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A Bit of a Difference

January 2, 2010

Jaime Sarrio does a nice job reviewing the first year of Dr. Jesse Register’s tenure as the Superintendent of Schools for Metro Nashville. What a difference a couple of years makes, for it wasn’t that long ago that we were struggling under leadership that was arrogant, disconnected, and bouncing from program to program in desperation to turn things around. For me, hope comes in Register’s willingness to be neither overly optimistic nor pessimistic:

"It’s too early to say it is successful, and too early to say it’s not," Register said. "We’ve laid a foundation that’s very good; now we have to make sure that it works."

Register still has a tough time ahead because the systemic issues that face Metro Schools cannot be addressed by the school system alone, but rather are city wide issues which require folks to come together creatively and work through past hurts and prejudices to deal with these issues. Most important will be dealing with a perceptual problem which leads folks to leave the county or put their kids in private schools in the belief that it is impossible to obtain a first rate education in the Metro system. On the surface, based solely on generalizations from standardized test scores, this might seem to be the case, but we all know that the two highest ranked public schools in the state on Newsweek’s and U.S. News and World Report’s list of best high schools are in the Metro system. Our zoned schools have similar pockets of excellence among students who are motivated and get strong family support, but we struggle to address the needs of those students who don’t have the resources to excel, resources that are often beyond the scope of the school system. Register is doing a good job of moving us out of a culture of disdain for the city’s ability to address these issues (under the previous administration who attempted to shift blame for failure on any outside source it could find) toward a cooperative model that recognizes the need for community support.

Good first year Jesse. Now let’s see what we can do to build something great. 

http://www.tennessean.com/article/20100102/NEWS04/1020342/1970

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