Nate Rau in Axios highlights conversations happening at the Nashville Chamber of Commerce regarding moving Nashville from an elected to an appointed School Board.
The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce is considering a push for a major change to Nashville public schools — switching from an elected school board to one where members are appointed.
The chamber has had high-level talks on the topic with key education stakeholders, including the school board chair.
Not surprisingly, some Board members are not at all happy with this move. To be clear, the idea of appointed school board members was also floated by pro-charter former Mayor Karl Dean.
Here’s current board member Abigail Tylor talking about this latest effort to shift power away from the people:
We have to take a minute and think about why any group – be it the state or our own chamber – would want to take away local control from the people and make the school board appointed. Would the outcome be better for students if parents weren’t allowed to vote for who they think best represents their interests? Would it be better for students if the board was no longer required to have a representative from each area of the city? Would it be better for students to only have people able to garner enough attention from the mayor to get appointed?
We actually already have a blueprint of what happens under appointed leadership. The State has the power to appoint who oversees the Achievement School District (ASD) because they claimed they knew the people who could make the best educational decisions for the worst performing schools. Within three years, the appointed superintendent who started the ASD left, admitting they cannot do any better than the locally controlled schools. He wrote, “As a charter school founder, I did my fair share of chest pounding over great results. I’ve learned that getting these same results in a zoned neighborhood school environment is much harder.” He also admitted to underestimating the needs of struggling schools and, in the end, did not provide the gains he was so sure he knew he could produce. Were those students served better under appointed leadership? The answer has been, and continues to be, no.
That’s the crux of it. Politicians who have never studied educational policy and have no experience working in schools constantly underestimate the true needs of our schools. The people who know what our schools need are the ones living it – the people who work in our schools and see the needs every day and the people whose children are in our schools and know what their children need to succeed.
Is it that the Nashville Chamber really thinks the mayor would do a better job choosing a school board than the voters, or is it that they want to consolidate power and control over schools regardless of what’s truly best for our students?
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