Not So Fast, Nashville – We Are Only As Good As The Schools In Bottom Five Percent

I woke up to this morning’s headline: “More Nashville public schools Rank in bottom 5 percent, according to state data.” To say it troubles me would be an understatement. It should trouble you, too!

I’m saddened because our city, more concerned with sitting at the cool table, no longer concerns itself with the little guy. How else does one explain the robust manpower behind the intense year-long dog-and-pony show to get the MLS (soccer league) to even look our way and ultimately choose us while thousands of students sit in schools not learning how to read? How can anyone support a $5.4 billion transit plan and not demand the same urgency and value for our public school children?

According to the article, there are 20 Nashville schools in the bottom 5 – 10 percent in the state which includes 11 elementary, 6 middle and 3 high schools. But it’s the three high schools that should throw each of us into a fit of anxiety. Each of the schools is majority-minority with more than 80% students of color and majority economically disadvantaged. These students are in the final leg of their public education careers and yet, they are in the least ideal academic situation short of an alternative school.

A look at English III scores from Spring 2017 from the Tennessee State Report Card shows each of the three schools with no more than 16 percent of students scoring “On Track” or “Mastered”. Assuming those test-takers are all juniors, that means more than 84% of today’s seniors are ill-prepared for their final year in high school. And if they are not ready for senior year, what does that say about post-secondary opportunities? Why are we so comfortable sending out these students into the highly competitive, poverty/minority-averse world several steps behind?

We’re missing something, my friends. I wish I had the answer. But having immersed myself in all things literacy over the past three months, I’m convinced quality early literacy programs, effective teacher training, and intentional parent inclusion will shake things up — flip the script. Until these things become the way we do business, we cannot sleep. 

Don’t even blink.


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