The Nashville Voice has discovered a pattern of coordinated attacks against black leadership in Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) at the hands of a select few members of the school board. After harassing the first African-American superintendent in the history of Metro Nashville Public Schools, Amy Frogge and Jill Speering are fighting to block the second African-American superintendent from holding a leadership role.
At a Nashville school board committee meeting last week, the board’s Vice Chair Christiane Buggs recommended that the board enter into a one-year contract with Dr. Adrienne Battle, who is now serving as interim MNPS director after former director Dr. Shawn Joseph left the school system. “I would ask us to consider at least a one-year contract,” Buggs said at the May 14 meeting, citing the need for Battle the opportunity to establish a track record.
MNPS observers believe at least a one-year agreement would give Battle time to stabilize the current volatile situation this summer and during the 2019-20 school year — and give the school board much-needed time to recuperate after a decidedly tumultuous past year.
A Vanderbilt University poll demonstrates how a year’s worth of discord negatively affected the school board’s job approval rating.
Buggs also believes extending Battle’s contract will help to “rebuild trust,” within the school system and, “offer the Nashville community some consistency.” Despite the clear benefits extending Battle’s contract would offer the entire community, board members Frogge and Speering — major critics of former Director Dr. Shawn Joseph — are set on preventing Battle from maintaining her leadership role.
“I would like to see us backscale from that,” Frogge said about the superintendent’s compensation in an obvious attempt to undermine Battle, who is MNPS’s first female superintendent as well as being the second African-American leader of the nation’s 42nd-largest school system.
Not only would an extension of Battle’s contract represent a historic moment for the City of Nashville, but Vice Chair Buggs has also recognized Battle, who is a graduate of MNPS, as the district’s first-ever “home grown educator,” to become the Director of Schools. Buggs has also called Battle an “award-winning former MNPS teacher, principal and administrator,” who could help “resolve the tension of the past year.”
Meanwhile, Speering argued that Battle should have only a month-to-month contract, which comes with a certain level of uncertainty, at a time when the community is in desperate need of consistency: Experts predict that such a short-term contract could lead to continued instability in the school system.
The primary opponents of Battle’s extension haven’t necessarily demonstrated a commitment to pursuing what’s best for Nashville’s students and educators. Remember: Earlier this year, Speering called on teachers to protest Joseph while wearing masks. Such comments are especially dangerous in a state that’s notoriously known for being the birthplace of the KKK.
Battle not only offers Nashville the consistency our city yearns for, but she’s also clearly qualified to serve as MNPS’s next Director of Schools. If Speering and Frogge can’t put the city’s interests ahead of their own, perhaps they shouldn’t be making decisions about the Nashville’s future.
We’re beginning to agree with the Tennessee Tribune: It’s time to remove Frogge and Speering from the school board. Our community can’t let them do to Adrienne Battle what they did to Shawn Joseph. Enough is enough.