Cleveland School Board Member Says Common Core Should Not Get Wrapped Up In Politics, Panel Hits Licensure Changes

Tuesday, October 15, 2013 - by Tony Eubank
From left to right are Tom Cloud, Peggy Pesterfield, Richard Shaw, George Meacham and Murl Dirksen.
From left to right are Tom Cloud, Peggy Pesterfield, Richard Shaw, George Meacham and Murl Dirksen.
- photo by Tony Eubank

Cleveland School Board member Dawn Robinson at a meeting Monday defended the implementation of Common Core and said it should not get involved in politics.

She said she was concerned whether or not all of the schools are informing parents properly about the implementation of the Common Core curriculum. 

Ms. Robinson thanked City Schools Director Dr. Martin Ringstaff for taking the lead on Common Core. She stated, “It's controversial because it’s turning into a political football, which it shouldn’t. Higher standards are better.”

Ms. Robinson added, “It doesn’t dictate curriculum. We can teach the standards however we want to teach them.”

The education committee of the Bradley County Commission earlier Monday recommended that legislators not go along with Common Core.

Dr. Ringstaff presented his annual report at the board meeting. He said the annual report has been improved and is now available online at the Cleveland City Schools website.

Some of the key topics in the report that Dr. Ringstaff touched on included changes in demographics, budget points, and new programs. Dr. Ringstaff also highlighted that Cleveland city school teachers have an average of over 10.63 years of classroom experience. 

He noted that only .46 percent of the school's budget comes from the federal government and that most of this goes towards the free and reduced lunch program. While the shutdown of the federal government is not affecting this funding, it could three to four months down the line.

Cleveland City School’s curriculum supervisor Jeff Elliott presented a plan to use bolster funding for the city’s extended contracts. The extended contracts fund various tutoring, enrichment, and intervention programs. Mr. Elliott reported that the funding for this program has been reduced by 25 percent. Dr. Ringstaff noted that the state had voted to cut this by 50 percent over a two-year period. Mr. Elliott added, “We’re at $47,500 now and a couple of years ago it was about $100,000.”

The board approved a move to draw up a plan to use a percentage of the differential pay scale to help close the funding gap for these programs.

The board also approved thiring Bennett and Pless Engineering Firm for a detailed structural analysis of the Cleveland High Dome. Director of maintenance and transportation Hal Taylor made note that cracks in the gymnasium have made some movement. While this is most likely not a safety issue, it is difficult to determine the level of stress on a round building. 

The board also voiced its opposition to the Tennessee State Board of Education’s elimination of the 21-step pay scale and its recent changes to the Tennessee Teacher Licensure Program. The board believes that these measures devalue educators. The Cleveland City Board resolution refuting that the state’s licensure changes states that the board believes that the states changes will make it harder to recruit and keep quality teachers. 

Dawn Robinson commented on the changes to the licensure changes, “This whole idea of licensure (based) off one test score is ridiculous and I hope that our legislators are paying attention.”

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