There’s no compromise tonight. The Memphis City School Board of Education decided not to accept the generous offer of cooperation from the Shelby County Schools in exchange for a decision to surrender its charter. And on top of that, the Memphis City Council has voted (unanimously) to honor the Memphis School Board’s surrender decision – mostly to prevent any action from the Tennessee Legislature to share any opportunity to vote on surrender with county voters.
So, it looks like the Shelby County Election Commission will set a date for an election on Wednesday. That vote, for City of Memphis residents only, should be on March 8.
Tom Guleff, a local blogger who didn’t think much of the proposal to consolidate the city and county, mentioned on this blog that he believes that the current school effort is tied to the politics of consolidation. I respect Tom’s point of view, but I don’t know that I agree with his view, or even if he is right, that a joint Memphis and Shelby County would be a bad thing. Part of my problem is why the suburban cities and county residents are so dead set against letting city taxpayers decide what they want to do about their own school district. City voters chose to have a special school district in the first place; it should pretty much be there decision if they don’t want it anymore, especially since we pay taxes to operate the city schools… and taxes that help operate the county schools.
About that – what’s the deal with Mark Norris? The State Senator has been pushing a bill through the Legislature that would give county voters a voice in a vote in a city school charter surrender. Of course, the senator is from Collierville. One of the city school board members agrees with a Norris assessment of a surrender as a de factor takeover of the smaller county system by the bigger city system. Jeff Warren was in favor of a compromise with the county board. I know Jeff; he’s been my doctor since I moved back to Memphis and for several years the first time I lived here. I’ve got a lot regard for him, but I still believe that one area, one system, one set of taxes. If the way the city school system operates is satisfactory to the people of Memphis, they’ll vote to keep it. If not, they’ll turn it over to the county, which, by state law, has the ultimate responsibility for educating the children who live in that county.
Now it’s up to each side to make their case. Let’s not hope neither side acts like Congressional Republicans on health care reform with their made up claims that the bill is a “job killer,” something for which there is no justification.