Today the Tennessee State
Board of Education voted unanimously to approve two charter school applications
from KIPP Nashville. This historic vote
represents the first instance in which the State Board of Education has granted
a charter appeal since the General Assembly empowered the body with the final authority
to overturn denied applications from districts with Priority Schools in 2014.
KIPP had previously appealed the applications to the State Board after being denied by a narrow vote of the Metro Nashville Public School Board in August. In their decision, members of the State Board determined that the MNPS Board had not acted in the best interests of the district's students in denying the applications. The State Board also found that the addition of KIPP's charter schools would not, contrary to the claim of some MNPS Board members, impose any significant negative fiscal impact on the district.
This is great news! Opponents of education reform can not stop charter schools! Those satisfied with mediocre schools and low student exceptions are on the losing end of this battle to improve education.
Upon hearing news of the vote, StudentsFirst Tennessee State Director Brent Easley remarked, "Today's historic vote by the Tennessee State Board of Education signals the beginning of a new chapter of accountability for districts in their charter authorizing decisions. With their votes, State Board members have also affirmed that improving student access to quality seats remains a fundamental public imperative for school districts across the state. Thanks to crucial legislation adopted by the General Assembly in 2014, the Board may now provide a fair and impartial second look at charter applications and render an honest verdict that best serves the interests of students, not frivolous local political agendas."
The decision comes on the heels of a recent poll from Vanderbilt University which found that 63% of Nashville residents, including 71% of parents, said they favored opening more charter schools.