by Steven Hale
Frogge and Will Pinkston were the two board members singled out by the Tennessee Charter School Center as charter school opponents. Here's an excerpt from Frogge's response, in which she pushes back against the idea that she, or Pinkston, or the board as a whole are hostile to charter schools:
Since my election last year, six charter schools have come before the board for approval. I voted to approve four of the six.
I voted to deny the first charter school application because our board was ordered to ensure that this school provided a sufficient diversity plan, and in my opinion, it did not. This school had no real history of serving poor children, different races, special needs students, or English learners. This school, which would have been located in an affluent, predominately white area of Nashville, also refused to offer transportation beyond two years to children who could not have attended the school otherwise. Finally, this school charged high prices for lunches, books and other necessities, which would have prohibited most MNPS students from attending the school.
I voted to deny our most recent charter school application because we have learned that charter school costs are rapidly driving up our district costs. I believe that the cost of charter schools, which this year will serve only 5% of our student population, has or will begin to impact the schools that serve the other 95% of our students. I also believe it is fiscally irresponsible to continue to approve new schools until we have determined how we plan to pay for them. While we may be able to shave off some of our district expenses, I think it will be difficult to shave off the tens of million dollars per year necessary to sustain our current charter growth without damaging the operations of our school system, but this is something to discuss and work out before moving forward. For those who doubt the financial realities of our current situation, take a brief look at what is happening in NY, Chicago and Philadelphia. That is exactly where we are heading if we don’t exercise caution.