Done Deal?

So. In response to both houses of the Tennessee Legislature passing a bill to take control of the Memphis City Schools dissolution, the Memphis City Council has approved a decision to accept the school board’s surrender. That makes the surrender of the charter immediate. Maybe.

If we’re going to expect anything, there’s going to be some legal action. The county school board chairman has “real questions” about the legality over the council vote, even though it’s most likely completely legal. Still, if there are billable hours to get, someone will get them.

The council acted quickly, before Governor Haslam could sign the bill passed in Nashville that would have delayed any surrender for a couple of years. I know I’ve said this before. but if the Republicans running things in the state capitol actually believed in smaller government, they wouldn’t get involved in a local matter that was moving along according to existing state law.

And while you might think that a definitive act would be, well, definitive – this clambake is going to roll on for a while. I’m going to guess it’ll take longer than finding out whether Willie Herenton was going to resign – but not as long it’s taking to resolve the Pyramid issue.

It’s interesting that some of the suburban towns are still talking about the possibility of forming their own school systems. There would be the tremendous start-up costs of buying the existing school properties, purchasing all the books, chalk, and all other educational material, as well as contracting for food service, custodial services, transportation and the process of hiring teachers, administrators and other staff. And there’s also the unknown of whether the current size of the suburbs would remain constant or whether there would be a need for more school facilities in the future – more expense.

At the end of this process though, however long it takes, we’ll see a county-run school district education children in the county and the city of Memphis. It may be split into smaller sub-districts to make it easier to administer, but there will be a single district, regardless of what the county or the state does. All the double standards in the world won’t change the ultimate fact that existing law permits the surrender. Changing the law after the fact because there are some poor black children involved might be okay for the folks in the county and the state house, but I can’t imagine the courts will let the rest of the state hose Memphis on this deal. But then again…

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About Doug Johnson

I spent 25 years in the news business, working in print, radio and television. After a steady rise to the middle, I made the leap to the private sector, which chewed and then tried spitting me out after 2 years. I zigged (instead of zagging) into a position in television production.
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