That’s the message the Metro Nashville Education Association wants to get out as Nashville’s Mayoral candidates head to a forum focused on education this evening.
MNEA pointed to results from a poll of Tennessee voters conducted for the Center for Popular Democracy as evidence that charter reforms are a key education issue warranting attention.
The poll found that charter reforms focused on transparency and accountability received overwhelmingly favorable responses from Tennessee voters.
Additionally, the poll, conducted by GBA Strategies, found that voters ranked lack of school choice dead last among issues of concern on education. That’s particularly relevant given the advancing voucher legislation at the General Assembly.
Here’s the release from MNEA:
Metropolitan Nashville Education Association (MNEA) Leaders say a recent survey of local voters shows that Tennesseans overwhelmingly favor reforms for local charter schools to protect students and taxpayers.
Voters overwhelmingly rejected charter expansion as a priority, the survey found. Instead, voters favored charter reforms to strengthen:
• Transparency and accountability
• Teacher training and qualifications
• Anti-fraud measures
• Equity policies for high-need students
“It’s clear our communities support quality public schools, not an expansion of charter schools,” said MNEA President Stephen Henry. “We need to make sure ALL Nashville schools are held to the same accountability and transparency standards that taxpayers expect.”
The survey also found voters rated the need for more parental involvement and the reduction of excessive student testing as bigger priorities than expanding charters.
Specifically, voters favored by greater than 80% approval reforms that would:
- provide rigorous, independent audits of charter school finances
- require charter schools to publish how they spend taxpayer dollars, including all budgets and contracts
- ensure that teachers in any publicly-funded school meet the same training and qualification requirements
“We need community leaders who will stand up for the strong public schools our kids deserve,” said MNEA Vice President Erick Huth. “This includes our new director of schools and our next mayor.”
The poll was conducted in January among 500 registered voters by GBA Strategies, a research firm based in Washington, D.C. It was funded, in part, by the Center for Popular Democracy, a national organization dedicated to social justice issues.
Here are some of the poll results:
|Total Support %
|Transparency & Accountability
|Require state officials to conduct regular audits of charter schools’ finances to detect fraud, waste or abuse of public funds
|Require companies and organizations that manage charter schools to release to parents and the public how they spend taxpayer money, including their annual budgets and contracts
|Preventing Harm to Neighborhood Schools
|Before any new charter school is approved, conduct an analysis of the impact the school will have on neighborhood public schools
|Ensure that neighborhood public schools do not lose funding when new charter schools open in their area
|Protect Taxpayer funds
|Require charter schools to return taxpayer money to the school district for any student that leaves the charter school to return to a neighborhood public school during the school year
|Stop the creation of new charter schools if state officials have not shown the ability to prevent fraud and mismanagement
|Prohibit charter school board members and their immediate families from financially benefiting from their schools
|Prohibit charter schools from spending taxpayer dollars on advertising or marketing
|Serving High Need Students
|Require all teachers who work in taxpayer funded schools, including neighborhood public schools and charter schools, to meet the same training and qualification requirements
|Require charter schools to serve high-need students such as special education students, at the same level as neighborhood public schools
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