Register to rearrange 10 failing Metro schools within new zone

Wednesday, July 13, 2011 at 4:51pm

Hoping to stave off state intervention at a handful of struggling schools, Director of Schools Jesse Register has opted for a bold move: the creation of a new “innovation zone” comprised of 10 low-performing Metro schools designed to direct attention to places that need it most.

Through a so-called “Office of Innovation,” announced at Tuesday’s school board meeting, Register said he plans to pinpoint the district’s lowest achieving schools based on forthcoming Adequate Yearly Progress data. From there, the schools will become the target of closer monitoring, reform strategies and additional educational resources. The plan kicks off this school year.

“It’s basically to get rid of all the road blocks to aggressive change and improvement,” Register said, adding that after a school starts toward a downward spiral, it’s harder to lift it up. “We’re going to develop this very aggressive strategy for the schools that are in the lowest achievement categories that we have.”

Though AYP results aren’t expected for a few weeks, Register said Napier Elementary School, Apollo Middle School and Glencliff High School are likely among the 10 schools to be clustered together.

Register said he sees the concept as an alternative to potential state intervention at certain schools, which upcoming federal No Child Left Behind test results could enable.

School board chair Gracie Porter said she feels good about the plan, adding it’s all about being “proactive.”

“It gives us a head start in making sure that our schools are succeeding,” Porter said.

Based largely on Chattanooga’s Benwood Initiative, an approach Register installed as schools’ superintendent in Hamilton County, the plan is to install an executive director to oversee schools within the zone and supervise all operations. That person, to be hired within a week, is to report directly to Register.

The school board recently hired UK-based Tribal Group, Inc., to help launch the new “Office of Innovation.” Register said the organization has proven to be successful over the years in implementing turnaround strategies.

Register likened the new Metro cluster to the state’s Achievement School District, created during the recent Race to The Top legislation. The ASD, as educators call it, is comprised of 13 school districts across the state. Metro’s Glencliff, as well as Cameron Middle School — recently transformed into a charter school — qualify for the ASD.

“Our consultants will be in town starting next week to work with these schools and to use the talents within those schools, the leadership, to begin turnaround strategies,” Register said.

He also said he plans to assign employees within the central office to help assist with the new zone.

On the prospect of additional funds pumped into the 10 schools, Register said it’s something to look at.

“I hope that there is some school improvement grant money that comes from the state,” Register said. “But one way or another, whether it’s our federal money or state funds, I think we have to look at providing resources as necessary to get these schools turned around.” 

13 Comments on this post:

By: sowhat on 7/14/11 at 7:52

Put all these "bad" schools in a circle on Google+ and then you can hide them from friends, family, fact checkers, government test tally takers, etc.... There. All better now?

Why shouldn't the state interfere? Are the incompetent administrators afraid of losing control of the children, or just the money involved?

By: gdiafante on 7/14/11 at 7:54

It's always about the money.

By: global_citizen on 7/14/11 at 8:13

Once again, rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Nashville's public schools have problems far greater than anyone currently involved in MNPS has the capability of correcting. No one in the current MNPS administration is willing to identify the problem and call people out on it.

Namely, you have a minority of parents who actually care about their kids' education and a large majority who do not. The second group simply sees school as a babysitter. And these two groups are mixed together, making it difficult to help anyone.

Try being an MNPS principal or teacher at one of the "underperforming" schools and get parents to show up for a parent teacher conference or open house. Good luck.

Far too many people take public education for granted and have no appreciation for it. Education is the best path to success in life, but some people are too stupid or apathetic to make the most of it, even when it's offered for free.

By: bfra on 7/14/11 at 8:34

IMO - Go back to children going to the nearest school of where they live and you will see a lot more parents getting involved.

By: budlight on 7/14/11 at 8:38

bfram I agree with you 100% on that issue. I heard a council candidate say that we can't expect the parents to come to "us" (the schools) so we (the schools) have to go out to the parents. Can't you just see that now: Teachers and school administrators are knocking on doors in the community to "visit" the homes of students to encourage the parents to get involved? Oh my goodness! Then of course we are faced with the dilima of "who's back at school teaching the kids"?

Answer: No one!

These politicians say anything to make themselves appear concerned and as problem solvers when in fact, they are the problem.

By: glancaster on 7/14/11 at 9:15

"The school board recently hired UK-based Tribal Group, Inc., to help launch the new “Office of Innovation.” Register said the organization has proven to be successful over the years in implementing turnaround strategies".

FYI - UK-based refers to United Kingdom and not University of Kentucky. Does anyone know why we have to go OUT OF THE COUNTRY to hire a consulting company? Is this how my taxes are being spent? Spend this money on hiring better teachers for those schools!

By: OnTomorrow on 7/14/11 at 9:33

Take a guess how many school systems have emplyed the "Tribal" group in this country. I will give you one guess. It is more than 0 but less than 2....

Doing something just to say we are doing something is very wasteful.

By: jcdad2003 on 7/14/11 at 10:56

global _citizen, you are very correct in stating education is the best path of sucess in life. Unfortunately, there is an atitude in Nashville that does not value education. I taught for two years in the district and I will tell you for most students school is nothing but social time. In my oppinion this is the result of our society. To many people feel they are entitled to and education, but they do not want to work for it. To many times did the students just want the answer without having to do the work to figure it out themselves. I blame this on our society desire for instant gradification, you know part of the reason we are in the economic mess we are in because we thought we just keep borrowing money. I taught math at my last school and you would not believe the phone calls I got from parents I would not have heard from otherwise because I would not just give the students the answer. They would go home and tell their parents that I would give them a bunch of math problems without telling them how to work them. My first question each time to the parents is, have you seen his/her math notes for the day? The answer was always a resounding no, I then explained, "there are several examples that we work out in class as a group to show how to solve the problems assigned for homework. When as a society we start actually begin to value eduation, stop making the teachers the scape goat and respecting them again, recognize the extremely hard task they undertake everyday, get away from these jokes we call standardized testing and actually teach the children to think for themselves, and finally getting back to discipline our schools will continue to get worse. The politicans will also continue to try and pull the wool over our eyes while they line their pockets with taxpayer money.

Why does a director of schools in a district the size of metro have to make more money than the President of The Uniterd States. Futhermore, why does a district the size of metro have such a bloated adminstrative office. I for one think the money for all those unneeded positions should actually go to the schools where it belongs.

By: TITAN1 on 7/14/11 at 1:38

bfra, I agree. If they go to their neighborhood schools there would be more involvement by the parents and the students themselves would have more pride for their school. And I mean the good kind of pride, not that gang associated garbage.

By: conservarage on 7/14/11 at 1:43

>Why does a director of schools in a district the size of metro have to make more >money than the President of The Uniterd States
i believe you'll need to revise this statement. i think the president now makes 400K, whereas register makes 250

By: Nitzche on 7/14/11 at 6:06

Call the Magnets and deem the passing!!It is magical

By: GammaMoses on 7/15/11 at 10:01

To jcdad--you sound like a concerned teacher. Thank you for your service.
I keep posting on any mnps related news article that discipline is one of the reasons students don't learn. Undisciplined kids ruin the learning environment in mnps classrooms. Smart kids are being dumbed down when they have to listen to the same lessons being retaught over and over. Smart kids quickly learn that the undisciplined kids are getting away with their inappropriate behaviors and their disrespectful attitudes to the teacher. I don't know how to resolve this. Maybe Register or his aides or his principals should roam the halls of their schools and help out the teachers by disciplining any student who is misbehaving. Maybe they already are doing this. I don't know. I do know that undisciplined kids destroy the classrooms' learning environment for everyone.

By: GammaMoses on 7/15/11 at 10:01

To jcdad--you sound like a concerned teacher. Thank you for your service.
I keep posting on any mnps related news article that discipline is one of the reasons students don't learn. Undisciplined kids ruin the learning environment in mnps classrooms. Smart kids are being dumbed down when they have to listen to the same lessons being retaught over and over. Smart kids quickly learn that the undisciplined kids are getting away with their inappropriate behaviors and their disrespectful attitudes to the teacher. I don't know how to resolve this. Maybe Register or his aides or his principals should roam the halls of their schools and help out the teachers by disciplining any student who is misbehaving. Maybe they already are doing this. I don't know. I do know that undisciplined kids destroy the classrooms' learning environment for everyone.