Local opponents of state charter authorizer speak out on Capitol Hill

Monday, February 18, 2013 at 6:40pm
021813 Cheryl Mayes charter authorizer topper.jpg

Metro school board chair Cheryl Mayes speaks out against a state charter authorizer on Monday. (Andrea Zelinski/SouthComm)

Locally elected officials in Davidson County are lining up to oppose a legislative attempt to circumvent the school board’s power to approve specific charter schools.

On the eve of the legislation’s first major committee vote tomorrow, over a dozen officials told reporters Monday the legislation undermines the local school board, unfairly targets Nashville and is unnecessary.

“This legislation is, for lack of a better term, horrid,” said Cheryl Mayes, who chairs the Metro Nashville Public Schools board.

The House Education Committee is scheduled to take up the proposal Tuesday. The measure, favored by Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell of Nashville, would create an alternative route for charter schools applying to open in Davidson and Shelby County.

Charter operators could apply directly to the State Board of Education, under the legislation. If approved, funding would come from local tax dollars.

The press conference included a large swath of the county’s elected officials, including five of the nine school board members, a handful of Metro Council officials and most local House Democrats.

Nashville-area state representatives attacked the proposal with Rep. Mike Stewart equating the move to “taxation without representation.” Rep. Brenda Gilmore argued the legislation undermines local school boards’ decisions at the same time state lawmakers argue in favor of local control.

The legislation is largely an outgrowth of a spat last year between the state and the MNPS school board after board members repeatedly rejected the charter school application of Great Hearts Academies given concerns about transportation and diversity.

Metro Councilman Steve Glover, a Republican, said he plans to urge the council to pass a resolution voicing opposition to the measure at Tuesday’s Metro Council meeting.

“This is not a partisan issue. This is an issue truly about our children,” said Glover, a Republican. “Charter schools can be a great resource if we have them properly funded, but this is an unfunded mandate.”

Advocates for a state-level authorizer released a statement Monday saying they support lawmakers who stand up for the proposal, including Harwell and Nashville Mayor Karl Dean.

"While champions of the status quo rally in opposition to change, we will continue to be grateful for political leaders who have the courage to do what’s right for the children of Tennessee," read the statement from the Tennessee Charter Schools Association, Democrats for Education Reform, and reform groups Stand of Children and StudentsFirst.

13 Comments on this post:

By: JeffF on 2/18/13 at 6:16

Congrats to the school board for showing everyone who is the boss of the kids stuck without an escape from subpar schools. You sure showed the state that no one can take away your hostages..er diversity.

By: GoodieTwoShoes on 2/19/13 at 1:12

So, let's hand over public money to a private entity.



By: JeffF on 2/19/13 at 7:22

Interesting point Goodie, because no public school employee has ever been attested or fired for theft right? Google "myopic"

By: Loner on 2/19/13 at 7:32

Union-busting....stealth funding for Christian education....sweetheart deals...patronage....quid pro quo politics...these are some of the unpublicized real reasons behind the publicized "good reasons".

By: Rocket99 on 2/19/13 at 8:19

I find it interesting that the Republicans keep saying things like this should be handled locally until the local government doesn't do it their way. Then they show that they are a bully by passing a law forcing the local government to do it their way. They did this with ethics laws concerning sexual orentation.

The State needs to back off and leave it the way it is. If what some say concerning religous based schools is true, I don't want my tax dollars going there. Our youth need a good education without having religon shoved down their throats.

This doesn't mean i'm against religon. Just think that school is not the place. That is definately something which should be handled at home and in the local churches.

By: TimSkow on 2/19/13 at 9:14

Tim Skow
Amazing that LIBs don't think that parents -- whose children & tax dollars are at stake -- should not be able to decide where their children should be educated and who should be doing it. SO.. lets ask.. "Do LIBs want GOVT bureacrats to decide where we all live?, what cars we all drive? how much toilet paper we can use? "... Who do you want in charge?? Government bureacrats or YOU ? .. by the way.. put your NAME on comments and quit hiding behing if you're going to post something !

By: i.am.a.taxpayer on 2/19/13 at 9:52

This move suggests that there should be more state control. Does this mean there will be recommendations for the state also to assume the authorities of the Mayor or Council?????

By: KENW on 2/19/13 at 10:07

"stealth funding for Christian education" Seriously? What an ignorant statement. Did you figure out you lost the argument on the facts, so you have to now invent your own false premise?

By: Moonglow1 on 2/19/13 at 10:24

Moonglow1: Tim, yes of course parents should be able to decide where they children should be educated: just not at taxpayer expense. If a parent chooses a charter school they should pay for it themselves.

The public should be outraged when any tax dollars go to subsidize private enterprises whether they be charter schools or HCA Hospital Corporation.

If Repub Tea's believe in Freedom, then why are they "stealing" tax dollars and giving it away to private interests. Believe it, this is what charter schools are all about! It is not about education, it is about a whole sale give away to private interests. Public schools are for the public and should be financed with tax dollars. Charters are private and should be financed as such.

By: Moonglow1 on 2/19/13 at 10:30


An "end run" around the school board is a blatant misuse of the democratic process and is emblematic of fascism which is what the Tea's believe in...they absolutely do not believe in freedom.

Haslam hired Michelle Rhee's x husband to smash public education. These people (Rhee and husband, the current Commissioner of Education) are opportunists who seek to maximize their profile at your (the taxpayer's expense). Rhee was run out of Washington DC, and now she is here working with x husband and Haslam behind the scenes to circumvent the "will of the people." This fight is about ideology and not about education.

By: Balo on 2/19/13 at 11:23

Ms Mayes horrid will work. Even the village idiot can come to that conclusion.

By: rawhide on 2/19/13 at 1:17

Hey Loner, SOMEone needs to bust the education union, don't you think? But a charter school actually FREES UP money to use on the less efficient, antiquated, union-controlled and union-staffed schools, doesn't it?

By: ConservativeSailor on 2/19/13 at 4:45

Haven't had kids in school for maybe 40 years now. Now my school taxes go to the school for YOUR kids.
When I grew up, my folks sent my sister and me to Catholic school not for the religious teaching but for the EFFECTIVE teaching. They paid taxes for public schools and tuition for our private school.
When, in the 6th grade, they couldn't afford it any more, I started public school. I truly believe that I didn't learn a thing between 6th and 12th grades. I was a runner-up for National Merit Scholarship based on three teachers in that period. 6-8 arithmetic (he let me help teach kids a year ahead of me), Physics (which became my profession) in 11th and Biology (which became my avocation) in 10th.
What's all that have to do with this discussion? I think Mayor Dean is as dishonorable a politician as there is in Tennessee. He's in it for self-aggrandizement. I think that unions in general and the teachers' unions in particular are in it for job security and benefits, not for the kids or for education quality.
I am against ANY organization, be it governmental, commercial, non-profit or union having ANY say in the curriculum, methodology, testing or conducting education if the organization is not ELECTED by those it has an effect on. I specifically am against any online education program offered by remotely (not Davidson County resident) located
companies. This is against the charter, but by opening an office here that is minimally staffed, the charter's residency requirement is satisfied. That's been done. There is also a requirement in the charter that teachers be credentialed in a way that is consistent with locally resident teachers in any school. No means for measuring that exists in the law or the charter, to my knowledge. Rules without teeth are suggestions.
This, I believe, is another case of outsourcing jobs to the detriment of Americans. The ones I am concerned about, though, are the STUDENTS. We have enough below-level readers and mathematicians.
Steve Glover's my guy and I agree with him. No teachers remote to the County. No administrators remote to the County. No money paid BY the County to any educational entity remote to the county, even if there is a one-room office with a secretary in the county.