Will Pinkston, a member of the Metro Nashville school board, has long been suspicious about the ability of the charter industry to keep its grandiose promises. Now, he says, charter schools in that city are in crisis.


He writes:

“It was just a matter of time before the wheels came off Nashville’s charter school industry. This year, it’s finally happening.

“Advocates for charters — publicly funded private schools — have long argued they’re the best approach for improving K-12 public education. But national research shows, and now a series of new local developments reinforces, that charters are just a collective ruse pushed by special interests trying to privatize our school system.

“The latest example is RePublic Schools. In March a federal judge certified a class-action lawsuit brought by Nashville parents who complained their families are being subjected to illegal hardball recruiting tactics by the charter chain.

“RePublic allegedly sent text messages to thousands of parents. As it turns out, RePublic harvested student and family contact information from a Metro Nashville Public Schools database, then turned over the personal information to an out-of-state vendor that generated the texts.

“Sending unsolicited text messages is a violation of federal law. In their class-action lawsuit, the parents are seeking damages of up to $1,500 per person — leaving RePublic potentially on the hook for millions in penalties.

“Of course, the irony here is: RePublic — which boasts it’s “reimagining public education” — is at the forefront of a movement that claims students and families are flocking to charters. The reality is: Demand for RePublic is anemic, which is why the chain is sending mass text messages in a bid to draw more students and more public money.

“Rocketship is another charter chain that isn’t living up to its own marketing hype. Worse, Rocketship is failing some of Nashville’s most vulnerable kids and, like RePublic, operating in violation of federal law.

“On March 7 WSMV-TV reported that California-based Rocketship isn’t providing legally required services to students with disabilities and English language learners. A report by the Tennessee Department of Education even found that Rocketship is forcing homeless students to scrape together money to pay for uniforms.”

Yet Rocketship continues to seek more charters.

Another charter chain is in financial trouble.

And all these charters drain money from the Nashville public schools.

How much longer will this ruse continue? We have had charter schools for 27 years, and there is still no existence proof that they are better than public schools, except for their willingness to exclude the kids who might lower their scores.