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Mayor's Education Initiatives

Mayor speaking to a classroom full of children

The administration is committed to strengthening Nashville’s public schools, supporting our teachers, and ensuring all students from every neighborhood have access to high-quality educational experiences. This commitment includes an emphasis on teacher quality, school leadership, fair compensation, and a supportive working and learning environment. It recognizes the importance of working with business and philanthropic partners to promote early childhood literacy and parental engagement, as well as the importance of pathways to careers and jobs.

Programs and Initiatives

Bridging The Education Digital Divide

Mayor John Cooper is directing $24 million in funding from the federal CARES Act to provide every public school student in Nashville-Davidson County with a laptop and, for students who need it, internet connectivity.

“The coronavirus has highlighted a vast digital divide in our community,” said Mayor Cooper. “Those who do not have the means to continue their education, engage with their teachers and peers, and benefit from free programs offered by Metro and our partners are placed at a clear, and early, disadvantage. We are making an historic investment in our public school students and empowering our educators to help bridge the digital divide that most often affects Metro Nashville Public Schools families in Nashville’s historically underserved neighborhoods.”

“As our Board of Education knows, the digital divide is one of the biggest challenges facing our schools and because of the leadership of Mayor John Cooper, we are taking a huge step forward for equity,” said Dr. Adrienne Battle, Director of Metro Nashville Public Schools. “This investment and these devices will make a big impact on our students’ lives, and we can’t thank Mayor Cooper enough for making that possible.”

“I want to thank Mayor Cooper for this exciting investment in Nashville’s children and in Nashville’s future,” said Amy Frogge, Metro School Board Member. “Ensuring that our students have access to computers and to the internet is a huge step towards a more equitable city, where all our children have the tools they need to succeed.”

“I am thankful that Mayor Cooper and Metro Nashville Public Schools are working together to begin to address the digital divide in Nashville by providing devices and hotspots for all of our students,” said Councilwoman Delishia D. Porterfield (District 29). “Students have a right to a quality education regardless of their socio-economic status. Neither your zip code nor your family’s income should determine the quality of education you receive but for so many of our students, this is a harsh reality.”

This investment is sufficient for Dell Computers to provide Metro Nashville with up to 90,000 laptops for the projected 84,740 students who will be enrolled in traditional and charter schools in the upcoming school year. The cost of each computer will be just above $200 per device, a significant reduction from their list price.

Laptops are only useful to the extent that students using them can connect to the internet. Earlier this summer, Metro Schools surveyed families to determine how many families had access to the internet. Fifteen percent of families who responded to the survey reported that they did not have internet access. Adjusting for no respondents, they estimated that 20 percent of their families lack internet access.

To meet the needs of these families, the $24 million is also sufficient to pay for up to 17,000 mobile internet hotspots. Metro Nashville Public Schools is entering into an agreement that will provide students with mobile internet hotspots. Metro is still negotiating with vendors, but the cost of the internet hotspot service would be no more than $20/month, a significant reduction from their list price. Hotspot devices will be distributed to students along with their laptops.

Delivering a cost-of-living pay increase for teachers

One of Mayor John Cooper’s first accomplishments was to find funding to deliver a 3-percent Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) increase for teachers effective January 1, 2020.

Mayor Cooper Announces 3 Percent Cost-of-Living-Adjustment for Teachers

The adjustment will be made permanent through future work with the Metro Council.

Boosting teacher pay and cultivating teacher and principal talent

Nothing contributes more to student learning than effective teaching. In recognition of this fact, the Mayor’s Office is working with Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) and the Nashville Public Education Foundation to better understand the causes of teacher attrition and the challenge of teacher recruitment. It’s the first step toward delivering on the Mayor’s commitment to boost teacher pay as part of a comprehensive strategy of attracting and retaining the best teachers for our students.

Fair pay for teachers is the first step toward delivering a quality education for our children. But it’s only a first step. In the months to come, the Mayor’s Office intends to work with MNPS, the State, nonprofits, local businesses, and local universities to ensure that our teachers have best-in-class training and support. Another important focus is principal development. Effective principals are one of the single most important factors in attracting and retaining gifted teachers.

Public Schools Expert Compensation Study

Mayor John Cooper’s Office in partnership with the Nashville Public Education Foundation and Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS), commissioned an expert compensation study of teacher compensation in Nashville-Davidson County. The goal is to ensure that our children have excellent teachers which is the single most important thing we can do to improve education.

Mayor Cooper Announces Expert Compensation Study of Teacher Pay

Early childhood literacy

The Mayor’s Office has joined a community-wide effort to address Nashville’s literacy challenges. According to “the Blueprint for Early Childhood Success,” 34 percent of MNPS 3rd graders cannot read proficiently at grade level. Students. This downstream results of this are deeply concerning. The research suggests they include an increased high school drop-out rate, limited career opportunities, and increased involvement in the criminal justice system. Supporting a renewed push to improve childhood reading is a top priority for the Mayor’s Office and for Deputy Mayor Brenda Haywood. In conjunction with such partners as the United Way, MNPS, the Nashville Public Library, the Nashville Public Library Foundation, the Center for Nonprofit Management, and other local partners to address this foundational challenge.

Extended Learning/After-School Options

Learning shouldn’t end when school is dismissed. More than 70 percent of our students live in families living below the federal poverty level. The hours after school are both missed opportunities for learning and reinforcing lessons taught in school. They are also the hours that kids get into the most trouble if left unsupervised. Deputy Mayor Haywood is working to increase the availability of after-school programs and increase the supply of high-quality educational options during the summer in order to address the issue of “summer melt.”

Reducing disparities

Forty percent of MNPS students are students of color, yet students of color make up 60 percent of the kids who are suspended. Addressing this disparate treatment is one of Deputy Mayor Haywood’s top priorities. The Mayor’s Office is working with MNPS’s Passage program to find more effective ways to reduce this and other racial disparities. It’s an important first step to improving equity across MNPS.

Nashville GRAD

Individuals who earn an associate’s degree earn nearly one-third more over their lifetime than those with just a high school degree. By 2020, 60 percent of jobs will require some post-secondary education and training. Yet many high school graduates encounter barriers that prevent them from matriculating in and completing associate degree and other college degrees. Transportation challenges, text book costs, and cultural barriers contribute to the fact that only a quarter of MNPS graduates who enroll in Nashville State Community College students – a quarter of all MNPS graduates – earn an associate’s degree within six years time. The Nashville GRAD program addresses will address these challenges by providing financial assistance and mentoring to full-time students pursuing higher education in Davidson County.

Nashville GRAD Program Information