Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Robertson County Schools: After the Meeting

Many of asked that I put together a post with my commentary from the joint meeting between the City of Springfield and Robertson County Schools.

I do not want to get into what was said, and what was not said. I will leave that to the great coverage provided by the Robertson County Times.
For my thoughts…..here we go:
Overall, I am encouraged.
I am encouraged for this is the first time I have heard a real discussion related to the schools in an open forum. For far too long, I have had the impression that the schools are a “third rail” of Robertson County politics.
Here is what I think that the County should take from this meeting.  
1)      We have a concern – I think that can be acknowledged now. It is reflected by the meeting itself. It is reflected by what was exchanged by the two entities. Though not unprecedented, when was the last time two entities such as the City of Springfield and Robertson County Schools sat down for such a meeting? And, then, think of governmental meetings – how many have been that well attended? None that I can remember.
This is what I find tremendous for our County. I think it was the worst kept secret that there was a tremendous amount of vitriol, rumors and teeth-gnashing leading up to the meeting. It was disappointing. It was disappointing because as it always is, these voices were the loudest. Yet, I did not see those voices throughout the audience. I did not see folks filled with vitriol throughout the audience.
I saw community leaders and I saw concerned parents willing to listen, and wanting to be a part of the solution.
That was why I thought that the meeting was tremendous. Now, I am not so naïve to think that there were not those spreading the vitriol in attendance, but I think those folks were disappointed. This meeting showed folks from all over the County that this is a serious concern, and accordingly it is being treated as a serious concern. There is not going to be a quick-fix band aid that is going to fix all ills within our schools.
2)      The concern will require teamwork – Again, go back to my first point of a meeting such as this. Each entity shared their concerns with the other. That is a part of the process.  As I have said to folks that have asked – this is “everyone’s fault and no one’s fault all at once.” There is not a “culprit” to this concern. It is too easy to fall into that trap. But, it is a trap we should refrain from…we will not get anywhere pointing figures, and allocating blame. 

What I did hear was concerns expressed by both entities with the way each has approached the concern. I even heard that the County Commission should be brought into the discussion. I could not agree more. Therein lies the way in which the concern will be addressed: Teamwork.
If there were an easy way to remedy the concern, someone at that meeting would have proclaimed it.
No one did.
It is too big.
Now, before you just laugh on my juvenile statement here, my point is that all entities will need to work as a team to address this concern. I look forward to that opportunity.
What I would envision, and what I will look forward to is the second meeting. I look forward to the Robertson County Commission joining this second meeting. Only teamwork is going to address our concerns.


  1. HA! We must have been at different meetings. What I saw was a lot of political posturing. I think the meeting was poorly planned and executed considering the lead-in and attendance (really?!? 100 person limit? no sound system?). I think that speaks more to the fact that the leaders wanted to APPEAR to be making a stink, yet not really concerned they were heard (quite literally!). I saw two legislative bodies talking about a perceived problem, yet excluding those who will actually solve it (educators - but what else is new?). Solutions are easy when you just have to tell others what to do. That way, you can't be "accountable." Speaking of second meeting... when is it? Was that date/time set? Or is it just a "yeah, we need to talk about that" situation, with no follow-up. Because that's what I saw at the meeting.

  2. "Anonymous" - Thanks for your feedback. Great to hear from folks in the community. With all due respect, your reference to a "Perceived Problem" is the problem. There is a problem. It was so very encouraging to see folks actually talking about this issue.

    And, I think we are long the same lines here. Before you can solve a problem, you first must identify that problem. That was accomplished the other night.

  3. One positive comment that I would like to see fleshed out was in reference to Springfield becoming a magnet school. It seems that no one wants to talk about the real change that can only occur through progressive thinking. Or open zone and let the BEP dollars fall where they may!

  4. You are right, Jonathan, it is a REAL problem. A problem that affects Robertson County everyday in many varied ways. As Mayor Carneal said at the meeting, when you look at the school district lines on the map, you have to admit that there is something wrong. When the bus from other schools come to within 1 1/2 miles of Springfield High School, there is something wrong. When the line for Coopertown comes to Carr Creek on Hwy. 49 instead of stopping at Hwy 257, there is something wrong. The first step is to redraw the district lines. Thank you, Jonathan, for keeping this issue out front. Please continue to work on it.

  5. I heard the concern voiced clearly about the dis-proportioned economically disadvantaged within the County. What I wish I would have heard more of is the tremendous trouble the business community is having because of the Springfield School district's scores. The industrial board has expressed that one of the main influential factors for why businesses do not grow or move here b/c is the Springfield Schools and I know of several businesses that have had trouble hiring because of the schools. I agree that we need to get a team together and I hope that the business community is represented.

  6. I work as a substitute teacher, before that I was an assistant in special education for six years, I have worked in an emotional disturbed classroom, I have a daughter who goes to Springfield High School, and another who graduated from SHS. Rezoning is not the answer and will not solving anything. The best schools that I have worked in had parent and teacher cooperation and an affective discipline system. Brandsford for example is one of my favorite schools to sub for the teachers there are very helpful, the children are well behaved, and there seems to be a well form communication system between the teachers and parents. Moving children to different schools will not solve the problem of low test scores and bad discipline. Rezoning will do nothing to solve this problem. The only thing rezoning will do is make our children have to get up earlier than they already do to ride further away from home to go to school. It seems to me all rezoning will do is punish our children for the faults of the adults, teachers and parents, in charge.

  7. Shane ShoemakerMay 2, 2011 at 9:10 PM

    After having had time to digest comments made before, during, and after the meeting, and having attended the school board's work session last Monday, I offer the following points for consideration:

    1. No Child Left Behind needs to be repealed and replaced (if the Feds should be involved at all) with realistic programs for a real world. We all know that every child is not college-bound, so why are we treating them as such? A person whose aspirations lead them to building houses rather than designing them does not need Algebra 2; rather, they need trade school programs that prepare them for that affinity. We do nothing but frustrate students, teachers, and administrators in our efforts to interest said students in something for which they can see no possible applicability. Attempting to do so forces teachers to instruct at the lowest common denominator level, leaving those actually interested out in the coldness of boredom in an effort to make sure everyone passes.

    2. Do some lines need to be drawn and/or enforced? Absolutely. We have all witnessed the Gerrymandering and zoning exceptions granted for the slightest reasons, and it is time to stop. School Board - grow a spine and do what's fair, not what's politically convenient.

    3. In regard to Springfield schools' future success, we cannot primarily rely on the Board, administrators, or teachers to "fix" the problems endured by our socioeconomically disadvantaged students. Teachers have them 6-7 hours per day, 5 days a week during the school term, which roughly equates to 16% of the hours in a year...and we're going to combat the remaining 84% with busing, slight modifications of the zones, or any other bureaucratic solution? I think not. We can only attack this problem by getting adults in our community to step up, volunteer, and get their hands "dirty" with involvement in these at-risk schools. If a child's parent(s) will not or can not assist their child with homework, then we need to step in and offer our help. If we as community and business leaders are not willing to do anything more than complain about the unprepared student, then we should expect no more than what we're getting. The solution requires a village willing to step up and help raise some kids.

    Fire away...