State docks Metro Schools more than $3 million for rejecting Great Hearts

Tuesday, September 18, 2012 at 9:09am

In response to the Metro School Board’s rejection of Great Hearts Academies' charter application, the state Department of Education announced that it is withholding more than $3 million in administrative funds from the county in October.

The money, part of the non-classroom portion of the Basic Education Program funding formula, will be reallocated to other districts in Tennessee.

“We were all hopeful that Metro Nashville’s school board would obey the law and avoid this situation. It is our job to enforce state law, and we have no choice but to take this action,” said Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman.

House Speaker Beth Harwell and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey both supported the state’s decision.

“The Metro Nashville school board had two chances to follow the law, and twice it chose to not do so. This is the consequence,” Harwell said in a statement.

The move by the state is the latest chapter in the long-running battle between the school board and state officials over the Arizona-based charter operator. After Great Hearts’ application to open a West Nashville charter school near White Bridge Road was rejected, they appealed to the state, which ordered Metro to approve it. Two successive school board meetings produced a deferral and then an outright rejection. Great Hearts then announced it would pull out of Nashville until the climate changed.

The state's action comes as little surprise. A City Paper story showed how state officials have been working for months towards approving Great Hearts even in the face of local interference.

25 Comments on this post:

By: pswindle on 9/18/12 at 10:08

The strong arm of the bully is showing its strength. The Legislative Branch will now take all of the local school boards power away. I hope that the people of TN remember this when they vote. Some of these people need to be voted out of office.

By: FLeFew on 9/18/12 at 10:26

After reading all of the news stories for the last few weeks, it is my opinion that the arrogant ones are the Nashville School Board.

They seem to think that the lowest common denominator is the proper measure for our students. Great Hearts seems to want to raise the level of learning in their schools, but the school board wants a "one size fits all", whether it is good or not.

The State wants the best educated citizens ... I am not so sure about the School Board.

By: MusicCity615 on 9/18/12 at 10:39

FLeFew-

Great comment.

Pswindle, the school board broke the law, plain and simple. We need to educate our kids in every way possible, and I pray that Nashville's public school system improves, our private school systems improve, and we get as many charter schools as possible.

By: nash615 on 9/18/12 at 11:09

I don't understand how a School Board, in the process of normal business, "breaks the law" by casting a vote.

By: FLeFew on 9/18/12 at 11:31

Elementary, Dr. Watson (nash615).

The State law creating charter schools provides that an applicant, if turned down by a local board, can appeal to the State. In this case, upon review, the State said that the application meets State requirements and directed the local board accept it. When the local board refuses, they are violating the State law.

By: spadafino on 9/18/12 at 12:15

What I find disturbing is how many people seem to think that Great Hearts was some kind of magic bullet that would cure the ills of Metro Public Schools. The commercials for Great Hearts portray classrooms filled with eager students, every one of which happens to be....White. I suppose the supporters of Great Hearts envisioned that would be the case here. I wonder what would happen once children of other races began to attend, as they surely would. Would GH use the "suggested" $1200 donation as a way of keeping them out? Would they allow special needs students to attend? After all, you would have to diversify instruction to help these children, and some of these children might be somewhat distracting. How long would the parents of former-private school children react to these distractions? Would they pressure GH to get rid of them? These were and are legitimate questions, and the Metro school board had the courage to raise them. Sadly, the very people who are chastising the Board and punishing the children of Metro never really bothered to answer those very same questions.

By: WickedTribe on 9/18/12 at 12:56

I love our school board for standing up to these bullies.

By: dogmrb on 9/18/12 at 12:58

Long read but very helpful in understanding the GH controversy!

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0Bx0LSuayKtIWTlI0Zy1pM2U3WkE/preview?pli=1

By: govskeptic on 9/18/12 at 1:00

The School Board knew this was a very good possibility, but cast 3
minority and 2 majority member votes to deny the application anyway.
The new member and Chairwoman Fogge is herself an attorney, yet
cast the final and deciding vote on the matter. Make her a martyr if
you wish, but many would say instead the angry and defiant goat.

The retained money will go to other districts which probably need it
worst than Metro for true essentials anyway.

By: govskeptic on 9/18/12 at 1:00

The School Board knew this was a very good possibility, but cast 3
minority and 2 majority member votes to deny the application anyway.
The new member and Chairwoman Fogge is herself an attorney, yet
cast the final and deciding vote on the matter. Make her a martyr if
you wish, but many would say instead the angry and defiant goat.

The retained money will go to other districts which probably need it
worst than Metro for true essentials anyway.

By: briggslcp on 9/18/12 at 1:02

I'm sure that I may be perceived as a selfish person with my seemingly self-serving question, but do I understand correctly that I will. Of be receiving my BEP money this year? I have started keeping track of what I usually spend out of pocket for my classroom and my students, and on average, I spend between 400 and 500 dollars a year. Thankfully, BEP counts for 200 dollars which offsets that amount. If I am understanding this correctly, then there will be no reimbursement for teachers this years? If so, that is unfortunate because those of us in the classrooms are far removed from this decision and its consequences.

By: PozCommunity on 9/18/12 at 1:11

Hey FleFew. I have a question. Your comment:
"They seem to think that the lowest common denominator is the proper measure for our students. Great Hearts seems to want to raise the level of learning in their schools, but the school board wants a "one size fits all", whether it is good or not."

Why do we need Great Hearts to do this and send our tax dollars to AZ? We already know how as shown with Academic Magnets like Hume Fogg. Why not just make more Hume Foggs? Then I won't have to pony up a $1200 donation, plus several more hundred for books, sports and lunch.

Oh- Briggslcp- I have already seen parents on facebook talking about donating money to their classroom teachers to make up the difference in the hardship this has caused. Cause $10 can be doable. $1200 is not.

By: JeffF on 9/18/12 at 1:33

briggslcp, these BEP funds are different from the BEP you get reimbursed from. No worries for the teachers unless the MNPS decides to somehow divert your funds to make up for the loss of THEIR funds.

I would encourage teachers to show up at every board meetings to make sure the board does not take from you for their poor decision making.

By: FLeFew on 9/18/12 at 2:28

What are the comments "three minority and two majority"???

Are you saying three blacks and two whites? If so, just say it.

By: JeffF on 9/18/12 at 4:06

Actually in MNPS the whites are the minorities so they would be the three votes and the others the two.

By: briggslcp on 9/18/12 at 5:03

Jeff,
Thank you for your response!
Kind regards,
LCB

By: briggslcp on 9/18/12 at 5:05

And thank you to Poz Community, too. Yes, 1200 dollars is quite steep!

By: dogmrb on 9/18/12 at 5:37

So have you all already read my link to Great Hearts? Or is it too long, too detailed or too slanted to keep your attention? And I missed the vote where Ms. Frogge was elected Chair? I agree with just commenting on the race of the person if that's your screen.

By: Fred_dog1 on 9/19/12 at 7:48

The Metro School Board has cost students and tax-paying citizens of Davidson County three-plus million dollars for the sake of political correctness – the enemy of freedom of expression – and the false goal of “diversity” – the currently fashionable and politically-correct euphemism for race discrimination or economic class discrimination, or both, when diversity is a required goal.

Diversity as an outcome is perfectly fine. But decisions made on the basis of race or economic class are not based on factors that cause behavior or academic achievement. The undeniable fact is that, on the whole, students whose care-givers – ideally parents – are involved in their educations behave better and achieve more than those who are not so fortunate. There is very little any teacher or school system can do to eliminate that general distinction. Another undeniable fact is that well-behaved, high-achieving students have just as much right to a public education as those who perform poorly.

The question is how this school system will allocate its limited resources. One possible answer is that it will devote a disproportionate share to helping students whose care-givers have abdicated their responsibilities. But whether one favors that particular outcome or not is not the point. The Metro School Board should openly and squarely confront and debate real issues and should not make decisions based upon false goals and factors that do not cause behavior or achievement.

JQuincy

By: pswindle on 9/19/12 at 10:09

Thank goodness we have a school board that stands up to the bullies on the hill.

By: dogmrb on 9/19/12 at 10:34

"One possible answer is that it will devote a disproportionate share to helping students whose care-givers have abdicated their responsibilities." How do you know this? Clearly many parents have done this by consigning their child's education to a Boarding School too but no one sees that as abdicating responsibility!

As resources become scarce and parents and grandparents can't or won't pay for private education, this situation was predictable. EMO's are not the answer however. The best situation for my child is for city's children to be as well-educated as my own.

By: govskeptic on 9/19/12 at 11:00

pswindle: That's a very intelligent posting. The Board will accept your
donation to help offset for their actions, I'm sure.

By: Specter47 on 9/19/12 at 1:47

$3.4 million...is that all? Thank God this Board does not have the power to tax.

And always remember that the School Board's goal is not excellent schools and academic achievement. The goal is "diversity" ... making sure that there are fewer white kids and more black kids in the schools. A school like Great Hearts might naturally draw white children, and we cannot have that.

By: thinking12 on 9/19/12 at 7:21

"One possible answer is that it will devote a disproportionate share to helping students whose care-givers have abdicated their responsibilities." How do you know this? dogmrb
FYI ... parents involvement is the only element missing in MNPS equation for sucess.
They have no control over it and choose to ignore it's very exsistence and importance!!!
But without it they will fail every time no matter how much money they keep throwing at the schools!
Please stop raising taxes to pay for "education" of ambivilant children of ambivilant parents-send them an invoice monthy for their child's education with a "forgiveness" clause for every A acheived and watch what happens.
You cannot expect a "free" education to have any value-especially when the bill is paid by someone else!

By: kellyfretz on 10/26/12 at 8:59

Please sign my petition! We can't let the get away with this!

http://www.change.org/petitions/tennessee-department-of-education-stop-them-from-withholding-3-4-million-in-funding

Thank you