After Year of Tension, Haslam Wants Meeting With Register on New MNPS Charter Restrictions



Gov. Bill Haslam doesn’t know what to think of Metro Schools narrowing the types of charter school applications it’s willing to accept next year, but said he wants to talk to the district to find out more.

It would be the first sit-down between the the governor and Director of Schools Jesse Register since shortly after MNPS rejected Great Hearts Academies, which led to the state slapping the district with a $3.4 million fine, the school board threatening litigation and the House Speaker pushing for the state to approve future rejected charter schools.

The resolution directs the district to only consider charter applications that propose turning around schools labeled low-performing for three consecutive years, or seek to locate in parts of the district with high population growth, such as South Nashville.

“I was interested to see that they put those geographic restrictions on there and I’d love to hear their justification for doing that,” Haslam told reporters Thursday. “In terms of the ultimate goal of providing better education for students, I understand the financial reasons behind that decision. I really do. Being somebody who’s been responsible for financial decisions, I never discount that as a motive or theory.”

More, after the jump:

Under the new district specifications, four schools are in the pipeline to be eligible for a charter school turnaround. Charters would also be invited to open schools in the Glencliff and Overton elementary school clusters.

Charter advocates say their kind can address those type of needs in the school district, but argue the move would block the kinds of charter schools that have become some of the best performing in the district.

“I think the tragedy would be the four well-performing public charter schools that we currently have in operation, had this resolution been applicable then, would not be here,” said House Speaker Beth Harwell of Nashville, who has been tough on the district for over a year. “And that only hurts children.”

The Tennessee Charter School Center — which argued the new rules were approved too fast — says the framework, while thoughtful, is too narrow.

“The parameters written into the resolution severely limit MNPS’ ability to actually deploy charters to make an impact on these two priority areas,” said Greg Thompson, the Center’s CEO.

Meanwhile, a coalition of the state’s largest school systems is contemplating whether to consider litigation against the state regarding inadequacies in the state’s education funding formula, in part due to local district budgets sending more money to charter schools.

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