With a committed Mayor and the recent selection of Dr. Shawn Joseph as Director of Schools, there remains one major missing piece to improving our public education system: a better school board.
On the current Board's watch the achievement gap between low-income students and their more privileged peers grew by 11%; in Memphis that gap was closed by 19% during the same timeframe. On the current Board's watch the number of Nashville schools on the state’s Priority List of lowest-performing schools increased 250% (from six to fifteen). Finally, only 14% of MNPS graduating seniors are considered “college ready” according to the ACT College Readiness benchmark.
There are great things happening in Metro schools, but clearly we have work to do. Instead of concentrating on how to close the achievement gap, improve chronically low performing schools, or better prepare graduates for life after graduation, several members of the current Board instead spend the overwhelming majority of their time attacking public charter schools, many of which are the district’s top-performing schools. This obsession with charter schools has crowded out discussion of tangible, scalable solutions.
The 86,000 MNPS students who have just one shot at a great education deserve better leadership than that. Their families and our community do, too.
This election offers Nashville an exciting opportunity to turn the page on the dysfunction and stagnation that have plagued our school system the past several years. Imagine for a moment that we spent the next four years not rehashing the same old fights, but instead debating the best way to attract and support a great principal at every school; the best way to retain and develop our incredible educators; the most innovative ways to support our growing immigrant populations; and or the best way to ensure schools receive adequate and equitable funding and support. Think of the impact that might have on the 86,000 kids that walk into a Metro school every day.
Nashvillians have the opportunity not just to vote against the past but for excellent candidates who will move our schools forward. Read more about our endorsed candidates: Sharon Gentry, Jane Meneely, Miranda Christy, Jackson Miller and Thom Druffel.
In their questionnaires and interviews with our diverse, seven-member Endorsement Committee, each candidate expressed unique perspectives and motivations. But all reflect the same core values: that the key to reaching one’s full potential is education; that our public schools can and should serve every neighborhood, every family, and every student with excellence; and that elected leaders should act with urgency to realize this vision.
If you share the same core values and believe a change in leadership is needed to bring the collaborative and effective School Board we so urgently need to pursue a better education for EVERY child in Nashville, I urge you to vote for these endorsed candidates.
Early Vote is July 15 - July 30 and Election Day is Thursday, August 4. Remember: every vote counts, particularly in local races where elections are often decided by small margins.
If you want to do more to stand up for students in this crucial election, talk to your family, friends, and neighbors about registering and voting, and volunteer with us as we support these champions for education.
Thank you for standing with us for the new leadership Nashville students need!