Murfreesboro director named Tennessee superintendent of the year

Linda Gilbert will represent Tennessee in the national superintendent of the year competition in 2019. She has been director of Murfreesboro City Schools since 2010.

Linda Gilbert, who has led Murfreesboro City Schools to gains in student achievement, is Tennessee’s superintendent of the year for 2019.

Gilbert received the honor Sunday evening from the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents during its annual meeting in Gatlinburg.

She bested seven other regional finalists for the award, which last year went to Mike Winstead of Maryville City Schools. They are:

  • Brian Bell, Alcoa City
  • Steve Starnes,  Greeneville City
  • Neel Durbin, Dyersburg City
  • Dan Lawson, Tullahoma City
  • Linda Cash, Bradley County
  • Warner Ross II, Hardeman County
  • Tony Boles, Macon County

A former professor of education and leadership at Middle Tennessee State University, Gilbert has been at the helm of Murfreesboro City Schools since 2010. The Rutherford County district serves about 9,000 students in prekindergarten through sixth grade in 13 schools. About a third of its students are considered economically disadvantaged.

Under her leadership, the school system was designated a Tennessee exemplary district in 2017 for progress in student achievement and for closing learning gaps across student groups such as blacks and Hispanics, or those who are economically disadvantaged, English learners, or have disabilities.

“She always goes above and beyond in her work, and her dedication has not gone unnoticed,” said Dale Lynch, executive director of the superintendents group.

Gilbert will now represent Tennessee in the 2019 national competition sponsored by the American Association of School Administrators.


Criticism mounts for Adams 14 school board for asking police to escort critic out of meeting

File photo of the Adams 14 school board, including Connie Quintana, right, the board's current president. (Photo by Nicholas Garcia, Chalkbeat)

Two organizations are demanding the Adams 14 school board apologize for removing a vocal critic from a public meeting, after he insisted on calling out school officials by name in criticism officials characterized as “not constructive.”

Jorge Garcia, the head of the Colorado Association for Bilingual Education, has been a frequent critic of the district and Superintendent Javier Abrego ever since the district stopped the expansion of biliteracy programming. At the last meeting, top district officials interrupted Garcia and ordered police to escort him out.

Tuesday the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado sent the school board a letter, signed by their attorney, asking for an apology to Garcia, “for violating his First Amendment rights,” and attacking the board’s unwritten policy against criticizing district officials and staff by name. It asked for a response by Oct. 1.

“The board’s silencing of Mr. Garcia represents viewpoint discrimination that the First Amendment forbids,” the ACLU’s letter states. “Mr. Garcia has every right to mention Superintendent Abrego by name when providing public criticism of a public official who is the highest-ranking executive officer of the Adams 14 School District.”

Tuesday afternoon, officials from the school district did not return a request for comment.

Earlier, the Colorado Association for Bilingual Education, where Garcia is executive director, also issued a statement, asking for an apology from the school board. In its statement, the association wrote that Garcia offered to resign “in order to spare the organization any possible retaliatory litigation targeting him,” but the association’s board unanimously rejected the offer and instead supported Garcia’s attempts to speak to the board.

“CABE is the foremost advocate for educational equity for emergent bilinguals in the state​,” the association wrote. “Jorge’s initial actions at the Adams 14 board meeting were perfectly consistent with this role.”

The board has its next regular meeting Tuesday evening.

Read the full letters below:


Where Bruce Rauner and J.B. Pritzker stand on key education issues, from charters to Chicago’s school board

PHOTO: (Rauner) Alex Wong/Staff/Getty Images; (Pritzker) Joshua Lott/Getty Images
Our conversations with Gov. Bruce Rauner (left) and challenger J.B. Pritzker will be aired on Oct. 3 on WBEZ 91.5 FM.

The race for Illinois governor is shaping up to be one of the most expensive in U.S. history, and anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock has probably seen or heard one of the barrage of ads for the candidates. There have been puppies, toilets, and plenty of barbs over wealth and taxes — and the back-and-forth has drowned out the discussion over where the candidates stand on education, arguably one of the most crucial policy areas facing the state.

To dig deeper, Chalkbeat Chicago is teaming up with the education team at WBEZ 91.5 Chicago for a WBEZ/Chalkbeat 2018 Election Special: Testing the Candidates. Republican incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic candidate J.B. Pritzker each have agreed to join us for a conversation about where they stand on everything from boosting the state’s profile in early childhood education to stemming the exodus of undergraduates from Illinois.

The interviews will be separate, but will be broadcast back-to-back on WBEZ 91.5 FM on Oct. 3 starting at 8 a.m.  

In advance of the discussion, Chalkbeat and WBEZ asked each candidate for his position on five questions, and we’ve reprinted their answers in their entirety. We’re also soliciting interview suggestions from our readers and listeners. Use this form to submit a question to us, and follow along with the discussion on Oct. 3 using #GovTest.