Governor Bill Lee gave his State of the State address last night and outlined his budget and vision as he begins his first term. Among the items he discussed was the creation of a state charter school authorizer.
Nashville Public Radio has more:
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee is proposing legislation that would make it easier to establish charter schools.
He announced the plan Monday night during his State of the State address. If it passes, it would allow a sponsor to go directly to a state-run authorizer for approval, instead of a local school district.
The proposed change is significant because current law requires a charter operator to submit a proposal to a local school board first. The local board then evaluates the proposal and makes a decision as to whether or not it would be a good fit for the needs of students in the district. If the local board rejects the proposal, the operator may appeal to the State Board of Education.
The State BOE often looks to the local board’s evaluation of the charter application for guidance. Sometimes, operators revise and improve the application. Sometimes, the State BOE determines the local board made a sound decision based on the evidence, as was the case with Rocketship in Nashville not long ago:
Let’s review. Rocketship was denied expansion by MNPS and the State Board of Education last year. Rocketship applied again. MNPS denied them. Rocketship appealed. MNPS denied the amended application by an 8-1 vote. Rocketship is now appealing based on a technicality instead of working with MNPS to find a satisfactory way to address concerns.
Here’s what MNPS said when they reviewed the Rocketship application:
In summary, with no additional state accountability data to consider, and no compelling evidence presented that provides confidence in the review team, converting an existing low-performing school before Rocketship has demonstrated academic success on state accountability measures would not be in the best interests of the students, the district, or the community.
If Governor Lee’s proposal is successful, schools like Rocketship will now be able to circumvent local input altogether. In this case, MNPS identified key problems with Rocketship and decided an expansion was not in the best interests of the students of the district.
Why shouldn’t charters be required to present a proposal to a local board of education first? Shouldn’t the citizens of a community, by way of their duly elected school board, be able to weigh-in on the appropriateness of a given charter school proposal?
Moreover, why doesn’t Bill Lee trust local school boards?
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