Nashville Mayor Karl Dean minced few words Monday about the direction of Metro Schools.
"We are not doing it fast enough," he told an audience of education and business leaders after the release of the Nashville Area Chamber's annual report card. "At the pace we are going it would take 20 to 25 years to get where we want to be."
The Chamber's report card echoed the Mayor's theme.
"While we have seen incremental progress over the past few years, we are concerned about the pace of improvement," said Ron Corbin, who co-chaired the Chamber committee that authored the annual Metro School Report Card.
As evidence, the mayor cited in his speech that "less than half of Metro students met the state's proficiency benchmarks in math and reading for 2012," and only 29% scored 21, the benchmark for college readiness, or higher in the national achievement test ACT.
"These kids can't afford to wait for the results of a 10-year or 5-year plan and so the time for bold and aggressive action is now," continued the mayor.
While saying "charter schools are not a panacea," Mr. Dean contends that "quality charter schools can, and should, play a big role in reforming our education system."
Metro Schools Director Jesse Register also addressed the group and said he "agreed" with the strong assessment calling it "insightful."
He talked about how districts statewide need to understand better the massive changes made by the Tennessee lawmakers in the past two years on how charters can be incorporated into the public school system.
The schools director also reiterated that Metro needs to address what's been called the Digital Divide.
He cited 44% of Metro's 81,000 students come from homes without access to a computer or Internet.
Click here to view the full Nashville Area Chamber Report Card.