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Leticia Skae is a teacher at Martin Luther King Jr. Academic Magnet School. She talks about her passion for teaching for The Tennessean’s monthly “Teacher Talks” series, a partnership with the Nashville Public Education Foundation.
David Plazas / The Tennessean

The future of Metro Nashville Public Schools is in the hands of parents.

This is no longer a cliche as there is now a unique opportunity for them to raise their voices and tell MNPS officials and board members what direction to take the education of their children.

Last week the school district began holding its first two of four interactive community meetings to gauge public sentiment and receive feedback for the MNPS Next effort to execute strategies for more equity, access and efficiency.

The first occurred at Creswell Middle Prep School of the Arts in North Nashville. The second took place Saturday at Cane Ridge High School in southeast Nashville.

I attended the latter as a community member to better understand the plan and hear what parents are saying. My sense is that officials are serious about listening to parents so that they can serve them better. Three school board members, Chairman Anna Shepherd, Tyese Hunter and Amy Frogge, also attended.

MNPS Director Shawn Joseph met with Tennessean editorial board members and newsroom staff Monday to talk about MNPS Next.

“How do we create an equitable system that creates high-quality outcomes?” said Joseph, in explaining how he wants to see equity of opportunity for students across Davidson County.

Currently, not all school clusters offer comparable programs in areas such as science, technology, engineering and math. There is a perception, and in some cases, the reality, that some schools are not as competitive as others.

There are several challenges ahead, such as a high mobility rate of 35 percent, which refers to the percentage of students who move from one school to another within the same school year. In some cases, that is being exacerbated by displacement of families who cannot afford to live in their neighborhoods anymore.

The ultimate goal, Joseph said, is to create viable options for parents across Nashville and also to create advocates countywide for public education. That includes urging the state to provide adequate funding for schools.

“We’re not funding enough for education,” Joseph said. “There is a moral obligation to make sure children adequately receive an adequate education.”

The final two MNPS Next community meetings are:

Thursday

Hillsboro High School, 3812 Hillsboro Pike, Nashville, TN 37215

5:30 p.m. (food served), 6-7:30 p.m. (program)

Saturday

Stratford STEM Magnet School

1800 Stratford Ave., Nashville, TN 37216

10 a.m. (food served), 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m. (program)

David Plazas is the deputy opinion and engagement director for the USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee and opinion and engagement editor for The Tennessean. Call him at 615-259-8063, email him at dplazas@tennessean.com or tweet to him at @davidplazas.

 

 

 

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