Beer Me

It seems one Nashville charter school is in need of new teachers and hopes to recruit them at an event with free beer.

Here’s a portion of the invite to an event hosted by Valor Collegiate Academies:

Come meet key members of Valor’s network and school-based teams, and enjoy a beer on us while learning about career opportunities at Valor! We have several openings on both our middle and founding high school teams in Fall 2018, which you can check out here!

The event is being held at Black Abbey Brewing Company on March 28th.

As an MNPS-authorized charter school, Valor receives taxpayer funds in the way of BEP (school funding formula) dollars based on the number of students who attend.

Is is explicitly against the law to use taxpayer funds to provide free alcohol at a teacher recruitment event? Not exactly. But, it is problematic.

First, imagine the principal of any other MNPS school hosting a recruitment event and using school funds to buy free beer for guests? What would happen if the principals at JT Moore or Hillsboro High tried this?

Second, while recruiting teachers is certainly important, that can be done without using taxpayer funds to buy alcohol.

Third, the state’s Achievement School District faced some trouble in the past when they held a teacher recruitment event and offered free alcoholic drinks.

In fact, a recent Comptroller’s audit of the Achievement School District noted:

In addition, “in recognition of ASD school leaders and support staff, management purchased $1,631 of alcohol using a purchasing card and charged the expense to Charter School Grant Funding, a private grant that provides restricted funding for operating expenses for school year 2015-16 Achievement Schools … .”

That purchase came up in the discussion among lawmakers Wednesday, with Rep. Harold Love of Nashville saying he was “alarmed and disappointed.”

“We advise all offices to never buy alcohol with taxpayer funds,” Mumpower said.

As a former state employee, I recall that on state-funded travel, we were always advised not to purchase alcohol with state funds and meal reimbursements were not to include alcohol.

Perhaps Valor will suggest they raised private funds to pay for the party and so should not be subject to scrutiny. Again, imagine the principal at your child’s school telling you they’d raised private funds to help the school and instead of using them for resources for the students or training for teachers, they were using those funds to buy beer to lure people into jobs there.

In any case, on March 28th at Black Abbey Brewing, there’s free beer courtesy of Valor Collegiate. Drink up!

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



8 thoughts on “Beer Me

  1. Man, Andy. I didn’t take you to be the “tee-totaler” type. Serving of adult beverages seems to be a pretty common practice at teacher recruiting events I’ve attended— and I’ve worked in zoned, charter, and private schools.

    As a Valor parent, I see no problem in this, as it’s not on school property and is paid for by private fundraising.

    Additionally, since you brought up JT Moore, and you’re concerned about the consumption of alcohol, maybe you should look into this “adults only” event at Exit/In that was held Friday night.

    I personally don’t have a problem with the JTM event either, but if you’re going to clutch pearls over this, let’s have equal opportunity clutching.

      • Glad I lived up to your expectations.

        My question for you is, do you really have a problem with this practice, or are you just shilling for the union again? Because if this is a real problem, you need to investigate every PTO fundraiser in West Nashville. But I doubt MNEA and TEA would appreciate you doing that.

        I personally don’t think this issue is a problem. Schools of all types are underfunded and are desperate for quality teachers. I, for one, am glad that Valor aggressively pursues the best talent in the country. If that means buying them a beer, so be it.

        • As noted in the story, it was recommended to the ASD that alcohol not be purchased. You can keep name-calling, but I’m pointing out a concern raised by the Comptroller and one that got the ASD in a bit of trouble. I think rather than buying potential Ts a beer (surely you can host an event where alcohol is available for purchase), providing them with great pay and solid resources would be outstanding. In case you’ve missed it, I’ve called out MNPS for not addressing the teacher shortage… and the current budget situation is certainly frustrating.

  2. Shilling is a verb, not a noun (unless we are talking about old English currency.) And if you are getting paid by TEA to write hit pieces like this one, creating the illusion of impropriety when there’s actually no wrongdoing, the term applies. Not calling you a name, just describing the actions.

    Meanwhile, you ask, “What would happen if the principals at JT Moore or Hillsboro High tried this?” Well, that’s what I’m asking about this past Friday’s event at Exit/In. You have a chance to answer that questions. Is that problematic for you, as well?

    I honestly think we have bigger fish to fry. Both schools are doing their very best to raise money and recruit the best possible staff for their students.

    • Thanks for the English lesson. Now, you’re the one suggesting impropriety when there’s no wrongdoing. You’ve made an assumption that disparages both me and the state’s largest teachers’ union. Still, I appreciate you reading, engaging, and offering your perspective. I reported a story. You didn’t like it. That you don’t understand the difference between the events discussed (ever hear of whataboutism?), is not my problem.

      We do have big fish to fry. Like the serious questions about the MNPS budget and the state and local refusal to adequately compensate teachers. Thank you, again, for your insightful (yet ultimately unhelpful) comments.

  3. So, are you getting paid by TEA or any teacher’s union?

    No, I didn’t like your story. It was an unnecessary hit piece on a school that is producing results among the highest in the state. It was based on conjecture and meant to discredit and cast a cloud of suspicion without any evidence. As a Valor parent I take personal offense to such unwarranted attacks. Did you attempt to contact the school to get information about this event and how it was funded?

    And I’ll remind you that it was you, sir, who raised the question of JT Moore, so I pointed to a very recent similar example that might answer your very question. You’ve not acknowledged it because it doesn’t fit your narrative of the “evil charter school.”

    It was fair of me to ask that question and it would be fair of you to disclose if you are compensated in any way by TEA or MNEA.

  4. So really boys what is this about? Do you need to pull out a ruler to measure?

    Fund raising or having a social evening for adults that includes drinks not a problem. To recruit employees using free food and drink is fine but in regards to equity it cannot be in this case and that is the point.

    Why should Charters get a pass and public schools in dire need of staff not be able to pull out the hookers and blow then if that is the type of staff they are looking to recruit. Again public vs private businesses have different rule sets and charters are not private. They are PUBLIC.

    But in reality this is about someone whose kid goes there and feels that targeting them in a valid post is hurting someones feelers. This is not about you. It is about the appropriateness of an event regarding recruitment on which they were duly warned of.

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