If you are not a regular reader of the education blog Dad Gone Wild written by TC Weber, add it to your list. He will make you laugh, he will make you mad, and he will make you cry…sometimes in the same article. His latest column, So Here We Are, goes where few writers dare to go by pointing out: “Nashville has long been over due for a conversation on race and how it plays out in our public institutions.” Weber is right.
In the growing debate over Metro Schools Superintendent Shawn Joseph, Mr. Weber asks the million-dollar question: How much of the criticism directed toward the Director of Schools is rooted in the color of his skin as opposed to his performance? Answer that question than proceed to the debate. If you are judging him because of the color of his skin, you need to exercise your constitutional right and remain silent. If it is based on performance, then take Weber’s advice and “evaluate with the same rigor we demand of others.”
At times the Dad Gone Wild columns go on for too long, but some of it is so brilliant one wonders if the education students at Lipscomb, Trevecca, Belmont, or Vanderbilt shouldn’t be required to read his columns prior to graduating. It is where reality and policy intersect, along with a healthy dose of investigative journalism. A local newspaper should certainly pick up Dad Gone Wild or Mr. Weber should expand his reach beyond Music City and go statewide or national.
Weber states that he wants to “continually push the conversation forward and to expand my boundaries and knowledge base.” He adds, “I personally don’t believe race is an issue that we can ignore or a conversation we can shy away from. Too many of our important decisions, especially in education, are rooted in race. Funding, programing, and attendance are just some of the areas where race influences our decisions.” He is correct. And we all have “skin” in that game. Then he states: “my goal is to support policy that is best for kids, families, and teachers.” That point is lost on far too many people, from the bureaucrat to the politician.
Weber emphasizes that “this conversation suffers, as Nashville is currently suffering, from a lack of leadership.” He believes there “is currently a leadership vacuum in Nashville that starts at the mayoral level and descends downward.” It would be hard to disagree with this statement, although I might suggest that the grassroots cannot be afraid to lead, and, if needed, push the so called “leaders” out of the way.
I have no problem with the Superintendent rapping along with a song, no matter how vulgar it may be or not be. That’s his prerogative. He will ultimately answer to the community if he crosses the professional line. My opinion of Shawn Joseph will be based strictly on his performance, or lack thereof. My question is: How do you think he is doing?
JC Bowman is the Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee.