Meece's comment history

Meece said...

Momof3 you are living in reality and it is OK to dream. I'd like there to be enough space for magnet, zone, Hill City, fairmont and even new developments. But in reality there isn't right now, and a new development should not be zoned for NPMM before any families even build a home there when there isn't room for magnet and Hill City families right now. That's reality, too, and what we need to figure out. To me, I see a real value of blended magnet and zone, but I'm thinking of the bigger picture of Chattanooga in general and N. Chatt. may have just outgrown it. If there was going to be a school moved to a new building, my personal wish is that it could somehow be a school that has no real tie to a zone in N. Chattanooga, and then NPMM could use that space. Too bad there isn't such a place.

On the other hand, in the reports from bizzaro world, poor teachers should be retained, schools should be overcrowded, and principals should be shifted around quickly before they can ever establish any consistency. Maybe they'll work that out over there, too.

February 21, 2012 at 7:48 p.m.
Meece said...

Except your "arguments" lack veracity.

Haters gonna hate, ldurham.

February 21, 2012 at 7:38 a.m.
Meece said...

Thus we have the achievement gap between poor and rich neighborhoods, and the cycle continues as expectations drop even lower. But that gap isn't because of any cognitive difference between socioeconomic classes, but is due to differential expectations, treatment, and allocation of resources.

Unfortunately, I think too many people hold that first view point. That's why I said a "groundswell of change." There has to be buy in for what is working rather than cynicism.

I'll give you an example. I would wager that if you asked people in the area what the problem was with public education, there are many people who would say "because they got rid of paddling." Here's the thing though. Corporal punishment is allowed in Hamilton County. It hasn't been "gotten rid of." It isn't used though at NPMM, and they have the best test scores in the state. Now, the cynic has to come up with a rationale for that to defend their world view, and they say "well, those are just hand picked children anyway" as if they somehow just don't need that spanking that the poor kids need. Nope, its the poor kids, we got to keep them in line. Give them an inch they'll take a mile. They aren't going to learn anything anyway. The alternative - that positive guidance builds an internalized sense of right or wrong versus external and a more positive climate that supports learning - is just dismissed. Those rich kids just knew how to behave. They came out of the volvo that way.

Again, if "more schools are going to be like NPMM" then we are going to have to accept that works with "these" kids works with "those" kids = and I am convinced it does. But instead, there are some who would rather say "oh those are just hand-picked children" because of their own cognitive dissonance. They are discounting what is working because of their own preconceived notions.

That is why parents are seeking out NPMM - they view that active, constructivist curriculum and positive climate as important. Not everyone in Hamilton County does. I bet there are people right now ready to type that I am wrong.

So yes, administrators are important. I believe that administrators should be given the tools to accurately and fairly evaluate teaching performance.

And yes, parent involvement is certainly and absolutely important; your assumption though that NPMM families aren't dual career is wrong though. There is a pedagogy of poverty here, also, of lowered expectations. "Well, bless their hearts, we can't expect those poor folks to actually be involved with the school." That's bs, too. But many administrators will act in ways to alienate parents rather than bringing them in, again based on those low expectations. We set ourselves up to fail.

February 20, 2012 at 8:45 p.m.
Meece said...

Hi Rosebud. A couple of quick things. First, of course principals "hand pick" teachers - they hire teachers, that is sort of what they do. Second, many administrators from other schools are visiting and observing and sharing at NPMM.

What we are talking about here are two fundamentally different views of curriculum. In the NPMM example, we have a developmentally appropriate curriculum (well, as close to one as exists in Hamilton Co.) that treats children as active learners. The view is that young children actively construct knowledge of the world by doing. On the other hand, there are proponents of more traditional, rote teaching methods. These assume that the child is not an active learner, but a passive learner, and the role of the teacher is to bestow knowledge to them. The view is that through direct instruction and drill on the basic subjects of reading, writing, and arithmetic that scores on standardized tests and other metrics will improve.

You can believe one of two things. You can believe that at one of our clandestine liberal elite meetings, over brie and Belgian lambic, we all decided that we wanted to take over a 116 year old falling down building that doesn't even have a gym, and we wanted to load our handpicked prodigy into our volvos and drive them from all over the county, because that would be easier than simply moving to fairyland in the first place, and the Central Office was so enamored with our secret plan that they rigged the lottery to keep the riff raff out, and in "5-10" years this cabal was able to pull off stacking a school. In this view, those rich kids were simply smarter than the other children in Chattanooga, and have managed to perform well on outcomes despite that goofy curriculum. They were going to do better anyway, because their parents drive volvos. Of course, the demographic data doesn't support that, and the value added scores from the tn. report card - indicating that the kids at normal park were learning at a faster rate than in other programs in the county, rather than starting out "smarter," don't support it either. A part of this world view is the belief that children in poverty simply aren't as capable as children from upper income homes, and therefore lower expectations are held for them.

Or, you can believe that an active learning approach is a better way for children to learn. That this is developmentally appropriate for the way children think. That learning broadly actually helps children perform better on standardized tests than didactic approaches. And that this approach works for all children, but the problem is that some administrators and teachers have low expectations and standards for their children, particularly children in poverty, and do not expect them to perform well and act accordingly, and in this way the teachers do a poor job and the children suffer the consequences of those low expectations.

February 20, 2012 at 8:45 p.m.
Meece said...

Thank you cowtow_no I agree with you 100%.

Ldurham now we are back to who drives volvos and the lies and stereotypes of families? The common denominator of your straw men is your belief that poor children can not learn. You think you have to boot out the "trouble makers and under achievers."

Of course I want to keep a great principal at my kid's school. And yes, I want the principal's at all schools to be empowered. And I want all teachers to be doing an excellent job.

What's fundamentally fascinating here, and that you refuse to get, is that the reason for normal park's success is a constructivist, developmentally appropriate curriculum and positive guidance. The active learning, the hands-on doing. Parent's have sought that out, and it is succeeding. That's why the school is in demand. The groundswell of change has to be away from didactic curriculum and negative environments, but you want to hold on to a pedagogy of poverty that only reinforces those failed approaches. Despite the clear evidence, there will be voices in the community who will claim that a "back to basics" rote focus on drilling the three r's and punitive discipline is the best approach, especially for children in poverty. That is because of their low expectations for children in poverty. Like your low expectations. They will write off the succcess of a DAP program as being only the result of rich kids in volvos, despite all evidence to the contrary (such as the value-added scores from the state report card). Anyone who has ever sat in the car line knows your characterizations aren't reality based.

February 20, 2012 at 4:02 p.m.
Meece said...

ldurham You can't understand that as a parent I want to keep a great principal at my children's school? Really?

You don't understand that consistent administration is a good thing? Really. You want to state that as if it is a serious question. Please, ldurham you are not that opaque.

Ldurham your repetition of the line that Mrs. Levine "should be sent somewhere else" as if to prove she can "do it there" just belies your underlying assumption that some children can not learn as well as other children. You believe in a pedagogy of poverty that children in low income areas can't learn as well or through the same methods. That is your bias.

You know, you are always bringing up the fact that underperforming teachers at the failing chattanooga middle weren't retained to normal park. I'm starting to wonder if maybe the reason some of those teachers performed poorly was that they shared that sort of pedagogy of poverty, so they held low expectations for their students and in turn for their own performance. There's always some external force to blame. Something to think about.

February 20, 2012 at 3 p.m.
Meece said...

Diane I'm sorry that I use to many words for you, but it is a complex issue and simplistic statements are not helping. Your own bias is that the children in Orchard Knob, etc. can not learn. I don't agree with you. The DAP curriculum and parent involvement work with every child. Your basic premise is wrong. Honestly, it bugs me that you somehow think you should tell Jill Levine where she should be working. Yes, we want her at Normal Park. Grow up and get over your personal problem. Everybody gets it. You've written this a thousand times and anyone who wants to read it has. You offer no real or new solutions to the reality that has been pointed out to you over and over, that there is more demand for the school than there are spaces. You just want to snipe. Haters gonna hate, I know, I know.

Rhianna of course that development is not part of your neighborhood association but they are somehow zoned for NPMM and the reality is that if it remains that way the families who buy houses there are going to have guaranteed spots at NPMM and those slots are going to take slots from Hill City. Geographically that development is adjacent to Hill City - why should it be zoned and Hill City not zoned? You are standing in the forest, now quit staring at that one tree and look around. I really don't understand why there is not more concern from the Hill City association about this project. Are you just refusing to believe that there is limited space? Is that what it is? Are you afraid that if you admit there is limited space that it will be turned around on you in the future? Or is it really just about the Hill City property values after all? Because I'll be honest Rhianna, I don't think that is your point of view. I think you've had noble intentions when you've been fighting for access for Hill City families. But if you want more Hill City families to attend NPMM how do you think that is going to happen with a new development springing up already "in-zone?"

February 20, 2012 at 10:10 a.m.
Meece said...

That is something that all NPMM supporters and families should agree on. If you share my concern that NPMM can not support this increase in population, I have started a petition to the school board asking that the homes that will be built in this new up-scale development NOT be included in the NPMM zone. Please take one moment to sign it, it is simple and easy. The zone should be changed before any families are sold those homes and made a promise that can not be delivered:

Click here:

February 20, 2012 at 8:53 a.m.
Meece said...

This is where I disagree with Mr. Cook, and this is where I think that all who are concerned about NPMM should agree with me. The north perry subdivision should not be zoned for NPMM. They are selling that property with the draw of the school zone. In a recent Times Free Press article, the developer said he was going to keep building houses as long as they were letting children in to NPMM.

Hill city parents, do you think it is fair for a new up-scale subdivision, geographically it IS Hill City, to be built and those children be guaranteed a space in the school and your children are not? I don't.

Magnet parents, whose spot do you think those children are going to take? Do you think that your hard work the past few years has somehow grandfathered you in and that you have a guaranteed spot? Because you don't. And the existing magnet spots will be eliminated next just as there are no new spots.

Parents currently in-zone, do you want your children to attend an increasingly crowded school? Surely some of the success has been classrooms that aren't over crowded. Those homes haven't been built yet, they haven't been sold, they are on the edge of the "zone" and that land shouldn't have been included in the zone anyway if the rest of Hill City wasn't. With the inclusion of Hill City, with Fairmont, with the new homes throughout the neighborhood, we simply can not sustain another 40 families.

February 20, 2012 at 8:48 a.m.
Meece said...

And the problem with phasing in all the new developments is that NPMM is a magnet school, not a neighborhood school. That's what it is. Normal Park is the only magnet school that is continually called on to stop being a magnet. Look at CSAS, this year they will let in fewer than 60 kindergartners. There will be over 100 at NPMM. Why are there other schools in the neighborhood, heck, right across from NPMM that are completely magnet with no zone whatsoever? Where is the call for community schools? There will be no magnet lottery for NPMM this fall because of the increase in in-zone population. There will be no new magnet slots in that kindergarten class. There will be a few slots for siblings of current magnet students - they were promised slots when their older siblings enrolled, but those are "on the line" and being reduced. Now, move ahead. Houses continue to be built throughout N. Chattanooga in any spot that is big enough to squeeze on in, and families continue to move here. The homes are marketed for the school zone. Fairmont housing development is bringing in 18 new families. This is wonderful, but is a big shot of growth. Now add in 40 homes in N. Perry. Let's say between those, next year there are 20 new 3rd graders in zone. That's a whole new class worth of third graders. We can't make room out of thin air. Hello, magnet parents, where do you think that space is going to come from?

February 20, 2012 at 8:40 a.m.

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