Clearly a lot of people (including half-minus-one members of the Metro Council who voted Tuesday) see the appointment
of Kay Brooks to fill the open Metro school board seat until an election later this summer as a bad idea. Although questions have been raised about the openness of the selection process, much of the stir
has to do with the fact that Brooks home-schools her own kids and has had little personal contact with the public school system. Others apparently see in this a refreshing choice that will bring new ideas to the board.
From where I sit (not just as a semi-licensed mouthpiece, but as a public school parent), the mere fact of Brooks' penchant for home-schooling by itself need not be disqualifying -- if
she's an informed, intelligent person with the knowledge and ability to participate in the management of a half-billion-dollar-a-year enterprise. Alas, the early indications aren't encouraging. Brooks admits
to having no background in education. Also, she's been blogging
on education (and other subjects) for a while, and a browse through raises legitimate question about whether she understands what a city public school system is actually about. For instance:
It's very informative to read through the annual Private School supplement of Nashville Parent Magazine every spring and see just what those private schools are charging for tuition. If they can do it for so much less--something is really wrong. (3/31/06)
Surely anyone paying attention knows that the academically superior private schools charge way more than Metro's per-person spending, and that privates also rely on hefty endowment fund-raising. And surely someone qualified to sit on the school board understands that public schools must spend significantly on functions and programs that the private schools wouldn't dream of. Transportation? ELL? Special ed? The "it" they are doing for less is scarcely comparable.
I wonder if another entry might come back to haunt a school board candidate (she's running
in the August race) who chooses to keep her kids out of the public schools. Brooks was commenting on a Scene article
(which she mistakenly thinks I wrote, and misspells my name--hopefully attention to detail isn't a school board job requirement) about union leaders and out-of-county business types trying to influence school board elections:
If you're not from the neighborhood, if they're not your children, if it's not your money going to pay for all of this, you need to sit down and be quiet. If out of towners and union heads crafting the schools we pay for and our children attend bothers you...it's time to step up. (2/8/06)
The schools that "our children attend"? Please.
And by the way, Brooks also appears to favor
teaching intelligent design in science classes.
(Our friend S-townMike is following this story closely over at Enclave