from. Sell the land and make a fortune and build two or three schools elsewhere. Residents in this area will still send their kids to private schools.

By: Trumpetman on 4/15/11 at 7:18

I am so so tired of hearing about this Hillsboro situation....I agree with sickofstupidity, Hillsboro is no different than any other zoned Metro school, with the exception of the small percent in the IB program, and they are still no better than any other programs at other schools. I feel that if it is so important that she get her job back why not replace all other teachers who were either moved or displaced due to things that were not their fault. Are they like getting paid for advetisement or something, Ms. Bradshaw makes the news headlines every day on city paper...

By: govskeptic on 4/15/11 at 8:04

Since Hillsboro High is in the wealthiest part of the city, do the parents and
students of this school get to wag the dog? Just asking since it has appeared
like this for many years on their selected issues!

By: Community-carl-... on 4/15/11 at 8:44

Kay Simmons' remarks where she says it is not the (School) Board's role to to inject itself in personel decisions is symptomatic of the ongoing problem with Metro Schools, namely, administrator's lack of accountability to citizens and their representatives. The current furor may be viewed by some as a personnel issue, but I think it has been driven by a policy issue change that has been implemented by MNPS administrators when, in fact, the School Board should have final say and approval on policy issues.

I will always remember a former School Director's opinion (expressed to me in a very casual setting) as to how he thought school board members should be treated. He said, "I view them as mushrooms...the best way to keep them happy is keep them in the dark and feed them a little shit once in a while."

Sorry, but I just can't stomach this ongoing attitude by MNPS administration. They are empoyees of a publicly funded entity, and as such, we citizens have a right to know how and why they do the things they do. Ultimately, MNPS administrators should be accountable to Nashville citizens, period. As the situation appears now,
it would seem that MNPS School Board members have abdicated their responsibilities to insure that MNPS maintains open communications and accountability to Nashville citizens.

Compounding this issue, in my opinion, is a relationship between Jesse Register and his staff, and Mayor Dean and his staff, that is just a little too cozy for my comfort.

By: Trumpetman on 4/15/11 at 9:47

To skep, Hillsboro is in a wealthy area, however the kids who are wealthy and zoned there go to private schools... Hillsboro is open enrollment and has students from all over the city, literally. The zoned students are bused in large numbers from the edge hil area of south nashville and a part of west Nashville

By: OnTomorrow on 4/15/11 at 10:38

There are things that happen in the way of personnel that are nobody's business. Ms. Bradshaw's transfer qualifies as such. If the reasons were plastered all over the paper, it would be an embarrassment and the city would be looking at a law suit. Stop complaining people. If she had acted professionally without overstepping her bounds, she would still be at Hillsboro. Want to be mad at someone, be mad at her.

By: Community-carl-... on 4/15/11 at 12:23

To "OnTomorrow" -

I disagree with you......A publicly funded entity and all related personnel matters are everybody's business. I suspect that Ms. Bradshaw has been the victim of a power struggle, and MNPS administrators' silence is a cover for their unethical behavior. The so called "fear of a lawsuit against the city" is just being used as a cover to perpetuate the ongiong lack of accountability for MNPS administrators' actions. If MNPS would provide truthful answers, the issue of liability for a lawsuit would not be a factor.

By: Toosmart4owngood on 4/15/11 at 6:30

Here are the cold hard facts: the teacher can be transferred. We want improved schools and that won't happen if parents try to stand in the way of progress. Several people have shown their pure stupidity in this situation.The parents "owned" the teacher in more ways than one which created constant problems there. Many kids, parents,and teachers are glad that she is gone. The few that protest the decision seem a little too invested if you ask me. I agree that this story is overdone. Move the teacher and go on.

By: Liberal Bias on 4/16/11 at 6:26

Could someone define exactly what the School Board is suppose to do? If they don't have oversight on personnel matters, and the Director has the authority to unilaterally pursue just about any policy, what role does the Board serve other than providing the occasional sound bite to the media?

Just out of curiosity, are students who reside in Edgehill, South Nashville, and West Nashville inherently less intelligent than kids from more affluent households? There seems to be this erroneous assumption that children who attend private schools are somehow immune from the issues facing kids of working-class families. As a graduate of one of these private institutions - complete with a few token minorities which always seemed to find their way into the school's promotional brochure - I had the displeasure of meeting plenty of truants, drug-abusers, and trouble-makers. Here's a news flash: a lot of them engaged in pre-marital sex, raided their parent's medicine cabinets, smoked pot, engaged in binge drinking, had unwanted pregnancies, and had their share of run-ins with Metro Police. Just because Daddy had the financial means to flip them the keys to a new BMW when they hit 16 didn't make their characters any stronger or more valid. Not everyone who is rich is "successful," and not every person who is poor is a criminal.

By: artsmart on 4/16/11 at 2:45

I like the answer this is not our business. First of all TN ranks 45th Nationally for education and Metro is probably at the bottom. The problem is that enough questions do not get asked. Secondly they are never forced to give an answer.
The Board of Ed can recite to you what their jobs are not but I know my rep has no idea what she is resposible to do. If you read the State Board charter our Board hides from 90% of those duties. The constant statement that this teacher did something bad and she would be embarassed, why is she not fired? If she did nothing wrong then why can't they disclose why she was moved. Everything with this school system is a secret. It is about time the tough questions get asked and Register is made to answer.