Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A Moody problem

The Jefferson County School Board voted last night to terminate Director of Schools (sometimes still called School Superintendent) Doug Moody in a very contentious meeting:

The 7,300-student system earned four As in value-added test scores that measure how much elementary and middle school students progress each year in math, reading/language, social studies and science.

The system earned straight As in writing achievement at the elementary, middle and high school levels, improving last year's high school B.

In achievement scores, Jefferson County improved from Cs to Bs in elementary and middle school science and social studies and maintained Bs in math and reading/language.

I'm not all that big on value-added tests as a measure of numbers, but by anyone's standard this kind of improvement is impressive. In talking to folks around town today, no one can seem to come up with a really good reason why Moody got the axe.

Alderman Mickey Smith pointed out that he serves with Moody on the Douglas-Cherokee Economic Authority and that Moody is a straight-up character. In fact, everyone in White Pine I spoke with this morning seemed to like Doug Moody and few think he was doing a terrible job at running the county school system. Jim McCorkle, who is likely the living incarnation of the 19th Century idea of the Gentleman Farmer-and is the town's resident Democrat-pointed out that this sort of thing is "what we get" for allowing school boards to choose superintendents as opposed to allowing the people to choose them (as used to be the case).

Whether you think Doug Moody should have been fired by the Jefferson County School Board or not, Moody's successor will have to deal with the same ultimate issue that he had to deal with. Moody had to try and stretch every dollar in this under-funded rural county to get the most out of the least amount of money. If test scores can in any way be used as a meter for success, he actually did pretty well with what he had to work with.

I can't really say with any certainty whether the Board played politics with Moody's dismissal, but I can say that the problems he had to deal with aren't going away.



At Wednesday, November 07, 2007 4:28:00 PM, Blogger Bill said...


Ohio is moving toward a value-added type of accountability component. It appears that all these systems tend to satisfy the administrative bean counters because it gives them something to point to and say, "we quantified progress and learning."

In reality, as you and I both know, you cannot quantify real learning in the classroom.

At Wednesday, November 07, 2007 9:53:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Before last night, everyone who worked for, graduated from, or entrusted their children to the Jefferson County School System had ample cause for alarm.

For the past few years teachers, administrators, and students have worked hard to raise critical test scores in our county's schools.

Meanwhile, Doug Moody pursued a personal and political agenda, repeatedly and needlessly dismissing or reassigning experienced personnel in order to open positions, not to the most qualified candidates, but rather to his own political allies and their families.

Yesterday's board action draws a much needed line in the sand, saying that the citizens of Jefferson County will no longer tolerate blatant nepotism, crony-ism, and corruption.

With Moody's track record of obfuscation, evasion, and out-right lies, is it any wonder he was fired?

During his tenure, Jefferson County has spent countless dollars paying architects for work Mr. Moody KNEW was unnecessary and unwanted, and paying lawyers to defend actions Mr. Moody KNEW were unlawful.

I'm surprised the Board waited patiently for so long after Mr. Moody, in an obvious "Texas Two-Step," appointed the former Board Chairman, one of Moody's key political allies, to a choice post the moment his term had expired.

I'm surprised the board waited AT ALL after Mr. Moody re-hired a suspected pedophile, who was later arrested by the FBI.

So "Bravo," Board; and Good-Bye and Good Riddance, Mr. Moody.

Our County is so much the better.

I'm interested to know whether you, Mr. Oatney, considered any of these matters before decrying the board?

Or maybe you have a relative or two that were recently hired by Moody?

At Wednesday, November 07, 2007 11:44:00 PM, Blogger Dave Oatney said...

Anonymous (I note that you said a lot of things without the courage to give us a name):

I didn't decry the board, what I did was raise the question...

I can't help but notice that a lot of folks in Dandridge and Jefferson City had their problems with Moody, but few out in the county seemed to have a problem with him-and there is a real disconnect (in case you haven't noticed) between Dandridge and the rest of the county when it comes to how this county is governed, and that includes our achools.

Obviously you didn't actually read what I wrote here, because if you did, you would note that I didn't "decry the Board." What I did was ask questions of some folks around here who know Moody-none of whom have family currently working in the Jefferson County Schools (a few have kids or Grandchildren in the system), and I got responses like "we don't get it."

Hence, it is quite fair to ask if politics were indeed at work. Considering that you posted anonymously, that impression isn't aided.

It may be that the Board did the right thing...but I also know enough to know that there are a few folks who do a lot of complaining and very little to solve problems.

At Wednesday, November 07, 2007 11:53:00 PM, Blogger Dave Oatney said...

Oh, and by the way (in answer to anonymous' question)-no one in my family has been hired by Moody.


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