Over and over again government entities have to be reminded that their business is not private business, it's public and the public cannot be prevented from viewing the proceedings.
Today's Nashville City Paper in four very short paragraphs tells us that another attempt at keeping the public's business out of public view has failed. According to the paper MNPS Director of Schools Dr. Pedro Garcia objected to the Charter [school] Review Committee's meetings being public and "expressed desire to conduct the meeting in closed session to prevent media exposure." However:
Board member David Fox was seeking outside legal advice on the issue because he wished to attend review committee meetings and hear plans from the three charter school groups seeking approval.THANK YOU Mr. Fox! Why would the people's representative (Board Member David Fox) have to even wage this battle? What's the downside to 'media exposure' that Garcia is so concerned about?
It's hard enough to get a charter school started in this state, this district, but to continue to give this committee the ability to hide our business, their reasoning, their process from the public only ensures that the children of this district will continued to be denied what may be the very educational option they need because the fox is watching the hen house. Doubt that? Check this list:
Members in red are on the MNPS payroll. I consider these people, sans Ms. Porter as the people's representative, to have a conflict of interest in regard to charters for the children in Davidson County.
Committee Charter School
Dr. Greg Patterson, Chair
Gracie Porter, Board of Education Rep.
Dr. Lendozia Edwards, Curriculum and Instruction
Dr. Kecia Ray, MNPS Policy
Avi Poster, Community Member
Shannon Puckett, Business Office
Glenda Gregory, Business Office
Mary Johnston, Metro Legal
Dr. Nancy Meador, Curriculum and Instruction
Faye Goodman, MNPS
Dr. Tina Stinson, Assessment and Evaluation
Carol Swain, IT
Dr. Christian Arthur, TSU Dean
Mr. Poster is no mere 'community member' as he is a retired middle school principal from Chicago and has been a member of this committee for several years already, as well as the Nashville Chamber of Commerce's Report Card committee, and has advocated closed door meetings for school board business.
Again, thanks to BOE Rep. David Fox. I hope he'll take this a step further and publicly report to the community what goes on in those meetings.
From a post in March 2007 on this blog:
And I completely agree with David Fox in the following:It appears the BOE has not yet adopted this change to their Executive Expectations as their website shows no EE changes this year at all and none to EE-17 Charter Schools since 10/11/2005. Garcia's attempt to 'prevent media exposure' would certainly fail my definition of making a 'good-faith effort to work productively with charter schools'.The whole imbroglio has led school board member David Fox to propose that the board’s governance committee address the administration’s treatment of charter schools by adding to its list of “executive expectation” a line item basically saying the director should make a good-faith effort to work productively with charter schools. The committee will take up the proposal in coming months. (Nashville Scene [an adult site] March 22, 2007)They should do this immediately--though I realize that it's not likely to make an immediate impact on Garcia's contract. But it will ensure that the BOE is regularly looking at this issue and, I sincerely hope, making sure that these MNPS students get all they need too.