Wednesday, October 29, 2014

jai's thoughts on inglewood elementary school

The thoughts below were posted on a slightly different form on last night in response to an article in the Nashville Scene and another in The Tennessean. I haven't used our blog in a long time but I thought this was a good reason.

First, let me say that I do believe the educators inside of KIPP Nashville work hard to for the betterment of their students. Second, this is NOT an official Inglewood Elementary or IES PTO statement. This is the statement of the father of a thriving first grader at Inglewood Elementary School.

That being said...
It appears that Dr. Register has all but handed Inglewood Elementary School over to KIPP Nashville. It also appears that Dr. Register doesn't know his schools or possibly, doesn't care to be bothered by them.On the big day that Dr. Register was scheduled to come to Inglewood, about a month ago, he had a full schedule and he made it clear that Inglewood wasn't really a priority. 

First, he was almost 30 min late for his meeting with PTO leadership and he brushed off his tardiness with a joke about not remembering where Inglewood was. He presented and listened but most of his responses were combative and dismissive. For example, the PTO expressed that despite our frustration at how difficult it was to get parental participation the PTO had more than doubled. His response: "That's not good enough."  When presented with stats about trends in growth and trends in attrition he squashed them because we weren't dealing with the kids struggling right now. He was presented with some contradictions to his facts and he ignored them.
Next he was scheduled to tour the school and visit classes. Instead, he rushed off to a ribbon cutting. He was about 30 min late for the faculty meeting in the afternoon, but he did cut that off so the community meeting would start on time. 

In the Scene's article he said:
“.. I acknowledge that feedback from the meeting. That was faculty and community members, very few parents there."

There is plenty of video and photo to show that our library was packed, SRO, with a diverse group of individuals. Yes. we did have a lot of community members there and therein lies the rub. Dr. Register doesn't understand Inglewood or East Nashville.The fact that he couldn't recognize that this was an audience filled with caretakers of our kids who include Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents and Parents.

A factual point. We had a sign in sheet not everyone signed in and not all who signed in gave addresses (~100) but over half of those who signed in were residents of the Inglewood ES Zone(~50). Those of us who were there saw many of our fellow parents and grandparents but we are Inglewood and we all have a vested interest in the children in that school.

I guess because there were a few very vocal attendees who were not from Inglewood that was all he saw. Maybe because our families and communities members "handed his ass to him" as one administrator told another a few days after our meeting. I don't know but he obviously didn't understand who he was talking to. This past weekend some of us went canvassing around the school where we met several multigenerational Inglewood households, where we met people who have lived within a 1/2 mile of the school for 40 years. We met folks with dilapidated duplex stoops within two houses of a neatly manicured cottage to a set of those new "tall and skinnies". Dr. Register doesn't understand this about Inglewood, heck about East Nashville, but KIPP does. This sense of community is part of the reason why they are so interested in Inglewood, a school building that is 3 miles away, across Gallatin Rd. and in a separate MNPS cluster.

KIPP is ready to try a new model, a community school model. They have hired a bright, excited young principal from one of their more creative schools in Philadelphia, according to Randy Dowell, head of KIPP Nashville. Dr. Register and his team have given up on the community and the creativity of their principals unlike Randy, who fully believes in his mission and his team. I believe KIPP sees this as an opportunity to change the charter landscape b/c Inglewood isn't your typical high-poverty, high-minority population neighborhood where they typically situate their schools. Inglewood is diverse in a very East Nashville kind of way. Inglewood has a couple of streets of black folk and then a couple of streets of white folk next to a couple of streets where everybody lives together. The same goes with economics; some well off, next to some less well off but all within the relatively tight economic bracket. Inglewood is becoming younger and more hipster but streets and areas like Rock CIty, Bronte, and Glenmeade are still entrenched with the type of families (sometimes THE same families) who have been there since my parents moved onto Delmas in 1966.

KIPP wants something special but as the preliminary results of the PTO's "Future of Inglewood Elementry School" survey given to parents via folders are showing we don't want anything to do with KIPP. The Paideia path is more popular than charter (no offense East). A full half of the respondents want STEaM as our educational model with a pathway to Litton Middle and on to Stratford. The PTO will release the full report within the next few days.

So, even if KIPP understands the uniqueness of Inglewood better than Dr. Register they need to understand one particular idea - we want NO part of KIPP. If they come my children will go and they will not be alone. I will also say that some within this community are not opposed to organizing a walk-out come next August if KIPP comes in.
Have you ever seen a walkout by 5 and 6 year olds? I can guarantee it will be adorable.