Facts about Tennessee Charter SchoolsAugust 26, 2013
Section 12, Article 11 of Tennessee’s Constitution tasks the General Assembly with supporting, maintaining, and setting the standards for the delivery of public education. The General Assembly, in turn, empowered local school boards to oversee the development of systems of free public schools. However, with only one in five Nashville students attending a high-quality school, it is time we ask the Metro Nashville Public School Board (MNPS) to reexamine the system and structures they are fighting to preserve and focus on the impact that system has had on the lives of students.
Rather than disseminate legal claims with no merit or declare they do not have the resources to both create more high-quality seats and grant teacher pay raises in next year’s budget, MNPS must reconsider its outdated approach to school funding that preserves the unexamined infrastructure or “fixed costs” of a system that is failing to provide a high-quality education for every student.
Simultaneously, MNPS must look to its high-performing charter and district schools to identify best practices for educating students and disseminate them across schools. This is because Nashville charters are among the best schools in the city, are overrepresented on the Reward Schools list, and account for nearly all of the biggest middle school growth gains in the city.
The bullets below provide some additional information about why MNPS should employ the same innovative and collaborative thinking it has previously shown to implement a funding system that puts the needs of students first. This will be further detailed in a forthcoming Whitepaper that we will release in coming weeks.
We will continue to work with MNPS and all charter authorizers across the state to ensure that every parent has access to a quality school for their child.
Greg Thompson, CEO
Tennessee Charter School Center
Nashville charter school facts
- Nashville families need more high-quality public charter schools. According to data from MNPS meetings, only one in five students in Nashville are enrolled in a high-quality public school. This means that far too many students are trapped in schools that are not providing them the education they need.
- Tennessee citizens want more charter schools. According to Vanderbilt University, two-thirds of Tennesseans support opening more charter schools.
- On average, Tennessee charter school students receive a better education than their district peers. According to the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University, Tennessee’s charter school students gained the equivalent of an additional 86 days of learning in reading and 72 days in mathematics in comparison to their traditional public school counterparts. These results were among the highest of all states studied.
- Nashville charter schools are overrepresented on the Reward Schools list. Despite representing only 10 percent of all public schools in Nashville, one-third of all Reward Schools were charters.
- The Nashville charters on this year’s list of Reward Schools are:
KIPP: Academy Nashville.
Liberty Collegiate Academy.
Nashville Prep School.
STEM Prep Academy.
School funding facts
- MNPS’ current school funding model preserves infrastructure over innovation. The current funding model in Nashville reflects an approach to school funding that presumes the need to preserve the unexamined infrastructure or “fixed costs” of a system.
- MNPS’ current school funding model preserves programs over progress. The current MNPS funding model ignores the disparate staffing, programmatic and academic needs different student populations present at the school level. It assumes that every school needs the same amount and type of resources.
- MNPS would do well to follow the example of many urban school districts across the country that have moved towards student-centered funding models, and away from models that preserve programs and buildings at the expense of high-quality seats and teachers.
- Student-based budgeting allows MNPS to strategically invest public dollars in schools that deliver results, while divesting funds from schools that are not delivering a high-quality education to their students.
- Student-based budgeting seeks to distribute funds equitably, according to the number and specific “types of learners” enrolled in a particular school rather than focusing on funding buildings, adults, or programs dictated district-wide through a centralized process.