Sunday, July 13, 2008

In support of the school rezoning plan

Commentary by Cesar A. Muedas

I am glad that the school board approved the new rezoning plan for Nashville public schools with a 5:4 vote. I am afraid, however, that most news reports have gone for the sensational angles in the story. I was present at the board meeting last Tuesday and was very impressed by the candor, common sense and professionalism of the five members that voted in favor of the rezoning. I feel confident that the current political will to change for the better is real.

My two children attend public school in Nashville, and I have been involved with MNPS since 2005 as a parent and volunteer. I have had the opportunity to visit 26 schools in the system, and to speak with 17 principals and with – I estimate - three times as many teachers. I have attended at least 10 school board meetings and one regular membership meeting of MNEA. I have served as member of the PTO board of my children's school and have made a personal commitment to devote as much time as possible to make their school better every year.
My simple conclusion is that the sooner rational change is introduced in the public school system, the more meaningful the improvements will be regardless of racial and socio-economical differences. I share the opinion that public education in Nashville is at a crossroads today; the status quo must be challenged every single day by every stakeholder. I want to believe that I am not the only parent that expects to see and hear courageous leaders that separate themselves from cosmetic or incremental changes and are willing to imagine, propose and execute radical solutions that transform our schools in the very short term. In exchange for that kind of leadership, many parents like me are willing to roll up our sleeves and walk the walk with plenty of trust in those who take the lead, even if plowing a new path is not 100% risk-free or 100% popular.

What about the foul-crying about re-segregation?
I took the time to read the proposal of the student re-assignment task force. I spoke with three of its members and with two members of the school board. Like any proposal for change, nobody was expecting the miracle of unquestioned support of it. Unanimity is not a condition for democracy, nor victimology of a group the justification for opposition and distrust. We should respect the outcome of the vote by the board and decry the collateral politicking, posturing and litigiousness, all three responses simply counterproductive.
My other simple conclusion is that we live in a Nashville that not only is different than the one of 50 years ago, but is also populated by a new generation of adults that will never go back to a time of racism or corruption.

I feel optimistic because a growing number of parents is realizing that change begins at home, continues at our children's schools and requires our civic participation in every election. Not two households are the same, not two schools are identical, and we have very different candidates running for school board posts next month. Let's continue our engagement at all three levels and demand equitable conditions throughout MNPS independently from how we may understand or perceive this or any future rezoning plan.

Cesar Muedas served as first president of COPLA, the Committee of Hispanic parents (Sep.2006-Sep.2007) and was the only Hispanic member of Mayor Dean's workgroup for the Project for Student Success (Dec.2007-Jun.2008).

1 comment:

  1. A favorable comment in


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