Mayor Karl Dean today released this statement in response to the Metro School Board action this week on applications from charter schools:
"I am deeply disappointed that the school board denied KIPP Academy's application for a second charter school, even after the district's charter school review committee recommended approval. KIPP is one of the most highly-regarded national charter organizations in the country and does an outstanding job in an area of great need in Nashville – educating our at-risk children. Year after year, KIPP students achieve great results. Last year, they performed well in mathematics and social studies, and their gains in reading scored highest in the state among schools serving low-income students. We have made great progress as a city in our approach to giving parents more choices through charters, and this denial sends a negative message to the rest of the country as to our position on charter schools.
The school board raised legitimate issues of diversity and transportation as it relates to the application Great Hearts Academies submitted. Diversity is an important value when it comes to educating our students, and charters need to be positioned in a way that serves the entire community. I hope Great Hearts can reasonably address those concerns in a revised application and children in Nashville can benefit from the high-level academic program for which this charter operator is known. The Great Hearts academic program is understandably attractive to many Nashville parents seeking additional educational options. I encourage Great Hearts and Metro Schools to work together to find a solution.
I'm pleased that two of the three applicants from the Charter School Incubator -- Intrepid Preparatory Charter School in Antioch and Nashville Classical Charter School in East Nashville – were approved. They will provide terrific opportunities for Nashville schoolchildren, just like the other two charter operators to come out of the Incubator, Nashville Prep and Liberty Collegiate. I encourage the third applicant from the Incubator, Purpose Preparatory Academy, to revise and resubmit its application.
Investments in education, including in the proposed budget, demonstrate my strong support for our traditional schools. At the same time, charter schools are public schools that I see as a fundamental part of reforms to improve public education – and the school board needs to make sure it is giving our families the choices they deserve."