Nashville District 9 schools forum focuses on racial equity

    A walkway at Hillwood High School in Nashville Schools District 9. (Photo: Metro Nashville Public Schools)
    A walkway at Hillwood High School in Nashville Schools District 9. (Photo: Metro Nashville Public Schools)

    Nashville Organized for Action and Hope (NOAH) hosted the third of four virtual forums Tuesday for school board candidates to address issues facing Metro Nashville Schools. 

    Russelle Ann Bradbury and Abigail Tylor are running to replace board vice chair Amy Frogge for school board representative in District 9.

    Russelle Ann Bradbury (Photo: Bradburyonboard.com)
    Russelle Ann Bradbury (Photo: Bradburyonboard.com)

    Bradbury has children that attend district schools and has worked for 15 years as a social worker and fundraiser. Tylor was born and raised in District 9 and taught in the district for more than a decade.

    NOAH members questioned candidates about solutions to a range of racial and economic issues currently facing Nashville schools.

    Both candidates agreed teachers aren’t trained to address disruptions, which factors into racial disciplinary inequities.

    “We need more guidance counselors. We need more social workers. We need more people who understand what it’s like to have a traumatic experience, so that when something happens the knee-jerk reaction isn’t a punitive measure,” said Tylor. 

    “We need to first address that this period is extremely traumatic for every single student in our city and in our nation,” said Bradbury.

    Another topic of discussion at the forum was the effectiveness of restorative justice.

    Abigail Tylor (Photo: abigailtylor.com)
    Abigail Tylor (Photo: abigailtylor.com)

    “Everybody has to be on the same page, and for that to happen we need to make sure we’re continuously touching base with our members and making sure that their training is continuing,” said Tylor, advocating for a community-based approach.

    Bradbury also supports restorative justice but acknowledges that the same measures would not work in different schools.  Partnering with non-profit organizations could bridge the funding gap and give a great ability to enact restorative justice. 

    The pair disagree on whether MNPS is a competitive choice for parents, with Tylor saying it is. 

    Bradbury disagreed and wants to provide schools with more quality teachers in order to create equitable opportunities for students and parents. 

    Tylor has received support from the Metro Nashville Education Association  and Women in Numbers, the latter of which is a nonpartisan organization.NOAH encourages community outreach by allowing students and the public to question the candidates. Students asked whether the candidates support rezoning the district. Tylor acknowledged that the rezoning laws are outdated and not suited for the growth of the community, while Bradbury agreed and believes each community needs a different approach.

    NOAH is a faith-led social-justice organization that addresses issues dealing with race and political issues but does not endorse political candidates.  The organization focuses on education, affordable housing and economic equity and allows a platform for the public to engage in political and economic discussions affecting their neighborhoods. Conferences can be accessed through Facebook Live. 

    The fourth and final candidate forum is scheduled for Thursday, July 9 6:30 p.m. The link to register for the virtual forum can be accessed here.  

    School board elections are Tuesday, August 6 and early voting begins July 17.