State Ed. commissioner refuses meeting with MNPS over charter authorizer bill

Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 6:24pm

Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman is rejecting a call by the Metro Nashville school board seeking to put him on the spot to discuss a controversial bill allowing the state to OK charters in the Nashville area.

MNPS Board Chair Cheryl Mayes sent a letter to Huffman Thursday asking him to meet with board members Monday about a proposed statewide panel to approve charter school applications rejected by districts that house the state’s worst schools — a controversial idea given life after the district’s controversial rejection of Great Hearts Academies.

“As with any pending legislation, I would urge you to direct any concerns to the legislators who will be voting on and deciding this matter,” Huffman wrote in response to Mayes’ request.

Read Mayes letter here and Huffman’s letter here.

The relationship between the board and Huffman has been combative since the school board began issuing a series of rejections to a charter school he favored last year.

The school board has been in talks for weeks with lawmakers and interest groups on Capitol Hill about House Bill 702 that would allow a state panel to approve charter schools rejected by the district.

The MNPS school board had originally opposed that measure, then began negotiating for a version of the legislation it can live with, namely one that would limit the state-approved charter schools to a certain percentage of the district’s overall budget and created provisions allowing for an automatic closure of failing schools.

Those talks fell apart this week, according to Mayes’ letter, which added, “We were surprised to learn of your last-minute objections to the fiscal assurances we requested.” State lawmakers had planned to edit the bill to apply to school districts with schools in the bottom 5 percent of the state, which includes Davidson County and a small bundle of others.

Mayes’ letter drew a parallel between the proposed legislation and Gov. Bill Haslam’s approach in evaluating whether to expand Medicaid in the state. The governor is seeking “fiscal assurances” from the federal government to prevent the health care system from “bankrupting Tennessee’s budget,” read the letter. “MNPS simply is asking for the same kind of assurances to keep the proposed state charter appeals process from destabilizing our local budget.”

The governor ultimately decided against expanding the TennCare program and is instead working on coming up with a third option.

“This meeting probably should have happened a year ago when all this stuff with the charter controversy first began,“ said Will Pinkston, the school board’s budget committee chairman and a high-ranking political operative under then-Gov. Phil Bredesen.

9 Comments on this post:

By: pswindle on 3/28/13 at 6:28

Who does Hauffman think that he is? He needs to go , Gov. Haslam. Apppoint someone that has the children's best interest and not that of his ex-wife and their pocketbook..

By: Teeb on 3/28/13 at 6:31

Mrs. Huffman didn't raise no dummies.

By: Rasputin72 on 3/28/13 at 7:34

This education diliema in Davidson. can never be solved by conventional methods. Hume Fogg and Julia Green are the only real educational centers in Davidson county. The rest of the schools are a holding area for 90% of the students. These are children of a different mindset.

Charter schools or any school is going to have a very difficult time educating these kids.

The public school system be it charter or public is part of oir welfare system todau.

By: govskeptic on 3/28/13 at 7:54

Did the good Chairlady ask him or demand that he be there. Maybe he doesn't
yet know her authority she commands within the Educational Establishment. My
gosh she was elected to the position by 8 other members because of _ _ _ _

By: Ask01 on 3/29/13 at 5:50

Once again, no amount of money or any governmental scheme is going to improve scores until parents begin to take an interest their children's education.

In my opinion, those students who do not want to apply themselves and put forth an effort need to be culled from the pack and enrolled. forcibly if need be, in trade schools where they can learn productive skills.

By: artsmart on 3/29/13 at 9:41

I think it is funny when another Government agency does not treat Metro Schools as they believe they should be treated. They have long treated students, parents and citizens the exact same way and didn't give a darn. Shoe is now on the other foot and that is not fair as far as they are concerned. Maybe things would be different if you didn't treat everyone else like trash.

By: ancienthighway on 3/29/13 at 4:27

I must have misread that MNPS was negotiating with the state to come up with a solution both sides can live with. After reading the previous posters, I realize that was just a figment of my imagination. Consensus was even reached between Metro, State representative, and the Tennessee Charter Association and Tennessee School Boards Association. All of which went for naught because Huffman didn't want to be limited in how many schools he could flood a given area and demolish the public education system.

govskeptic, if you had read Mayes' letter, you would have seen it was a formal request outlining the purpose of the meeting so as not to blindside Huffman. Unlike Huffman who blindsides whoever he needs to to get his way.

The Education Commissioner refusing to meet with any school board to discuss any issue pertaining to education is neglectful of the duties of the office. Formal complaints need to be made. A formal reprimand is in order. And if the Commissioner continues to neglect his duties, he should be replaced.

By: pswindle on 3/31/13 at 5:18

Hauffman is nothing more than a buly.

By: pswindle on 3/31/13 at 5:19

that's bully.