The Dismantling of Nashville’s Charters: A Summertime Strategy Sure to Hurt Most Vulnerable

Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools is a school district of highs and lows; no different than any other urban school district in the United States. Our district is home to one of the highest performing magnet high schools in the country and schools that struggle to teach 3rd graders to read at grade level.

Further, there are too few that perform as well as the former and far too many that are the latter. Because of this gap in opportunity we offer non-traditional choices like charter schools. Even though charter schools are merely filling gaps — satisfying a need — they are never not under fire. Accountability is to be expected, encouraged even, but witch hunts are petty.

We are in an era of hate from the White House to the schoolhouse. It matters little that parents have made the effort to choose these schools for their children. Forget the teachers who have made the decision to work in a school setting that oftentimes require longer hours. And, need I mention the babies?

Summertime Strategy

In Sunday’s Tennessean, you will find an article calling out Rocketship Schools and other charters for a lack of transparency, conflict of interest, and whatever else they wanted to find. My greatest concern is for the children in these schools—and their parents come in a close second. 

The grand plan to dismantle charter schools is becoming more clear, particularly with the partnership with certain reporters, asinine accusations resulting from “intense scrutiny” of lease agreements (somehow there’s time for this), and let’s not forget the targeted personal attacks on certain charter school leaders—so far, only on those of color. See my recent post about Shaka Mitchell (who, as of last week, is no longer with Rocketship), Ravi Gupta, and John Little. 

I mean, Rocketship attacks have been on repeat for a year now, so no surprises there, but Purpose Prep? Purpose Prep, the elementary school that intentionally seeks out students from the North Nashville area and operates with the expectation that every child will be eligible for Martin Luther King, Jr. magnet high school and, ultimately, the college of their choice. Purpose Prep, a school in its third year of existence with a student population comprised of 98% students of color, 74% economically disadvantaged and nearly every child is reading at or above grade level. So, what’s the problem here? (Shout out to Lagra Newman and her team!)

The Un-Welcome Mat (from the nation’s friendliest city)

As we head toward the school board vote on charter operator applications (June 27), the messaging is clear:

  • New charters are not welcome 
  • Existing charters are not wanted (even if you are exceeding expectations with children of color and economically disadvantaged)
  • Charter school parents of color and/or poor must pay for mimicking white middle class by daring to exercise choice
  • It’s NOT AT ALL about the children

Maybe you can help me understand the volatility toward a response to a problem we’ve been otherwise unable to solve?

Check out the Tennessean’s article better known as WTF.


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