Blog Post

MNPS denies families the opportunity to learn about all high-quality schools at School Options Fair

Public charter schools excluded from participating for the first time in the event’s 10-plus year history.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Nov. 11, 2022) — Metro Nashville Public Schools is promoting a Celebration of Schools and School Options Fair event at the Titans Stadium on Nov. 19, but  one-third of the city’s Reward Schools have been barred from participating in the event. For the first time in the event’s 10-plus year history, public charter schools are excluded from participation in the School Options Fair, where schools set up informational tables to help families explore their school choices. 

Charter schools, which are public schools and free to attend, mostly serve vulnerable students, including those who are economically disadvantaged. The vast majority of charter school students, 80 percent, are also students of color. These historically underserved student subgroups attending Nashville charter schools achieved greater academic results than their similar peers across the state and their peers attending traditional district schools. 

Nearly all of the charter public schools in Nashville were authorized by the Metro Nashville Board of Education, which means they are part of the school district’s optional school offerings. What sets them apart is that they are managed by nonprofit organizations, rather than district staff. When MNPS celebrated earlier this fall that the State of Tennessee named 48 schools in the district as “Reward Schools” for top academic performance, 14 of those 48, or a full one-third, are charter schools. 

“This decision by MNPS is a disservice to Nashville families, especially families who have been historically disenfranchised by our public school system,” said Laurie Brown, senior vice president for Nashville Advocacy for the Tennessee Charter School Center. “If our school district truly cares about equity and about serving each individual child’s needs, they would not intentionally keep families from learning about schools with the best track record for meeting those needs. As a city, we should be demanding that our school district leaders focus on best serving children and families, rather than playing politics with important, personal decisions that each family should have the opportunity to make for themselves.”

Data from the most recent TNReady results show that charter schools improve educational equity in Nashville: 

  • Less than 20 percent of Nashville public school students attend public charter schools, yet these schools comprise nearly 30 percent of the district’s Reward Schools. 
  • More than 75 percent of local charters received a TVAAS Level 5 score for student growth. 
  • Every historically disadvantaged student group enrolled in Nashville’s public charter schools — students of color, economically disadvantaged students, English Learners and students with disabilities — made progress since 2021 in both math and reading. 
  • As schools work to recover from learning loss caused by the pandemic, Nashville charter schools are improving more quickly than other schools, gaining 11 percentage points in student proficiency in the 2021-2022 school year in both reading and math, compared to single-digit gains for MNPS and the state. 

Public charter schools are also the most easily accessible and equitable schools of choice in Nashville. Unlike other optional schools, such as academic magnet schools, public charter schools do not have special entrance requirements, such as high test scores. And nearly all charter schools offer transportation, allowing families to more easily enroll their children, even if the schools are located outside their neighborhood.  

“Improving education in Nashville is a matter of social justice, and charter schools are leading the way. This move to keep families from learning about these high-quality schools is the latest example of MNPS leadership excluding schools within their own LEA and preventing opportunities for some of their students who need them most,” Brown said. “I stand with charter schools across this city to demand that Dr. Adrienne Battle, MNPS director of schools, not hide this information from families, but instead allow them to truly learn about all of their public school options. Historically, our country has done a disservice to our students of color and those who are economically disadvantaged. We must put an end to that now.” 

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About the Nashville Charter Collaborative

For charter public schools in Nashville with a track record of high achievement and high growth, the Nashville Charter Collaborative offers their leaders a structure to work together on areas of shared need, such as professional development and recruitment of high-quality teachers. Collectively, we believe that education transforms lives and that every child in Nashville has the right to a high-quality public education.In the fall of 2018, the Collaborative formalized as a program of the Tennessee Charter School Center to provide member schools with an official structure to continue growing their work together.