“People don’t like being around despair. Our tolerance for the truly hopeless, for those who are irredeemably broken by life is strictly limited. The sob stories we like are the ones that end before we’re bored.”
― The Ground Beneath Her Feet
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
I hope everyone had themselves a wonderful Thanksgiving, and if you participated in Black Friday, you found the deals you were looking for.
There are a few things that remain uncovered from last week, so let’s take a brief look at those items today.
INCREASED CHARTER SEATS
This past week several local Nashville charter schools – Stem Prep, Purpose Academy, Valor, and Nashville Classical – petitioned the board in order to increase their number of allotted seats. In two of the 4 cases the schools, under their original charter agreements, were slated to reduce the number of seats originally allocated. Business has been good though and now they don’t want to give up those seats. STEM Prep was looking to create seats for those students leaving their newcomer academy.
The Valor charter amendment was asking to adjust for the total number of seats needed 5-12 for current families. Founder Todd Dickson misjudged in predicting retention rates when he wrote the charter app 8 years ago. At the time he used what he thought were pretty common assumptions about retention rates for each grade level, but Valor has had stronger retention of families than originally predicted (esp in the move from 8th to 9th grade). The result is a shortage of total seats needed for current families.
After a little bit of discussion by the board, three of the four applications were approved. Only Nashville Classical was rejected. The rejection was based on the predicted financial impact approval would have on the district, a potential cost of $390,000 a year.
The biggest takeaway of the process was in MNPS’s board chair Anna Shepherd’s remarks during a discussion of Nashville Classic’s proposal. Those who have followed board actions over the years know that Shepherd is not prone to delivering sermons or hyperbolic statements. She is usually terse in her comments and seldom gives voice to her emotional feelings. Tuesday was different.
Shepherd admitted to being frustrated with the current state affairs in regard to the governance of charter schools. Over the past few years, a process has been established in order for decisions by local boards to be challenged with the state. Twice in the last month, MNPS’s decisions have been overturned by the state board and there is no reason to believe that such actions won’t become a more common occurrence in the future. Shepherd expressed distaste for the vulture’s sitting on the board’s shoulders ready to pick the bones of their decisions bare. Those are my words, not hers, but hers convey the same intent.
She’s not wrong. Knowing that there is a good chance that a decision is likely to be overturned, makes it extremely tempting to just rubber stamp everything and save everybody time. Luckily that feeling hasn’t become a prevailing one and the board is still willing to make choices that they feel are in the district’s best interest. Maybe the state will overturn the decision, maybe they won’t, but at least they’ll have to go on record.
Board member Frogge expressed exactly what was at stake when she pointed out during the discussion that Nashville can ill-afford to fund 2 parallel school districts simultaneously. The city is currently facing a 60 million dollar shortfall, a shortfall that will make it hard for the city to allocate to the district to the funding it needs to be successful.
It’s disingenuous to starve a system and then point out its failings as if those failings are independent of funding levels. But that is exactly what the state is continually attempting to do under Governor Lee’s administration.
SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH TIMELINE
The other major order of business at Tuesday’s school board meeting was the establishment of a timeline for the current Superintendent search. Some key dates to note,
- 12/12/19 – Community Meetings and Dates and Locations
- 1/10/20 – TSBA presents criteria for search
- 1/14/20 – board votes on criteria
- 2/25/20 – candidates are selected
- 3/2 – 6/20 – Candidates are interviewed
- 3/9 – 13/20 – Focus on finalists
- 3/24/20 – Offer and execute a contract
- 3/30/20 – announce an appointment
It’s an aggressive schedule but I think a very doable one. Personally, I believe that its past time to get a permanent director in place, whether that be Dr. Battle or someone else. It’ll be very interesting to see who applies for the job.
There is an interesting experiment going on in Denver right now. Tax revenues from marijuana have been designated as a revenue stream for the city’s after-school programs. The Denver Afterschool Alliance now receives $1.5 million yearly for after-school and summer learning programs and has expanded programs in under-resourced neighborhoods and provided more training for the program staff. Obviously, there is a bit of a moral dilemma here, but the belief is that the benefits of the city’s after-school programs outweigh the risks associated with marijuana usage. I’ll need a little more convincing on this one.
Metro at Large candidate Zulfat Suara breaks down the city’s financial situation for the Tennessee Tribune, Nashville is in a Financial Crisis. You can mark this down as recommended reading.
Tomorrow is Small Business Saturday, Part of the sales from local businesses are dedicated to helping local non-profits. One of Dad Gone Wild’s favorite small businesses is Parnassus Books. This year, Parnassus, is splitting their 2019 IndieNashGiving donations between two organizations they love: Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition — you can learn more about TIRRC or make a donation here — and Project LIT Community. These also happen to be non-profits beloved by DGW as well. You can learn more in their blog post, A Shopping Day That Helps Fight Book Deserts. See you there.
Tonight Pearl Cohn High School will square off against Covington High School from Memphis in the state football semi-finals. The game is slated to kick off at 7pm at Glencliff HS. Go Firebirds!
Congratulations to Caroline Sharp for winning a GLOW Award this year. Caroline is the fabulous drama teacher at Oliver Middle School. The GLOW awards were created by First Tennessee Bank to honor those that make Nashville glow a little brighter. Congratulations Caroline, you’ve certainly met the criteria.
That’s a wrap. Check out the Dad Gone Wild Facebook page, where we try to accentuate the positive.
If you’ve got something you’d like me to highlight and share, send it on to Norinrad10@yahoo.com. Any wisdom or criticism you’d like to share is also welcome.
A huge shout out to all of you who’ve lent your financial support. I am eternally grateful for your generosity. It allows me to keep doing what I do.
You can still head over to Patreon and help a brother out. Or you can hit up my Venmo account which is Thomas-Weber-10. I don’t need much – even $5 would help – but if you think what I do has value, a little help is always greatly appreciated.
Don’t forget to answer this week’s poll questions.
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