It’s February 2020, and Warner Elementary is rising from one of the lowest performing schools in Tennessee to one of the best. But we all know what happens next. And at a school with low-income students, the challenges of a global pandemic hit especially hard.
There was a time when the decision of where to send your child to school was relatively simple: public or private. Now, those choices have multiplied — and the resulting system of school choice hasn’t solved the inequalities at play.
Two years ago, WPLN’s Meribah Knight reported on how parents at one East Nashville elementary school were pushing to reverse a troubling trend: Despite the diversity of the neighborhood, it had almost no children of color anymore.
Last fall, parents from Lockeland Elementary met to talk about the elephant in the room: Their school was now the whitest school in the entire district. But not that long ago, an idea was floated that could have changed the makeup of Lockeland’s student body — and it did not go well.
Warner Elementary is about to turn itself around. It finally has all the right tools to be successful — an infusion of cash, an energetic principal. But will white families choose to send their children there?
In a neighborhood with tons of Black families, Willie Sims’ daughter was the only Black child in the kindergarten class of one East Nashville elementary school. Then he started hearing murmurings from other families, white families. They were mobilizing against resegregation. Did he want in?
After 43 years of courtroom battles, Nashville’s landmark school desegregation lawsuit was settled. In the eyes of the law, the city finally made an honest effort to racially integrate its schools. But in truth, the matter was far from settled.
In 1954, the famous Brown v. Board decision ruled that segregated schools violated the constitution. But in reality, that decision changed very little in Nashville. Segregation was an architecture, and to pull it apart was a grueling endeavor.
It’s the start of the 2019 school year, and two elementary schools in Nashville are about to be at the center of a neighborhood battle over the resegregation of schools.
Season 2 of The Promise grapples with some of the most divisive topics in America: public education and race. This is a story about one school trying to stay afloat, a neighborhood divided over race and economics, and a city that’s resisted school desegregation every step of the way.