Mayor Karl Dean’s administration is unhappy with the local school system’s decision to limit applications for new stand-alone charter schools to pockets of South Nashville next year.
A big fan of privately-run publicly-funded charter schools, his spokeswoman Bonna Johnson said it’s “difficult to see how much such a plan will advance the cause of improving student achievement.”
Her full statement:
“Mayor Dean firmly believes that every Nashville child deserves access to a high quality education. To now basically limit charter school growth to certain zip codes, based on capacity issues alone, is fundamentally troubling. In fact, the city’s highest performing charter schools — which were some of the highest performing schools in the state and which serve our most at risk students — would not even exist under this plan. It is difficult to see how such a plan will advance the cause of improving student achievement.”
More after the jump.
His comments echo concerns House Speaker Beth Harwell shared with Pith yesterday. Gov. Bill Haslam said he wants to learn more about the narrowed focus.
On top of focusing new charters in areas where schools are at least at 120 percent capacity, the new one-year rule also calls for applicants seeking to convert failing schools meeting certain guidelines. Other applications won’t be considered, according to the resolution.
While the changes aren’t perfect, the often critical Nashville Chamber of Commerce supports the district taking a strategic approach to charter schools, said Marc Hill, the chamber’s chief policy officer.
“The board has been very reactive in receiving and considering charter applications and we’ve seen the effect of the school board without a strategy over the last year,” he said, alluding to the district’s fight with the charter school community and the state.
“There’s a lot of work to be done in those two priority areas. We hope high quality charter operators will step up with proposals to meet those strategic needs,” he said.
Will Pinkston, school board member and architect of the resolution, stood by the board's move to focus charter school applications.
"Two years from now, when there's a school on Murfreesboro Road doing good work for young New Americans, I'll say, 'This school wouldn't be here if @speakerharwell and @tncharters had gotten their way," he said on Twitter Friday.