Opponents Speak Out Against Charter Authorizer Bill - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Opponents Speak Out Against Charter Authorizer Bill

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By Emily Luxen

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Members of the State Legislature, and Metro School board and Council have united in an effort to defeat a bill that would give the state the final authority to approve charter schools in both Nashville and Memphis.

The group of opponents held a press conference at Legislative Plaza Monday to argue the bill would not benefit the school district or students.

"There is perhaps one state representative  in the city that supports this legislation," said Rep. Mike Stewart. "The vast majority are standing here in opposition to this bill."

"This legislation, for lack of a better term, is horrid," said Cheryl Mayes, the school board chair.

Opponents believe decisions about charter schools should be made on the local level, and it isn't fair to single out Nashville and Memphis.

"Front end legislation that does not offer back end accountability is wrong for our children," said Mayes.

Supporters, including Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, argue that the bill would pave the way for high performing charters to move into the district.

"I think it's a step in the right direction," said Taylor Hummel, a parent, and Acting City Director of Stand for Children. "It would be an independent voice outside of district and local politics."

The bill comes after school board members repeatedly rejected Great Hearts Academies' charter application despite a state order to approve it.  The state has withheld more than $3 million from the school district as a punishment.

Opponents argue it is time to move on, and they aren't opposed to charter schools, but they want to make sure they find ones that fit in the district.  They don't believe a state authorizer can make that decision.

"Charter schools can be a great resource if they are properly funded, but this an unfunded mandate," said Metro Council Member Steve Glover.

House  Bill 702 cleared the State's House Education Sub Committee last week, and now goes before the full House Education Committee Tuesday. Groups of supporters plan to be at the capitol at noon.

Email: eluxen@newschannel5.com
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