Rally Ratchets Up Tension As Nashville’s School Board Tussles Over Charter Growth

Observing the rally outside the district office, Metro's Meredith Libbey said "My regret about today is that we didn't run out and get some lemonade and cookies, because these are our parents, and I think we're united in wanting quality choices and quality schools for every student in Nashville." Credit WPLN/Daniel Potter

Observing the rally in the August sun outside the district office, Metro’s Meredith Libbey said “My regret about today is that we didn’t run out and get some lemonade and cookies, because these are our parents, and I think we’re united in wanting quality choices and quality schools for every student in Nashville.” Credit WPLN/Daniel Potter

Close to a hundred people rallied today outside the central office of Metro Nashville Public Schools, sending a message not to stand in the way of expanding charter schools.  In downplaying the rally, Metro officials note the district just approved several more charters this summer.

Nashville has more than 20 charters either open or in the pipeline.  Outside the district’s office, advocates chanted and held signs, calling for still more.  The president of the Washington D.C.-based Black Alliance for Educational Options said he flew in last-minute to be there.  (More on BAEO in a blog post here)

John Little and others passed around clipboards asking those present to write notes to school board members: “We’re going to have people who pass around clipboards – and this is where it gets real.  We have designations for school-board members who are green, which, they support what action…  We have school board members in the yellow.  And we have school board members in the red.  And the school board members who are in the red are school board members who do not – do not – support our best interest.  And we need to let it be well known as we vote and as we show our voice here at the school board.” (Credit WPLN/Daniel Potter)

John Little and others passed around clipboards asking those present to write notes to school board members: “This is where it gets real. We have designations for school-board members who are green, which, they support what action… We have school board members in the yellow. And we have school board members in the red. And the school board members who are in the red are school board members who do not – do not – support our best interest. And we need to let it be well known as we vote and as we show our voice here at the school board.” (Credit WPLN/Daniel Potter)

A recruiter for a Nashville charter school name John Little reminded the crowd of the anniversary of the March on Washington, saying “this is our Civil Rights.”

“And it doesn’t end here.  We need to let them know that we’re going to be organized at their next school board meeting.  And this crowd is going to be five times as large!  And we’re going to show them that they’re going to need crowd control, because we’re going to take over for change.”

A Metro official framed the protest as really an effort to head off any talk of limiting the growth of charters.  Some school board members are reluctant to keep adding them, pointing to budget constraints.  And a recent legal opinion says there may be a constitutional argument over the state law allowing charters schools.

A former school board member now on the Metro council wants the state to let Nashville take a break from adding new charters.  (More from The Tennessean here)  Steve Glover is calling for a vote on a resolution, which would not be legally binding, to ask for a moratorium on charters.

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