Nashville school board member Amy Frogge recently talked with “The Vue,” a community newspaper in her home community of Bellevue. Here are some highlights.
Author Diane Ravitch, who has written several books on the plight of U.S. public school systems, chronicled Frogge’s efforts in her new book, “Slaying Goliath,” writing that Frogge “emerged as an articulate critic of privatization… who courageously stood up to the right-wing governor, the legislature, the state (education) commissioner, and then-Mayor (Karl) Dean, who were all pushing for more charters in Nashville.” (An excerpt recently appeared in The Washington Post. You can read it here: https://wapo.st/2uQtsSJ )
According to Frogge:
“All of the tentacles of the reform movement are still active here and trolling the legislature, but when I first got on the board and I talked about it, and impact of poverty on learning, and topics like that, I was crucified. Charter schools were supposed to be miracles – if you just put your child in charter schools, they are going to do better.”
Frogge won her seat against great odds:
“I raised about $24,000, but my opponent raised $120,000 (and still lost). She was at the time on the board of the Public Education Foundation, which was very pro-charter, so I don’t think anyone was aware of how contentious the school board would come to be. At that time, it was still a regular local school board.”
“My first meeting on the school board was the fourth Great Hearts vote, and all the power players (in Nashville) were backing it. I didn’t know anything about education policy. I was educating myself on every issue that came up. I looked at charters, and research was saying that they don’t perform any better than traditional schools on average, so that was kind of my answer during the campaign.
“Kevin Huffman (the state Department of Education commissioner) was really upset that the board on the previous three votes did not approve (Great Hearts). He demanded that the minute we got sworn in, we had to vote on it.
“Great Hearts had nine schools in Arizona. They were very segregated. They were wanting to charge $1,500 a student, and high-priced lunches – ways to weed out low-income kids. It was clearly a school that was being set up to ‘cherry pick’ the better performing kids and leave everyone else behind.
“I felt something was wrong, especially with my legal background, with the advice we were given. I still thought we were going to vote and be done with it. But right after we voted (against it), all these power players marched out on television and said we broke the law, which wasn’t true. But it led to a year of controversy.”
The article notes that Frogge is now more hopeful about where education is headed in Nashville, though the fight against so-called “education reformers” has been long and unrelenting.
READ MORE about Amy Frogge’s journey in public education advocacy.
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