Thursday, July 28, 2016

My recommendations for School Board and who others are endorsing.

District 1, Sharon Gentry
On August 4th we will be filling the seats of five of the nine school board members. The school Board elections, in my view, are extremely important and many people do not give these elections the attention they deserve .  For one thing, the school board spends 41 percent of the Metro's budget which this year was in excess of $2 billion.  That is a lot of money.  For another thing it is embarrassing how poor Metro schools are performing and I believe we can do better. It is true we have some excellent schools in Nashville, but most of the really good Metro schools are magnet schools or charter schools.  In deciding where to live, middle class and upper middle class parents often see the choice between Williamson County and sending their child to a public school versus Davidson County and sending their child to a private school.

All taxpayers and voters, whether they have children in the school system or not, have a stake in the
quality of Nashville public education. The quality of education can impact the poverty rate, the crime rate, economic well being of our community but most importantly the lives of children.

A Disgruntled Republican's recommendations.
District 3, Jane Grimes Meneely
I have attended one candidate's  forum, have watched the Tennessean interviews with the candidates, studied the candidates web pages, read everything I could find in the local press about the races and have followed the candidates' campaigns fairly closely. I have met several of the candidates.  Also, while I do not watch every school board meeting, I watch a large number of them and have seen the school board in action.

In District 1, I am supporting Sharon Gentry for reelection. She has been a good chair of the School Board. With such a divided board and with some volatile personalities to content with she has managed to keep the board functioning under trying circumstances. With several new members and a new Director of Schools we need some continuity on the Board.

District 5: Miranda Christy
In District 3, 7 and 9 I am supporting the challengers because they are not Speering, Pinkson, or Frogge. Those three incumbents desperately need to be replaced.  I would support anyone who was their opponent. They seem to favor mediocrity in education and the teachers union over excellence in education.  They oppose innovation and reform. They have a knee-jerk reaction against charter schools. Charter schools have shown a remarkable ability to excel where traditional schools have failed.  In many Black communities, many Black young men are headed to college instead of prison due to a charter school education.  The act of chartering a charter schools, however, should  be a deliberative process and charters must be held accountable for their results and if they do not perform better than the traditional school was functioning, then they should lose their charter. We need people on the school board who are open to charters and recognized their potential for improving public education.  The three challengers to the aforementioned incumbents appear well qualified and committed to public education.

I live in District 7 so I have followed that race the closer than the others. I am really impressed with Jackson Miller and think he has the skills, heart, and background to make a great school board member.

Below are my recommendations. To view the candidate's website, click the link.

District 1: Sharron Gentry
District 7: Jackson Miller
District 3: Jane Grimes Meneely
District 5: Miranda Christy
District 7: Jackson Miller
District 9: Thom Druffel

The Tennessean Endorsement.
The Tennessean almost always endorses a Democrat instead of a Republican in partisan races except in those cases where the Democrat nominee is a screwball wingnut disavowed by the Democrat Party. One knows the Tennessean's point of view so should not be surprised when the Tennessean endorses the most liberal candidates. Still, I am somewhat  perplexed that The Tennessean would endorse Will Pinkston over Jackson Miller.  The Tennessean, I think, has been  fair in pointing out how divisive and dogmatic Will Pinkston has been on the school board. Also, many liberals now support charter schools and this issue is no longer a right-left divide and The Tennessean has generally supported education reform and excellence in education. Since the mayor is supporting Will Pinkson and The Tennessean blindly supports the mayor, this may have been a case of supporting the team and not wanting to see the mayor's stature diminished by supporting a losing candidate. To read The Tennessean's endorsements follow this link. Here are The Tennessean's endorsements:
District 1: Sharon Dixon Gentry (incumbent)
District 3: Jill Speering (incumbent)
District 5: Miranda Christy (open seat)
District 7: Will Pinkston (incumbent)
District 9: Thom Druffel (challenger)

District 9: Thom Druffel
Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce endorsements.
The Chamber has been a strong advocate for education reform and excellence in education so I am somewhat perplexed that they failed endorse Jackson Miller over Will Pinkson, choosing not to make an endorsement in that race. Here is the link to The Tennessean story on the Camber's endorsements and hear is a link to the Nashville Scene's report on the Chamber endorsements.
District 1: Sharon Gentry
District 3: Jane Grimes Meneely
District 5: Christiane Buggs and Miranda Christy
District 7: No endorsement
District 9: Thom Druffel

SEIU endorsements.
SEIU has surprised no one by endorsing those candidates who support unions above students. An SEIU enforcement is valuable in telling me for whom I would not want to vote. For the SEIU narrative on the candidates they endorsed follow this link. Here are their List of endorsements:
District 1, no endorsement
District 3, incumbent Jill Speering.
District 5, SEIU endorsed Christiane Buggs
District 7, the union is supporting Will Pinkston
District 9, SEIU Local 205 endorsed incumbent Amy Frogge

Stand for Children.
Below is the statement of Stand with Children that accompanied their endorsements:
With a committed Mayor and the recent selection of Dr. Shawn Joseph as Director of Schools, there remains one major missing piece to improving our public education system: a better school board.

On the current Board's watch the achievement gap between low-income students and their more privileged peers grew by 11%; in Memphis that gap was closed by 19% during the same timeframe. On the current Board's watch the number of Nashville schools on the state’s Priority List of lowest-performing schools increased 250% (from six to fifteen).  Finally, only 14% of MNPS graduating seniors are considered “college ready” according to the ACT College Readiness benchmark.

There are great things happening in Metro schools, but clearly we have work to do. Instead of concentrating on how to close the achievement gap, improve chronically low performing schools, or better prepare graduates for life after graduation, several members of the current Board instead spend the overwhelming majority of their time attacking public charter schools, many of which are the district’s top-performing schools. This obsession with charter schools has crowded out discussion of tangible, scalable solutions.

The 86,000 MNPS students who have just one shot at a great education deserve better leadership than that.  Their families and our community do, too.

This election offers Nashville an exciting opportunity to turn the page on the dysfunction and stagnation that have plagued our school system the past several years. Imagine for a moment that we spent the next four years not rehashing the same old fights, but instead debating the best way to attract and support a great principal at every school; the best way to retain and develop our incredible educators; the most innovative ways to support our growing immigrant populations; and or the best way to ensure schools receive adequate and equitable funding and support. Think of the impact that might have on the 86,000 kids that walk into a Metro school every day.

District 1:  Sharon Gentry
District 3: Jane Meneely
District 5: Miranda Christy
District 7: Jackson Miller
District 9: Thom Druffel

I cannot find the endorsements from the teachers union (MNEA), however I could guess who they will be supporting. If MNEA post endorsements, I will update this page. 

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