National Education Association President Lily Garcia was in Nashville yesterday and visited Ingelwood Elementary School. Earlier this month, she visited Shwab Elementary. Inglewood has been caught up in a controversy over whether or not it will be handed over to KIPP for a charter school conversion.
Upon entering the school, Garcia stopped and greeted teachers and guests who had gathered to meet her. MNPS School Board member Jill Speering was among those in attendance, as was Tennessee Education Association President Barbara Gray.
Garcia said she had a simple message for the teachers and parents at the school:
“We’re here today because we are on your side.”
Two students took Garcia on a tour of the school, including the library and a number of classrooms.
In one class, Garcia asked the students what was special about Inglewood. The students told her they were very excited because the school has a debate team.
Teacher after teacher greeted Garcia and thanked her for her visit. Some were crying, citing the criticism the school has received and the potential that it will be handed over to KIPP.
Some teachers cried as they talked about their love for students and the needs the families at the school face. At an earlier forum at Litton, one Inglewood teacher expressed a desire to provide more support for both the children she teaches and their parents. She told the group that Inglewood is heading in the right direction, but needs the ability to provide additional meals and other services for families.
One teacher nearly broke down when he told Garcia and those accompanying her that he “loved these kids” and that they need teachers who not only teach them, but love and support them every single day.
An active group of parents at the school has been resisting a charter conversion, writing letters to Dr. Register and conducting surveys demonstrating support for options that do not include handing the school over to KIPP. A survey of parents recently published by the group shows that nearly 80% of Pre-K families oppose a conversion of the school to KIPP and that none of the Kindergarten families surveyed want KIPP.
A decision is expected this week on whether or not Inglewood will be converted.
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