Shelton Chats with Jim WarrenThis from Fayette ABC:
FayetteABC Statement on
the New FCPS Superintendent
Earlier today, we sent an e-mail to Dr. Tom Shelton congratulating him on his appointment as Fayette County’s new superintendent and indicating that we look forward to working with him to address concerns about assessment practices in Fayette County. (Please note that FayetteABC did not endorse any specific candidate for superintendent.) Although Dr. Shelton does not have a conventional background as a teacher, during his visit he indicated that one of his primary responsibilities will be to ensure the quality of classroom instruction. It bears noting in this regard, that Dr. Shelton addressed issues of assessment and teacher morale in much greater detail in the parent focus group than in any of his televised remarks. The following is a partial summary of our original report to the Board of Education on Tom Shelton’s visit with parents:
I (Erik) specifically pitched a question to him about the role of teachers and principals in ongoing debates about accountability and assessment. He indicated that he believes in accountability. As he put it, education is about the lives of our children and the use of state dollars, and it is only natural that we should be held accountable for these stewardships. He noted that current standardized tests are imposed from above by federal and state government. While we may not be able to control these assessments, he explained—and here he indicated that it could be debated whether the current system actually works—we as a district can control what goes on in our individual classrooms. He further stated that rich classroom instruction should be the driving force in all that we do, and that assessment should merely be thought of as part of the outcome.
I followed up, asking him again to address the role that teachers and principals specifically should play in ongoing debates about assessment. In response, he indicated that everyone deserves a chance to be heard and that everyone should be treated with respect. He further noted that he has never refused a meeting with anyone—and never will (a comment that he would later repeat in the public forum). In terms of his current responsibilities, he asserted that his most important job is to support quality instruction. Thereafter, he rearticulated his earlier comments about assessment. Instruction is actually something that we can control and improve at the local level, he said, while assessment is imposed from above and will often be changing. He indicated that he believes that the very best classrooms are those in a state of organized chaos in which teachers facilitate instruction and students “own” their own learning.
In terms of retaining and rewarding good teachers, he noted that salaries and benefits must be enticing. Above all, he maintained, teachers are recruited and retained by a district’s culture. (I can’t compete monetarily with districts from outside of Kentucky that offer signing bonuses or the like, he said, but I can compete in terms of our culture.) Thereafter, he referred to Daviess County’s TELL data in which 90% of the teachers indicated that their school is a good place to work and learn. Additionally, he highlighted that his district had a 98% response rate to the TELL survey. (By contrast, Fayette County’s numbers are significantly lower across the board, and its response rate was only 68%.) He concluded by asserting that a district’s culture is extremely important in terms of the learning environment for students.
We call upon Dr. Shelton to turn these worthy ideals into action. Additionally, we invite the citizens of Fayette County—parents, teachers, and the community at large—to engage with the new superintendent in good faith and to give him the opportunity to effect change in the assessment-related practices of our schools.
Erik and Cheryl Myrup
This from H-L:
Tom Shelton discusses being named
Tom Shelton, who was named the new superintendent of Fayette County Public Schools on Friday night, is still getting used to the idea of his new role starting Sept. 1, but he's already making plans for the move to Lexington.
Shelton, whose current post is head of the Daviess County Schools, took some time Saturday to answer a few questions from the Herald-Leader about succeeding Stu Silberman.
Question: What went through your mind when the Fayette board called Friday to say you had been selected?
Answer: "I was at a meeting in Louisville, getting ready to drive home, and had begun to think I hadn't gotten the position because it was late and they had not called...
Q: What did you do first?
A: "I called my wife, Gwen, and then I called Frank Riney, the chair of the Daviess County board..
Q: What are your plans for getting ready...?
A: ...getting a schedule together for me to begin meeting people and know the community...