It’s a Great Day to Learn about a Charter School and Eat Some Popcorn 

The greatest thing about blogging is there are few rules – and, oh, there’s app for it. 

At the present, I’m sitting in my car on a beautiful Saturday morning waiting for a tiny family member to hop in because his grandmother heard about an event a charter school is holding in their housing development. She asked if I would join them to assist with getting the necessary information. 

So, I’m here. His grandmother, my aunt, likes this choice stuff, even though it’s not something she is totally comfortable with doing. I’m proud she’s willing to step outside her comfort zone. 

My tiny cousin has choices and those responsible for his growth and development are all in – whatever it takes. Amen. 

By the way, thanks to Nashville Classical for the community outreach and the popcorn. 😉

More Nashvillians Coming out in Support of Dr. Shawn Joseph; Disgusted with Negative Media

UPDATED 11/3/16 9:25am

Dr. Joseph:

Whether you want it or not, quite a few Nashvillians have expressed their support for you and outrage at the lynch mob following granular details of your travel and work habits.

These Nashvillians, from all walks of life, are looking beyond the headlines only to find a faulty deck of cards being dealt to our new director of schools. The consensus is that it’s too early to evaluate operational and budgetary decisions and the stories about cars, drivers, rent, and staffers working at your home is bull – at best. You’re welcome.

So check out these Facebook excerpts starting with Board Chair Anna Shepherd:

The casual observer could tell you that we, as a board, rarely have unanimous votes. Hiring Dr. Joseph as our new DOS was one such vote. We hired him to right this big ship called MNPS with a laser focus so each and every one of our 89,000 students can have the world class education that he or she deserves.
Dr. Joseph has brought the board together like has never been seen or done before.


School Board Member Amy Frogge:

Because we are now communicating more effectively and building trust, the entire board has reached agreement on many levels. Dr. Joseph has led this amazing work, and I am so appreciative that he’s been able to bring together a board that has, for many years, been deeply divided.


School Board member Mary Pierce:

I am ready to let Dr. Joseph do his job free of distraction and fully focused on the most critical issues facing our district. Let us all, Board and community alike, allow him to do the job he was hired to do. His results for kids are what matter. Everything else this community sets in his way is a distraction from the work of bringing us together around solutions that work for our city. Solutions to big problems we’ve hired Dr. Joseph to solve.  
In light of all of the negative media, I was struck last night by the words of the CMA Song of the Year, “Humble and Kind,” written by Lori McKenna and performed by Tim McGraw. 
“Don’t hold a grudge or a chip and here’s why:
Bitterness keeps you from flyin’

Always stay humble and kind.”

Our kids need to fly–let’s not keep them grounded with adult distractions.

Former MNPS Staffer Lisa Wiltshire and current MNPS parent:

“I am excited for Dr. Joseph’s vision. I am impressed by his leadership. I love how he engages families and the community, and knows how to listen. I like how he is tough when he needs to be, and kind when it matters. He is fabulous and we deserve him.

I am doubly excited he is a minority leader in a city that has struggled mightily and tragically with racial divide and discrimination.

So, what I would ask of every citizen is to give our school system and city a chance. Don’t get caught up in petty manipulation. Dr. Joseph’s contract is a standard contract for a job this big and the caliber of his leadership.”


Former MNPS parent Terri Short:

Dr. Joseph we support you!!
Praying that you will be able to make a positive change in our school district. Realizing that our students are the first priority,teachers,support staff and admimstration.
Thank you for excepting the challenge!


Nashville Attorney Carrie Searcy:

We wanted the best director, and to get that you have to give a quality contract. If he knocks it out of the park with our schools I don’t care if we all have to take turns picking weeds at his house.


Miranda Christy, attorney and former school board candidate:

A number of people have asked me recently what I think of the attention Dr. Joseph has been receiving from bloggers and our local media.

I think it’s garbage.

The hiring of Dr. Joseph signaled a new day to thousands of families desperate for better schools. It literally makes my stomach turn to see our local media hypervigilantly create stories where none exist, manipulate that desperation, and then disingenuously profess they are interested in accountability.


Nashvillian Juanita Bradford:

Watching the News Randomness… I need your assistance. Can someone help me to understand what the controversy is with the Director of Schools? Why is he being interrogated by Phil Williams? He hasn’t been on the job long enough for any of these so called issues to be his fault. If my memory serves me correctly, a newbie wouldn’t be able to come in and manipulate a good ole boy network that was in existence long before he got here.


Nashvillian Ben Jordan:

Dr. J., I believe maybe a little green when it comes to this type of southern foolishness but there’s more where this comes from. The reporter is someone’s chess piece on this one and everyone with eyes can see this. From the beginning the new director has said that the central office needed to be push out of the office and into the schools and everything he’s done thus far has been consistent with that ground game. Never has any other director been under this kind of scrutiny in such a short period of time at the post.


Former School Board Chair Cheryl D. Mayes:

When you’re doing right you will always make an enemy. Keep your head up and keep fighting for our children @MNPSDirector! #TeamJoseph

 I think Ms. Mayes sums it up – We are #TeamJoseph!

TN NAACP State Conference Sides With Local Families

Chalkbeat’s Laura Faith Kebede writes about the NAACP Tennessee State Conference boldly choosing to stand with local families for high quality choices by rejecting their national leadership’s moratorium on charters.

Tennessee NAACP conference president Gloria Sweet-Love echoing my own sentiment, notes charter issues around the nation do not reflect what is happening in our state – specifically, Nashville and Memphis. As I penned in an open letter to the NAACP -Nashville chapter: “…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.”

It takes the intestinal fortitude of steel to publicly stand in opposition to your organization’s ratified resolution — unless you are surrounded by these faces and passion:


I cannot be unconvinced that The Memphis Lift is completely responsible for the TN NAACP’s change of heart. I firmly believe in the power of these #powerfulparents, but more importantly, they believe in their own power.

I am bubbling with gratitude to the TN NAACP State Conference for refusing to reject parent voices in our state.


For Dr. Joseph It’s All Tricks No Treats

Dr. Joseph is a wanted man. Yet, he’s making decisions befitting someone who has the luxury of privilege and second chances. Still, to my knowledge, no high-ranking government official in Nashville has been so solidly targeted. Is it charters? Collective bargaining? Did he tick off a board member? All of the above?

There are so many questions about the barrage of media attacks on Dr. Joseph. Though one thing is certain, there’s a direct pipeline from the district to the media documenting his every move, to wit, NewsChannel5 investigative reporter Phil Williams has built an entire series around the already embattled director. 

At first, I was incensed that media can be so easily lured into someone’s or something’s web spun specifically to annihilate Dr. Joseph’s job. I’ve since redirected my ire towards the spider(s); and not the superhero kind.

Disclosure: this blog is NOT a Dr. Joseph fan club platform – even though I’ve dedicated two other posts the man (here and here). It is, however, a space to spotlight injustices and I believe the treatment of our city’s new director falls squarely into that category. 

If you need a recap, see the unprecedented list of negative stories about Dr. Shawn Joseph in his first 122 days:

Here, WSMV and NewsChannel5 call out the director for hiring district workers to hang a picture in his home. Complete with emails. 

More from NewsChannel5 on Dr. Joseph’s directive to freeze all travel. 

Here again, NewsChannel5 blasts the director for contracts. 

And again… NewsChannel5 interviews board chair Anna Shepherd about the director’s spending. 

In this WSMV interview, the director on the job less than three months is forced to defend his hires. 

Diane Ravitch – witch hunt enough said. 

The Tennessean’s Frank Daniels (recently let go from his job in a string of Gannet layoffs) announced the end of Dr. Joseph’s honeymoon stage. I contend that he was never afforded one. 


#YesOn2MA – Extending the Love to Children of Color

Dear Massachusetts voters:

Thanks to social media the line of demarcation between the North and South is virtually nonexistent, so your battle to place a cap on charters makes me feel right at home.

While Tennesseans enjoy a legislature that is friendly to charters, those of us living in the capital city of Nashville stand ready to jump the next nonsensical hurdle; or thinly veiled attempt to cap charters. For those of you fighting for #Yeson2MA – I feel your pain.

At the heart of the fight for charters across the country is a movement to increase high quality choices for children of color and of limited means. However, the pictures coming out of MA relating to the fight for caps show a side of your great state that is alarming to this Southerner. All white people. Fighting. To cap charters. Yikes!

Not even being on this side of the the Mason-Dixon line prepared me for the #NoOn2 images. Interestingly, I’m not alone…

So, not only are they white, but affluent, too. Double Yikes!

If charters are working for families on the fringes, how does one explain pouring resources into a battle that works against them? Are your charter schools hurting children?

So, you have the highest performing charters in the United States effectively changing the lives of children of color and in poverty.

I’m sorry, what’s your fight about?


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:


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.

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.

NAACP: Hell No We Won’t Go! (Remember this?)

There is no shortage of school choice proponents willing to let the NAACP off the hook for siding with union bosses against parents desperate for quality education choices for their children. We’re still mad as hell and rightfully so.

Continue reading NAACP: Hell No We Won’t Go! (Remember this?)