“Right now, only 34 percent of Nashville’s third-graders read at grade level”

At this week’s Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual report card release, Mayor Megan Barry announced the launch of a literacy initiative. 

Many of us live with the reality of 3rd grade’s starring role in the school-to-prison pipeline. Kudos to the mayor and our city’s leaders for tackling this extremely challenging issue. Because when we make an issue our priority, good things happen. 

Literacy has been a recurring concern in the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Education Report Card over the years – and we are going to do something about it. If a child can’t read proficiently by third grade, they are significantly less likely to graduate from high school, which limits their future opportunities. Right now, only 34 percent of Nashville’s third-graders read at grade level. In 2017, Metro Nashville Public Schools Dr. Joseph, the Nashville Public Library, the Nashville Public Education Foundation and I are going to pull together community organizations to form a cohesive, citywide birth-to-third-grade literacy plan to improve the future of our youth.Learn more: http://tnne.ws/2h8MPOJ

“It was Kindergarten when he was suspended 60 times. And the 50th time I was like ‘this has got to stop!'”

In a special holiday two-part series, Victoria Gordon shares her #NashvilleEduStory. Ms. Gordon is a daily presence in the halls of her youngest son’s school serving as its mom-in-residence. On this particular day, Mama Gordon was channeling Elf on the Shelf for the littles.

“I have one child in a zoned school, one in a charter school, and one out of county. I made three different choices for each of my kids. My youngest, Malik, was diagnosed with ADHD and Autism in pre-k. It was Kindergarten when he was suspended 60 times. And it was the 50th time I was like ‘this has got to stop!’ I couldn’t have my child like his father. I saw Malik going down a path early; headed toward being a statistic. He was in a classroom with more than 25 students, it was out of control and he was failing. So, I decided to teach him at home. We were going to do K-12! I had to pray about it.”

Tomorrow, Ms. Gordon shares the amazing thing she did after praying about her youngest son’s situation.

Annual Report Card Release by Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce (The arm-twisters)

For 25 years, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce has released its report card as researched and written by community leaders. This months-long, painstaking process begins in the summer and ends some time in November with a collection of massive amounts of data from reports and interviews. I know this because I spent five years helping the effort as education program manager for the Chamber. Yep, I’ve done it all.

Anyway, the community group generally doles out kudos followed by recommendations. Here’s this year’s offering (will link report card as it becomes available):

And something for us to chew on this holiday season:


So Parents Who Speak Out in Support of Charter Schools are Pawns? REALLY?

This is not a fake news story. It was brought to my attention that parents at Tuesday night’s board meeting were called pawns by a local parent blogger (who has blocked me). Like any blogger worth her salt, I checked with a couple of reliable sources to confirm the BS (because, blocked). And I’m sad to report that yes, parents, you have been called pawns!

I will refrain from coloring this post with the expletives it deserves, but I must call it like exactly like I see it – BULLSHIT. I’m always fascinated when only certain parent engagement is called into question — a parenting while black (or of color), of sorts.

Certain vs. Concerned

Because when anything that looks threatening to the status quo, I know for a fact parents organized to speak out are just concerned parents. As far back as the 2007 standard school attire (uniforms) battle and as recent as this summer’s school board elections, there was no shortage of concerned parents and no questioning of their motives or intellectual capacity.

So, let’s see… Who were the pro-charter school parents bravely sharing their very personal stories before nine elected school board members, the director of schools, the director’s cabinet members, and – oh yeah, the city of Nashville (live broadcast)?

Carmen Cartagena

Suad Abdullah

Ali Saleh Nooraddiin

LaQuita Shute

Laura Hasler

Ayda Doski

Rashida Bey

No longer able trust my memory, I double-checked the recorded meeting to confirm that only one parent in the above list is not of color. In my mind and heart, there is no defense for calling out a parent supporting their children. Yet, it’s so easy for a few nefarious Nashvillians to vilify a certain segment of parents.

To the haters: when you cast doubt on moms, dads and grandparents you’ve never met and most of whom are in vulnerable situations, you are an active participant in a system known for keeping the marginalized in the margins.

You should be ashamed.




“As a person of color, I put a heavy value on education.” 

#SoundOff with Natasha Hobbs, MNPS parent

“I feel that she has gotten a decent education. But, often times with magnet schools certain services are not offered. Based on her academic situation and even her socioeconomic situation with me being a single mother, she doesn’t qualify for a lot of things because of the school she attends. Because she does not go to a failing school, programs like AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) and Bridges are not available to her. As a person of color, I put a heavy value on education. I’ve always been taught to go to school and get a good job. And going to college was implied and just expected of us. So I am a first generation college graduate and product of a HBCU (Historically Black College and University). College is definitely in the cards for my daughter.”



Resolution to Halt Charter Schools Deferred Indefinitely Due to Intellectually Dishonest Environment

Bad Chamber of Commerce!

The resolution’s author, Will Pinkston accused the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce with arm-twisting and other anti-resolution shenanigans. The Chamber, poor guys, is such an easy target when things don’t go our way. Been there, done that.

But, hey –at least they got a Christmas gift for their trouble. Mr. Pinkston gifted the Chamber a calculator – replete with a ribbon! Now, the very astute Chamber leadership is properly equipped to crunch the numbers that will lead to the exact same conclusion. Nashville is not saturated with charters and until there is no longer a need the district can handle more.

So in the meantime and in between time, we need to keep one hand on the egg nog and the other surfing the internet. I’m guessing it ain’t over. Stay vigilant!

For School Board agenda information click here

To watch previously recorded meetings click here

Metro Schools Facebook Page

Metro Schools Twitter

Board Appearance Procedures

The Metropolitan Nashville Board of Public Education regularly holds two public meetings on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month unless otherwise advertised. The Board hears public comment at 2nd Tuesday meetings.

Process to request to appear before the Board of Public Education: Requests must be received by the Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. (four days in advance) before the scheduled meeting.

Send a letter (by email or fax) to request appearance before the Board that includes: Name, Address, Phone, Email, Speaker and Topic, and Board Meeting date. Once the request to appear has been approved you will be notified by email or a phone call.

Speaker should arrive at least 10 minutes prior to start of meeting and a Board staff member will greet you. If Speaker has information for distribution, must have at least 20 copies.

Please send your request for appearance and any other information to the Board Administrator via email at board.administrator@mnps.org, fax 214-4480, or mail to 2601 Bransford Avenue, Nashville, TN 37204. The Speaker has 3 minutes at the podium.