We have been following the unfolding saga of the Metro Nashville school board’s refusal to approve a charter for the Great Hearts charter school in Arizona. The school board voted four times to deny the charter. The state board and the education commissioner Kevin Huffman ordered the Metro Nashville school board to approve the charter but it refused. The state is punishing Nashville by withholding $3.4 million from the district. So far, what we know about this affair is what we have read in the local Nashville newspapers. But here is an insider’s report about why Great Hearts has been turned down four times. Please read the Google document that is linked. It contains links and documentation. It is an eye-opener.
The reader writes:
“Wow, this is SO very needed for me as I sit here after a REALLY long day of just shaking my head at the insanity that is going on in the city that I call home (Nashville). I can not tell you how much I appreciate the breath of fresh air from all of your comments.
“Our newly elected board took a stand for ALL of our students with their 4th and final denial of Great Hearts. There was enormous pressure from the Mayor and our state officials and our Governor. The most ironic part of the 3.4 million dollar fine is the fact that it is from the BEP funds that are designated for “non-classroom”. Several things fall under that heading and of them is transportation. So the state has decided to withhold money that would go toward transporting our children to school who are Free and Reduced Lunch (FRL), in zone but not within walking distance or who are disabled.
“Do you know one of the major sticking points for why Great Hearts did not get approval? Transportation! They did not want to provide adequate transportation for students that were outside of the affluent west Nashville location. Their plan was to provide MTA bus passes for (FRL) kids that are old enough to ride mass transit and then they were going to provide limited busing to a specific neighborhood if the demand was great enough. Sounds pretty good until you get to the part that they were only going to do it for 2 years. Apparently after 2 years those kids’ families were magically going to come into some money to be able to buy a car or quit their second job or whatever so they could drive their child to and from school that is across town.
“So it seems that the state has shown us exactly how they feel about our students that need transportation. When they tried to bully the elected board into approving a charter that did not meet diversity requirements via transportation to the school or location of the school it didn’t work. Now they are punishing the very kids that would have been punished by approving a charter that did not give them adequate access. Oh the irony.
“I wrote an open letter to Nashville prior to the last board meeting which lays out the whole mess and the reasons Great Hearts’ business model was not a good fit for ALL of our children and therefore not a good fit for Nashville. You can read it here if you want all the details.