Amy Frogge ran for the Metro Nashville School Board in 2012 as a concerned mom who was also a lawyer. She was unaware of the pitched battle about charters and privatization. She had the simple goal of improving public schools, which made her an enemy of the privatizers. She ran again last year and was re-elected. Both times, she faced candidates who outspent her by vast sums with out-of-state reformer cash. She was previously named to the Blog’s Honor Roll for her fortitude in standing up to the vilification by reformers and sticking to her promise to fight for public schools.

In this post, she writes that it is a new day in Nashville. High-profile charter operators arrived with big promises, then crashed and burned. The Nashville community sees them for the frauds they are.

She hopes to alert parents in Kentucky and Mississippi to beware, now that rightwing legislators have opened their state’s to the same scammers.

She writes:

“While my personal views and political positions have not changed at all since my first run for school board, the atmosphere surrounding education policy has changed drastically, both in Nashville and at a national level. Locals have finally become aware of the driving forces behind the school privatization movement, and alliances have shifted. After a newspaper editor was fired last fall, all of the politically-motivated, factually inaccurate “hit pieces” about me in the local paper (accompanied by comically bad photos) ceased. Many of the bad actors have either been fired or fled town- headed off to other less suspecting places that have not yet caught onto the privatization movement.

“At our last board meeting, we discussed LEAD Academy, often touted as a Miracle Charter School. LEAD likes to promote its 100% graduation rate, but as we learned at our last board meeting, this statistic is at the very least misleading, if not entirely untrue. In reality, LEAD high school has a 40% attrition rate, meaning that nearly half of students who start high school at LEAD don’t make it through to graduation. (So much for that 100% graduation rate!) It’s also clear that LEAD does not serve all students. Only one English Learner at LEAD has reached graduation in four graduating classes, and only three students with special needs are on track to graduate this year. Furthermore, student performance is decreasing in all tested areas for grades 3-8 at LEAD. Over a one-year period at LEAD, 13.5% more students scored basic or below in math, 17% more students scored basic or below in English Language Arts, and 42.6% more students scored basic or below in science.

“Ravi Gupta, head of RePublic Schools, left Nashville last year after a number of disturbing events occurred at his “no excuses” schools: First, several parents accused the RePublic of “abuse and neglect” of students, and Teach for America (which supplied most of its teachers) also expressed concerns about RePublic. Then, a parent accused RePublic of copyright violation for photocopying book passages (a common practice in charter schools to save money) containing inappropriate reading materials for middle school students. And most recently, parents filed a multi-million dollar class action lawsuit against RePublic for violation of federal law. Gupta is now trying to recreate himself as a political consultant of sorts with a new group called “The Arena,” standing in opposition to the new President. Ironically, though, Gupta’s own work in schools has been very much aligned with Betsy DeVos’s education agenda.

“Shaka Mitchell, former head of Rocketship, also left his post. Rocketship came into Nashville amidst great fanfare, thanks in large part to former Mayor Karl Dean (and his education liaison Wendy Tucker, mentioned in the attached article). However, only a few years later, Rocketship is now performing in the bottom 3% of schools statewide. Recently, Rocketship was also found in violation of state and federal laws for failing to provide services for students with disabilities and for English learners. Furthermore, Rocketship was censured for requiring homeless students to buy uniforms. Despite all this, the state has expressed its intent to force Nashville to open another Rocketship school this fall. This should tell you ALL you need to know about the charter school movement. (Hint: It’s not “about the children”)…

“The PR wall has begun to crumble, the veil is pulled back, and the truth emerges. Evidence has emerged that charter schools are contributing to the re-segregation of school systems, that they have a negative fiscal impact on school systems, and that they do not improve educational outcomes for students.

“In response, what do these folks do? Do they try to address these problems or worry that perhaps they are increasing inequity within MNPS? No, they work on the “spin.” They go after the reporter who wrote the attached story, demanding a retraction. They manipulate, harass, bully, race-bait, and attack. They tell charter parents that board members “hate charter parents and their kids,” hoping to whip these parents into a frenzy. This is the toxicity we have experienced in Nashville for years.

“Watch out Mississippi and Kentucky. These problems are headed your way. Steel your spine, and buckle your seatbelt. It doesn’t matter how professional or evidence-based you remain; if you don’t toe the line for charter schools, you will be attacked. You will be demeaned, bullied, and belittled. Get ready for the smear campaigns and character assassinations. But pay them no mind. Stay on the right side of history, and keep standing up for the students. Keep standing up for justice and equity. Keep standing up for public education. There’s important work to be done.”

Open the link to read the attached article.