Thursday, May 31, 2012

Metro Nashville Public Schools does not control charter schools

Former East Nashville council member Jamie Hollin explains how local decisions about charter schools are ultimately controlled by people from outside of Nashville:

What seemingly few appreciate is that the denial of a locally submitted charter application is reviewable by the state BOE pursuant to the applicable statutory regime. In other words, the ultimate grant or denial of a charter school application lies, in this instance, not with your locally elected school board and administration, but by the following: B. Fielding Rolston (Kingsport), Mike Edwards (Knoxville—CEO of Knoxville Chamber of Commerce), Vernita B. Justice (Chattanooga), Lonnie Roberts (4th Congressional District), Carolyn Pearre (Nashville), Jean Anne Rogers (Murfreesboro), Jim Ayers (Nashville), Dr. Melvin Wright, Sr. (Jackson), Teresa Sloyan (Memphis), plus a student member and the Executive Director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission in an ex-officio capacity (non-voting). The foregoing list comprises the current members of our state BOE. Seven Tennesseans from some place other than Nashville (good folks, I am certain).

The net effect is that people who are not accountable to local voters will be deciding local education policy from this point forward ....

I have written before that my position on charters is evolving. My evolution on the subject is over .... 

Jump to read more about how Jamie's position has evolved. The gimmick of charters, touted by Mayor Karl Dean, does not guarantee quality public education. The fact that the gimmick is subject to influence from individuals with no local obligations is more troubling.


  1. Fear and loathing permeates TN schools, charter and public. This story from a Boston Charter is the future. Read the entire story and weep.

    "Firing Day at the Charter School"

    "Every June 1, the exhausted teachers and staff at my school learn whether they will be rehired for another grueling year. Last year the school gave 43 staff and teachers the you’re-outta-luck-pal letters, including the entire three-man physical education department and the student support genius, Dany Edwards, who somehow made harmony out of the schools’ cacophony of crazy student behavior. This year the school’s three glorious new gymnasiums are largely unused because we have no gym teachers and Dany is dead of unknown causes. Whatever happened to this beautiful young man, firing him didn’t help him live any better or happier for his last few months on earth. And the kids he championed lost his tender, tough, hilarious and real guidance."

  2. It is becoming very clear to me after reading Jamie Hollin's blog and watching the replay of the May 29th MNPS School Board meeting that the attempt by some to allow charter schools to destroy public schools in Nashville is very real. It is unclear to this reader why the committee that reviews the charter applications clearly did not do their homework.

    Board member Mark North poured over the data of not only charter schools, but also local MNPS schools. What he found was that the charter schools proposed to set up shop to address students in schools that not only were not failing, they were in the top three in the county. He also studied in depth the charter applications and found glaring errors within the applications themselves.

    North presented his findings to the board on May 29th only to have his board members question his findings and sweep them under the rug. Dr. Sharon Gentry did the first sweeping. Her words were an attempt to devalue what Mr. North had uncovered and make him look foolish. No one else on the board even questions Mr. Coverstone's committee to recommend a charter school where one is not needed.

    Coverstone is being paid a six figure salary to dismantle MNPS with charter schools that do not work, and his board members are following his lead like lemmings. The board, with the exception of gutsy Mr. North, voted to approve charter schools in locations where schools were doing well.

    When it came time to reveiew Kipp Academy's application for expansion, Mr. North's research revealed that Kipp Academy was not just average last year, they were clearly far below average in many subjects. MNPS is handing our tax money over to a charter school with teast scores that are worse than when these kids were with MNPS.

    Even after hearing North's findings, Anna Shepherd made a motion to accept Kipp's aplication for expansion. She was the only board member to vote in favor. It appears that she doesn't do any research herself and seems willing to rubber stamp anything
    that Coverstone or the mayor support. She doesn't even seem to have enough knowledge to speak on the subject. It appeared other board members were no different.

    The children of Nashville whose only hope to do better lies with good schools should be proud of Mark North. Just like his father, who was the only sports authority member with the courage to question so much more money being funneled into the Titan's stadium, Mark North stood up for and revealed the truth.

    Charter schools are nothing more than a way to segregate Nashville schools again and allow private schools to be supported by tax dollars. Parents are choosing who their kids go to school with, not what they learn. It is obvious that children are not learning any better in charter schools than our public schools.

    Maybe we need to quit blaming the world's problems on public schools and public school teachers. Perhaps we need to make parents and students more accountable for schooling, and school board members more accountable for our tax dollars. With MNPS asking for the largest piece of the tax increase, our citizens have a very real concern when the MNPS board members continue to give our tax money to charter schools without taking into account their performance data.

  3. Why are we subjecting our children to this boot camp masquerading as a school and funding it with our taxes?

    Why students call Kipp Kids in Prison:

    Parents in NJ are revolting against charters they don't want yet NJ DoE plows ahead with no regard for what the community wants for their schools.

  4. That schoolsmatter post is interesting. I especially like the focus of KIPP: be nice, work hard, go to college. Would that Nashville public schools have a college focus at 5th grade. There is much else in the post to recommend KIPP, contrary to how the interviewer/interviewees want to portray the school.

    Also, the author is so over-to-top at the beginning at the beginning of the article that it is easy to dismiss much of the wailing and gnashing of teeth further down (my gosh! you are not allowed to argue with a teacher? the horror).

    That said, if a school is not willing or unable to provide services for special needs children, it shouldn't admit them. The girl in the article needed one-on-one help for 1/2-hour a day. That seems to fall on the low-end of the scale for extra help in public schools, as there are kids who have shadows throughout the day.