Their new report says 14 percent of MNPS students attend a high-quality school. The take-aways on stats, findings and politics behind the Tennessee Charter School Center's latest report in light of the district's new limits on 2014 charter school applicants.
The freshly-minted Tennessee Charter School Center wasted little time naming its new lobbyist — who is no relation to Criminal Appeals Court Judge Jeff Bivens.
“Tennessee is fortunate to have a number of legislators who are willing to stand for high quality public school options,” said Greg Thompson, CEO of the Center. “However, the climate for education reform is still challenging, and we are excited to have Brandy Bivens on board as we work strategically to advance important policies for Tennessee’s students. She brings the leadership and political acumen to our team that will help the Center work collaboratively with our partner organizations, legislators, and stakeholders to advance the educational landscape in our state.”
Bivens joins the Center with a wealth of knowledge and experience about Tennessee’s unique policy environment. Most recently she served as Associate Director for Health Sciences, Public Policy and Regulatory Affairs for the University of Tennessee (UT). Prior to her work at UT, Bivens worked with the Policy Group at Baker Donelson, where she advocated on behalf of Tennessee’s charter schools as a Public Policy Advisor.
“I have always been committed to ensuring that families in Tennessee have access to high-quality public education,” said Bivens. “Charter schools represent an important and ever-growing facet of the public education landscape in Tennessee, and I am excited to work with the Center to continue strengthening educational opportunities for students across the state.”
Apparently, the charters and the MNPS types have been having quiet meetings.
It all started when school board member Amy Frogge bemoaned the big dollars in the so-called school reform movement.
And then Nashville Prep chief Ravi Gupta responded. AND THEN school board member Will Pinkston — who used to be on Nashville Prep's board — responded to that. And then there was a Facebook fight — including an ungrammatical shot by Gupta that Pinkston was in a "drunk rage."
The Metro school board on Tuesday voted to approve two charter school applications for Antioch and North Nashville — which next fall will lift the city's count to 15 — but denied applications from two well-known organizations, Nashville's KIPP Academy and Arizona-based Great Hearts Academies. Joey Garrison has more on why the board did what it did and which one of the two groups immediately said it would appeal.
Joey Garrison takes a close look at Mayor Dean's bold push into the realm of charter schools. Not long after he appeared on track to take over Metro Schools, Dean has followed through on his involvement in helping make Tennessee law more receptive to charters. But that doesn't mean there aren't potential hurdles down the road.
Perhaps recognizing the preliminary status of these charter schools, the school district’s central office declined to make Director of Schools Jesse Register available for a story on Dean’s charter school push. The Dean-Register dynamic when it comes to charters is worth tracking.
“We will pass on this one,” Metro Nashville Public Schools spokeswoman Meredith Libbey wrote in an email, responding to an interview request.
Tennessee State University President Portia Shields and her team have submitted an application to launch a K-8 charter school as part of Metro Schools' push into alternative structures. Twelve other groups, including Randy Dowell's KIPP Academy, have thrown their hat in the ring.
The charter school, governed by a board that would include TSU's deans, would allow the university to live up to a "responsibility for helping our neighborhood," she said. "You should see loving arms wrapped around the children in the neighborhood and supported by our students, our faculty and staff, and the community ... ," Shields said.