An achievable vision for our schools

State Rep. John Ray Clemmons

Providing every child in Nashville with a high-quality public education should be our number one priority as a city. We must always remember that our future will be directly shaped by the support we provide our public schools today. As both a recipient of a public education and a proud parent of MNPS students, I am personally committed to improving our public schools for every child in Nashville.

As Mayor, my vision for MNPS is for our it to be the fastest improving school district in the country.

This vision can become a reality by fully funding our schools and providing teachers with the resources and staffing assistance they so badly need. We must form and maintain a strong partnership with the director of schools and the school board to achieve a shared vision for MNPS.

The money we spend on MNPS is more than just a line item in Metro’s budget — it’s a direct investment in the future of our city. Our budget is a moral document that must reflect our priorities and recognize the importance of providing every student in Nashville with an opportunity to succeed.

As an MNPS parent, I have personally observed the inspiring commitment of teachers, para-professionals, and administrators. They all manage to do amazing things in every school every day with limited resources and staffing. With the full financial support of our city, it will be exciting to see what all they can accomplish.

It is time that we finally acknowledge the mayor and council’s direct role in student performance. The days of pointing fingers must end. Our students are only in our schools seven hours per day. The other 17 hours per day they are in our community, and every decision made in Metro government has a direct impact on their lives.

Children take everything they experience outside of their school with them inside the classroom, so the mayor and council should own the impact they have on students’ performance. To have a positive impact on students, Metro must be more mindful and intentional in its policies so that we successfully reduce childhood hunger, homelessness, displacement, transportation barriers, exposure to traumatic events, and other adverse childhood experiences.

Our community’s commitment to this vision must be apparent not only in the budget but in every Metro policy. Fully funding MNPS and supporting our students are not burdens that must be borne solely by taxpayers. There are multiple ways in which our city can redirect existing revenues and generate new revenues to fund our schools. Numerous thriving non-profit and faith-based organizations stand ready to lend their support, and we should proactively facilitate students’ transition into substantive after-school, summer programming, and job opportunities throughout our community.

We should also require more of companies located in or relocating to our city. Minimum volunteer hours for employees, active partnerships with schools, on-site programming activities, and technology training are all things that can and should be asked of good corporate citizens.

The need for leadership in the mayor’s office and a vision for the future of our schools has never been greater. It is time for change. Our future starts now.

State Representative John Ray Clemmons represents House District 55 in the Tennessee General Assembly and is running to be Nashville’s next mayor. Follow him on Twitter @Clemmons4Mayor.

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