With education as a top priority, our Policy team has continued to strategically align its resources through community collaboration and partnerships to benefit Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS), as well as the region through educational policy, programs and advocacy. Below is a list of policy initiatives that foster positive outcomes and a stronger public school system.
The CEO Champions is a committee of Nashville-area CEOs who support the goal that that all high school graduates are prepared for some type of postsecondary education and an eventual career. They meet quarterly to monitor and encourage the progress of the Academies of Nashville. The CEO Champions serve as public advocates for the Academies byway of participation in public appearances, written op-ed pieces, and communication with elected officials and the Director of Schools. The CEO Champions also ensure that the Academies are adequately resourced through public and private partnerships and sustained across transitions in school district and city leadership.
"My Future My Way" Career Exploration Fair
The Chamber works with Metro Schools to stage the "My Future, My Way" Career Exploration Fair for the district’s ninth-grade students. Over 300 business volunteers from a wide range of industries and careers spend the day at the Music City Center interacting with the city’s 7,000 public school freshmen. The fair connects students with careers that align with their innate abilities and interests, assisting students' selection of career or thematic academies in their tenth-grade year and the postsecondary requirements associated with that career path. In addition to the considerable volunteer and in-kind support that makes this event possible, our partnership with Alignment Nashville ensures this opportunity is provided to students at minimal cost to the district.
Metro Schools wants each of its graduates to leave high school with college credit or an industry-recognized professional certification (or both), but many students struggle to pay the exam fee for professional certifications. Since 2014 the Chamber has funded most of the cost of 21 different professional certification exams from a wide range of industries. 101 students passed a professional certification exam in 2014, and that number has grown to 140 in 2015.
Beginning in 2010, the Chamber worked with Metro Schools to design a form of professional development for educators called teacher externships. The Chamber, through a partnership with the Memorial Foundation, provided stipends to academy teams of teachers (math, English, science, social studies, and CTE/thematic) to spend 3-4 days shadowing a business partner during the summer, discovering how their academic standards are applied in “the real world.” On the last day of the externship the academy team develops an interdisciplinary student project based on their experience that will be implemented during the next school year. From 2010 through the summer of 2014, 92 academy teams have participated in a teacher externship, impacting more than 500 educators. As of the summer of 2014, most teacher externships are now funded through the school district’s professional development budget.
The Education Committee is comprised of members interested in the state of education. Through quarterly meetings, MNPS strategic work, and advocacy- committee members are able to discuss and develop knowledge about the latest policy issues in K-12 education.
Quality Early Childhood Education
The Nashville Chamber has supported the expansion of high-quality pre-kindergarten opportunities for four-year old children since the 1990s, recognizing the importance of ensuring our community’s most at-risk children begin school ready to learn. The Chamber’s five-year, Partnership 2020 economic development plan for the region that runs from July 2016 through June 2021 calls for the expansion of quality pre-kindergarten opportunities throughout the Nashville region. During the 2016 legislative session, the Nashville Chamber worked to pass state legislation to strengthen Tennessee’s Voluntary Pre-K program. SB1899/HB1485 requires school districts with pre-K grants to develop plans for early childhood professional development and coordination of their pre-K program with their early elementary grade instruction.
Leadership Study Mission
Leadership Study Mission is the Chamber’s annual visit to a peer region, in which more than 100 business and community leaders explore new ideas and best practices, with the intention to return home and effect change.
Among the successes that have been attributed to these visits:
- The launch of Moving Forward – a regional transit solution
- Creation of a 10-county Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee
- Creation of a 10-county Mayors' Caucus
- Creation of the Nashville Downtown Partnership and central business improvement district (CBID)
- Creation of downtown bicycle and horse patrols
- Early awareness and support for:
- Music City Center
- Schermerhorn Symphony Center
- Nissan Stadium
- Mayor’s Office of Neighborhoods
- Bridgestone Arena
- Nashville's downtown and satellite library buildings
- Nashville’s greenways plan
- Nashville’s poverty initiative