Letter to the editor: Praise for Metro school board stand on Great Hearts

Sunday, August 26, 2012 at 10:05pm

To the Editor:

As one of plaintiffs’ lawyers in the ongoing Metro Nashville school re-segregation case, I have argued that the current student assignment plan unlawfully segregates white and black students, primarily between the Hillwood and Pearl-Cohn sub-districts. (The Federal Court here recently ruled against us, but we are planning to file an appeal.)

Nonetheless, I commend the Metro school board for the principled stand it has taken in rejecting the application filed by Great Hearts Academies to open a charter school in West Nashville with little or no provision for transportation so that children from other areas might attend. The proposed charter seems to be intended as a publicly funded private school for the enjoyment of the well-off, mostly white families in the Hillwood/West Nashville area. Nonetheless, the State Board of Education has ordered the Metro board to approve the Great Hearts application.

It was extremely disappointing that when the Metro board delayed action in order to ensure that certain conditions were met, it was immediately assailed by the mayor, the state board, the state education commissioner and The Tennessean, and threatened with sanctions for simply trying to carry out its responsibilities. This concerted defense of white privilege completely disregarded the benefits of integration and diversity even as the Metro board sought to move in a more just and enlightened direction.


Michael S. Lottman

Kingston Springs 37082

'The City Paper' occasionally publishes thoughtful letters to the editor online.

16 Comments on this post:

By: Ummm... on 8/27/12 at 4:42

"a more just and enlightened direction."

Sorry, but this is Tennessee- justice and enlightenment are not part of the equation in these parts.

By: gdiafante on 8/27/12 at 5:22

Neighborhood schools...that would be enlightenment, not busing in diversity for diversity's sake.

Or, actually focusing on eductating the kids that are in school, instead of focusing on dress and color.

And then some wonder why home schooling and private schools are becoming so popular.

By: Rasputin72 on 8/27/12 at 6:16

The public school system consists of Julia Green and Hume Fogg and maybe MLK. Anything else is just cannon fodder. If a family in Davidson county does not have the money for private school the only alternative is moving into an adjacent county.

By: ChrisMoth on 8/27/12 at 6:16

Why is it that all the big ideas on public education must come from outside Davidson County and MNPS?

Here we have a nice letter, from a lawyer who has distanced his family to Kingston Springs.

On the other side of this letter are Great Hearts advocates who are funded and politically driven by Charter folks who would never dream of sending their kids to a public school.

When a Charter school advocate is ready to stand tall, take over a failing zoned school - and prove that they can educate all impoverished students (including those whose parents lack energy to "make choices"), then I'll be a believer. Until that happens, I have to believe the national data that shows Charters are mainly tools of segregation.


If segregation is "good", we already know how to do that - and do it effectively at Hume-Fogg. We don't need to hire Arizona Charter firms to do that for us.

My sone go to JT Moore Middle - where I thought we were doing great to get the highest TVAAs scores ("5")in the city. We prep our kids for departure to Hillsboro, Hume-Fogg, and the most "respected" (segregated) private schools in the area. But, my Charter friends have continued to tell me that JT Moore is an abysmal failure by other metrics.

I'm confused and exhausted.

Michael Lottman: Welcome to the discussion. Where again do your kids go to school? What is the Free and Reduced Lunch percentage there?

Chris Moth, 2020 Overhill Dr

By: treehugger7 on 8/27/12 at 6:34

By: treehugger7 on 8/27/12 at 7:29
Here's a thought: Stop demonizing teachers, pay them better, respect them as the professionals they are. No one in their right mind would want to teach, given what they must put up with. Maybe then they wouldn't be in the shape they are in. Clear out the charter-loving politicians, and let teachers teach! I respect and appreciate what they do and what they put up with. Oh, and maybe ditch Register!

By: Rasputin72 on 8/27/12 at 8:07

I see that the lawyer advocating that productive families send their kids to an integrated school with a culture foreign to civilized behavior is in Kingston Springs. I wonder why he and his family are there?

By: Mike Burch on 8/27/12 at 8:13

This is what we get when we keep electing conservatives to office. They want to conserve primarily two things:

(1) the status quo (which means rich white male Christians being favored over everyone else)

(2) their power and money (which is why the Romney-Ryan budget would reduce taxes on the richest Americans to less than 1% by eliminating all taxes on the main sources of their income: capital gains, interest and dividends)

Living in a red state like Tennessee means seeing our money and rights being constantly bled away ... but who can we blame since we keep electing the parasites to office? If we vote for Democrats we might stop the bleeding.

By: Rasputin72 on 8/27/12 at 8:39

Mike Burch.......If you will recall that Jesus Christ railed against the rich man 2000 years ago. It was he that created Christianity. Unfortunately for those of leser birth and lesser intelligence and of course lesser luck the dollar or its equivalent has taken precedent over any other law or religion or underclass pleading.

By the way long after you and I are dead there will be the 1% who reap the harvest of this earth.

Voting for Democrats only changes the rules. The productive class,the high IQ crooks and the super talented and the lucky sperm club members will always find a higher plane than those without.

Even if you elect a democrat to every office in the land there will be an outcry against those that have prospered within that establishment.

There will always be the 1% and there will always be class envy.

By: jvh2b on 8/27/12 at 8:51

Chris - where are you getting your data claiming that Hume-Fogg isn't racially diverse?

1.) Acceptance is done by a lottery - can't get much more racially blind than that
2.) When I went there I can assure you that about every diversity was well represented within that school.
3.) Even now when I pass by and the kids are hanging out/leaving school it seems to have a good mix.

By: pswindle on 8/27/12 at 9:36

Chris Moth,
The Charter school is for your own benefit. You can't affort private schools for your children, but you want Metro to pay to have one for you and your family.

You are right on so many fronts. TN is brain dead and as of right now, no hope because the right-wing christians have taken over. Sadly to say the Legislative Branch has helped fuel this craziness.

By: ChrisMoth on 8/27/12 at 9:53

Michael Lottman:

Thanks again for the letter - I did not mean to sound over-critical. It just getst frustrating that so many decisions for our kids are being handed to us from outlying counties.


Thanks - sorry for misunderstanding.

I never wrote the word "race".

I would never state that the quality of a school has anything to do with the appearance of its students. I leave that to attorneys.

Poverty is our challenge in this discussion. Let's leave race in the last century.

A quick google of

"hume fogg free and reduced lunch"

turns up many references ranging from 10% to 20%


I recall Gary Nixon pointed to Hume Fogg specifically, and mentioned 15% as a reasonable diversity target in the State's approval of Great Hearts.

Also note that lottery is just the start - there is also the academic entrance requirement

So, the 15% Free and Reduced Lunch, through 1) academic screening, 2) lottery, 3) transportation hoops (though fewer than with Great Hearts), are a spectacularly motivated group of kids.

A related question in all of this... is why should we believe it is good that 1/3 of the slots at Hume-Fogg are jammed up through over-subscription of Hillsboro/families families to the lottery? Before we bring in Great Hearts, might we do better to free up more slots, in essence, by converting Hillsboto and Hillwood to something more like Hume-Fogg (lottery in and/or academic screening). I think there are lots of great reasons why we should not...

But, it might be something to try LONG before we hire out Arizona to segregate our kids for us.

Chris Moth, 2020 Overhill Dr

By: jvh2b on 8/27/12 at 9:57

Thanks for the clarification Chris.

And yes, I can agree that Metro should aim to increase it's current programs to make more schools as excellent as Hume-Fogg prior to sending out for the Private schools to do so.

By: ChrisMoth on 8/27/12 at 10:01


Sorry for all the rhetoric whizzing around. Michael Lottman was kind to share his thoughts. I was not critical of him - just sharing frustration that so much of our future is being set by folks with no kids in our public schools.

Around Great Hearts, I have urged caution to the school board at two meetings, helped start a website, signed the petition for 40% Free and Reduced Lunch. (Have you?)


I am very lucky to be able to afford private school easily, and very saddened that so many families do not see the benefits of supporting our zoned schools. So many affluent families like mine bail out for Hume Fogg, Williamson, Private, etc.

At what point do I stop saying "The departing folks are irrational" and start looking at "plan B" ?

After all, we've been arguing for zoned schools for 40 years now....

Thanks much - sorry for confusion.

Chris Moth, 2020 Overhill Dr

By: Mike Burch on 8/27/12 at 10:40


I am not opposed to the 1% ... I'm probably part of the 1% or close to it myself.

I am opposed to the 1% changing all the rules, twisting them to their favor. We should have a level playing field for ALL Americans.

A good example is the Romney-Ryan budget plan, which is the most un-Christian piece of legislation imaginable. It would would reduce the taxes of the super-rich to virtually nothing, by exempting the main sources of the wealthy from taxes: capital gains, interest and dividends.

I have no problem with people succeeding and trying to get rich, in a reasonable, fair manner. I am against rich people robbing the middle-income and poor classes, which is what they are obviously trying to do.

If these people are Christians, I must be the anti-Christ or the Devil, because we do not share the same religion.


By: Mike Burch on 8/27/12 at 10:43

Michael S. Lottman,

Thanks for taking the time to write and share your letter. I think most Americans want a level playing field for all American children, but it seems our politicians do not always share that wonderful ideal.

Mike Burch

By: Rasputin72 on 8/27/12 at 2:10

Mike Burch.....Your 11:40 was an excellent response to my 9:39. I have served as an high school student body President and graduated third in my class. I held a 3.5 average in college while working two jobs and being married. I have been an officer of a Fortune 1000 company and the CEO of a privately held 40 million dollar sales organization. Not once have I been accused of not being able to think my way through any situation.

I do not in any way see our political climate and the Romney-Ryan budget in the same light as you do. Then again, my idea of our national priorities are different than yours.

You and I do agree that there is an element in this country that has robbed pillaged and plundered the middle class. In order they are (1) ignorant and greedy Republican lawmakers, (2) ignorant and greedy Democratic lawmakers. (3) Wall Street and their infliuence on these lawmakers for the past 65 years.