Nashville Mayoral Candidates Want More Accountability for Schools


The top four candidates running for mayor of Nashville said Tuesday that, if elected, they will play a greater role holding the Metro School Board accountable.

Some even said they want a greater role selecting the next school superintendent.

Candidates debated at Belmont University.

Former Vanderbilt professor Carol Swain said she plans to hold school board members accountable for how they spend taxpayer money.

“The school board already gets $1 billion a year and every election we hear more money for teachers’ pay but somehow that money doesn’t quite reach the teachers, the bus drivers, the cafeteria workers,” Swain said.

“I believe we have to make sure there is accountability and transparency and, yes, teachers deserve better pay, and we have to make sure there is no waste and that the money we give to the school board is being spent as it should.”

John Ray Clemons, meanwhile, said he will sit down with teachers and ask them what they need to do their jobs.

When asked how much involvement the next mayor should have selecting the next superintendent, Cooper said the mayor “should be deeply involved.”

“It’s half of our money that goes to schools and the school board. This is their most important job, to get the right superintendent for our school system, and I believe they will,” Cooper said.

“The school board. Each one represents 9,500 kids. 16,000 to 17,000 parents. They are elected. The school board needs to get on it. The mayor needs to help recruit or support whoever they pick.”

Clemons, meanwhile, said the mayor needs to involve him or herself in the process.

Mayor David Briley said he wants to work on the 20 percent literacy rate for the city’s third-graders.

Swain, meanwhile, touted she is a product of public schools.

“To get better outcomes, we have to make sure we have the best possible person in that role. As mayor, I will meet with the school board. I will talk to Dr. (Adrienne) Battle (the interim director), but I am not at the point where I would say Dr. Battle is the absolute best person that she should stay in the role,” Swain said.

“I think the job of the mayor is to appoint people to be involved in the process so that we get the best qualified individuals and we can get the outcomes and those are the outcomes we need when it comes to literacy. We’ve been doing the same thing over and over again, so far we are not getting the best results with the poorest children. I believe I have a unique background as an educator that I can help with that.”

All four candidates agreed they favored the use of body cams by police, as WKRN reported:

All the candidates agreed that the city’s police officers need to be equipped with body cams. According to current Mayor David Briley, equipping officers with these devices has been a “priority of his” since he became mayor over a year ago. He also said body cams will be in the field this fall.

Rep. Clemmons said all officers need to be equipped with body cams.

“Nashville needs to stop making excuses and get it done,” he said. “All officers need to be equipped with body cams.”

Cooper also agreed there is a need for body cams, but said the city “needs to do them right.” He pointed out things such as cost, where evidence is stored and running a successful pilot program.

Dr. Swain was also supportive of body cams and stated they support the officer and the public. She added we need to treat officers with the “respect they deserve for keeping us safe.


Watch the debate:

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]





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