ERS Executive Director Karen Hawley Miles was the guest speaker Friday morning for a school finance course session offered at the University of Tennessee in conjunction with the District of Knoxville. The course is part of the university's Leadership Academy for aspiring principals. The course's teacher, James McIntyre, is superintendent of Knox County Schools and knows Karen from his time as Chief Operating Officer of Boston Public Schools.
Via video conference from our Watertown office, Karen presented to the group of nine students key overall findings regarding how resources are typically used and how they can be reallocated to improve student performance. The presentation, followed by a question and answer session, hit several key points from The Strategic School, co-authored by Karen and Director Stephen Frank , and a text used for the course. Karen explained the four ways in which high-performing schools shift the industrial-age school paradigm to become strategic schools.
Highlights from the question and answer session:
What kind of pushback or feedback have you received when proposing these changes to the way education has been structured for so long?
Really, it's using the data that allows these conversations to occur. It's hard to argue against that. I like to say, “It's not politics, it's just math.” Another one I like is, “The data made me do it.”
You mentioned Charlotte-Mecklenburg in your presentation, and we've looked very closely at what they've done. What's allowed them to be where they are now?
They've really been focused on the data for so long. This isn't a quick process, it takes years. They also leverage their teaching and leadership expertise very well.
Below is Karen's presentation to the class.