After the Brown v Board of Education decision in 1954, Southern governors and mayors spent large sums of cash to fix up ramshackle black schools in an attempt to placate African-American communities and, thus, seek to avoid the white nightmare of court-ordered desegregation. Now a half century later, Mayor Karl Dean of Nashville is doing something similar, but this time the effort not only serves segregationists but also the corporations in need of a compliant and positivized work force that is to include a few black and brown faces that can be counted upon to keep their mouths shut.
Mayor Dean has committed almost 10 percent of Nashville Metro’s 4-year school building budget for a new segregated KIPP, Inc. corporate charter school, which lays claim to the exemplary urban penal pedagogy model that has the backing of all the oligarchs of the Billionaire Boys’ Club, regardless of whether they keep Republican or Democratic politicians in their stables.
Meanwhile, Nashville's public schools that serve the poor and the brown use garbage cans to collect water from leaky roofs and cram their kids into overcrowded and damaged classrooms. At Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet, a high-performing integrated public school, kids eat lunch in the hallways and do not have a functioning gym.
It is galling for a public school parent like me to watch the Mayor scoop public school infrastructure funds away from public schools and dump them on private companies for the benefit of their cronies with the smallest bang for Nashville's kids.
CM Emily Evans points out some other costs of KIPP to Nashville public schools on Facebook in the wake of a Tennessean:
For those of you who follow the cap needs of our schools, this project repesents about 12% of all new cap allocated to MNPS the last 4 yrs. It also represents 25% of FY2011 new cap for MNPS. This capital allocation is $3MM more than that needed for Hume Fogg gym and JT Moore renovations and about equal to renovations to Hillwood HS. No other Charter school has seen the same level of generosity from the Metro Gov't.
Charter schools do nothing to challenge the system that churns out underprivileged classes. Their corporate sponsors guarantee that the few students who make it will be obliged not to challenge the order that makes both Democrats and Republicans big shots wealthier. Corporations do not easily or directly control public education without the charter school mechanism. The patricians in Metro government are making that mechanism a reality. In the meantime, our public schools (and I don't mean the decision-makers at the district level) are only getting poorer.