NOTE:  The following materials were prepared for a Board retreat in April, 1999.  In December, 2000, they served as the basis for an addition to the system's Accountability Framework: Goal #9, to add 1% to our market share each year for five years.  The Accountability Framework has since been replaced by a much longer document with many goals and sub-goals called a "Strategic Plan" (click here for more on strategic planning), but a goal addressing this same issue is still included.

3.     The current framework lacks a measurable objective for Goal 3 (Listen, communicate and respond). In "Education Reclamation: Brookmeade Isn't A Bad Public School Model", the Nashville Scene, March 11, 1999, Phil Ashford writes:

"To move beyond the school-choice approaches to something really promising, it might be helpful to engage in a small thought experiment--an imaginary proposal that is useful for understanding the problem, although not practical to implement in the real world. Instead of offering parents a choice plan, we should offer a no-choice plan. Under such a plan, private schools would be outlawed and everyone would be required to attend his or her assigned public school with no waivers. (And since this is all imaginary, no one would be allowed to move to Brentwood .)"

"What would be the outcome of such a plan? The most affluent parents would probably insist on more funding for schools. Motivated parents with children assigned to substandard schools would demand the schools improve and would contribute their time and energy to make certain that it happened. The overall level of performance would improve."

"Of course, such a totalitarian solution is not possible. But it is useful in helping put a finger on the way we have misdirected public schools. For, while we have saddled school administrations with all kinds of conflicting responsibilities and fashionable ideologies, we have not demanded that they make it their central purpose to reclaim their lost universality. We have not held the school leadership responsible for reclaiming dwindling market share."

 It seems obvious that we will never have a great public school system so long as that system only serves 80% of our children. Even many of our own teachers find our schools unattractive for their students. As one wrote me:  

"Unfortunately, I canít "market" ********* because, although we have more computers than any other middle school and we have a state of the art *************** and we have excellent teachers, we have students who I would not want my children to go to school with. In fact, I was asked that question by a family who just moved to Nashville this summer, "Would you send your kids here to school?" I told them the truth, although we have excellent programs and teachers, I would not want my kids exposed to the other childrenís inappropriate behavior. I told them that unless my kids were rock-solid leaders, I would home school them." --A Metro Teacher

 

As Phil Ashford's article and this teacher point out, making  our schools desirable for a greater percentage of parents requires not only improving academics and offering lots of opportunities for growth, but also understanding the partnership we must have with parents in helping to support their efforts to develop character in their children. And it especially means creating cultures in our schools that assume, require, model and promote discipline, respect, and effort. So, my proposed objective is:

 

Objective 8: Increase the percentage of Davidson County students attending MNPS schools by 1 percentage point per year for the next 5 years. (Establish 2000-2001 baseline by private school attendance reports.)