Give it to us local

The back and forth from Mike Turner and Beth Harwell on the statewide charter authorizer that authorizes charter schools only in two counties.

First the Democrat:

“They’re not going to put charter schools in Old Hickory or Madison or Antioch. They want one in Green Hills,” Turner told reporters. “This is going to lead to resegregation of schools. This is not fair. It’s wrong.”

Madam Speaker, your response?

Q: The Democrats had a media avail this morning. Mike Turner is upset about your bill. He says you’re trying to resegregate schools in Nashville. What do you say to that?

Harwell: That is not my goal at all. If anything, the current charter schools that exist are located in our lower income areas. They are close to about 98 percent minority members. The ones that are doing well are doing exceptionally well. This would have actually made it possible for more diversity within our public charter school system, I believe. …

Q: How would the schools be more diverse? You mean more white?

Harwell: Yeah.

The whole race argument is

The whole race argument is simply a diversion from the real issue. Parents want charter schools not because of racial issues, they want charter schools because they want quality alternatives for the students. The Nashville and Memphis school systems are failing. Letting the local school board decide whether or not to allow a competitor into the system is absurd. They have no incentive to authorize and every incentive to kill it.

The Metro Nashville School Board made this a racial issue when they denied Great Hearts multiple times on the basis of a "diversity" problem, when in fact they didn't have a diversity plan in place and the charter schools they had previously authorized were highly segregated. Harwell is correct, the current charter schools are approximately 98% African American, and no one can argue that constitutes "diversity". Authorizing a school in West Nashville isn't about black versus white (we have black, Hispanic and Asian people in West Nashville too). It's about offering an alternative to the failing schools that are currently zoned there.

The goal should be better education for our students, period. I guess it is too much to ask that the reporter focus on the real issue and resist the temptation to make this a juicy racial story. Besides, how would the reporter suggest making the charter schools that are 98% African American more diverse? Wouldn't you have to have more white, Hispanic, Asian and other kids in the mix? Here's an idea, leave the color of one's skin out of it and focus on how best to educate them.

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