Improving education as a city: Nashville Chamber of Commerce education report card

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Posted at 3:28 PM, Dec 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-17 20:14:52-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — An annual report from the Nashville Chamber says Nashville needs to fully fund our schools, starting with defining what exactly that means.

As a city what can we do to improve our schools? There's no simple solution, but business leaders have some ideas. Every year the Nashville Chamber puts together a list of recommendations to improve Metro Schools.

This year's focus was the city's role in improving our schools, which includes money and equity.

"The committee found the general agreement that the school system is underfunded but no clear articulation the dollar amount it would take to fund MNPS to a level it would allow students teachers and schools to realize full potential," Courtney Hale, the report card co-chair, said.

The report also found we need to do more to create public-private partnerships, and need to do more to address equity in schools. Some schools have lots of resources and help, others have next to nothing. We need to level the playing field - and make sure all schools are funding in a way that kids can succeed. A concern echoed by the school board's vice chair Amy Frogge.

"This does not mean students who come from impoverished backgrounds cannot succeed, it means means we as a community must provide extra support to help these students thrive," Frogge said.

Overall, in order to improve education, the report says the city has to invest in, and support not only our kids but also their teachers.

"It is a sad day that we rally around the idea of adopting a teacher in a city that's as rich as Nashville," Frogge said, "it's embarrassing that we have come to this point."

Here are the committee's six concerns:

  • Need for more cooperation and collaboration between school and city leadership, especially when it comes to challenges regarding transportation, mental health and affordable housing.
  • Undefined funding needs: What does it mean to be fully funded?
  • Equity Challenges: No students should have to go outside of their neighborhood for a high-quality education,The report pointed to different realities at schools in more challenged neighborhoods and called for a spotlight on how to address the equity needs of schools.
  • Need to better compensate teachers
  • Graduation does not mean college and career-ready.
  • Difficulty to sustain momentum: With new leadership comes great opportunity but also the concern that existing programs and initiatives will get lost in the mix.