Lawmakers rethinking state charter school authorizer - WSMV News 4

Lawmakers rethinking state charter school authorizer

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State lawmakers could be backing off a plan that would take away local school boards' power to approve charter schools.

The move comes after outcry from many Nashville leaders who said it could lead to the re-segregation of schools and called it an unfunded mandate.

The bill was put on hold Tuesday, and the sponsor admitted he was applying the brakes because it looks like the plan is going to change significantly.

Nashville parents on both sides of the issue visited the Capitol on Tuesday, and some were even able to speak about out on a plan that would allow charter schools to bypass the local school board and apply directly to the state.

"It removes our ability to determine - to choose - the people who determine what schools operate in our community with our tax dollars," said Metro parent Anne-Marie Farmer.

But before the measure came to a vote, the lawmakers went back to the drawing board.

"Everyone is making some very good points, because everyone is interested in education. That's why we aren't moving the bill very fast right now. We're listening and seeing the best points are to be made," said State Rep. Mark White, R-Germantown. "We're going to keep the conversation going, but the conversation is wide open right now."

Now, lawmakers are considering a different plan that could still require charter schools to go to the local school board for approval. However, if rejected, they could go to a state panel for appeal, and that decision would be final.

"We still want the state to have a strong appeal process, because we are committed also. We have 136 local districts," White said.

And even though the details are by no means set in stone, Nashville opponents see this as a big victory.

"It gives me hope that when people speak up and have their voices heard, that they are going to listen," said Metro parent Chelle Baldwin.

The delay comes one day after a press conference in which city and school leaders spoke out in opposition of the plan.

The Metro Council also plans to consider a resolution that would put them on record against a state charter authorizer.

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