Bartow Horror Story: the catastrophic failure of Polk’s testing and student data system

Political advertisement paid for and approved by Billy Townsend, School Board District 1 (Please see the full explanation of this disclaimer at the end of this essay.) Nothing illustrates the comprehensive rot at the Polk School district administrative and leadership level (talking about the Bartow office, not principals at schools) as powerfully as the failure […]

Billy needs your time, energy, money, and RSVP

Political advertisement paid for and approved by Billy Townsend, School Board District 1 (Please see full explanation at the bottom.) I’ve been staring blankly at this screen for 10 minutes trying to come up with something witty to say about the Billy Townsend for School Board District 1 fundraiser and campaign kickoff this Sunday afternoon […]

Responses to questions about Heather Wright’s leadership of the Polk Accountability Office

Citizens for Better Educational Leadership (CBEL) wants to reform the mission, focus, and even the very name of the Polk School District’s Office of Assessment, Accountability and Evaluation. It’s a key priority for us. That’s the office Heather Wright leads. It’s the office responsible for the testing experience in Polk County. We do not think […]

$2.5 million of “Polk” grant money for teachers “outside Polk County”? Why?

I’ve just started reading through Heather Wright’s testing grant. The actual name of the grant is “CTE Hard to Measure Test Items.” It provides for just short of $4.3 million in its amended form. “Hard to Measure” is apparently an educratic term — like “Local Instructional Improvement System” (LIIS), which we’ll come to soon, but […]

Strike 2: Polk Schools’ “accountability” office gives Polk County the finger

On the heels of the Polk School Board’s cowardly — and borderline insulting — snap-hire of Jackie Byrd, those of us looking to improve the Polk classroom experience find ourselves confronted with a new act of bad faith. This one came from Byrd’s administration itself. It’s an obtuse, bureaucratic, nearly useless response to testing concerns […]

Dangerous women

Meet Theresa Burroughs, of Greenesboro, Alabama. This picture was taken, as the placard states, on July 28, 1965. That’s about three months after the infamous “Bloody Sunday” voting rights confrontation on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. Mrs. Burroughs marched on the bridge. A police baton of the American state bloodied her head — and […]

Give Jackie Byrd a chance; give Tim Harris hell

It’s always difficult to make definitive judgements about cultural change in any large organization. It’s especially hard for education, where so many people have so many different interests. And we struggle to agree on facts. That said, in her short time as interim superintendent, Jackie Byrd seems to have increased principal autonomy and reduced administrative […]

Welcome to Polk County: Finland on I-4, Part 1

On Monday night, 6:30 to 8:30, at the Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce, Citizens for Better Educational Leadership (CBEL) will hold our first public meeting since the ouster of Superintendent Kathryn LeRoy. I believe we played a key role in forcing LeRoy’s departure. I expect us to play a key role in the hiring of […]