Weekly Obsession: Great Hearts' appeal

Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at 12:16pm

When baseball season becomes a summertime slog, the only thing that can break up the monotony is a good old-fashioned argument.

Umpire makes a marginal call, the manager disputes it and jogs out to the plate. Words are exchanged, sometimes dirt is kicked, sometimes the manager gets tossed.

But never does the umpire change his mind.

And why would he? The facts that he considered to render his decision didn’t change just because a loud voice took the time to come out and disagree with him.

Asking an arbiter to reverse a decision without substantively changing the situation is rarely a path to success.

And thus it is with Great Hearts, the charter school organization out of Arizona that sought to set up shop somewhere, presumably on Nashville’s more affluent west side.

The school board rejected the charter application, citing concerns with the organization’s lack of a location plan and failure to identify the students it would serve.

Great Hearts plans to appeal that decision — the appeal goes back to the school board; to employ another sports metaphor, it is the equivalent of an NFL player appealing his suspension to the commissioner who initially handed down the suspension. But when they try a second time for the stamp of approval, it’s not clear that they will change any part of their plan.

“We have decided to appeal the board’s denial because we believe our application was very strong and consistent with board policy, state law, and federal law,” Great Hearts CEO Daniel Scoggin wrote in an email to supporters. “Unfortunately, we believe the charter authorizing process was subsumed by polarizing debates that left little space for consideration by the district leadership about Great Hearts and our track record of helping students reach their greatest potential as scholars and citizens.”

The implication here is that it’s not Great Hearts that’s broken, it’s the school board. And with school board races ramping up — races featuring dozens upon dozens of candidates, many organized into slates backed by various interest groups — Great Hearts supporters may have found a solution our hypothetical baseball manager doesn’t have: changing the umpiring crew.