Nashville’s famous music, top universities, and thriving health care industry often deflect attention from an incredibly stark level of inequity, especially in the school system. Case in point: in 2011, just 66 of 1,000 seniors at the city’s five highest-poverty high schools achieved an ACT score that indicated they were prepared to enter college or a career.
Great classrooms, schools, and districts require exceptional leadership, and in the past four years, our city and state have unleashed transformational initiatives. Tennessee won the federal Race to the Top competition; Nashville elected a mayor with a bold education platform; and the state’s general assembly passed landmark charter school legislation that significantly increased enrollment opportunities for low-income students. The stars have aligned for change, but we have a lot of work ahead.
Today, Teach For America corps members teach in 70 schools across Metro Nashville, reaching nearly 13,000 students. Over 500 Teach For America alumni call the city home, and have assumed notable positions in school leadership and education policy, including the state’s former education commissioner, Kevin Huffman (Houston ’92). They are working with our communities to create long-term, sustainable change.