Saturday, August 24, 2019

Teachers union (MNEA) endorces John Copper in the runoff.

Press release - The Metropolitan Nashville Education Association's Political Action Committee for Education (MNEA-PACE) has voted to endorse John Cooper for the office of Mayor in the 2019 Run-Off Election. The endorsement is based on Council Member Cooper's willingness to fight private school vouchers and provide more oversight to charter schools, which target two of the biggest threats to funding for public education.

Cooper has promised to join a lawsuit challenging the state voucher program, which unfairly targets Nashville and Memphis schools. In a statement provided to MNEA, he stated, "As your mayor, I won’t stand on the sidelines while the General Assembly tries to privatize public education in Nashville. Instead, I will instruct my legal department to fight the voucher program and make sure it never takes effect. Then, we will actually engage the General Assembly to work in the interests of what will work best for Nashville students."

Cooper made an additional statement about charter schools, saying "Nashville has some high-performing charter schools, but accountability and oversight is needed. We will monitor charters as to make sure we only have the best public charters. If a school is doing well and educating our young people, we will support it. If it’s not, then we will move to close it. It’s about how we effectively educate our young people from every neighborhood."

Currently, charter schools account for more than $150 million of the MNPS budget. This is nearly twice the amount that the MNPS Board of Education asked for in the spring in order to fund 10% raises for all employees, step increases, social and emotional supports, and new textbooks for students. MNEA will continue to make the fight for fully funding MNPS a priority in the 2019-20 year.

Rod's Comment:  I am supporting John Cooper for mayor because I believe he will get the city's finances on track and I think that is the most important issue facing the city. I am a supporter of school choice, however, and am disappointing but not surprised by  Cooper's position on school choice issues. I am not alarmed by Cooper's  statement of charter school, however.  I also support good charter schools and think bad charter schools should have their charter revoked.  I disagree with Cooper on vouchers and I support them. If Cooper's opponent was a champion of school choice, then Cooper's lack of support for school choice would cause me to questions my support for Cooper, but there is not much difference between the two candidates on the question of school choice.

The way I see it, both Cooper and Briley are liberals.  There is much they both agree on and I disagree with both of them.  I do think however, that Briley would be much more of a social justice warrior than Cooper.  While both may be liberal, I perceive that Briley will spend more time on advocating for issues that he really can't have much influence over, such as gay rights, Black anti-police grievances, abortion rights, and open borders and anti-ICE rhetoric than would Cooper. Cooper will focus on real issues that he can impact.

Where the two candidates differ is on the fiscal matters and that is the area where Metro has serious problems and is facing a crisis.  Metro Nashville just passed a budget that the Comptroller says does not balance and the Comptroller has said Metro's budget does not adequately fund reserve funds.  That should disqualify Briley; that would not happen with Cooper as mayor. Nashville also has the highest Metro government debt per person of any city its size.  I believe Cooper will work to improve government efficiency, reduce waste and corruption, reduce corporate welfare, focus on adequately funding the basics, and reduce the taxpayer debt burden. With Briley, we will have more of the same.  While I perceive both candidates to be liberals, Cooper is fiscally conservative and Briley is not.

In the above press release, MNEA repeats the claim that money that goes to public charter schools somehow robs Metro schools of money they could use for other purposes.  This is obviously false.

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