Recently, the MNPS School Board adopted the Annenberg Institute’s standards for the operation and oversight of charter schools.
The measure passed by a 5-3 vote, with charter advocates suggesting the standards may not be necessary.
As Nashville’s education community prepares for a proposed RESET of its conversation, it’s important to understand why standards like those recommended by Annenberg could be helpful in Nashville and, in fact, in all of Tennessee.
First, charters are expensive. According to recent reports, they are becoming a key cost-driver in MNPS. That’s fine, if that’s what the community wants and what students need. But, the Annenberg Standards put into place a level of accountability and transparency designed to prevent fraud and abuse. That protects parents, kids, and taxpayers.
Next, without proper oversight, charters fraud can go unchecked. A recent report out of Louisiana suggests as much:
Louisiana understaffs its charter schools oversight offices and, instead of proactively investigating these schools, relies on charters’ own reports and whistleblowers to uncover problems, according to a report released Tuesday (May 12) by the Center for Popular Democracy and the Coalition for Community Schools. That allows theft, cheating and mismanagement to happen, such as the $26,000 stolen from Lake Area New Tech High and the years of special education violations alleged at Lagniappe Academies.
The challenges faced in Louisiana should be a cautionary tale for those who want to remake MNPS in the mold of New Orleans.
If we’re going to have a new conversation in Nashville about schools, it makes sense to do so under guidelines that foster transparency and accountability, such as the Annenberg Standards. In fact, as Leigh Dingerson from Annenberg suggests, all of Tennessee may well benefit from adopting these standards to govern the operation and oversight of charter schools.
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