School board member to call on state lawmakers to 'intervene' at Metro schools

Glover says state education officials need to be more accountable for local role

Board of Education member Steve Glover said the state Department of Education needs to make itself more accountable, formally, for the changes being made at Metro Nashville Public Schools. And he’s asking state lawmakers to get involved.

Glover said Tuesday that he plans to invite representatives Ben West (D-Hermitage) and Mike Turner (D-Old Hickory) as well as Senator Joe Haynes (D-Nashville) to meet with him next week at McGavock High School. The purpose of the meeting, Glover said, will not be to criticize the lawmakers, but to ask them to “intervene.”

Glover said he has already contacted Mayor Karl Dean’s office about the meeting, and that it is his “understanding” that the office of Governor Phil Bredesen has been contacted. Members of the Board of Education are being notified this afternoon.

Staff members at the offices of Haynes and Turner confirmed that Glover had contacted the lawmakers about the meeting. West staff members could not immediately be reached Tuesday afternoon.

“Enough is enough. They’re playing all these behind-the-scenes games and they’re messing with my kids, and I’m fed up with it,” Glover said. “I want a contract that says that what they’re doing works, now. Or get out of our business, because what we’ve been doing obviously is working.”

The DOE has authority to make big changes at MNPS due to the district’s repeated failures to meet certain benchmarks required by state and federal No Child Left Behind laws. Yesterday, the district learned that it has advanced further into corrective action, and is now considered in “Restructuring I” status. That gives the state authority to approve all staff resources of MNPS, as well as all financial resources.

This isn’t the first time Glover has publicly called on the DOE to guarantee that its changes at MNPS will result in NCLB success. He has publicly asked DOE accountability chief Connie Smith whether big state changes – including a restructuring of MNPS central curriculum offices – will be part of a plan to get the district out of corrective action.

And on Monday, Glover told that board members now have “no choice” but to work with elected state officials to call for accountability.

“Our district is not failing,” Glover said Monday, after the MNPS press conference discussing No Child Left Behind results. “We have no choice but to talk to our lawmakers now, because we obviously are in a position that every district will be in in the relatively near future. … It’s up to us as board members to now start talking to our state lawmakers to determine how we best maneuver to continue moving the district forward.”

As evidence that the district is not failing, Glover cited MNPS’s improvements in high school math made this year. The percentage of all district high school students meeting proficiency requirements increased from 69 percent last year, to 80 percent currently.

Glover also pointed to the state’s removal of principals at three high schools – Hillwood, McGavock and Overton – that have experienced success in improving their NCLB statuses this year. Overton moved into “Good Standing” under NCLB, and Hillwood and McGavock qualified for “Improving” status.

“We played fair. We played nice. We have asked them to be accountable, and they have said, ‘Oh, no, we’re not going to be accountable. The board is accountable,’” Glover said. “I’m being accountable to the public of Nashville right now. I’m asking the hard questions. I’m demanding answers.”