So what can we say about the mayor’s “Project for Student Success” task force announced
yesterday to “develop action steps to reduce the dropout rate of students in Nashville public schools”? Herewith four observations.
 A group with 40 members is not so much a task force as a legislature. Legislatures require significant staff and financial support, and it’s hard to see how the mayor will get the substantive report he wants in just six months without a non-trivial investment of resources. Janel Lacy in the mayor’s office tells Pith
that Vanderbilt and Belmont have pledged staff support although specifics on a budget for the panel aren’t yet available. She adds that support will also come from the Mayor’s Office of Children and Youth
 Many of the people on this list are busy, overcommitted humans who might appropriately be consulted for their insights on this subject, but you have to wonder how likely it is that they will put in the time necessary to analyze and study a complex social problem in depth. Lacy tells us the mayor wants recommendations by June. Is that enough time to develop expertise in relevant areas to enable a sophisticated analysis of problems and opportunities?
 There are more CEO’s than public school teachers on this panel. What’s up with that? And some Metro public school parents are noticing that the task force includes the head of an expensive, academically prestigious private school but not a single teacher or administrator from any of the city’s academic magnet schools.
 Do MNPS director Pedro Garcia and Board of Education Chair Marsha Warden really belong on this panel? If the point of the exercise is to stimulate new thinking about a stubborn problem, why should those who are having difficulty making progress on the issue (and one of whom is shopping for new employment) be involved as insiders?
The range of groups, talents, and interests representated on the panel is notable, but it feels more like a way to manage impressions of gravity and buy-in than to create a group that can actually work in-depth on a difficult problem. Participation from a broad spectrum of talented people is a good thing, and it works at the outset as a calculated effort to make a splash. But will we see a working group that achieves something real, deep, novel, and consequential?