This is a defining moment for our city’s children. With a new Mayor and Director of Schools – and with countless talented educators across the city working diligently day in and day out – we have a lot to be hopeful for.
Our Parents & Students Deserve Great Schools
Only 35% of our 4th graders are proficient or advanced in reading or math.
Just 14% of graduating high school students met the ACT college readiness benchmark last year.
Half of the schools in our district are performing at or below average.
When asked what should be the top priority for our city, 84% of voters pick “improving public education” – higher than any other issue.
I know it’s unfashionable for candidates for office to say this, but the residents of our city are extremely clear on this point: our schools must improve, they must improve dramatically, and they must improve NOW.
I am running for school board to channel your voice into that change. To be a fierce advocate for the schools our families need and deserve.
And I will bring a unique perspective to my service. I returned to Nashville 10 years ago – and immediately got to work as a member of our city’s civic and educational community.
We must focus on measurable improvement
Our school board has approved an academic performance framework that takes into account diverse data points – from teacher satisfaction to student performance to student attendance. However, our board has done very little with this data. If a school is struggling, we must urgently make change within and move resources to that school. If a school is succeeding, we should mine that school for best practices to be shared across the district.
On this latter point, I see folks in this very room from some of the highest performing schools as measured by the academic performance framework. You should all be applauded for your work. But, astonishingly, our board is doing so little to examine and scale what’s working in your schools for the benefit of all kids. At worst, some members are actually harassing you.
Whether your school is breathtakingly successful or dangerously under-performing, I will be your school board member. Using objective and diverse data, I will find, protect, and scale what works, fix what doesn’t, and focus on the schools that need the most help.
We must move our schools into the 21st century
Though the world is changing at an exponential pace, our schools are still remarkably similar to what they looked like fifty years ago. Though the workforce is dominated by high speed internet, sensors, laptops, software, and smartphones, our students are still spending the majority of their days with a paper and pencil.
And far too many kids even lack consistent access to a computer and reliable wireless after school. These same students are being shut out of the very few computer science classes available across our district. Indeed, in Tennessee last year only 20% of AP Computer Science test takers were women, and there were only 36 test takers total who identified as Black or Latino.
As a member of the board, I will make it a priority to dramatically upgrade student access to technology and to bring universal access to computer science education – with a special focus on our women and students of color.
We must restore civility and collaboration in the board room and the class room
Our board has spent way too much time in political and ideological food fights, and not nearly enough time asking what it will take to improve outcomes for kids.
Nowhere is this more true than in the debate over public charter schools.
Though charters are only ten percent of students, it often feels like they get ninety percent of the attention of many members of this current school board. And those members aren’t mining these charters for best practices to replicate; they are actually seeking to embarrass and harass the very leaders of schools that are improving the lives of so many kids.
When I talk to parents of kids in district schools, many of them are frustrated that their board isn’t paying enough attention to their schools. When I talk to parents of kids in charter schools, they are frustrated that their board doesn’t view their school as part of the system. All parents are begging for a smarter focus on all kids.
As a member of the school board, I will apply the same standard to all schools – and most importantly shift the focus back on the ninety percent of schools in our district that currently get shortchanged.