December 18, 2004

Unusual Agenda Setting The December 20th issue of the Nashville City Paper had a front page story on a mother, Kanaan Dopp, who wants better options in Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) for her profoundly gifted (140+ IQ) son. She has succeeded in getting this high on the agenda of our Director of Schools. How did she do this? Through careful documentation that this was a high-priority issue in accordance with goals and objectives set by the school board? Nope: Dopp’s mission landed on Director of Schools Pedro Garcia’s radar after she recently found herself in line ahead of him at the Nashville airport. Since telling her story, Dopp has spoken to Garcia’s cabinet and parent advisory council and inspired a trip to Denver where public funding pays for a gifted program in every school. Denver has an urban school district like Nashville’s with 72,000 students and a diverse student population. Metro Chief Instructional Officer Dr. Sandy Johnson said the trip for a five-member Nashville delegation was paid for with professional development funds that are sometimes used for seeing firsthand what other schools are doing. “You have to look outside if you’re going to grow as an organization,” Johnson said, adding they recognized the need to do more in the area of gifted education. Weird. How many CEO's of companies with a $500 million plus budget set their agenda and go flying off across the country based on a conversation in an airport line? If this was such an important problem, why wasn't...

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