Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Is a "North Nashville Collaboration" collaborative when not all of North Nashville knows about it?

I received this Metro Nashville Public School announcement/invitation from the Salemtown elist today. It was actually forwarded as an attachment that Sylvan Park CM Jason Holleman sent to his constituents with the message:

I plan to attend this event on Thursday, and I thought you might be interested as well. I greatly admire organizer Alan Coverstone's forward-thinking approach towards making our schools -- and our community -- better, and I think that this event will be well worth your time.

Hope to see you there!

Thank you,

Jason Holleman
Metro Council, District 24
4210 Park Avenue
Nashville, Tennessee 37209

For those who do not know, Mr. Coverstone is a private school product and a former private school Dean. He has been put in charge of Metro's charter school program, essentially privatizing our public education system. So, the collaboration-language of the invitation sounds odd if written by Mr. Coverstone. "Together we can make sure the Jefferson Street corridor is an essential destination" with a "meaningful discussion to identify new and exciting ways to support each other" sounds cryptic when coming from the charter schools division.

"Collaboration" assumes inclusiveness, but this invitation has not been sent to all of us in North Nashville. To disguise something limited in scope under jargon of inclusion bugs me. But collaboration also assumes listening to dissent. If this meeting is really about poaching resources and high-performing students out of existing schools for privatized charter schools, I intend to dissent. My guess is that what we will hear from this meeting is a shiny new initiative that we will have no choice but to accept.

Anyone heard anything about this "collaboration" that they care to share?

UPDATE: Yesterday I sent the following email to a couple of school board members, a Metro address I assume might be Alan Coverstone's, CM Jason Holleman, Metro Schools communications office, MNPS customer service, and CM Erica Gilmore:

Regarding the attached invitation: if this event was intended to be a "collaborative effort" between MNPS and North Nashville, why didn't some of us in North Nashville, especially those of us with kids in public schools, receive notice of this until this late date?

By the way, the author of the invitation omitted Jones Paideia and Hull-Jackson on the list of public schools mentioned on the invitation.

As a North Nashville public school parent I am supremely disappointed in the seeming lack of care in communication of this event. To find out second-hand in an email that CM Holleman originally directed to his constituents is really bothersome. If it was planned with community input, we were also left out of that stage.

Can anyone shed some light on what is behind this event in our zone and why no apparent effort was made on the Metro end to communicate with all of us?

The only person to respond so far is CM Gilmore, who writes that Alan Coverstone is the organizer and that he left a voice mail for her about it last week. They have not been able to speak with each other about it yet.

Why is Coverstone focusing on CMs and not on PTOs, neighborhood associations, or other community groups to communicate this event that he claims will "support the great work of ... neighbors"? This still smacks of elitism to me.

UPDATE: MNPS customer service responded to my email above. Their reply fails to clear up in my mind why this event was not communicated to all of North Nashville. On the contrary, they seem to insist that posting the announcement on their crowded, information-saturated website for North Nashvillians to stumble across and sending out a few emails to unidentified "contacts" is effective communication:

The idea for getting together is to better connect our students with their surroundings. We are asking everyone to spread the word, and we appreciate any help in doing so. The announcement of the North Nashville Collaboration is posted on the MNPS homepage has been sent and forwarded through e-mail by a scores of community contacts, and has been relayed directly through conversations with the intention of reaching any and all stakeholders.

We are starting a conversation and everyone is invited!

It is obviously going to be a battle of attrition to get to the bottom of real intentions behind limited communications and real agendas of this event. Given a Metro climate under Karl Dean that puts transparency in the back seat, I do not expect it to be easy.

UPDATE: We went back over our PTO notes from the last meeting. No mention of this collaboration. We also checked around at Jones Paideia Elementary without finding any indication that school officials know about this meeting.

Early this morning I finally got a response from Alan Coverstone:

I asked lots of people o help spread the word, and I know you are helping as well. It is a conversation starter, not an official business meeting. Everyone is welcome.

Hope to see you there.

I'm skeptical about this because in order to get MNPS to engage PTOs and community leaders we usually are restricted to speaking with our school's 2 representatives on the district's Parent Advisory Committee, who take concerns to MNPS. Otherwise, we are invisible. I cannot even get my own School Board rep, Sharon Gentry, to reply to any emails I send her way. At the one community meeting I've seen her speak she seemed aloof and dismissive of community concerns. We will see what happens at the "collaboration." My guess is that it will be an attempt to market the mirage of charter schools to desperate parents.


  1. Link to the announcement doesn't work, at least for me.

  2. If you cannot access the copy on Google Docs, you can always go to the MNPS webpage:


  3. Thanks. You have a right to be annoyed.

    This is an example of terrible communication at work from whoever is leading this meeting, the administrators at each school involved, and the PTAs/PTOs of each school involved.

    The meeting is on the front page of the MNPS website and the MNPS calendar.

    Jason Holleman gets credit for involving the community.

  4. On a different school note, Stand for the Children is having intercession meetings this month. This is a big selling point of the August 1 start date for school, so parents may be interested.

    East Literature Middle & High/Lockeland Elementary -- Monday, October 3 at 3:30pm in the high school library

    Sylvan Park Elementary -- Tuesday, October 11 at 7pm, immediately following the monthly PTO meeting

    Middle College PTO meeting -- Tuesday, October 11 at 6pm

    Eakin Elementary -- Thursday, October 27 at 6pm in the school libraryDan Mills/Litton -- Date and time TBD

    Stand For Children Calendar / Intercession Meetings

  5. Stand for Children has its own set of Trojan-horse problems. Reportedly, SFC is prone to bait-and-switch (talking populist, walking venture-capitalist):



    SFC also rakes in money and influence, and then throws their weight around:


    SFC recently touted their members winning Memphis school board seats. They are THE one-stop-shop for "advocacy" in Metro Nashville Public Schools (and, go figure, they endorsed Karl Dean last election). The corporate money is rolling into their coffers. Their increasing influence in Tennessee troubles me. We need to watch this organization very carefully, given their track record in other states.

  6. Tene Hamilton FranklinWed Oct 05, 12:50:00 PM CDT

    Before I saw your blog post, I happened to browse the MNPS website this morning and saw the same announcement.

    This is the first that I have heard of this meeting. It was not announced at Hull Jackson, in my neighborhood, nor other North Nashville community circles that I frequent.

    I am sure MNPS has the capability to query the students that live in the 37208, 37209, and 37203 zip codes and conduct a mailing or robocall announcing this meeting.

    Based on the background info in your blog post and the lack of marketing, I can only assume that the organizers did not intend to for the target audience to be representative of the North Nashville Community.