Shouldn’t Parents Get a Say Before School Board Blocks Charter Schools?

According to the school board agenda for this week’s meeting, they are voting on a moratorium of any future charter schools in Nashville.

Never mind the political agendas at work behind this resolution. The bigger problem is that the agenda from last week gave no notice to the public about the appearance of the resolution. And the text of the resolution itself didn’t appear until a few hours ago.

Nashville education blogger Zack Barnes rightfully points out the lack of public transparency here and questions the motives of the resolution’s author (ahem, Will Pinkston, I may have mentioned him before). While Miranda Christy proclaims in the Tennessean that the resolution lacked adequate public notice.

And who is this “public” that deserves notice anyway? Parents and families, that’s who. The ones who need more and better public school options for their kids. The kind of public schools that can sometimes be provided by high-quality charter school operators.

What’s Really Going On

Obviously I agree with Zack and Miranda, the public needs a chance to be part of the democratic process. But I also know how the sausage is made.

See, I used to work at the district, and I’ve been party to publishing these school board agendas myself. Typically, there are two reasons an agenda item would show up this late. Usually it’s innocent—there’s just a bureaucratic maze that can take time to navigate, getting all the right signatures and sign-offs. Or sometimes, also innocently, an item of urgency springs up and is time-sensitive; requiring immediate board approval.

But another, more rare but insidious reason for a resolution to pop up without notice is simply to avoid pushback and scrutiny.

My sausage-maker’s experience tells me that’s what’s going on here.

But whatever the reason, parents must be part of the discussion. And that means taking adequate time and the proper steps to ensure they are.

A resolution to halt charter schools, some of which could provide needed public options to Black and Brown families in MNPS, is a big deal. Parents deserve to be at the table.

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