Monday, July 29, 2013

Facebook Fight: Why Is Ravi Gupta Apologizing to Will Pinkston?

Posted By on Mon, Jul 29, 2013 at 5:02 AM

Let me just say up front that the more I look into the matter, the more I think charter schools are problematic. And here's the problem: When something is fucked up in a child's public school, parents want change that will fix it. If they're going to put their kids through the turmoil of massive change, it needs to work.

The promise of charter schools is that if they don't work, you just chuck the leadership or chuck the school or chuck the teachers — change, change, change — until you hit on a combo that does work. This may be what parents say they want.

But in actuality — as we see whenever people talk about shutting down charter schools that aren't performing — there's always an excuse as to why changes shouldn't be made. (See Andrea Zelinski's recent City Paper story about Boys Prep, for example.) People do not really want to send their kids to schools where everything is constantly up in the air.

So I am not on Nashville Prep founder Ravi Gupta's side. I think his goals for education are a fad that will fade away.

But reading this story about Gupta's run-in on Facebook with MNPS board member Will Pinkston, I am completely flummoxed about how Gupta ends up apologizing to Pinkston at the end of this.

Pinkston calls Gupta "arrogant," tells him, "Welcome to Nashville," wants Gupta to "seriously consider whether you belong in this community," and calls his approach "immoral." "Arrogant" is a pot/kettle issue.

Calling someone you disagree and yet will have to continue to work with immoral and not one of us? That's pretty damn low. Will Pinkston doesn't get to decide who's a "real" Nashvillian. And Pinkston sure as fuck has no room to be making judgments about who is or isn't immoral. (Hint: It's not the guy who goes to other people's Christmas parties and picks fights with their guests.)

Sure, Gupta may have been over the line saying, "there is nothing scary about your drunk rage." But let's be honest: What's over the line is just the "drunk" part. Who knows why Pinkston has rages? Who cares? The point is, his reputation is such that when he got elected to the school board, he sat down with Zelinski in order to assure City Paper readers that he had a handle on things:

"I’ve got to recognize at the end of the day that what’s best for 81,000 kids in the system is not necessarily for me to run out ahead of the rest of the group. It’s for me to find ways to work with people. [...] This has been a personal journey for me so far, and it will continue to be."

Zelinski even says, "Pinkston admits to having the reputation of somebody 'who likes to tangle,' but said that strategy will have to change on the school board." Uh-huh.

Therefore, if I have to score this, I'm giving the "Bigger Asshole" award to Pinkston. "Arrogant" scores no points for Pinkston, as both men are. "You don't belong here" is a point for Pinkston. "Your life's work is immoral" is a point for Pinkston. "Rage" scores no points for Gupta because Pinkston and everyone around him admits he's a hothead. "Drunk" was over the line on Gupta's part: that's a point for him.

So, yes, it's close, 2-1. But the math clearly shows that Gupta is not the person who needs to be apologizing here.

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