Tuesday, July 24, 2012

How I plan to vote in the District 1 School Board race

As a North Nashville parent, I am generally unenthused and unenergized by the campaigns in the District 1 School Board race. Ed Kindall has faced ethics questions in the past, including the cell phone drama of a few years ago. Sharon Gentry has struck me in the past as undiplomatic. She was a little too cavalier about and dismissive of parents' concerns at one community meeting in Hope Gardens for me to take her at her current promise that she will be a voice for "ALL parents" (emphasis hers) if we vote for her. At least one parent wrote me feeling ignored by Ms. Gentry after a personal appeal.

While both Kindall and Gentry did the right thing two years ago and voted against Jesse Register's plan to privatize Metro Schools service workers, the union representing those workers unambiguously endorses Mr. Kindall:

“He’s often the only one in the school board meetings who asks the tough questions and tries to hold Dr. Register accountable,” said Cordelia Howard, a school secretary, in the SEIU’s announcement.

Lately, Sharon Gentry has said and done nothing to change my sense of ambivalence about her, and she seems less willing to speak truth to power. In fact, she talks about public schools as if she is now one of those ideologues who believes the school district should be managed like a business, right down to reciting jargon about "portfolios":
What are your priorities for the Metro School system as a whole?

Fostering more proactive methods for including charter schools into the choice portfolio for MNPS that focuses on identify charter school programs that help address the needs within the district.
It is straight out of the Chamber's school reform playbook. Keep in mind that Ms. Gentry is also married to Howard Gentry, who has had close professional ties to the Nashville Chamber of Commerce. She received large campaign donations from Chamber big shots in the past. This all seems to beholden her to an organization which is setting up shop and hawking its products in Metro Nashville Public Schools.

The goal of maximizing private profits is not always commensurable with democratic values of public education. Financial and personal ties to the Chamber of Commerce suggest to me that a candidate will be more prone to cow to the special business interests who treat children as more a future compliant labor force than a potential democratic citizenry. In that vein, John Dewey knew what he was talking about 100 years ago in Democracy and Education:
Democracy cannot flourish where the chief influences in selecting subject matter of instruction are utilitarian ends narrowly conceived for the masses, and, for the higher education of the few, the traditions of a specialized cultivated class. The notion that the "essentials" of elementary education are ... mechanically treated, is based upon ignorance of the essentials needed for realization of democratic ideals. Unconsciously it assumes that these ideals are unrealizable; it assumes that in the future, as in the past, getting a livelihood, "making a living," must dignify for most men and women doing things which are not significant, freely chosen, and ennobling to those who do them; doing things which serve ends unrecognized by those engaged in them, carried on under the direction of others for the sake of pecuniary reward.
It is pecuniary reward (plainly put, "the big money score") that the Chamber of Commerce is committed to and the means by which it sells others on supporting its narrow goals.

I believe a school board candidate should strive toward a larger vision of public education than selling it to private charter school companies or reducing it to "Academies" for vocational training. Sharon Gentry strikes me as just a bit too zealous about charter schools and a lot too embedded with the Chamber's business class to exert herself toward the larger vision. I'm not saying that I believe fervently that Mr. Kindall will not resort to old-school political patronage or to supporting charter schools, but I do believe that the Chamber's influence begs to be checked and balanced, that Jesse Register ought to continue to be held accountable and that Mr. Kindall is more likely to do both than is Ms. Gentry.


  1. Thank you and Support Ed Kindall School Board District 1.

  2. School board elections are the national focus for corporate school reformers. By stacking school boards they tip the balance in their favor on critical votes- sometimes making decisions the public does NOT want. Controlling the school board gives them a vice grip over all decisions, most critical is the superintendent.

    Corporate superintendent "training" is percolating from Eli Broad's Broad Superintendents Academy. Broad "trains" superintendents in corporate reforms by deliberately selecting non-educators. The Broad Academy has no outside accountability, no state supervision, no expertise in education, no history of scholarship in education. How will public learn of conflicts of interest if the Broad foundation wields such influence over schools?


    Check out the new Broad Board of Directors: Joe Klein, Rupert Murdoch's right hand guy, KIPP's Richard Garth, Harold Ford, Jr. of Morgan Stanley, Michelle Rhee, Wendy Kopp, Larry Summers.

    Will the DCSB present to the public ALL Broad Candidates to the public and point out their "reform efforts and outcomes parts of the country?

  3. Harold Ford, Jr. of Morgan Stanley. That's rich.

  4. Is TN public education headed for this? Hmmmm.


  5. Ed Kindall has my vote.

    Sharon Gentry is currently my school board rep. When she would not respond to my inquiries, I would call Ed Kindall. He returns emails and phone calls.

    I don't agree with all of Ed Kindall's votes. but when I express my alternate opinion, he is not condescending.

    Ed is proactive when it comes to visiting all of the schools in his district. Sharon said she will visit only when invited.

    Ed Kindall is accessible and has proven that he is willing to work.

    1. I agree with you about Ed. I would love to see finanical stats on where Sharon's campaign money actually came from this run. Howard emphasized that Sharon was offered money but would not take it. Apparently, he lied. The Tennessean article by Joey Garrison clearly says she received $2,500 from the Super PAC, which supports charter schools, of course. She is just another bought "winner" like the Will guy and Kim lady. Heaven help the public school kids.