In just the last few weeks, Metro Schools also announced with pride the names of the district’s Presidential Scholar and four National Merit Scholars. They tweeted about the 80 Overton High School students who are the first in Tennessee to receive a Seal of Biliteracy award. They shared photographs of beautiful, engaged, proud elementary, middle and high school students participating in the annual district-wide project-based learning fair. And teachers, team leads, counselors, coaches and principals of the year are being lauded, too.Recently, much ink and many pixels have been devoted to the topic of public education in our community. The central thesis of these authors – regardless of political persuasion, philosophical camp or income tax bracket – is that more needs to be done in order to ensure a quality educational experience for all 83,000 students enrolled in the public school system. I do not disagree. In 2014, 45 percent of MNPS sophomores could not score proficient or advanced on the English II end-of-course exam. Nearly three-quarters - 71% - of MNPS high school students could not score proficient or advanced in the algebra II end-of-course exam. Last year, only 29 percent of MNPS juniors were able to score a 21 or higher on the ACT. But I do believe what is being lost in the current conversation – or posturing, as it sometimes seems – is real recognition of the good works that are happening, acknowledgement of when successes occur, and pride in the individual students and teachers who are accomplishing great things every day.
The conversation about improving Metro Schools should not falter. Nor should it be allowed to continue to come from a position of deficiency. Let us commit to truly knowing, understanding, supporting and celebrating this district – both its strengths and its weaknesses.
Whitney Weeks is a VP of policy at the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. Her three children are enrolled in MNPS.