Multiple candidates line up for Metro school board chair's seat

Wednesday, April 4, 2012 at 1:19am

Multiple candidates have lined up for Metro school board chair Gracie Porter’s East Nashville seat, with three viable contenders confirming their candidacies to The City Paper in advance of Thursday’s qualifying deadline.

A Teach For America executive, an attorney who runs a popular education blog, and the head of Metro’s chief parents’ organization all said Tuesday they plan to run for the District 5 seat in August’s election.

Porter, board chair since 2010, is believed to be running for re-election having turned her qualifying papers to the Davidson County Election Commission in March. She was unavailable for comment Tuesday, as she is currently overseas in China as part of a Metro Nashville Public Schools trip through an exchange program with Vanderbilt University.

Davidson County residents have until Thursday to submit petition signatures to qualify their candidacies.

John Haubenreich, an attorney at Neal & Harwell, said a need for greater “accountability” drew him to run for the District 5 seat. Haubenreich, who serves as president for Davidson County Young Democrats, also operates a popular education blog:

“We have a school board that has been working very well with Dr. [Jesse] Register, that’s been collaborating well together, but in my mind has lost a little bit of the accountability that a school board should bring to the system,” Haubenreich said.

Elissa Kim, a former teacher, works as executive vice president of recruitment for Teach For America, the national program that turns high-achieving college graduates into teachers at low-performing schools. Emails from two prominent charter school advocates –– John Eason, a board member of the Tennessee Charter Schools Association and Bill DeLoache, a trustee of the Joe C. Davis Foundation –– circulated Tuesday that both trumpeted Kim’s school board candidacy.

“When talking with friends and other folks who are interested in the direction our city takes in regards to public education, I first started exploring this idea of expanding impact locally and making a difference here in our city,” Kim said.

Erica Lanier, another District 5 candidate, volunteers as the chair of the schools director’s Parent Advisory Council. With that title, she’s a regular presence at school board meetings to represent the interests of Metro school parents.

“I’m a product of public schools, and obviously I believe in public schools because I have both my daughters there,” Lanier said.

“First and foremost, I think that as a board, when we’re making decisions that are affecting our families, we need to take into consideration all viewpoints and study all the facts regarding a specific issue that’s in front of us,” she said.

2 Comments on this post:

By: Ask01 on 4/6/12 at 9:17

I would like to suggest a change to the Metro school board.

Disband the current school board and reform the body by requiring Metro schools to each send two representatives selected from their student body parents. Hopefully, they will pick from those most active supporting the school and interested in educating our young.

With every member of the board having a vested interest in the form of children, I suspect the level of non essential debate will go to zero and the board will be quick to cry "Bull Taco" every time Mayor Dean or Metro Council tries to employ educating students as a smoke screen for some boondoggle legislation.

The entertainment value alone of a group of parents calling city government's bluff will be priceless.

By: Ask01 on 4/6/12 at 9:44

I am sorry. I forgot to address the primary topic of this article. I also propose the chair be selected from among the school board. That way everyone still has the same vested interest.

Suddenly having a day off is a little disorienting after being employed for a while.