New Charter School Touts More Diversity, Hundreds Apply

Posted at 8:08 PM, Mar 06, 2014
and last updated 2015-09-15 18:26:18-04

by Aundrea Cline-Thomas

NASHVILLE, TN - If you think families are losing interest in Nashville's charter schools, you probably haven't heard of Valor Collegiate Academy. Thursday, hundreds of families learned if their child will make it into the first 5th grade class.

Todd Dickson's track record of success in California lead to his recruitment to Nashville by city leaders, including Mayor Karl Dean.

"We picked Nashville, southeast Nashville because we felt like it was a great area of town for a lot of diversity," Dickson said about the middle school's strategic location.

In the fall, Valor will welcome 5th graders to what's now the old Social Security building on Nolensville Pike. Still, school leaders targeted families across the district hoping to drum up interest. But unlike many schools in the district, especially charters, Valor Collegiate will be far more diverse.

Charter schools in Tennessee are no longer are just open to students deemed "at risk" or who attend a failing school, but that still that remains the reputation. In Metro, on average 70 percent of the students enrolled in charter schools are African American, 19 percent are Hispanic or Latino and 10 percent are White.

More than 90 percent are economically disadvantaged.

"We definitely had to educate families on charter schools in general and that the law changed in 2011 to allow families from all backgrounds to come to charter schools," Lauren Hayes, Director of Talent and External Affairs explained about her recruitment efforts.

School leaders said it worked. Only half of families that applied for the Valor Collegiate's lottery will get in.

"Everyone was really thirsty looking for a school, a choice that values academic excellence," Kasar Abdulla, Dir. of Community Relations, explained.

It's a choice that more accurately reflects the district, capitalizing on the diversity that each student has to offer.