In a rather lengthy press release that features links to campaign ads and videos and touts endorsements from other labor groups, the Metro Nashville Education Association’s PAC announced its endorsement of Bill Freeman for Mayor of Nashville yesterday.
Freeman’s support for Community Schools and for expanded access to Pre-K are cited as reasons for the endorsement.
It’s worth noting that Freeman joined the majority of candidates for Mayor in saying he opposed the idea of MNPS suing the state for more BEP funds. Only Megan Barry and Charles Robert Bone have expressed support for that approach.
Here’s the release in its entirety:
Bill Freeman, candidate for Mayor of Nashville, was endorsed today by the Metropolitan Nashville Education Association as he launched a new television ad with a companion web video focused on his support of teachers, families and students in Davidson County.
“I am so happy to have received the endorsement of Nashville’s teachers, Freeman said. “These are the women and men who get up every day and dedicate themselves to teaching our children the skills and behaviors that will make them successful in the future.”
In the new television spot, Freeman said, “Nashville has the big downtown projects, but now we need to focus on the basics for our families and for all of our neighborhoods. On education, I will support Pre-K for all of our children, use incentives to keep and attract world-class teachers, innovate with community schools and better after school programs. For all our schools in all our neighborhoods we need the right strategy for Nashville to grow the right way.”
Schools Right: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAr_byDZksA
Bill Freeman on Education Companion Web Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4tJr–bAFE
MNEA’s endorsement caps a week where Freeman has received major endorsements from SEIU, that represents more than 3,000 Metro workers and the fire fighters that work to keep Davidson County residents safe.
MNEA President Stephen Henry said, “In spite of the fact there are seven candidates for mayor, we believe Bill Freeman is Nashville’s best choice for mayor.”
“Bill Freeman will be a champion for our public schools. He knows the challenges we face and appreciates the successes we’ve had.”
“Bill Freeman is an innovator at heart. His support of community schools indicates a deep understanding of what is needed to make Metro schools better and stronger for parents, teachers and all of our neighborhoods.“
“We’re behind Bill Freeman because we believe he will be the best advocate for students, teachers and all of us who believe every child has a right to an excellent education that prepares them for the future. Bill Freeman will be a mayor who stands up for all children to get a great education no matter where they come from or what challenges they face.”
In the companion video that will run online at the same time as the new television commercial, Freeman goes into more depth about his belief that with more resources and the focus of the next mayor the image of Metro schools can be improved.
“Schools impact everybody. The biggest reason that families are moving outside of Davidson County into Williamson, Rutherford, Wilson County is because their school systems are deemed to be better than ours. Now, the fact is, that’s just not the case. There’s a reason the President of the United States came to Nashville and spoke at a public school. There’s a reason the First Lady came to Nashville, Tennessee and spoke at a public school. We have a fantastic public school system, we just need to do a better job selling it, make sure it has all the resources that it needs, and do everything we can to lift up and improve our public school system,” Freeman says in the web video.
Freeman Backs Community Schools
Community Schools offer wraparound services for students and families. They include before and after school programs, tutoring, mentoring, classes for students and adults who are learning English and classes for adults to earn their GED.
“I believe community schools offer an innovative solution to many of the challenges that Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) are facing,” Freeman said. “We need to move past the public school versus charter school argument, and get to real solutions that help our public schools. Currently, there are over 150 languages spoken by students in Metro schools and nearly 13,000 students are English language learners and 72 percent of our students are economically disadvantaged.”
“Community schools are not unusual around the country and the statistics speak for themselves,” explained Freeman. “In Cincinnati they have converted 34 of their 55 public schools into community schools and the achievement gap between African American students and white students has shrunk dramatically, while graduation rates for all students have skyrocketed.”
The achievement gap between African American and white students in Cincinnati has dropped from 14.5 percent to just 4 percent, while graduation rates for all students have risen from just 51 percent to 82 percent.
Ruth Stewart, a doctor of family medicine in Nashville, as well as wife of State Representative Mike Stewart, is a huge proponent of community schools.
“I see it all the time in the kids I treat,” she said, “kids with poor health often do worse in school. They’re out all the time because of something like asthma and their school doesn’t have a nurse that they can go to for help.
“What we need are more services that are inclusive for multi children families, that way those families don’t have to split up their kids between schools because one has services that make sense for one child and one has services that make sense for another. We need to introduce community schools in all neighborhoods of Nashville, not just in impoverished areas. The model has been proven to work in every area, and every child, and every neighborhood should be able to benefit,” she said.
“Nashville already has a Community Achieves program where they are slowly transitioning traditional public schools into the community school model,” said Bill Freeman. “I plan to work with the program and monitor its progress and how it impacts student achievement and I would ultimately like to triple the number of schools participating in this process.”
“I will continue to encourage non-profit and for-profit organizations in Nashville to participate in the program as many are doing currently,” said Freeman.
Bill Freeman is the co-founder and current chairman of Freeman Webb Inc., a real estate management company. Bill grew up in Donelson with five sisters and is a devoted husband to his wife, Babs Tinsley Freeman, father to their three sons, and grandfather to two girls. His first job was as a maintenance man and he built his company from the ground up with his partner and one employee who still works there today. His company has been voted a “Best Place to Work” three years in a row. He is a decade long board member of the Tennessee State University Foundation and has been an active supporter of the Sexual Assault Center as well as continuously working to provide housing for Nashville’s homeless along with the 10,000 Homes Campaign.
About the Metro Nashville Public Schools’ Community Achieves Program:
Currently, there are 14 MNPS schools are in the program. ● 3 elementary schools ● 6 middle schools ● 5 high schools
The participating schools serve 11,865 students. Five more schools will be added this fall. The program is built on community partnerships, and more than 80 nonprofit and for-profit organizations in Nashville are participating.
Community Achieves is overseen by 14 full-time coordinators who manage the program across the 14 schools.
The programs focus on four areas of need:
1. Family Engagement — A family resource center, “parent university,” family suppers, events for dads and male role models
2. College and Career Readiness — FAFSA Night (to help college-bound students and their parents navigate all the federal student loan documents; tutoring and mentoring; reading clinics; and ACT programs
3. Health and Wellness — Mental health counseling; nutrition classes; health checkups
4. Social Services — Food pantries; workforce development and GED classes; financial classes
Bill Freeman’s goal will be to greatly expand the program to more MNPS schools and monitor its progress, not only in how it lifts families in need, but in how it impacts student academic achievement.
About the Metropolitan Nashville Education Association: The Metropolitan Nashville Education Association represents Nashville’s teachers and is at the forefront of education reform. Through collaborations with Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools and the Nashville community, MNEA helps to provide the highest level of education to ALL children and adults of MNPS.
For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport