I’m heavily invested in Nashville’s public schools because I have three elementary age children enrolled in our District 9 incredible zoned elementary school. I’m a collaborative idea generator with a speciality in nonprofits.
I decided to run as a first-time candidate for the MNPS school board because I believe:
The MNPS school board serves to support, regulate, and advocate for leadership and policies that will provide the best possible educational outcomes, recognition and benefits for our beautiful city’s nearly 100,000 diverse and special public school students, educators and staff.
As a district representative, an MNPS school board member serves as a liaison between the specific district’s constituents, families, students, educators, and schools and MNPS leadership.
Board members should serve with integrity and make mission driven decisions based on what is best for the greater good.
IMPLEMENT CRISIS READY STRATEGIES
BUDGET FOR EDUCATORS
EQUITY AND COLLABORATION STRATEGIES
As the governing body of the school district, the school board should operate with integrity, inclusivity, and cooperation to fulfill the mission of Metro Nashville Public Schools.
Board members represent their specific district, schools and constituents; continually pivoting between one-on-one communications and system management. School board members should acknowledge the imperfect human condition. The board should communicate with all stakeholders, including the other board members and MNPS leadership, with respect, intention and laser beam focus on equality and appropriately meeting the academic and socio-emotional needs for all of our students.
The elected leaders are distinguished community members and need to serve beyond their personal views. The board needs to listen to all voices, and deliberately try to learn from diverse perspectives.
I think it’s important we think of our relationship with the director of schools as intentional partners and collaborators. Over the years, I have heard a lot of “the board reports to the director of schools” or the “director of schools reports to the board.” In reality, it’s a team. We need to work together thoughtfully, collaboratively, and with focus on our mission to effectively serve our students.
The investment put into hiring a director should parallel the amount of investment given to supporting the leadership. The board can support the director of schools through public acknowledgement of successes, and direct, honest and objective communications concerning challenges. The director of schools should be recognized for their steadfast commitment to delivering the mission and serving the Metro Nashville Public Schools with integrity, equity and justice.
Let’s acknowledge the economic crisis beyond Metro schools. The nation, state, city, and school district are critically underfunded. Families, educators and students are short on funds. Job losses, closures, and the sudden societal shift for some into new, forced, and uncomfortable “work from home” situations has severely impacted every system’s organization, including Metro Schools. Each system needs to realign its priorities around people over profit before this crisis destroys the strength, compassion and resilience of families, children and systems.
Until we are aware of the long term economic impact that COVID 19 and the subsequent state of the nation will have on our economy, all systems should implement and withhold “no extras” policies. Metro schools should avoid any and all large expenditures, such as consumable items, curriculum contracts and capital improvements such as new buildings and facility renovations. Instead, the focus should pivot to retaining, clearly communicating, and supporting educators, families and support services. If we cannot provide appropriate recognition and support for educators, we should be prepared to lose some of Nashville’s best assets.
It is a disservice to generalize charter schools. How charters are run, funded, and overseen varies dramatically from state to state, school to school. In his book “Charter Schools at the Crossroads”, Dr. C. Finn concludes, “The charter track record can best be described as stunningly uneven.”
Enrollment statistics indicate middle-class white people are not touched by charter schools; so they don’t support them. Seems easy to hate charter schools when you have a good zoned option. It’s harder to oppose charters when your child is locked into a failing school because of their address.
When a district offers “choice”, the choice must be equitable to all or the public education offered is unjust. The limited number of lottery and magnet schools do not equitably serve the city’s students. Some Nashville charter schools have provided a viable alternative to a failing zoned school; aligning with the mission of Metro Schools in delivering great public education to students. Ultimately, families know what is best for their children and I support families making the choice.
Today I do not think it advisable to approve any major expenditures; new charter schools are no exception.
As one of nine elected Metro schools board members, serving one ninth of some 86,000 students is an incredible privilege in a city as diverse and talented as Nashville.
I shudder hearing stories of what came before, evidence to the true crisis Metro schools have been in for over a decade. Nashville is not one size fits all. Regardless of how or where a student is educated; educators should be valued and supported, students should be taught and celebrated, and families should be included in the conversations.
This is not happening in Nashville—students, schools, communities, leaders and local politicians are in constant competition. Competition not for being inclusive, or representing multiple perspectives, instead competition for power, money and influence.
We have to get serious and act boldly to repair distrust that has developed over years of inequitable decisions. To me that means building culturally appropriate focus groups with families and stakeholders to intentionally listen to needs and barriers to success. We must keep everyone involved in the conversation to provide insight into future policy considerations. We are better together.
Business is not as usual in Nashville. COVID’s tremendous disruption to schools has forced education leaders to rethink how to evaluate accountability beyond relying on one-size-fits-all, arbitrary end of year academic assessments. It is time to think beyond purely summative assessments, which create a punitive, competitive, assimilist, culture for both educators and students, and often disproportionately impact students of color. We should advocate for assessments that support learning and growth for our students, our educators and our schools. To meet the needs of all stakeholders, I envision a collaborative assessment connecting educators, support staff, families and students—similar to case management and IEP teams—to gage multidimensional student-growth and challenges through a whole-child assessment.
Incentive based assessments do not align with an equitable, people over profit educational philosophy. Let’s fix it while we’re down. I have optimism that a newly created, intentionally collaborative assessment will compliment this new normal and enable teachers to teach at the student’s level without worrying about the test. There is enough to worry about.
Metro Schools were in a quieter crisis before March. It’s July, mid- season of increased uncertainty, unknown, fear, and anxiety (worry). There is urgency for informed, independent thinking citizens at every level. This societal storm system continues to fuel innovative, collaborative, policy making candidates like me with energy, hope and determination. I am mission focused. Now more than ever, we must continue to deliver the best public education to every child, everyday, even virtually.
I acknowledge the courage of Dr. Adrienne Battle and district leadership in deciding to postpone the in-person re-entry. Metro Schools bear a great weight in holding responsibility for the health and safety of 100,000 employees and students of Metro Schools; I am proud of this safe, rational decision. Dr. Battle and team have prepared a comprehensive and continuous learning plan that has been carefully developed with every student in mind, especially those often sidelined. To succeed, we must remain flexible, remain engaged, and advocate for heavy emphasis on socio-emotional lessons and support. We are better together, we are all trying our best. Let’s go one day at a time.