Tennessee Charter School Incubator Tackles Misconceptions

The Tennessee Charter School Incubator has partnered with the Tennessee Charter Schools Association to produce a new informational video, “Tennessee Public Charter Schools: Get the Facts.” Featured in the video are many prominent education and community leaders, including Mayor Karl Dean, Tennessee Speaker of the House Beth Harwell, state Representative John DeBerry, Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman and Achievement School District Superintendent Chris Barbic.

“Even though public charter schools have been in Tennessee for almost 10 years, there are still misconceptions floating around about what they really are and how they differ from other schools,” said Greg Thompson, Tennessee Charter School Incubator CEO. “The purpose of this video is to eliminate any misunderstandings and explain public charter schools to help Tennesseans make more informed decisions when it comes to school options.”

Tennessee opened its first public charter school in 2003 and currently has more than 9,000 students enrolled in the 40 public charter schools operating across the state.

The following text is contains a transcript of selected, attributed quotes from the informational video:

Karl Dean, Mayor of Nashville:

‘We first have to recognize that charter schools are public schools, they’re funded by the taxpayers and they’re open to all public schools students.’

John DeBerry, Tennesse State Representative:

‘I think all of us on both sides of the aisle realize that Charter schools allowed us to go in a different direction and to use creativity in the way that we educate.

Beth Harwell, Tennessee Speaker of the House:

‘ It was wonderful to me that our first and most important priority was the quality of the charter schools that we would have in the state of Tennessee. I think I’m most impressed that we really achieved bipartisan support; both Democrats and Republicans see the good that can come from charter schools in this state.’

‘Charter schools have to perform and perform well or we close them.’

Kevin Huffman, Tennesee Commissioner of Education:

‘Charter schools do not charge tuition. They’re open enrollment, they take all students who sign up. They’re over subscribed. They do a lottery for enrollment to decide which students attend so it’s a very fair process and you end up with populations that are similar to that of traditional public schools.

‘Charter Schools are subject the same accountability as traditional public schools, they’re taking the same tests, we’re measuring their results.

‘Our expectation is that charter schools will perform at a high level; that’s part of the deal. They get freedom and flexibility from rules and regulations, but they need to perform at a high level.

Tennessee Charter School Incubator was founded in 2009 as the first statewide charter school incubator in the country. It plans to launch 22 new, high performing college preparatory charter schools in Mephis and Nashville within the next three years.