"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, August 31, 2015

Offering Real Choices or Just Segregated Charter Schools: Let's Look at the Wait Lists

Nashville is one of two cities in Tennessee that is on the billionaires' hit list for school privatization.
Here are the corporate foundation whales that are funding efforts to put "harbormasters" in every city on the hit list to promote segregated No Excuses corporate welfare schools as the billionaires' choice for parents in poor neighborhoods.

A corporate outfit called Education Cities is fronting the resources of the Big Four of corporate welfare education reform (Gates, Broad, Walton, and Dell), and they are all engaged in a last ditch struggle to impose the corporate segregation model of reform schools in urban areas across the US.

In Nashville, an informed school board and groups of savvy parents are standing up to the all-out frontal assault and backroom dealings by privatization advocates and their political stooges and hedge fund operators. 

The privatizers have their own mayoral candidate, incumbent governor, a state legislature owned by ALEC, and at least one US senator, Lamar Alexander, who was in town last week to promote the only choice of the corporate choosers--charter chain gang schools.

The corporate education reformers' argument to support their assault on public education is based on providing "choice" to parents in high-poverty, low-scoring schools.  The only choice they offer, however, is the No Excuses lockdown corporate model that most parents reject outright, in favor of a chance to enroll their children in public schools where social capital is high and resources are plentiful.

How do we know that parents prefer magnet schools and other well-resourced and diverse public schools?  Below is the list of Nashville charters, and below that list are the actual numbers on the 2015-16 Wait List for pre-school through grade 12 for all Metro schools, including the charters.  

The Wait List is arranged by Elementary, Middle, and High schools. Notice, for instance, differences in the numbers on charter wait lists as compared to the magnet schools in Nashville, which are designed to attract an economic and racial cross-section, rather than the kind of intense segregated situations we find in the only-choice No Excuses charters.

For just one example, KIPP High School has 21 on its wait list, while M. L. King Magnet HS has 336.  

Tell me which schools Nashville citizens would choose if they had real choices?  What would they prefer, more magnet schools or the one-size fits nobody single false choice of the charter hell schools.


  1. Anonymous7:37 PM

    Didn't Kipp HS just open in 2014 and doesn't it only have 9th and 10th grades right now? That doesn't seem like a very good comparison to MLK.

    As for diversity, MLK is the exception to the magnet school rule. Hume Fogg and Meigs are 2/3 white. Glendale is 85% white, East and Carter Lawerence are 75%-80% black. Diversity doesn't seem to be a big concern for magnet school parents.

    1. Yes, KIPP Nashville High will be 9th and 10th this year. If we look at 9th grade wait lists only, MLK has 223 on the wait list and KIPP has 4. Seems people in the community were really impressed by KIPP's first year.

      With regards to percentages of white and black students, it is not uncommon for magnet schools to cap low SES percentages at 30-40 percent. I recommend Gerald Grant's book as a primer on how large metro systems like Wake County/Raleigh successfully created a diverse, high-performing system using large numbers of magnet schools. See my review here: http://www.edrev.info/essays/v13n5.pdf

      Metro can improve, no doubt, in their efforts. The way backwards toward resegregation, however, is with the apartheid corporate reform schools.

  2. DumDum10:29 PM

    Such a pathetic analysis. You have no clue what you're talking about with Nashville.

    The magnets here that have high wait list numbers are selective academic magnets. So ya, if you want to serve more white kids and few minoriites, then more academic magnets is the way to go...quick ticket to the segregation you want.

  3. Next time, DumDum, post your real name so that I can post your comment. Or if DumDum is your real name, excuse me.
    Nashville has much to learn in terms of expanding socioeconomic diversity in their public school system, but moving toward apartheid charters is not one of them.

    Recommended reading for all citizens in understanding how a school system the size of Metro might achieve high achievement, diverse schools, and happy parents and teachers: "Hope and Despair in the American City..."
    My review here: http://www.edrev.info/essays/v13n5.pdf

  4. Jim brings up some great stats here worth reviewing on the wait lists. My first comment on the stats is that families can be on multiple wait lists. So the numbers you see relative to each school could represent the same student several times.

    I hate the perception that magnets are segregated. The top performing magnets are segregated by academic performance. It is not magic to have academic requirements, get some smart kids with engaged parents together in one school and call it a great school. But our magnets are FAR from racially or socioeconomically segregated. With three kids in MNPS- both magnet and zoned, I've seen the clothes closets and food pantries. Meigs Middle is 60% white. Head Middle that feeds to MLK is 61% black. MLK Magnet is 40% white, Hume-Fogg is the most slanted with 66% white. But, that is changing with a new feeder school, John Early, that is 87% black. MNPS works hard to provide fair opportunities for all kids. And provide school feeds for high achieving kids to thrive. What we need to ask is how MNPS can provide these same higher, faster-paced academic opportunities in all the zoned schools. With the philosophy that every middle school is preparing students for MLK or Hume-Fogg, two of the top High Schools in the state. Because the lottery here is kinda crazy and choice divides communities into winners and losers.

    But, don't let anyone convince you magnets are just schools of 1950's-style segregation. They are managed integration just like zoned and charter school should be. Technically they might be the only managed integration we have left. What we do need to discuss in this town is why people run to the magnets. And what is working in magnets that can be put in all middle schools. Running from poverty and underachievement is the sad answer. Choice is a cop-out if we still do nothing about poverty, ELL, the disabled and the unmotivated left in zoned schools. I love this website MNPS provides. It still needs this year's data - it is slow to update. But, it is a good reference on demographics. http://nashvilleschoolfinder.org/

  5. Thanks, Lyn, for clearing up some key issues.