Loving This List of Charter School Supporters But Wishing it Had More Nashville Flavor

If the 2016 presidential election season will be credited with anything it just might be successfully testing Americans’ allegiance to party politics. With all the controversy surrounding Democrat presidential nominee Hilary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, it seems more prevalent than ever voters choosing party values over the candidates selected to represent them.

Conversely, the 2016 election season may also be recorded as the year the two-party system entered its demise — for the same reason. No one can argue the large role – good or bad – partisan politics has played in today’s political landscape. Still, there are some things that rise above political identity.

I may never understand how the trajectory of a child’s future can be slotted into either a D or R column. How exactly is this divvied up? Families who choose the school to which they are zoned are honoring Democratic principles. But families who opt for non-traditional schooling are representing Republican values?

Because the ed reform movement is seen as Republican mainly due to ideals around driving competition and carving out market share, Democrats advocating for quality choices now qualify their political affiliation, i.e. Democrats for Ed Reform (DFER).

We are Democrats leading a political reform organization that cultivates and supports leaders in our party who champion America’s public school-children.

Got it!

In its statement of principles, DFER earnestly acknowledges the failure of both parties to repair our flawed education system. These Democrats are on a mission to restore the values relating to education the party historically held in high esteem.

Recently, two DFER policy staffers, Charles Barone and Marianne Lombardo released The Democratic Guide to Public Charter Schools – an ed reformer’s dream. Anyone seeking legislative heroes in the fight for choice or national charter school data, look no further.

The masterfully assembled guide is presented in five parts:

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I have read through the guide and intend to read it again. I appreciate the time and commitment Barone and Lombardo contributed to this piece in an effort to build muscular Democratic support for the ed reform movement.

However, there’s this thing.

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Mayor Barry reading to students. (Picture from Mayor’s website)

The guide lists former mayor Karl Dean as a champion of public charter schools as recognized by the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools. However, Nashville’s current mayor is Megan Barry (I know this all too well – more on this someday). Additionally, Mayor Barry has declared her commitment to education, in general, and pre-k specifically, but has gracefully pliéd around a stance on school choice.

In the past year, I’ve watched the mayor carry out the requisite duties at charter school openings and dedications, but that’s the extent of it. Truthfully, I’m not mad at her. This city is relentless when it comes to protecting traditional public schools even at the cost of thousands of children’s access to opportunity and quality (see post about Nashville’s 2016 school board election). Still, I would like to know.

Further, I’d love to see her picture in the 2017 edition of A Democratic Guide to Public Charter Schools as a hero of choice in her city, the It City. I want my progressive mayor to understand that to be a proponent of choice is to be a friend to parents on the fringes and thousands of black and brown children. I know she has the capacity to empathize with parents pressured by the limits of time and her Democratic values suggests she can sympathize with families with finite means and bound by zip code.

I know she has it in her. It’s time to make it official.

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Vesia Hawkins

Extremely passionate about education choices, fairness, and good football.

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