Nashville School Board Candidates Heed Register’s Truce On Charters

Four seats on the Metro Schools board of education are on the ballot, and charter schools in the district have become one of the few differentiators between the candidates. Credit: Metro Photo Services

Four seats on the Metro Schools board of education are on the ballot, and charter schools in the district have become one of the few differentiators between the candidates. In this photo, a teacher at Apollo Middle School works with a student in an after school program. Credit: Metro Photo Services

Metro Schools superintendent Jesse Register has called for more civility in the sometimes-toxic debate over charter schools. Candidates for school board are having no trouble complying.

The future of privately-run, publicly-funded charter schools is one of the few issues that differentiates those who are running, though the candidates have been trying to avoid drawing hard lines and turning-off would-be supporters.

Rhonda Dixon, who is running against incumbent Anna Shepherd in District 4, has the financial backing of charter school advocates. The granddaughter she’s raising goes to a charter. But she doesn’t want to be cornered.

“What I want to see us concentrate on is really making sure all of our schools are really good quality schools,” Dixon told WPLN as part of a candidate survey.

When asked if there should be any limits placed on growth of high performing charters, Dixon said no.

Pam Swoner, who is in a three-way race with Dixon and Shepherd, is diplomatic but ultimately comes down on the other side of the debate.

“I still see a need to limit the number,” she said.

Some of the fiercest fighting over charter schools in recent months has been over whether they siphon money away from traditional schools. Director of schools Jesse Register is scheduling monthly meetings between board members and charter school leaders in an attempt to deescalate what he calls “gamesmanship” and an “us verses them” atmosphere.

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