“They’re not going to put charter schools in Old Hickory or Madison or Antioch. They want one in Green Hills,” Turner told reporters. “This is going to lead to resegregation of schools. This is not fair. It’s wrong.”
Turner, the House’s second-ranking Democrat, criticized Harwell over her legislation to give charter schools the right to go straight to the state Board of Education for authorization, bypassing the Metro school board. Harwell makes no secret about the fact that the bill is aimed at overturning the school board’s denial of Great Hearts Academies’ application to open a charter school in West Nashville. Her bill applies only to Nashville and Memphis.
Turner complained that the bill was sprung on the public this week, amended into its present form just before the House Education subcommittee adopted it to the outrage of Democrats.
“This was slammed in here at the last minute like it was some kind of cloak and dagger thing,” Turner said. “They didn’t have enough Republican support for it to do it across the state. They couldn’t get it passed. Those rural Republican legislators are more than willing to stick it to the big cities as long as it doesn’t come their way.”
“I think she’s going to line up and just run over everybody who gets in the way on the thing,” Turner said of the speaker.
“All these people who support this don’t have their kids in public schools anyway,” Turner said, taking another shot at Harwell, whose two sons attend Montgomery Bell Academy. “You’ve got all these people with their kids in private schools trying to tell us public schools parents what to do. Almost everybody who’s such a big critic of public schools have their kids in private schools. It’s frustrating. “
Turner predicted that if Harwell's bill becomes law, charter schools will pop up all over Nashville's more affluent neighborhoods, catering to the children of well-to-do families.
To Pith after this morning's House session, Harwell denied Turner's accusations: "That is not my goal at all," she said when asked whether her bill could lead to resegregation.
"We actively recruited Great Hearts to come to this city, and I just would like to avoid what we went through" in the future, she said.