The election. The cast of characters tapped to lead our nation. The soul-crushing tragedy in Chattanooga.
There is no shortage of bad things to distract us from the business at hand, but I’d like to take this opportunity to guide us back to our reality within Nashville’s education landscape.
Our school board will be considering a resolution to place a moratorium on Nashville charter schools following in the misguided footsteps of the NAACP.
Prior to the NAACP’s October 15 vote on the moratorium, I penned a letter to my local NAACP branch explaining why the moratorium is unnecessary in Nashville.
The contents of the letter is still applicable, but I’m re-routing from the NAACP to the Metropolitan Nashville Board of Education.
The Nashville chapter of the NAACP has always positioned itself on the right side of history through its efforts to uphold its mission to advance African Americans. Today, the local chapter is confronted with another opportunity to honor its legacy. Nashville’s public school children and parents need you on their side; which, arguably, is always the right side.
Charter School Moratorium
The National NAACP will be voting later this fall on a referendum to call a moratorium on the creation of charter schools across the country. The strongly-worded resolution roots its rationale in, among other things, charters’ targeting of poor and communities of color, differential enrollment practices, and increasing segregation.
After listing a litany of issues, the document promises to uphold the NAACP’s 2014 resolution opposing the privatizing of public schools. The subsequent superfluous statements threaten to oppose federal legislation that seek to divert public funds for private entities and support funding that “would strengthen local governance and transparency of charter schools.” While the grievances have merit, under no circumstances do they represent what is happening in Nashville.
We’re Good, Thanks
Since the very beginning, Metro Schools has assembled groups of smart, capable professionals to assess charter applications. Then, in response to the pressing need for increased oversight and administrative demands, Metro Schools created an office of Charter Schools. The office leadership would go on to receive national recognition for its effectiveness.
For these reasons and others, Metro Schools is not a district with a charter problem. In fact, for more than a decade charters have provided a great assist to the district. Numbers provide a more inspiring narrative:
Authorization and accountability: From 2003 to 2016, MNPS has opened approximately 33 charter schools (an average of 2.2 school starts per year) and closed four.
Academic Success: According to the district’s academic performance framework, in 2015, 8 of the 15 highest performing K-8 schools were charters (denoted by the highest designation “excelling”)
Further, using the same tool, all but one charter school entered the 2016 school year in good standing.
Charter schools students make-up: 66% black, 22% Hispanic, 11% white, 86% Economically Disadvantaged; 11% ELL, 13% Students with Disabilities
This is Nashville’s story, and, for thousands of charter school families, it’s a good one.
Go to the Voices
Nashville parents are blessed with a bounty of solid choices and Metro Schools does a great job marketing its menu of school options. Additionally, charter schools’ face-to-face marketing of beliefs and successes, though unpopular amongst traditional education types, is a proven winner with parents. To this end, parents are making choices and it is incumbent on the city’s leaders to extract the narrative from these decisions.
So my ask is quite simple: As you consider the resolution to support a moratorium on the proliferation of charters, please keep in mind that Nashville is vastly different from other cities and, more importantly, fold into your decision voices of choice.
I implore you to please go to parents, take in their stories, and make the decision accordingly. Their side is the right side.
Thank you for your service to the Nashville community. Much respect.”