school consolidation of both systems. It is ridiculous the amount of money we waste operating two separate school systems. If you want better performance, we should eliminate duplication and focus on all children in the community equally. Under any administration I would lead schools and students would be focused on academic achievement. Any school that did not make Adequately Yearly Progress (AYP) would see that Principal replaced. Excellent principals would also be rotated to schools with the greatest needs. Principals would be on campus during the day, not out making the lunch rounds. In my administration, mediocrity would not be tolerated, and social promotion would end. Any child not reading on grade level would be retained in grades 3-8. In addition, underperforming students would be required to attend summer school and receive extra help. The research demonstrates this strategy yields lasting improvements, especially for younger students, according to a recent study in the Review of Economics and Statistics.
In addition, it is critical we work with local business and industry to make sure we are coordinating our graduates with their needs. I would like to see a guaranteed diploma. Students who graduate under the Bradley County Schools banner under my leadership would receive re-training if the local workforce finds them unqualified at our expense in evening classes. We would align some career-technical institutes with the needs and projected needs of our community. We would expand the number of students taking AP Courses and those who earn college/university credits. This would be my objective if I were Superintendent of Schools. I would also have an analysis done which accurately measures the current dropout rate. The number is much higher than reported. I would love to conduct a research study on the last decade of attendance and see the actual figures. School districts report whatever numbers they like, however they want to report them, and there's nobody outside checking to see if these are true or accurate. Why does it matter? Because kids matter. Who is graduating with their class? How do they capture transfers in or out? As a result, we may be ignoring students who drop out before the senior year when they calculate high school completion rates, resulting in inflated graduation rates.
I would pledge to the citizens of Bradley County that I would actually work with the Bradley County Commission. In fact, one of the great travesties has been the failure of the current administration to build bridges with our commission, which I would change significantly. You can change School Board Chairmen all you want; as long as the attitude persists the problems will continue. I would hold Principal meetings when students are not in class, and possibly even on Saturday. Under my leadership, the Principal would be given greater responsibility and freedom, but would be held to a higher level of accountability. Most importantly, Principals would be in their assigned school and not called up for frivolous meetings at the Central Office during the school day. In my administration, Bradley County's communication system would not be used for political activity, nor would political petitions be tolerated. Every memorandum, letter or e-mail sent or received by a system employee would be public record, outside of those dealing with confidential matters of personnel. The school board would function as a school board, and exercise appropriate oversight of the system's finances and policies, not personnel. At times I would disagree with them and try to persuade them of what I believe is in children's best interest. However, I would understand that there would be disagreements. I can live with that fact. Then I would go eat with those interested, and pay for my own meal. If I were a candidate for Superintendent of Schools, I could humbly ask for your vote and support.
Unfortunately we cannot vote for Superintendent of Schools in Bradley County. We must all wait to find out who, the appointed committee of the few, will select. I know I cannot gain the appointment, so why bother? How many other potential candidates feel the same way? But we can change the rules of the game and make our voices heard. We can demand from our state officials a return to an elected Superintendent of Schools. Our legislators need to sponsor this bill every year until it passes. We can also attend school board meetings. I started attending school board meetings in the late 1980's. I became disgusted with the politics and eventually quit attending. It is time I start attending again. I invite everyone to join me at the meetings. We can even have a discussion afterward at Logan's Roadhouse, but it will be pay your own way. I believe it is time school board member's return to acting like public servants, and lay down their personal agenda. The Cleveland City School Board may even want to create a mentor program for the counterparts on the Bradley County Board. As a 2nd District Bradley County Resident (as well as 5th District Cleveland City Resident), I am going to take a new, harder look at increasing my involvement. I have had enough, how about you?
--J. C. Bowman is a public policy analyst who resides in Cleveland, TN..
He can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit his website at: www.policyexperts.net