Frogge Won’t Seek Re-Election

Nashville school board member Amy Frogge announced today she will not seek re-election to her seat this year. She’s served two terms and beaten well-funded opponents by a 2-1 margin in both of her past races.

Here’s her announcement:

I have struggled with the decision of whether to run again for school board during this unusual time of uncertainty and upheaval. The last few weeks – dealing with the aftermath of the tornado, the coronavirus quarantine, and a personal bout with a minor illness – have provided me with a different perspective.

When I ran in 2012, I never intended to serve more than one term. This freed me to vote simply as I saw best and to take difficult positions that were often against my own political interests. I chose to run again four years ago because I felt it was necessary given the political climate at that time.

Upon reflection this week, however, I have decided not to seek reelection this year. I am deeply grateful for the support I’ve received and the friendships I have forged during my time on the school board, as well as for the learning opportunities I’ve been provided through this position. Serving in an elected position is not for the faint of heart, but I hope I have made a positive impact, and I think it is time to step away to new endeavors. I will continue to be deeply involved in advocating for Tennessee’s students and schools and plan stay active on my social media pages.

I have decided to throw my support behind Abigail Tylor, Nashville School Board District 9, a former teacher in the Encore gifted program who taught both of my children. As a teacher and parent of children who attend MNPS schools, Abigail is well-informed about the issues and the needs in our school system, and she’ll do a wonderful job serving our community and carrying on the work that I (and others before me) have begun. With Dr. Battle now at the helm of Metro Schools and with continued good representation for our district, I truly believe great things are going to happen in MNPS over the next few years. I hope you will support Abigail in her work!

I am also excited to formally announce my new role as Executive Director of Pastors for Tennessee Children. The Pastors for Children network, which is expanding nationwide, brings together faith leaders to serve schools and to advocate statewide for public education. I’m honored to be a part of this group, and I hope you will follow my work with the Pastors, as well!

Thank you for believing in me and for the experience of serving. Please continue to support our local schools! I’ll see you in the neighborhood.

Diane Ravitch and Amy Frogge

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

Your support$5 or more today — makes publishing education news possible.

Knox County’s Amy Frogge

Betty Bean has the story of an unlikely two-term winner on the Knox County School Board, Jennifer Owen.

Owen won re-election on Tuesday night by a large margin despite being outspent, reports Bean:

Sure, she had devoted volunteers and steady support from educators, but her opponent, John Meade, co-president of the Central High School Foundation, was rocking big ticket contributions from the top tier of the local GOP donor base and dispatching bales of direct mail to district mailboxes while Owen only sent out two mailers, one of which she paid for with $2,000 borrowed from her husband, Robert. Her only other large contribution was $2,500 from the K-PACE, the Knox County Education Association political action committee.

As Bean continues, she notes that Owen is known for speaking truth to power. She takes principled stands, even if they are sometimes unpopular. She’s not at all afraid to make the establishment uncomfortable. She asks tough questions. She’s unrelenting in her advocacy for public education.

Her story is not unlike that of Nashville’s Amy Frogge, now a two-term school board member. Frogge was outspent by large margins in both of her campaigns, and both times she won big. She challenges city leaders and state policymakers and she’s relentless.

Perhaps there’s a lesson in this for politicians everywhere: Stay true to your principles, fight hard, and do what’s right – even in the face of well-funded, polished interests who claim to be “for the kids.”

Whatever the case, Owen joins Frogge as someone who looks at the powerful interests in her way and nevertheless, persists.

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

Your support$5 or more today — makes publishing education news possible.

Donate Button

Amy Frogge and Nashville Schools

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: )

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.”

Great Hearts:

“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.

Diane Ravitch and Amy Frogge
Nashville’s Amy Frogge with Diane Ravitch in 2014

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

Your support$5 or more today — makes publishing education news possible.

Nashville Pushes for State Funding Boost for Schools

The Metro Nashville school board is calling on the State of Tennessee to step up when it comes to school funding, according to a story on WPLN.

Nashville leaders are calling on state lawmakers to increase education funding. 

A resolution adopted by the Metro school board Tuesday night says the district needs more money to retain teachers. 

District 9 school board member Amy Frogge, who proposed the resolution, says the state has over $5 billion in reserves that could be used for education funding.   

Last week, board members expressed their support for a Metro lawsuit challenging the state’s new school voucher law — which they say will take money from the district. 

“It’s critically important that we get that money to our schools,” says Frogge. “As a school board member but also as a parent, the needs in our schools are great and we’re losing teachers.”

While Governor Bill Lee’s proposed budget makes some investment in teacher pay, Tennessee teachers are still paid at a rate lower than they were in 2009, according to a report from the Sycamore Institute.

After adjusting for inflation, however, teachers’ average pay during the 2018-2019 school year was still about 4.4% lower than a decade earlier.

And, of course there’s the reality that the state grossly underfunds its school funding formula, the BEP.

In Tennessee, classroom size requirements have forced districts to hire more than 9,000 teachers beyond what the BEP provides to pay for their salaries, according to a statewide analysis presented by the Department of Education in December to the BEP Review Committee.

To address the BEP shortfall, the state needs at least $468 million. To address stagnant teacher pay, the state needs another $300 million. As Frogge notes, Tennessee has the money. Will our policymakers make a nearly $800 million investment in public schools?

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

Your support$5 or more today – makes publishing education news possible.

Amy Frogge on “School Choice”

Nashville school board member Amy Frogge takes on the notion of “school choice.” Here’s what she has to say:

Let’s consider for a moment the notion of “school choice.” This phrase is a political term that has been used to promote school privatization (through vouchers and charter schools). We hear the phrase frequently these days because it is spread by political PR machines to pave the way for money-making schemes through public education. This seemingly innocuous term appeals to many parents and citizens who are unaware of education policy debates and just believe that this term means allowing parents to choose great schools for their children. Of course, no one is opposed to giving parents options, but that’s not what “school choice” really means in the context of education discussions now.

As education historian Diane Ravitch documents in her most recent book, “School choice, it should be remembered, was the goal of Southern governors in the decade after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision of 1954. For many years, the term ‘school choice’ was stigmatized because most people, familiar with the backlash to the Brown decision, understood that ‘choice’ was a strategy devised by Southern governors to preserve racial segregation. The racist origins of school choice are well documented.”

Because the history of this phrase is largely forgotten, the use of this term from disparate groups makes for some strange bedfellows in the political world. On one hand, there are there are those who support “choice” from the perspective of need. These folks, primarily people of color, live in marginalized communities that have suffered decades of disinvestment. Their schools, which are segregated, underfunded, and often overcrowded, serve the neediest children without adequate support to meet the needs of those children who have experienced trauma and difficult life circumstances. When these families exercise “choice,” they are contributing to greater equity in the school system, and I am sympathetic to their circumstances. Charter schools appeal to these families, who see charters as a way to escape their neglected neighborhood schools.

On the other hand, “school choice” is also promoted by more affluent, white parents who would prefer more segregated public schools. This agenda is being driven by billionaire white men, who like to utilize (paid) people of color as the face of their movement. The white parents supporting the segregation agenda sometimes openly push to keep black children out of classrooms with their own children. In a bizarre twist, these white parents often end up advocating for “choice” alongside disenfranchised African-American parents who have suffered discrimination.

Ultimately, the real “school choice” debate should come down to equity, or in other words, ensuring that every child gets a fair shot at a great education. When children are bussed off to schools outside their zones or when families select schools across the city, the underlying question is whether those “choices” increase or decrease equity in the school district overall. I have long advocated for families on the west side to try their zoned schools, because this increases equity and also because our schools are very good, despite the bad rap they sometimes receive. I have long opposed charter schools because they decrease funding for schools serving the neediest students, because they increase school segregation, and because they are unregulated, which leads to fraud and misuse of taxpayer dollars. These, again, are equity issues.

But here’s the underlying problem: MNPS has not undertaken the work necessary to create effective pathways for ALL children to be well served. Opening the door wide to random “choice” may provide good options for some families, but leaves many more- almost always children in poverty- behind. I am hopeful that we will finally begin this work with Dr. Battle, who, having grown up in Nashville, truly understands the disparate needs of different areas of the city. The school system and the city, not parents, should be held responsible for ensuring greater equity across our district, and we should invite parents to help us in our work. The feeding frenzy we have created around the MNPS lottery system and certain schools only serves to decrease equity. The ideal is to have well-resourced schools in every neighborhood that are well supported by parents and their communities.

In the end, it’s really about the common good. “What the best and wisest parent wants for his child, that we must want for all the children of the community. Anything less is unlovely, and left unchecked, destroys our democracy.” (John Dewey) We must welcome all children regardless of their circumstances, provide greater resources for schools serving children with the greatest needs, encourage parent involvement, ensure that all of our schools are safe learning environments, and build community through our neighborhood schools, no matter where they are located. That’s the real secret for success.

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

Your support$5 or more today — makes publishing education news possible.

Frogge vs. Broad

Nashville school board member Amy Frogge takes to Facebook to expose the Broad/Ed Reform agenda of privatization. Her post follows:

Dear Nashville (and others),

Please pay attention to those with whom you choose to align yourself on education issues. If you are supporting anyone funded or trained by California billionaire Eli Broad, you can bet you’ll end up on the wrong side of history.

Eli Broad created and funds a blog called Education Post. The folks who run it would like for you to believe they are just activists for low-income families and minority children- but in reality, they are dripping with dirty money. Education Post’s first CEO, Peter Cunningham, was paid $1 million for 2 1/2 years of blogging. Board member Chris Stewart, known online as “Citizen Stewart,” was paid $422,925 for 40 hours a week across 30 months as “outreach and external affairs director.” As author/blogger Mercedes Schneider concludes, “In ed reform, blogging pays juicy salaries.” (For the record, I have never earned a penny for any of my social media posts, of course.)

Paid Education Post leaders regularly try to infiltrate online Nashville education discussions (Nashville is a national target for charter expansion), and Education Post also pays local bloggers to write posts. Local bloggers Zack Barnes and Vesia Hawkins are both listed as network members on the Education Post blog.

Many of the big players in Tennessee were “trained” by Eli Broad through his Broad Superintendents Academy, which recruits business leaders with no background in education to be superintendents- with the purpose of privatizing schools (closing existing schools and opening more charter schools). The current Tennessee Commissioner of Education, Penny Schwinn, is a “Broadie.” Two former heads of Tennessee’s failed Achievement School District (a ploy to expand charter schools without local approval) were Broadies: Chris Barbic and Malika Anderson. Former superintendents Jim McIntyre (of Knoxville) and Shawn Joseph (of Nashville) were also affiliated with the Broad network. Shawn Joseph claimed both McIntyre and former Baltimore superintendent Dallas Dance, a member of Education Post’s network, as his mentors.

The school “reforms” pushed by Broadies all center around profit-making through public education: standardized testing (money for private test companies), computer learning (money for IT companies and cost-savings on hiring teachers), charter schools, vouchers, scripted curriculum that can be monetized, etc. Broadies typically see teachers as expendable and believe teaching can be mechanized.

Since charters and vouchers have become an increasingly unpopular cause, the latest angle is for Broadies to increase the number of (sometimes rigged) vendor contracts for programs and services, as well as consultants, with school districts. Former Baltimore superintendent Dallas Dance went to federal prison for rigging no-bid contracts in a kick-back scheme. In a similar scheme, his mentee (Nashville superintendent) Shawn Joseph was caught inflating no-bid contract prices (in violation of state law) for vendors connected with the recruiter and Broadies who placed him in Nashville through a rigged superintendent search. (See comments for further information.)

Billionaires like Eli Broad who fund school profiteering efforts like to hire/fund people of color to act as front-men for their efforts. This provides the appearance that the push for “school choice” (i.e., charters and vouchers) is grassroots. When these folks are questioned or caught in the midst of wrong-doing, they are able to cry racism. Meanwhile, everyone has their hands in the cookie jar of funding meant to serve children.

The ploys used in school profiteering are particularly nasty- the worst of dirty politics. The goal is usually to smear, humiliate, shame and discredit anyone who is an effective critic of the school privatization agenda. Lots of money is spent on PR for this purpose. (I’ve even been attacked on this Facebook page by a paid “social media specialist” for my opposition to charter schools.)

You’ll notice that the atmosphere tends to become particularly dysfunctional and circus-like when Broadies are in charge or involved. You’ll also notice that Broadies like to push the narrative that locally-elected school boards are too dysfunctional to lead (even when the Broadie in charge is causing all the dysfunction!). This is because Eli Broad and those affiliated with him want no public oversight of public education spending.

So- when you witness education conversations on social media, be sure to figure out who is funding those claiming to promote “school choice” or to advocate for children in poverty. Follow the money, y’all. Always!

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

Your support$5 or more today — makes publishing education news possible.

Frogge the Fighter

The Washington Post‘s Valerie Strauss features an excerpt from Diane Ravitch’s latest book Slaying Goliath that tells the story of Nashville School Board member Amy Frogge and her relentless advocacy for public schools. Highlights follow. The short version: Don’t f*** with Frogge.

Amy Frogge is a lawyer and a parent of children who attended Gower Elementary School in Nashville, Tennessee. In 2010, the city suffered a devastating flood, and people came together from across the city and even from out of state to help rebuild the damaged neighborhoods. Frogge was impressed by the energy that is generated when people coalesce behind a common goal. Aware that the Parent Teacher Organization at Gower Elementary was moribund, she and another parent decided to rebuild it. Over a year, they enhanced parent engagement, developed new community partnerships, and helped to bring about major improvements in the school’s performance, atmosphere, and culture.

Determined to “give back to her community,” Frogge decided to run for the Metro Nashville school board in 2012. With the help of many volunteers, she rang doorbells across her district. She raised $25,000. Her opponent was endorsed by Nashville mayor Karl Dean, the Chamber of Commerce, the local teachers’ union, and the Gates-funded group called Stand for Children. Her opponent spent $125,000, five times what Frogge spent. But Frogge won by a two-to-one landslide. When she ran, she was unaware of the national debates about privatization. She just wanted to do her part as a citizen. She quickly learned about the efforts by national charter chains to gain a foothold in Nashville and decided that this was not good for the local public schools.

Frogge emerged as an articulate critic of privatization and Corporate Disruption. In her role as a board member, she wanted expanded recess time, more time for art and music, less time devoted to testing, and increased funding for the schools, but these issues were overshadowed by the persistent struggle between the school board and the state over charter expansion. She courageously stood up to the right-wing governor, the legislature, the state commissioner, and Mayor Dean, who were all pushing for more charters in Nashville. The local newspapers criticized her as “divisive” and “shrill” for taking a stand (these are the words applied to women who speak out but not to men, who are seen as “forceful” and “strong”). The newspapers grew tired of her complaints about the large amounts of outside money that poured into school board races.

In 2016, Frogge ran again for the school board, and she was now Enemy Number One for the Disrupters. In hopes of ousting her, they funneled over $200,000 into the race, most of it directed through the Gates-funded Stand for Children. She won again, receiving 65 percent of the vote. Voters liked the principled stand that she took supporting public schools and demanding accountability and transparency for charters.

Amy Frogge recalled in an interview with T. C. Weber, a Nashville parent-blogger, that her husband had given her a clip of the Reverend William Barber, the charismatic leader of the Resistance in North Carolina who has often been compared to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Reverend Barber has championed progressive causes of every kind, including public education. Frogge remembered this message:

“When you’re called to service it’s often not convenient. It’s often very difficult and it is exhausting, but we are not allowed to give up. We don’t get to determine when it’s done. I think many of us have made huge sacrifices to continue to try to advocate for students and our teachers and our families.

READ MORE about Amy Frogge’s fight against the powerful forces that would disrupt our public schools for their own private gain.

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

Your support$5 or more today — makes publishing education news possible.

Frogge on Superintendent Searches

Metro Nashville school board member Amy Frogge offers her thoughts on the process that led to Nashville hiring Shawn Joseph:

Nashville just got taken for a ride. Here’s how it happened:

Back in 2007, Superintendent Joseph Wise and his Chief of Staff, David Sundstrom, were fired from their jobs in Florida for “serious misconduct.” Wise is a graduate of LA billionaire Eli Broad’s “superintendents academy,” which trains business leaders as superintendents with the purpose of privatizing schools (closing existing schools and opening more charter schools).

After losing their jobs, Wise and Sundstrom founded Atlantic Research Partners (ARP) and began making millions from Chicago schools. ARP then acquired parts of SUPES Academy, a superintendent training company, and merged with the recruiting firm, Jim Huge and Associates. SUPES Academy, however, was shut down after Chicago superintendent Barbara Byrd-Bennett pled guilty to federal corruption charges for steering no-bid contracts to SUPES Academy, her former firm, in exchange for financial kickbacks. Baltimore superintendent Dallas Dance was also involved in this scandal.

Wise and Sundstrom also had their hands in other pots. They created a new entity called Education Research and Development Institute (ERDI), which charged education vendors to arrange meetings with school superintendents and simultaneously paid the same superintendents to “test out” the vendor products.

Now the story shifts to Nashville: In 2016, the Nashville Public Education Foundation pushed the school board to hire Jim Huge and Associates to perform our search for a new superintendent. The search brought us three “Broadies” (superintendents trained by the Broad academy), a Teach for America alum with no advanced degree and no degree in education whatsoever, and Shawn Joseph, who was planning to attend the Broad Superintendents Academy at the time he was hired.

Jim Huge lied to the school board, telling us that the only highly qualified and experienced candidate, an African American female named Carol Johnson (who had served as superintendent of three major school systems, including Memphis and Boston) had withdrawn her name from the search. This was not true. Ultimately, the board hired Shawn Joseph.

When he arrived in Nashville, Joseph brought his friend, Dallas Dance, with him as an advisor- only about six months before Dance was sentenced to federal prison in connection with kick-backs for no-bid contracts in the SUPES Academy scandal. Joseph also brought in former Knoxville superintendent Jim McIntyre, another “Broadie” who had been ousted from his position in Knoxville amidst great acrimony, to serve as an advisor. Joseph began following a formula seen in other districts: He prohibited staff members from speaking to board members and immediately began discussion about closing schools. Like Byrd-Bennett and Dance, Joseph also began giving large, no-bid contracts to vendors and friends, some of which were never utilized. Some of the contracts were connected with ERDI, and Joseph’s Chief Academic Officer, Monique Felder, failed to disclose that she had been paid by ERDI (just like Dallas Dance, who committed perjury for failing to disclose part-time consulting work that benefitted him financially).

You can read the rest of the story- and much more- in the attached article. But the long and short of it is that the very same people who rigged our search to bring Shawn Joseph to Nashville are also the same people who stood to benefit from no-bid contracts with MNPS. These folks were also connected with illegal activities in other states.

In the end, Nashville suffered. “Among [the] negative outcomes are increased community acrimony, wasted education funds, and career debacles for what could perhaps have been promising school leaders.

In the case of Joseph and Nashville, controversies with his leadership decisions strongly divided the city’s black community, and taxpayers were stuck with a $261,250 bill for buying out the rest of his contract. As a result of the fallout, Joseph lost his state teaching license, and he vowed never to work in the state again.”

More from Jeff Bryant>

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

Your support$5 or $7 today — helps make publishing education news possible.

Voice of the Voiceless

MNPS School Board Member Amy Frogge is on a mission to give voice to school system employees who feel powerless.

Here’s the latest in her series of posts allowing employees to use her platform to provide insight into the internal happenings at MNPS:

This is day six of using my voice on behalf of those who feel powerless and unheard.

I’d like to pause here and clarify that the statements I am sharing are unsolicited, and nearly all of them come from MNPS employees I have never met. They are complete strangers to me. Imagine how desperate you must be as an employee to risk your job by reaching out to a board member you’ve never met, knowing that your boss (the Director) has prohibited communications between you and the board. The gravity and sheer quantity of the complaints I’ve received this year is incomparable to anything I’ve ever experienced before as a board member. This district is in crisis.

I thought long and hard before sharing so many negative comments on my page, because I have worked for years to support and promote our schools. But I have come to the conclusion that the acute need for a change in leadership far outweighs all else at this point. My intent is not to drive off potential parents, but to rally support for our struggling teachers, leaders and schools. We MUST do better for our children.

Here are the words of our MNPS employees:

1. “It’s very sad that this administration is so worried about self-glorification [instead of keeping] the main focus [on] the students and making sure we have the staff to make their educational journey a success. Its not going to get better til they’re gone. Keep up the work.”

2. “Please do what it takes to save Reading Recovery! I find it reprehensible that we claim to push literacy, but Dr. Joseph is going to cut such a vital program. I also find it sickening that he would reinstate the social workers and cut RR. He needs to give up the vehicle and driver.”

3. “It’s the worst it’s ever been.”

4. “Dr. Joseph is clearly not advocating for those ‘lighthouse schools’ that we desperately need to keep our babies from falling further and further behind. We are trained. We [teachers] are here, we are passionate about what we do and the reason we do it. We are a thriving city. There is money somewhere. . . . I already sensed a racial tone and it bothers me.”

5. [Regarding the transportation department head, brought in by Joseph, who oversees bus routes]: “All [he] cares about is cutting the budget, not getting the students to school and home safe in a reasonable amount of time. The sad truth is that with every county needing drivers they’re running some off to other counties.”

Stay tuned for more.


For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport



Your support keeps the education news flowing!

Frogge on Martha O’Bryan, Charters

Nashville school board member Amy Frogge talks about the Martha O’Bryan Center:

The Martha O’Bryan Center, led by Marsha Edwards of Brentwood, TN, “has rapidly transformed its focus from providing safety net services for the poor to growing its network of charter schools for more affluent families.”

“Martha O’Bryan was founded in 1951 to combat poverty issues.” Historically, the nonprofit has helped families with rent payments and utility bills, operated employment and tutoring programs, and provided a daycare. However, the non-profit seems to have lost focus on its mission in recent years.

Why? The non-profit has been operating in the red for the last couple of years, and “[t]he move to charter schools created a steady revenue stream. Unlike its other programs, which are dependent on fundraising and grants, charter schools come with a built-in revenue stream in the form of tax dollars from the state and local government that are attached to every student who enrolls.”

In 2016, Marsha Edwards illegally coordinated with Stand for Children during our school board elections, in violation of federal law. (“Federal tax law strictly forbids nonprofits like the Martha O’Bryan Center from getting involved, ‘directly or indirectly,’ in elections.”) Edwards sought to remove some school board members (including me) from the board.

In another questionable deal, MDHA selected “Martha O’Bryan as its partner for the charter school [as part of the Envision Cayce overhaul] without a formal bidding process, even though East Nashville has several charter school operators.” Martha O’Bryan will receive $28 million for this project, while our other district schools struggle. This was a back-room deal. The school board had no say in this agreement. Although we have no need for more charters in East Nashville, which is oversaturated with schools, Martha O’Bryan will open yet another charter there. Ironically, it’s located right next door to a charter school operated by KIPP, causing friction among charter proponents who have long argued for more “competition” between schools.

“Former employees [of Martha O’Bryan] say the increased emphasis on charter schools has come at the expense of other programs and damaged the Martha O’Bryan Center’s standing in the neighborhood it has served for so long. . . . [F]ormer staffers say . . . the center cut core programs and workers were laid off or resigned, some after decades of employment.”

“’The mission and vision that was promoted, it was not the mission and vision anymore,’ said Nina Lockert, who ran the child care center at the time of its closing. Lockert said parents felt disconnected from the nonprofit and viewed it as ‘not actually benefiting the community it was in.'”

Follow the money.



For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport