Register, Dean sign symbolic 'charter schools compact'

Tuesday, December 14, 2010 at 8:40pm

Director of Schools Jesse Register, the Metro Nashville Board of Education, Mayor Karl Dean and others signed a “charter school compact” Tuesday, a symbolic pledge of support for the publicly financed, privately operated schools that not long ago faced widespread hostility in Nashville.

“To me, it’s a recognition of the progress we’ve made over the last few years as a state and a city to be much more open in embracing public charter schools,” Dean said. “It’s a milestone.”

The compact is borne out of a new collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which recently named Nashville and eights other cities models of collaboration for supporting charter schools. Metro charter schools are eligible for future grant dollars from the foundation.

The school board, at one time skeptical of charters, approved another round of charter applicants last month, bringing the number of charters operating in Davidson County to 11 by next fall.

“While we have a history of animosity, we’ve moved beyond that and we’ve put the students first,” said Alan Coverstone, who oversees charter schools for the district. “That’s enabled us to find all kinds of potential for collaboration we didn’t know was there before.”

The sea change largely came via a 2009 state law that expanded the number of charters allowed in Davidson County and doubled the number of students eligible to attend charter schools. In addition, a new “charter incubator” opened in Nashville earlier this year, and Register carved a new charter schools czar position, held by Coverstone, into the Metro Nashville Public Schools’ central office.

Though the compact doesn’t obligate the school district to anything contractually, it does establish some best practices and commitments.

A few of these are as follows:

• All parties are to organize, plan and hold an annual Shared Practices Summit that brings together all high-performing public schools in Nashville for sharing and training on specific topics.

• Charter operators are to serve the same cross-section of students in the city as the other public schools by actively recruiting, serving and retaining comparable percentages of students as other district schools as allowed under state law in the following categories: students with exceptional educational need, students who are English Language Learners and students in other underserved or at-risk populations.

• The district is to include charter schools in the long-term strategic plans of the district including, but not limited to, student assignment planning and facility usage.

• Charter operators are to remove barriers for all eligible students to attend public charter schools by offering information regarding school enrollment and pertinent data in all languages and forms.

The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and Nashville’s charter school founders also signed the charter compact.  

6 Comments on this post:

By: xhexx on 12/15/10 at 7:23

This wil only be successful if they use non-union teachers. Otherwise, it will be the same old crap.

By: courier37027 on 12/15/10 at 9:35

This plan will succeed because now there are summits, meetings and a czar. The only way to solve a problem with the same administrators, same teachers, same employees, same buildings is to add more levels of bureaucracy. There is no way these charter schools can fail.

(csaz-casm, of course)

By: howelln on 12/15/10 at 10:18

Guess what? I'm an MNEA member, i.e., union teacher. My students are ranked as the top in the country on their national exams. They often score an 800 on the SAT II test in my area. So being a union teacher is neither here nor there.

To make a school work at its best, you need cooperation between the administartion, faculty, students, and parents. The charter school are about that cooperation and what is best for that school. The "one size fits all" attitude is part of the problem with education today, not the "union teachers."

By: courier37027 on 12/15/10 at 10:20

typo: should be coffee yet.

By: Loretta Bridge on 12/15/10 at 3:22

Why can't we just go back to doing what was being done in the 70s and 80s when
we didn't have all these problems. I don't remember gangs, shortage of books and
school supplies, disrespect by students to teacher, poor teacher. There was no need for charter schools. Our tax money just made the public schools work. Why do we need
charter schools. Just make the principles, teachers, department heads and boards do their jobs like the people that brought us up did theirs. I DON'T GET IT.

By: cashnthings on 12/15/10 at 6:39

THE LAST NAIL OF SO-CALLED SCHOOL REFORM is being struck in the coffin of traditional American education which made our nation the envy of the Free World and which produced famous scientists, engineers, mathematicians, writers, artists, musicians, doctors, etc.

The reform is not new. It started in the early 1900s when John D. Rockefeller, Jr.’s Director of Charity for the Rockefeller Foundation, Frederick T. Gates, set up the Southern Education Board. In 1913 the organization was incorporated into the General Education Board. These boards set in motion “the deliberate dumbing down of America”. In Frederick T. Gates’ “The Country School of Tomorrow” Occasional Papers No. 1 (General Education Board, New York, 1913) was a section entitled “A Vision of the Remedy” in which he wrote:

“Is there aught a remedy for this neglect of rural life? Let us, at least, yield ourselves to the gratifications of a beautiful dream that there is. In our dream, we have limitless resources, and the people yield themselves with perfect docility to our moulding hand. The present educational conventions fade from our minds; and unhampered by tradition, we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive rural folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or of science. We are not to raise up from among them authors, orators, poets, or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians. Nor will we cherish even the humbler ambition to raise up from among them lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we now have ample supply.”

The above quote sounds like something from one of the public/private school-to-work/tax-exempt foundation partnerships involved in the Reinventing Schools Coalition agenda, as well as other innocuous sounding current-day initiatives that are being implemented across the nation.