SMART Schools is the same operator that shoved its charter school down Shelby County's throat in 2011 before the merger with Memphis City Schools. Interestingly, also in 2011, both Knox County and Hamilton County rejected applications from SMART Schools. Hamilton County suffered the same fate as Shelby County with the state reversing its decision; however, Knox County's decision was affirmed and the application denied. The TN BOE cited SMART Schools' lack of familiarity with Knoxville's demographics and its lack of local support to find that SMART Schools was not in the best of interest of Knoxville's students, school district, or community.
It would seem that SMART Schools is good enough for Memphis and Chattanooga but not good enough for the Governor's hometown of Knoxville. Or maybe the Governor has his own charter school in mind and doesn't want any competition?
Oh Joy!! Rapture... An Emerald Charter School
First, there is Emerald Youth Foundation, an urban ministry that has been serving inner city children in Knoxville for a number of years. Christian ministries are not allowed by law to operate charter schools, so Emerald Youth Foundation formed a secular 501c3 non-profit organization called Emerald Charter Schools. This second entity will be the actual charter school applicant and operator. Then finally, there is the school itself named Emerald Academy. Confused? Here is the Emerald shell game players --
- Emerald Youth Foundation (Ministry Program)
- Emerald Charter Schools (Charter School Applicant)
- Emerald Academy (School)
Not only does Gov. Haslam have personal ties to the Emerald Youth Foundation but he has also given them plenty of money. Every year but 2008, the Governor's non-profit foundation, Charis, has annually donated to Emerald Youth Foundation. The yearly gift in 2002, 2003, 2004 was $30,000. Then around 2007, the donations began to increase dramatically and almost tripled by 2012. You can see the actual amounts listed below and can click on the year to see the tax return.
Some People without Brains do an Awful lot of Talking
Only you might get the feeling you are not in Knoxville anymore. That's because Emerald Academy will be based on Cleveland Ohio's Breakthrough Schools Preparatory Model. These things happen when Dee Haslam, owner of the Cleveland Browns, sits on your board. Like most other charter schools, the Cleveland model calls for a super rigid environment and Teach For America.
But hey, isn't that what inner city kids need to straighten up and fly right? No, those happy endings are only found in the movies. In reality, militaristic discipline administered by inexperienced TFA corp members leads to kids dropping out or being kicked out of school. And when your truancy rate goes up, watch out!! Memphis saw gangs of teenagers terrorize the city with random acts of violence.
What-a-World. . .What-a-World. . .What-a-World. . .
Be sure to also read parts one & two. Click on the links below: