District 8 Candidate Debate
Moderated by Ben Hall of NewsChannel5.
Monday, July 16th
Hillsboro Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall
5820 Hillsboro Pike, Nashville, TN 37215.
NOAH is hosting a District 8 Candidate Public Meeting
Tuesday, July 17th
Debate: 6:30PM – 8:00PM
Meet and greet with the candidates: 8:00PM – 8:30PM
First Unitarian Universalist Church
1808 Woodmont Blvd, 37215
Gini has been endorsed by the Nashvillians for an Effective School Board PAC!
Last week I had the good fortune of attending a community meeting at Hillsboro High School about the progress on the construction of the new building. It was a low-key affair in the library, devoid of cameras or media. It was simply a gathering of neighbors, and we were able to hear from the project manager, a local council member and state representative, and from the principal. The questions and conversations reinforced my belief in the power of public service, and of people coming together to strengthen and sustain our community. Schools are important places where families and community members gather to support students, attend sporting events or theater productions, to vote, and discuss local issues. Good governance necessitates that city leaders attend community gatherings to hear ideas, get input, and report on their efforts. The meeting at Hillsboro reinforced my decision to run for School Board, and my hopes of building on existing relationships I have with council members, the mayor, state representatives and senators, commissioners, congressmen and current school board members. These are relationships borne out of many years of working across sectors to solve complex issues and of creating a table where more voices are heard.
As a School Board member I will not be starting from scratch. District 8 and MNPS will benefit from my years of building trust and leading on a range of issues. Nashville is having a difficult conversation right now, and we are taking stock, deciding what matters, and struggling to make sense of profound changes coupled with complex financial challenges. It is at this moment that we need leaders who can come together to focus on the public interest, to prioritize, and to find solutions that will benefit everyone, in every neighborhood. If elected, I will leverage my experience and my long-standing relationships to ensure that our students, our schools and our staff are heard, and are a central priority in our city.
My children, Eli and Sara, benefit from the experience and education that Eddie and I are fortunate to have. From their first years in preschool, until their senior year in high school, we made sure they had access to excellent teachers and to rigorous and enriching programs that would prepare them for college. This required a plan, which included enrolling them in high school-level classes while in middle school, and in a range of advanced courses once in high school. We left nothing to chance, paying for tutors when necessary, and urging them to take more challenging courses each year.
Every high school in Metro Schools offers advanced academics, which are defined as Advanced Placement courses, International Baccalaureate programs, Cambridge programs, and Dual Enrollment or Dual Credit classes. Designed to provide a head start on a college education, these classes conclude with rigorous, externally scored examinations, success on which can earn students college credit, often saving them thousands of dollars in college tuition. Their value is clear; students in advanced academics receive more scholarships, are admitted to more prestigious and selective institutions, and enter college and the workforce prepared to succeed. We know the strongest predictor of whether a student will achieve success in college is whether he or she had a rich and rigorous course of study in high school.
However, access to advanced courses remains a problem for many students in Metro Schools. Barriers include small numbers of course offerings, middle school tracking that can prohibit entry to advanced courses in high school, limited counseling services or parent awareness of options, and prohibitive fees and costs associated with the tests and advanced programs, which require that students must pay to play.
In an effort to address the costs carried by students, Metro Schools paid their testing fees for the past several years, which opened the door for many more students to participate in the courses. Unfortunately, as a result of our budget shortfall, Metro Schools recently decided to stop underwriting those fees for the coming year, which cost nearly 1 million dollars annually. I recognize that tough choices had to be made, but this one will have a direct and long-lasting effect on our students, impacting college options, readiness and success. Additionally, we have students registered for advanced courses for this fall, and master schedules have been built, teachers assigned and trained, and programs developed with those registration numbers in mind. Students will have to make hard choices, and many will opt out of the credit-bearing tests, or will withdraw from the courses or programs entirely. This is a tremendous step backwards for our district, and one that we must address now. I urge Dr. Joseph and his team to find a way to cover those costs in the coming year.
If you believe that Metro Council must fund Metro Schools at a higher rate, I urge you to attend their meeting tomorrow, June 5th, or reach out to your Council member and let them know you support increased funding for our schools.