Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Man's Got to Know His Limitations

Jim Grinstead questions Mayor Karl Dean's self-insertion into the selection process for a new Metro Director of Schools:
Karl Dean's power play to force his way into the selection of a new director for Metro schools is the wrong move for a mayor who says his first priority is education.

The move is wrong because Dean is not focusing his efforts where they could do the most good. Plus it not only makes wrong assumptions about the process of selecting a new director, it unnecessarily politicizes the process.

Under state law, both the interim director and the new director will report to the school board, not the mayor. By inserting himself into the process, Dean creates confusion ....

Many of the problems any urban school district faces originate outside the schoolhouse walls. Those distractions come from unsafe streets, decaying properties that can be used as drug houses and social issues such as employment, lack of child care services and other needs that result in children arriving at school unprepared for a day of learning.

If Mayor Dean truly wants to improve the quality of education in Nashville and boost graduation rates, he'll deal with community problems over which the school board has no control. If he can improve the quality of life outside of the schools, the new director will have a much better chance of seeing the district's children through to graduation.
Progressive Nashville's observations and suggestions for Mayor Dean are consistent with points I have made before that his office's focus on education seems narrow with respect to other community issues that he can directly improve.

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