Last night was a victory for school choice! This one-hour-and-twenty-minute meeting is devoted solely to consideration of the approval of a charter for STRIVE Collegiate Academy. This is one of the most interesting Metro School Board meetings I have ever watched. Ellissa Kim shines in this meeting and Will Pinkston looks like an ass.
A few months ago the school board adopted a policy that said new charter schools would only be approved if they were taking over failing schools or it they relieved overcrowding. A couple months ago a new school applied for a charter from the School Board to open a school in the Donelson-Hermitage area and it did not meet one of those criteria. The School Board turned them down. They reapplied and last night were approved. Had they been turned down, they would have been the first charter to appeal and apply for approval under a new state authorizer provision.
Mr. Alan Coverstone, the Executive Director of the Office of Innovation, tells the board that a decision to deny would most likely be overturned on appeal (See time stamp 8:56). School Board member Jill Speering argues to reject the application (10:26), her main point being that in conformity with Roberts Rules of Order, the board should follow an established police. Speering is followed by Elissa Kim who makes a passionate argument (15:06 -22:54). She says she is not an expert on Roberts Rules but when only 30% of third graders can read on grade level that "overwhelms everything" including the finer points of Robert's rules. She says, "I'm excited by this application." She points out that of 18 schools in Metro cited by the state as being superior schools, seven of them were charter schools. That is 39% of the best schools are charter schools, yet charter schools only make up 12% of the schools.
Will Pinkston appears obviously angry at Coverstone and Register. He puts Dr. Register on the spot and makes his state his position on the application. Previously Register had not stated a position but he says he recommends approval. Pinkston attacks Coverstone and Register for recommending approval saying the Board policy was developed with their input and something happened to change their mind. He says he is thinks he knows what it was but is not going to cast aspersions today, he will wait for another day. (see 1:11:00) I don't know what he means by that and wish he would have explaining himself. When one says they are not going to cast aspersions, they are casting aspersions.
Anti-school choice zealot Amy Frogge makes essentially the same argument as Jill Speering but with more hostility. "This entire process has seemed very dishonest to me. I've lost trust in our administrators," she says.
Departing Board Member Michael Hayes speaks in favor of approval saying, "charters have elevated our scores as a district" and, "this is an opportunity to bring in an incredibly high performing school."
The final vote is 5-3 for approval with Elissa Kim, Michael Hayes, Jo Ann Brannon, Anna Shepherd and Cheryl Mayes voted in favor and Will Pinkston, Amy Frogge and Jill Speering voted against it.
Below is the Tennessean's report on the meeting:
Metro school board OK’s charter for Donelson-Hermitage
by Joey Garrison, August 21, 2014 - STRIVE Collegiate Academy received the go-ahead Thursday to open in Nashville after the Metro school board decided a new school option in Donelson-Hermitage outweighed the board’s stated priorities on where new charter schools should locate.
The board, after spirited debate, voted 5-3 to approve STRIVE’s revised charter on appeal, just two months after it had unanimously rejected the school’s initial proposal.(link)
Here is the Nashville Scene's report on the meeting: School Board Approves STRIVE Charter On Appeal