Response to Thomas Muirhead, Educator

“I make no apologies for insisting Dr. Wobbly (Webley) be held accountable to our scholars, parents, community, and the educators working under her direction.”


I had the opportunity to review Mr. Muirhead’s response to my article, “The Miracle at Lakewood Elementary,” and take this opportunity to offer Mr. Muirhead some clarity on my position.  First, as a community advocate and columnist, I take my role seriously to inform and provoke conversation and thought surrounding African Americans’ issues.

I thank Mr. Muirhead for his three and a half years of service at Lakewood and all of the other Lakewood educators and staff involved with our children.  I am no stranger to the Pinellas School District.  I have spent more than 40 years working with the district to improve educational outcomes for Black and Brown scholars.

I’ve worked on two lawsuits against the district (Bradley and Crowley) to eliminate the achievement gap. Consequently, I am very familiar with all of the schools in the Transformation Zone, the Bridging the Gap plan, and the middle and high schools in the area.

I understand why Mr. Muirhead’s sensitivity may be high, but it is imperative that I remind everyone that my goal was to outline two schools of thought regarding Lakewood’s turnaround. A careful read of the article clearly shows my position. I stated unequivocally: “far be it from me to suggest anyone cheated.” My position then and now is clear. If the district has figured it out, it is time to replicate the success.

Additionally, I make no apologies for insisting Dr. Wobbly (Webley) be held accountable to our scholars, parents, community, and the educators working under her direction. I am confident the other schools in the Transformation Zone before the pandemic did not receive the same degree of leadership, support, attention, or comparable resources from their new leader.

Ms. Reed’s reputation and credibility are not in jeopardy. She had her trials upon arrival, but she won the admiration and respect of scholars, parents, school leaders, district administrators, and the community through hard work, commitment, and competence.

Dr. Wobbly will have to do the same.

I want Mr. Muirhead to know my observations are not personal, spiteful, or disdainful. This is what I do — advocate for our scholars.  They, and all of the dedicated professionals involved in their care, deserve the same opportunities.

Goliath J. Davis, III, Ph.D.

I commend Mr. Muirhead on his passion for and commitment to Lakewood Elementary, and I hope the success is sustainable and replicable. However, I suggest he be careful not to protest too loudly if he, in fact, stands by the outcome. Also, he may want to rethink his assertion that cheating is not possible.  If life has shown us anything, it’s that anything is possible.

One Reply to “Response to Thomas Muirhead, Educator”

  1. Thomas Muirhead says:

    Thank you to the Weekly Challenger for printing another perspective, to the “The Miracle at Lakewood Elementary.”
    I respect Dr. Davis and the attention he brings to the Transformation Zone. I also understand the importance of provoking uncomfortable conversations. I thank him for clarifying his position. I ask that Dr. Davis and anyone else questioning Lakewood’s transformation consider the more than three years of hard work scholars, teachers, paraprofessionals, staff, and leadership at Lakewood committed to this outcome. This was not a one year miracle. I may feel a bit “sensitive” as Dr. Davis explores schools of thought about Lakewood’s accomplishments. I am very proud of the family we have formed at Lakewood. I am honored to work alongside so many talented people and brilliant scholars. I will not remain silent when someone challenges our accomplishments or our integrity. Exploring schools of thought that only suggest our ‘A’ was undeserved or worse unachievable ignores what has actually taken place at Lakewood Elementary. I believe we are a model for turnaround in the Transformation Zone.
    Accountability through assessment is important to ensure quality standards-based education is delivered to scholars, but a school cannot be assessed by a grade alone. I hope Dr. Davis would agree with that. It is the people, culture, and climate that define a school. I ask the members of our community that are considering enrolling at Lakewood to visit our school and see the transformation for themselves. Our students, teachers, staff, and administration are already working hard each day to prove our grade was no fluke.
    Thomas Muirhead
    Lakewood Elementary

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