Aug 21 2014
01:17 am
By: Lisa Starbuck

Looks like Nashville charter school prospect STRIVE Collegiate Academy is pushing the Metro Nashville School Board to reconsider their rejected charter application, which if rejected again, could become the first test case of the new charter authorizer law. This would allow STRIVE to bypass the local Board of Education and appeal directly to the state in order to grab the money open a new charter school using public funds.

It's the Great Hearts charter school dilemma Part II, and Jesse Register, the Director of Schools, is on the hot seat, along with the rest of the BOE. It's pretty much damned if they do and damned if they don't.

From the Nashville Scene:

Register said that he asked STRIVE, which was developed in conjunction with the Nashville-based Tennessee Charter School Center, to delay its application for a year but STRIVE wanted to appeal. If the board rejects STRIVE again, they can appeal to the state board of education under the newly passed charter authorizer law. This would be the first test case.

In 2012, Great Hearts appealed to the state, which ordered the Metro School Board to reconsider its rejection of the Arizona-based charter operator. The board rejected it again, and Gov. Bill Haslam's administration withheld more than $3 million in funding for Nashville schools.

In a tense exchange with board members, Register refused to say whether he was recommending the STRIVE appeal be approved, only that the committee's recommendation be considered.

Lisa Starbuck's picture

Charter Aproved on Appeal 5-3

From the

Nashville Scene


The Metro school board reversed course and voted 5-3 to approve the application of STRIVE Collegiate Academy, a proposed charter middle school in the McGavock cluster on the east side of Nashville, during a contentious special meeting on Thursday.

And this:

The main question centered around a resolution passed in November, where the board almost unanimously directed MNPS and charter operators to focus efforts into the high-growth Overton and Glencliff clusters of schools, many of which will have capacities exceeding 120 percent by 2017. Would the board adhere to its own stated policy, or approve a charter school that applied in defiance of them?

Jesse Register, the Director of Schools, recommended that the BOE ignore the policy and vote to approve the charter.

Register, who took a beating, responded to barbs leveled at him.

"I don't agree with some of the criticism I received," he said, noting that his final recommendation was for the board to ignore their policy and vote yes. "I think the charter school can add value. There are children that will benefit from that service. I prefer that the charters be approved locally."

michael kaplan's picture

This is fascinating, as it

This is fascinating, as it reveals the two-pronged approach of the charterizers:

1. Target ‘low-performing public schools’

2. Recruit members of the African-American community to lead ‘charterization’ efforts.

LaKendra Butler, a 31-year-old former teacher from Dallas and Atlanta schools, is one of eight educators who formally submitted applications before the Tuesday deadline for new charters seeking entry in 2015. For months, she's planned a middle school, STRIVE Collegiate Academy, for the Donelson-Hermitage neighborhood that would serve students in the McGavock High School cluster.

"I just think it's important to have another option for families in the community," Butler said in an interview at the Tennessee Charter School Center's Cummins Station offices, where she's mapped out her school for more than a year after Tennessee's wave of education reforms attracted her here.

In November, though, the school board approved a resolution that outlined two types of charters it would consider: those that seek to take over chronically low-performing public schools and those proposing elementary schools in South Nashville to ease overcrowding there.

KC's picture

2. Recruit members of the

2. Recruit members of the African-American community to lead ‘charterization’ efforts.

It increases their stakeholders, in light of the fact that it a lot of commonsense conservatives haven't bought in to the whole gimmick.

Plus, it makes the elite feel like they are doing something for the disadvantaged.

A sham.

Stick's picture

Reality Check

"Common sense conservatives" (whatever that might mean) will continue to vote for fools who push for charters and vouchers. Perhaps Absher has an article on this topic.

As for support from the black community, it boils down to frustration with our continuing failure to deliver educational equity and their seeing charters as a potential way to alleviate historical discrimination. [link] I would also note that this support is dropping quickly in locations in which charters have spread, such as Chicago, Newark, etc.

TNchickadee's picture

The other sham is the appeals

The other sham is the appeals process. If the TN DOE was an "impartial jury" so to speak, that would be different. However, it is crystal clear that they have been poisoned by the big money connections to public school privatization efforts. I expect them to approve any charter that makes it that far. Kudos to the Metro BOE for holding off this long. Ours just rolled over and let the bully (Kevin Huffman) gets his way. Of course the state made it so that the local systems would have more control if they just went ahead and approved charter schools. Otherwise there would be no incentive to have them over using those funds to better existing schools. Charter schools rarely offer any magic other than lower class size, more arts, and stronger discipline. All things public school teachers have requested and been denied for years.

Dahlia's picture

You're right...

Charter schools are offering nothing new, but they will get anything they ask for. Shiny new building, smaller classrooms and more resources and a lot of money in the pocket of the middle man.

In the meantime, the public schools get less and continue to be slated as failures. It's a huge sham and the fact that this board went ahead and gave the "ok" to this charter school despite them not meeting the requirements set by the very board members themselves indicates they have been bought or simply do not care what happens in our school systems. What a disgrace.

Stick's picture

Reality Check Two

lower class size, more arts, and stronger discipline

Lower class size? Yes. More arts? No. Stronger discipline in the charter world usually means the soul, creativity, and critical thinking killing "no excuses" model [see KIPP]. Students who can't cope are shuffled out. How or why that would be desirable for traditional public schools is questionable at best... that is unless you're into the school to prison pipeline.

TNchickadee's picture

There IS a way to have better

There IS a way to have better discipline in public schools that would not turn them into souless buildings. You would need two things. Better support from administrators in dealing with disruptive situations and the time for teachers to teach social skills, empathy and resposibility. Time which is currently non-existent in the "race to the test" culture. When kindergartners don't learn how to help others,wait their turn and cooperate,those gaps don't just magically disappear. We HAVE to realize that the mission of public schools cannot be just to create skilled employees, but to create good,thoughtful citizens as well.

Stick's picture

Roger that... My point was

Roger that... My point was that charter "discipline" is not desirable or commendable.

Mike Knapp's picture

Neoliberal restructuring - Lather/Rinse/Repeat

Create a doxa in which for-profit ideology is infused into political, social, and cultural institutions. Operate a for-profit, ever increasingly consolidated journalism system in which advertising revenue is critical and labor costs must be cut, remove labor beats. Say "free market". Exacerbate the fiscal crisis of the state by fomenting psychopathic ideological hatred of taxes and the common good. Use fiscal crisis to increase class size. Force standardized tests from private firms that show those schools are failures. De-fund public schools. Blame teacher unions for low test scores and underperforming public schools. Weaken teachers unions destroying their collective bargaining along with public sector unions, together the largest remaining in the United States. Promote and create adverse, disempowering working conditions which lead to highly "flexible" labor markets in various sectors like education. Promote and fund think tanks that "promote freedom" such as nonunion, profit-oriented charter schools/vouchers and other policies and legislation as solutions. Say best practice. Globalize for-profit education networks outside of states. Take advantage of new market tax credits to build for-profit schools, maximize profits and shelter taxes. Don't mention, downplay connections between SES and educational attainment, say nothing of structural racism and poverty, revisit and attempt to normalize poverty as good. Schools to prison pipeline. Use profits to funnel back into politicians where political spending is a free speech right alongside corporate personhood.

R. Neal's picture

+1 hall of fame post

And finally, discredit and demonize anyone who would characterize such a massive coordinated effort as a "conspiracy."

Mike Knapp's picture

Thanks Randy

Been working on that one in between kids, school and the vagaries of east TN life. Am I correct to assume there's a beverage attached to that HOF status?

jcgrim's picture

Name calling and feigned SHOCK at the language...

...doesn't change reality. The billionair boys club has been writing about The Master Plan publicly for years. Knox County taxpayers still do not have a clear understanding of the strategic plan.


A Master Plan to eliminate urban public school districts was clearly outlined by the Fordham Institute's Andy Smarick in "Wave of the Future" (Winter 2008):

First, commit to drastically increasing the charter market share in a few select communities until it is the dominant system and the district is reduced to a secondary provider. The target should be 75 percent.

Second, choose the target communities wisely. Each should begin with a solid charter base (at least 5 percent market share), a policy environment that will enable growth (fair funding, nondistrict authorizers, and no legislated caps), and a favorable political environment (friendly elected officials and editorial boards, a positive experience with charters to date, and unorganized opposition). [Smarick's suggests the "potentially fertile districts" of Albany, Buffalo, Denver, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Oakland, and Washington, D.C.]

Third, secure proven operators to open new schools. To the greatest extent possible, growth should be driven by replicating successful local charters and recruiting high-performing operators from other areas.

Fourth, engage key allies like Teach For America, New Leaders for New Schools, and national and local foundation to ensure the effort has the human and financial capital needed.

Last, commit to rigorously assessing charter performance in each community and working with authorizers to close the charters that fail to significantly improve student achievement.

Smarick's article contains a chart listing the strongest providers at that time (Figure 2: "Replicating Charter Success"). Just two years later, we now know that his #2 and #4 ranked charter managers, White Hat Management and Imagine Schools, Inc., have been embroiled in lawsuits and scandal. The #1 ranked EMO (Edison Schools) ended up failing. It folded and re-emerged with a new name and plan (EdisonLearning). So much for a fine and upstanding history of charter school "success."

michael kaplan's picture

there you have it

there you have it

fischbobber's picture


I guess I know what I'mm doing tonight. I hope I can read fast enough to digest all this.

Mike Knapp's picture


I absolutely love the ability to hyperlink copy to expansive articles as well as constantly buttressing and saving a bookmark list that is approaching 20 years old. That power cube site is legit.
Bonus - note the reference to former UTK sociology professor John Gaventa.

Average Guy's picture


What you said and linked.

That said, the complexity is staggering.

fischbobber's picture

the complexity is staggering.

You have just hit the nail on a big old head. It seems every time I think I have a handle on things, another unconsidered factor flies in the information. What things really boil down to are this, all kids are unique individuals with unique needs and teaching can be as much an art as a studied profession. Trying to standardize this or meet a rubric within the confines of reality is, by definition, impossible. Great students and teachers are both born and trained. As with many things within the human condition, absolutes are vaporous.

Average Guy's picture

The long and short,

can be found in the information header box on this Wiki page; (link...)

Revenue for FY 2011 - $229 million

There's one simple question parents can ask themselves. "Should my local education tax dollars be the source of a private corporation's revenue?"

And whether that corporation calls itself nonprofit or not, doesn't change the fact those at the top of it are bringing down some big bucks; (link...)

michael kaplan's picture

somewhat off-topic, but related


What made white businessmen from Dallas' segregated northern enclaves, who typically donate to their children's private academies, start caring about the plight of a low-income district?

Up Goose Creek's picture

Tax credits in Arizona

In other news on the private school/public funding front - Arizona companies are able to take direct tax credits for any money they contribute to education savings accounts that can be used for private schools. Look up Lexie's law.

Looks like a back door way to siphon off tax dollars for private schools.

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