State House member demands Metro schools officials reinstate Hillsboro High educator

Tuesday, April 5, 2011 at 7:54pm

State Rep. Mike Stewart’s message to Metro Nashville Public Schools administrators Tuesday was unequivocal: Reverse the decision removing veteran Hillsboro High teacher Mary Catherine Bradshaw from her position as international baccalaureate diploma coordinator.

Bradshaw taught at Hillsboro for nearly three decades and was instrumental in creating the IB program, which allows students to take internationally recognized courses for college credit.

Over spring break, sources familiar with the situation say Bradshaw was approached by Hillsboro High principal Terry Shrader, who told her she would be happier at another school given Hillsboro's new direction. A Facebook-fueled wildfire spread as outraged students, former students and parents contend they discovered Bradshaw — the face of the IB program — was unceremoniously swept aside. Only then did MNPS administrators begin a hasty search for her replacement, Nashville Scene learned (See “Coarse Correction” in the March 31 edition). Administrators, though, have yet to discuss their motivations.

Stewart, D-Nashville, registered his anger to a gathering of reporters, parents and students at Legislative Plaza.

"These schools do not need to be redesigned or tampered with,” he said. “They are here to serve our children — not to provide resume-building opportunities for the most recent crop of itinerant education reformers."

The last barb was clearly intended for Jay Steele, Metro’s associate superintendent of high schools who developed career academies at St. Johns County, Fla., public schools — the model for the restructuring of Metro high schools. Steele also traveled as a consultant working for the Ford Motor Company Fund, advising public schools on restructuring themselves into clusters of career academies designed to funnel students into high-demand career paths like information technology. Initially, he came to Nashville on behalf of Ford as MNPS began redesigning its high schools.

Stewart, among other sources the Scene has spoken with, believes Steele and other administrators saw Bradshaw as a potentially outspoken obstacle to restructuring the high schools. Many have speculated that the teacher who shepherded the nationally recognized college preparatory program had a vision for Hillsboro that was at odds with Steele's.

"The reason is that a policy decision was made to emphasize programs other than the Hillsboro international baccalaureate program, and you have a world-class teacher who was perceived to be potentially someone who would ask questions, and she was told she was going to be transferred," Stewart said.

"It is, honestly, one of the worst public policy decisions that I can remember in any context."

18 Comments on this post:

By: artsmart on 4/5/11 at 6:14

Finally someone that has a spine. This needed to be said about Metro School long ago. Most of what happens in Metro is about resume building and little else.

By: rainessl on 4/5/11 at 7:01

sherman raines they are not doing nothing but messing metro schools up period.always a budget problem.years ago never had this problem.those six figure payrolls beng paid for nothing.they can't even control the kids.more violence in the schools than were in nam.drama drama.

By: judetalen on 4/5/11 at 7:32

Okay, listen up. This politician is using this issue to build HIS resume. Mary Catherine actually did something so bad, that if it wasn't for her stellar reputation, she would have been fired outright. Her actions were selfish and had nothing to do with protecting the IB program, Hillsboro HS, or her students. This politician knows nothing about what happened or he would shut his mouth about the whole incident. But he knows that Metro Schools cannot comment on the issue publicly and therefore he can grandstand for attention without fear of looking the fool. How about asking Mary Catherine to sign a release that allows Metro Schools to publicly reveal the REAL reasons for her transfer. I promise you that this will NEVER happen. She knows what she did! And so do other people.

And just how is opening a Science Academy at Hillsboro a step in the wrong direction? Oh nevermind, I know the answer to that.

By: hummingbirdhill on 4/5/11 at 8:12

If the teacher's actions were so egregious, then doesn't MNPS owe the public an explanation? If something really wrong has occurred, then they should step up and tell the public what happened. Otherwise they leave rumor mill working hard and fast, and the one's who are suffering are the kids who are wrapped up in the mess and speculation.

By: judetalen on 4/5/11 at 8:29

If MNPS made that information public without her permission, she would sue. The district would then be out millions of dollars. Like I said, SHE can sign a release allowing MNPS to make this information public, but she will not ever do that. She knows she is in the wrong and her only protection is that she can speak but MNPS has to remain silent.

As of right now, she is the only one who can authorize MNPS to tell the public why this happened. Obviously, she is not going to allow that to occur.

I do know that lots of people at MNPS would just LOVE to tell everyone just what she did, but that would open them up to lawsuits and they would lose $$.

Not going to happen.

By: Carol Hagen on 4/5/11 at 11:01

Judetalen, you are fear mongering. Metro schools may have problems, but filing charges for genuine crimes doesn't happen to be one of them. Metro isn't citing Ms. Bradshaw because she has a stellar career in education and a supportive community of graduates to show for it. In 27 years, Ms. Bradshaw has never received so much as a reprimand. If you have evidence of a crime or misdeed you have a social responsibility to go to the authorities. Otherwise, stop trying to draw attention to yourself by jeopardizing a highly respected teacher's reputation.

By: govskeptic on 4/6/11 at 5:37

This Representative actions and demands are outrageous. What position does
he think he was elected to? Certainly not the " Lord Mayor of Everything Nashville",
we already have someone sitting in that chair. If the Administration doesn't have
the right to move personnel around as they find proper, then let's turn the job
over to the legislature. Even the supporters of this lady should know the difference
in this clown's actions and that which is the proper way to handle both her and
their concerns! Far too many Chiefs trying to run the School Systems.

By: HokeyPokey on 4/6/11 at 5:50

"These schools do not need to be redesigned or tampered with,” he said. “They are here to serve our children — not to provide resume-building opportunities for the most recent crop of itinerant education reformers."

Too bad that attitude doesn't apply to teaching "creationism" and gutting union rules.


By: richgoose on 4/6/11 at 6:19

Mary Catherine Bradshaw would be much happier in one of the private schools that offer the same kind of education that she received at Harpeth Hall.

MNPS is not the place to be if you have the standards that Mary Catherine Bradshaw wants to impart ot the faculty,the parents and the students.

By: Trumpetman on 4/6/11 at 6:58

First off I am a MNPS employee and I know first hand that the district is a mess coming from up top and unfortunatly the principals, teachers, staff, students and parents have to deal with it. Secondly, Hillsboro High is completely overrated. Everyone puts it up on this pedalstool as if its just the greats school around simply because it is in Green Hills, WRONG!!! Well actually Mrs. Bradshaws IB program is a good thing, however it represents a very small percent of the school, probally no more than 50 students in all. The rest of the school is no better than any other MNPS, if not worse than some of the other High Schools. Thirdly, to the State Rep. What about all of the other people in MNPS who have completly lost their positions for no reason.... such as the janitors, some of who had been at their schools for 30+ years and are now outsourced and misserable? What about the numerous of teachers and other staff who lost positions or were moved to undesirible positions or other schools simple due to budge cuts or curriculum changes or enrollment changes such, such as fine arts teachers, business teachers, etc.. What the cosmotology teachers who will be loosing their jobs because it is being romoved from many of the schools and adventually all because Mr. Jay Steel doesn't feel that that profession makes enough money as compared to the others that are taught in the new "Career Academies". So to the State Rep, its good you are putting up a fight, but what makes Mrs. Bradshaw so much more special, not even knowing the real reasons behind her being released from Hillsboro? Why not put up a fight for all MNPS employees who have completely lost their jobs due to things out of their control, or put up a fight for those tryin to obtain a job, with all the qualifications, who can't get one because MNPS would rather higher applicants from Teach for America or other programs that train you to be a teacher over a summer...

By: sickofstupidity on 4/6/11 at 7:39

Hillsboro High School with the IB program is nothing more than a ghetto day care serving free lunches to the low-life of society.

By: artsmart on 4/6/11 at 8:30

These arguements just highlight the problems with Metro Schools, no accountability. Let's just say this teacher did something terrible, why was she not fired if what she did was terrible. Why should some other school and children have to put up with her. What if her violation was having enough nerve to have an opinion different than the Principal, should she be shoved out, I thought excellent teachers was what we were looking to have in the schools.
How about the most recent stories about Radon in the Schools that they have known about since 1988 and totally ignored. The person in charge of that is still with the school system and nothing will happen. I assure you we are looking at a large class action suit and Metro will lose. I'll bet you Bransford was tested and corrections made if needed. Folks this is our school system allowing them to cover up the truth is just not acceptable.

By: richgoose on 4/6/11 at 8:54

SICK OF STUPIDITY.........I feel badly that you are 95% correct about Hillsboro High School. The 1B program is an island in the middle of less than mediocre humaninty.

By: est on 4/6/11 at 10:54

judetalen: On March 24, The Tennessean printed this quote from MNPS communications director Olivia Brown: "She’s not been reprimanded, in trouble or fired, nothing like that." So who's lying, you or MNPS? (source:

By: Loretta Bridge on 4/6/11 at 11:58

Would someone PLEASE tell me why they want to move her to another position. I have never heard the reason they want to change her job. Is it the principle or the board. If she has been so bad then why have they let her stay for this long. Seems like they would be out looking for more teachers that have this dedication. You couldn't pay me enough to work in Davidson Country school system.......low pay, no supplies, out of control student that will not let the students that want to learn, hight crime. They should be begging this woman to stay.

By: political1iam on 4/6/11 at 1:15

What gives this headline hogging politician the right to make personnel decisions in the Metro School System. He is a member of a body that is notorious for making no decisions or poor ones.
Instead of playing to the crowd he should be trying to stop the Legislature's wholesale assault on teachers throughout the state.
Maybe he should run for school board if he wants to micro manage education,but I doubt he could get elected!

By: Community-carl-... on 4/6/11 at 4:36

The teacher in question is a public employee. Taxpayers have a right to the facts surrounding this issue. As usual, MNPS administration is demonstrating it's ongoing problem: Lack of accountability to the public,

It is not fair to Ms. Bradshaw to be the subject of rumors and inuendo. The complete facts and truth need to be revealed by MNPS administration. If they screwed up, they need to own up to it, rectify the situation, apologize, and then move on. Alternatively, if Ms. Bradshaw is being subjected to reprimand or discipline, the taxpayers who pay her salary have a right to know. This lady has been an integral part of many students' academic successes for many years.....she deserves better than what MNPS is subjecting her to.

By: Moonglow1 on 4/7/11 at 7:31

Moonglow1; good for Mike Stewart. We need more lawmakers like him willing to stand up to special interests. Unlike the nut jobs Tea Party people like Mae Beavers who spends her time on creationism & long form birth certificates & Jimmy Summerville who hates teachers. We need to retain & value our teachers & neighborhood schools like Hillsboroo & elect the right people whose values reflect ours & not the interests of the Tea Party whose agenda. Is to the extreme far right of sanity.