The charter moratorium train that has been crisscrossing the nation and dividing the black community has officially stopped in Nashville. And as is the norm with these resolutions and board votes, parents were left out of the loop and, consequently, unable to sign up for public comment to have their voices heard.
But we are listening. And we are praying. And we are standing tall with our fellow Tennessee families in Nashville.
Zack Barnes lays out the story really well at Tennessee Education Report.
Tuesday, the Metro Nashville School Board will vote on a charter school moratorium. The policy proposal is being brought by Will Pinkston. As of Monday morning, language of the resolution has still not been publicly shared on the MNPS website.
Will Pinkston calls for transparency for charter schools, but he should also be held to that same transparency. It’s unacceptable that the meeting is tomorrow, and the citizens of Nashville still can’t access the policy that will be discussed.
Sadly, this story is not a new one. It happens in cities all over the country. In March of 2015, a suburban school committee in Rhode Island also voted on a charter moratorium resolution and education advocate Erika Sanzi reports that she was unable to get her hands on a draft of the language until two hours before the meeting at which the vote ultimately took place. Her frustration led her to pen an op-ed in the Providence Journal calling out her elected school committee for their actions and their vote.
Vesia Hawkins is an educate advocate in Nashville and she has also weighed in to share what she knows from her first hand experience working with school board agendas; her gut is telling her that the lack of transparency is intentional on the part of the board. And she is sticking up for parents.
See, I used to work at the district, and I’ve been party to publishing these school board agendas myself. Typically, there are two reasons an agenda item would show up this late. Usually it’s innocent—there’s just a bureaucratic maze that can take time to navigate, getting all the right signatures and sign-offs. Or sometimes, also innocently, an item of urgency springs up and is time-sensitive; requiring immediate board approval.
But another, more rare but insidious reason for a resolution to pop up without notice is simply to avoid push-back and scrutiny.
My sausage-maker’s experience tells me that’s what’s going on here.
So, Nashville parents, we are with you. We condemn Mr. Pinkston and the board members whose anti-choice agenda trumps any respect for parent choice or student outcomes.
If they knock you down tonight, we will be here to lift you right back up. We are in this for the long haul because we are parents who will stop at nothing to get our children the education they deserve.
Sending strength and love to y’all from Memphis.