Big Changes Could Be Coming To Charter Schools Bill - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Big Changes Could Be Coming To Charter Schools Bill

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by Mark Bellinger

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -  A bill in the state legislature giving charter schools a way to bypass school boards in Nashville and Memphis is under renovation. 

The House Education Committee did not hear the charter school authorizer bill on Tuesday.  Two parents from Nashville testified against it saying it unfairly took the decision making process out of the hand of elected local school boards.

Opponents of the bill see the delay as good news.  "I think some doubt has been cast maybe by the pressure that's been put on by our parent group, from the leaders that met last night for the press conference," said Shelly Baldwin, a parent from Nashville.  "Obviously, it's not a slam dunk and they need to reconsider what their goal is."

Many parents and teachers filled the committee room on Tuesday.  Most of them were opposed to the bill.  The legislation comes after Great Hearts Academies was denied by the Metro School board several times.

The bill is sponsored by Republican Representative Mark White;  and would allow charter schools, like Great Hearts,  to gain approval by the state instead of local school boards in the state's two largest cities.

The bill has caused a lot of controversy with local school leaders in Nashville and Memphis pushing back against it.  Rep. White says changes to the bill appear to be on the way and the conversation is wide open.

 "And we're not trying to rush anything through on this," said Rep. White.  "There's a possibility that we bring back in the local and not go directly to the state.  My position is the state does play a critical role.  We're trying to improve education in the state."

Instead of going directly to the state for approval, a stronger appeals process could be put in place with the state for charter school that are turned down at the local level.  That appeals process could include an independent panel that would not be part of the State Board of Education.

Another proposed change is making the state authorizer available statewide instead of just Nashville and Memphis. 

The authorizer bill was set for the next calendar of the House Education Committee which is next week.


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