10,000+ Nashville Charter School Families Get Official Eviction Notice

This is what happens when politics outranks people.

Screenshot 2017-06-30 at 9.25.37 AM

A resolution introduced by board member Mary Pierce enforcing the board’s role in advocating for every student (and family) failed in dramatic form this week. The breakdown of the vote on the measure to support ALL families was, unfortunately, not surprising — 4 voting yes, 3 abstaining, 1 refused to vote and 1 absent. But what shocks the system is the message it sends to the families on the other end of the failed motion. A message best explained in a Cee-Lo Green song “although there’s a pain in my chest, I still wish you the best with a F— you.”

There’s not much to add to this story besides petty commentary and that, quite frankly, does nothing for the parents now officially alienated from the school district. However, I do feel the need to amplify one tiny part of the school board’s own policy mandating the elected body to “advocate for the organization and all of the students it serves.” The failed motion means only one thing for these families, the school board has abdicated its responsibility to serve charter school children and families. Holla!

So, I urge parents to reach out to board members. Express appreciation to the members voting on your behalf and to those who didn’t vote for you respectfully remind them that you’re still part of the family. Like it or not.

“The resolution is not about whether or not our board philosophically supports charter schools — individual members have made positions clear on the board floor and on social media,” Pierce said. “Rather, this is about our service as board members as advocates for the entire district and all the students it serves.”

Please read every word of this resolution.

A resolution declaring the Board of Education’s intent to reaffirm our commitment to our Governing Policy Three: Board Job Description with a specific focus on number Eight: Advocate for the organization and all of the students it serves.

WHEREAS, Metro Nashville Public Schools currently serve students in all of the following: traditional zoned district schools for students in grades K-12, open enrollment district schools, pre-kindergarten programs, magnet schools, non-traditional academies, alternative schools, homeschool programs and public charter schools; and

WHEREAS, MNPS educates nearly 88,000 students who come from diverse cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, many with diverse learning styles*; and

WHEREAS, MNPS public charter schools, authorized by the MNPS Board of Education, serve almost 10,000 students; and

WHEREAS, the cultural and socio-economic diversity within MNPS public charter schools closely reflects that of the entire district**; and

WHEREAS, the Metropolitan Nashville Davidson County Board of Public Education is committed to providing every student a high-quality education that promotes social and emotional learning and strives for increasing academic achievement; and

WHEREAS these core beliefs are reiterated in the commitment in Governing Policy Three that this Board will “advocate for the organization and all of the students it serves;” and

WHEREAS, the Board of Education has been addressed on numerous occasions by parents and others with children enrolled in one of our 28 MNPS Board approved charter schools by way of letters and public comments that they do not feel supported by the totality of the board; and

WHEREAS, these same parents have asked that the Board of Education treat them and their schools with the same courtesy and respect extended to parents and educators in zoned schools, magnet schools, and all other types of schools authorized by the Board of Education; and

WHEREAS, this board has consistently adopted standards that promote collaboration, including the first Annenberg Standard, which states that “Traditional district and charter schools should work together to ensure a coordinated approach that serves all children”; and

WHEREAS, we recognize that in every type of school our organization offers or authorizes, there will be concerns that should be addressed by the Director of Schools and district staff, and RS-2017-3

WHEREAS, at times, advocacy for students and families with concerns might appear to conflict with advocacy for MNPS, it is possible to do so without disparaging the schools, the employees or MNPS, and

WHEREAS, all of our students, and their families, regardless of the schools they attend, deserve to be treated in a respectful, inclusive manner;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Metro Nashville Board of Public Education:

  1. Recognizes that our MNPS public charter schools are part of the organization of MNPS and serve the same diverse populations as our other MNPS schools; and
  2. Commits to ensuring its schools remain safe and welcoming places for all students and their families regardless of the type of school they attend; and
  3. Commits to treating students, parents, staff and leaders of MNPS public charter schools with the same respect and civility extended to those in district run schools; and
  4. Commits to handling concerns, issues and sensitive information reported by families or staff from a district charter school in the same discreet, consistent and professional manner as those brought by families or staff from a district-run school; and
  5. Commits to high standards of personal accountability when giving public statements (social media posts, opinion editorials, statements on the board floor, etc.) to ensure the accuracy of information to the best of one’s ability; and
  6. Commits to leading as a productive, student-centered board focused on making every MNPS school excellent.

Adopted this 13th day of June 2017.

(NOT ADOPTED)

Charter School Parent to School Board: ‘Please Understand My Choice’

Contributed by Stem Prep parent Mara Rivera as read at the June 13, 2017 school board meeting. Because five of nine board members were not attendance, the parents featured in this series expressed grave concern about the cold shoulder extended to charter schools and their families at board meetings. They have a voice, please listen. 

Buenas tardes señores de la junta directiva. Mi nombre es Mara Rivera. Soy madre de 5 niños. Tengo uno en Stem Prep, otro en Stem High y dos en Glengary Elementary. Fui uno de los padres que firmo la carta a favor de las escuelas chárter.
Good afternoon members of the board. My name is Mara Rivera. I am the mother of five children. I have one child at Stem Prep, another at Stem High and two at Glengary Elementary. I was one of the parents that signed the letter in support of charter schools.
Tuve un hijo en una de las escuelas públicas de Nashville y no fue una experiencia que como padre quería para mi hijo. Por esta razón, empecé a buscar información de las escuelas magnet y chárter para el resto de mis otros hijos.
One of my children went to a district school, and as a parent, it was not the experience I wanted for my child. For this reason, I started looking for information about magnet and charter schools for the rest of my children.
El primer año que mi hijo fue aceptado en Stem Prep, di gracias a dios por la oportunidad de que mi hijo tuviera esa oportunidad. Los maestros se dedican a que cada alumno supera sus metas en cada materia. Siempre están disponibles a ayudarlos educativas y emocionalmente a cada uno.
The year my son was accepted into Stem Prep, I thanked God for this opportunity for my son. At Stem Prep, the teachers are dedicated to ensuring each student surpasses their goals in each subject. The teachers are always available to help students with their education and emotionally.
En la escuela Stem Prep y high school, los maestros enseñan nuestros hijos que con esfuerzos y sacrificios pueden llegar a alcanzar todos sus sueños. Como madre de 5 hijos mi deseo es que los que están en Glengary Elementary en el futuro puedan estudiar en Stem Prep.
At Stem Prep and Stem High School, the teachers teach our children that with effort and sacrifice, they can reach all of their dreams. As a mother of five children, my wish is that my children at Glengary Elementary can attend Stem Prep in the future.
Gracias por darme la oportunidad de contar mi historia a ustedes. Gracias Señora Mary Pierce por apoyar a todos los padres con la resolución.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to tell you my story. Thank to Ms. Mary Pierce for supporting all parents with her resolution.

Hundreds of Nashville Charter School Parents Say ‘Our Children Matter, Too!’

In an editorial in the Tennessean, charter school parents from across the city delivered the statement of all statements by brilliantly banding together in a demonstration of resistance. About the same time Dr. Joseph was preparing for his inaugural State of Schools speech, the Tennessean was preparing to roll out a list of 374 names of charter school parents demanding respect from the school board and school administration.

Contrary to the picture some board members paint, we are intelligent, engaged, determined parents who want a better life for our children. All parents want what is best for their children, and we are no different. Our children are thriving. They are working hard and learning every day. They are encouraged at school to dream big, and they are receiving the education they need to reach those dreams.

Charter schools have been part of Nashville’s education tapestry for more than a decade, but the bitterness and brutal language surrounding the charter narrative only gets worse. So, for these parents to enter the bloody arena, take a stand, and sign their name is nothing short of courageous.

I can’t adequately express how proud I am of these parents for taking a public stand for their children, themselves, and the schools they have chosen. I’ve heard from too many parents who feel threatened by the officials elected to work on our behalf and it saddens me. Even sadder, many of them are not on the list. So please understand, 374 is a lot of parents, but there are others. And if you’re the kind to dismiss parent voices or comfortable with the idea of parents bullied into silence, you are a problem and should be removed.

Read this editorial and check out the names!