Mayor Karl Dean and others in Nashville are watching test scores reported this summer as a determinant of the next course of action. So is Gov. Phil Bredesen.
Bredesen told The City Paper that mayoral control could be positive, and that he has “encouraged” Dean to think about that option.
“It’s obvious that in some systems, the mayoral control seems to have addressed some of the issues,” Bredesen said. “We both, I think, have a lot of talking and thinking to do about what’s possible under the law, how it would work, how it is working in other places in reality, and so on. But I certainly was encouraging to him to go down the road of at least exploring that as one of the options.”
The governor credited Dean with doing a good job of trying to think through the matter in advance. And the idea of mayoral control generally seems to align with Bredesen’s ideas about accountability.
“Certainly the idea of mayoral control is consistent with my view that the way you get things done is, find somebody and make them responsible and shine a spotlight on them to get it done, as opposed to [diffusing] the power everywhere,” Bredesen said. “There’s been no decision made to try to go that way.”
Bredesen said he’ll watch the results of test scores in Nashville this summer. If Metro Nashville Public Schools improves and the state is not in the position of taking over the system, Bredesen said, the matter may become “somewhat moot.” But if the state is required to “step up” its control, Bredesen said he doesn’t want the state to be in the position of completely running the system.
“I don’t want the state to run the schools. I don’t think we would do a good job of it. We don’t need to get in that business,” Bredesen said.
Bredesen emphasized that the question of mayoral control is not related to the quality of MNPS’s new director of schools, Jesse Register. Rather, it’s a question of whether “a senior political official” should be put in a position to “take a strong hand with things.”