Metro school board members expect to approve a diversity plan developed largely due to last year’s high-profile clash with Great Hearts Academies charter school operator.
An eight-page draft of the plan, which can be found here, identifies goals and objectives to managing the district’s diversity going forward, but is short on specific details on how those standards will have bearing on groups applying to open new charter schools.
“It’s unfortunate we had to have a meltdown over a single charter school to accelerate this work,” said board member Will Pinkston. “It may be the one good thing that came out of the whole Great Hearts debacle, that we got serious about articulating our goals on diversity.”
School board members are expected to vote on the diversity plan at its next meeting Tuesday, Feb. 12.
The plan outlines goals for schools to have no one racial ethnic group make up more than 50 percent of their student population, three racial ethnic groups that each make up at least 15 percent of the student population, or two racial ethnic groups that make up at least 30 percent of the student population.
Each school is also expected to have at least two thirds of their student population qualify in at least two of the following categories: as low income, as non-native speakers learning English, or as have a disability. The plan also calls for diversity in teacher staffing.
Existing schools that don’t already meet the diversity plan “will be considered in need of greater diversity, and this need will be addressed as practicable by the central office,” according to the plan.
Metro Nashville Public Schools is home to six major ethnic groups, none of which make up more than half the system. Between almost 80,000 students, 44 percent are African American, 33 percent are white and 18 percent are Hispanic, according to the district. The rest are Asian, Native American and Pacific Islander.
“It’s not just a black, white issue. It’s really all different races,” said Amy Frogge, a school board member. “We have all these different countries and different languages in our schools and we take that into account. But also socioeconomics has a great impact on a lot of our achievement issues, and so we’re considering that issue as well.”
The idea of a diversity plan became a hot topic last year as members of the school board criticized Phoenix-based Great Hearts Academies’ plan to open a charter school in affluent West Nashville. The board voted repeatedly to deny the charter, citing concerns about transportation and asserted the school would lack adequate diversity as state law no longer geared registration to low-income students.
But the school district itself lacked a single diversity plan for Great Hearts to mirror.
The plan on the table includes a section for charter schools, calling for applicants and existing charters to follow the plan. Pinkston said the board’s next move is to outline specific diversity objectives for charter schools eyeing MNPS as their home district. Ten charter school operators have sent the district letters signaling they intend to apply to open a school with the district. Final applications are due Apr. 1.
While specific guidelines may not be ready by that time, Pinkston said the goal is to outline those directives soon so charter school operators can factor those details in by the time the board evaluates applications.
|Diversity Plan 113 draft.pdf||80.19 KB|