For most of us, high school graduation symbolizes a start, but for Betty Johnson, vice president at Goodwill of Middle Tennessee, it also signifies a hurdle for about 60,000 people in Nashville.
"We're not doing the best job we can do first time around," said Johnson. "If the mother has a high school diploma or above, the children are more likely to be successful through high school, but if the mother doesn't, the percentage of success for the children goes down substantially."
Johnson thought the Excel Charter Academy could give adults another shot at a high school diploma.
Debbie Grant, development director at Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee, commented, "So part of my thing is let's get the parents to succeed and then we can motivate our youth to succeed."
While the idea might be sound, Metro's board of education denied the application. The decision was based partly over curriculum and partly over funding.
"There seems to be a concern on the part of the local folks - the Metro Nashville public school folks - that, number one, educating adults really isn't their priority. And number two, they're not sure about the mix of funds," said Johnson.
Goodwill appealed to the state board of education, believing state law allows public funding to play a part in educating adults.
Johnson would like to see the model spread statewide, answering critics who argue tax dollars shouldn't pay for second chances.
"I understand, but I don't believe it, because there are many reasons why students drop out in their high school years. It's not just lack of interest, " said Johnson.
Goodwill would like to open four of these adult charter schools. The state board of education will decide whether to allow Excel to open on Friday. The board will also decide what to do with plans for Great Hearts Academy in Nashville.
If the state denies either, they can re-apply for the charter process next year.
Copyright 2012 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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