Now that the date has been set for a citywide referendum on the issue, it appears that a great deal of the rhetoric and whatnot concerning the ability of Memphis to determine the future of its school district has calmed a bit. That doesn’t mean it will stay that way, that just means that is the current condition. In reality, I expect that this will again be challenged on some level in the days ahead, likely due to State Sen. Mark Norris’ bill which seeks to take that self-determination away.
It looks like the newly minted DA will be investigating allegations lodged by County Commissioner Terry Roland that Memphis City School Board member Stephanie Gatewood was somehow unduly influenced by another elected official in exchange for her vote on the Charter Surrender. When Roland initially made the allegation, it seemed to come more from a “tin foil hat” type conspiracy theory than anything else. Now, with the DA involved, there are some that think it may be more legitimate, but until some formal determination is made, I wouldn’t jump to any conclusions.
The Gates Foundation has weighed in and reported that they intend to stick with Memphis schools, despite what happens in the referendum. This answers one of the many questions out there regarding monies the current city system receives from outside sources.
Ken Hoover, who lost his bid to replace current Shelby County School Board President David Pickler in November, is circulating a petition to establish a municipal district in Germantown. Approximately 27% (10881) of Germantown residents are age 0-20. Currently the combined tax rate for Germantown and Shelby County property taxes is 5.445. Establishing a municipal school district would cost the residents a great deal more as they would still continue to pay County taxes for Education, and receive revenue as a result. But based on the current cost of acquiring the existing buildings from the county, or building their own, Germantown would find itself in a similar situation as current Memphis residents from a tax rate perspective. Good luck with that in tax averse Germantown.
Finally, there’s the future, which seems to be what people are focusing on now, including the Shelby County Commission. On Wednesday the Commission began talks about what a new, unified Shelby County School Board would look like, though, as this morning’s CA reports, there’s a great deal of dispute over who actually has the power to determine the size and makeup of the board. Indeed, in looking at state law, the issue is contrived. To be honest, I can’t really make heads or tails of the law on this as there are so many conditions and seemingly contradictory passages that I don’t know which or what applies in this instance. Further, looking at other instances of charter surrender doesn’t net much information as much of relevant state law has been altered since, and none of the efforts have similar scenarios. So, for right now at least, I’m in “wait and see” mode. Perhaps I’ll get more guidance on this in the coming days.
Wendi C. Thomas: Merger can help untangle red tape
Shelby County D.A. hears charge that commissioners tried to influence Gatewood’s charter surrender vote
Gates Foundation Grant to MCS Safe from Merger
Hoover Petitioning for Independent Germantown School District
Suburban Towns Consider Starting School System
County Attorney Punts Roland Charges on Alleged Gatewood Deal to D.A.’s Office
Money from Gates Foundation grant to remain in place
Parent Favors MCS Charter Surrender to Oust Superintendent Cash
Views differ on unified school board; Pickler, commissioners at odds on size, power to appoint
What? Could it be? An emerging voice of clarity and calm? From the Shelby County Schools side? Surely not. Well, that’s exactly what Shelby County Schools Superintendent John Aitken was in this interview with Ernie Freeman. I encourage you to watch it.
Despite all the back and forth threats and fear tactics that have been coming from Shelby County Board of Education members, Aitken puts the discussion back where it belongs, on education. Not only is he putting forth a “can do” attitude, but he’s also trying to quell the fears of many parents in both systems. “We’re going to do what’s right for kids”. That’s a welcome message among all the rhetoric.
Other than that, there hasn’t been much news. It seems everyone is waiting for the litigation to start, which probably won’t happen until the State Legislature starts back up in two weeks. What they choose to do will have huge impact on how the situation develops.
Enjoy your snow day.
The Norris Interview II: The Senator Gives His Explanation of Why County Residents Should Vote on the MCS Charter Issue
Voters Seeks More Information on Merger
Shelby County Schools Superintendent John Aitken on Merger Vote
Students set to debate MCS charter surrender
New School Merger Option Emerges
Pickler still exploring options in MCS charter surrender fight
It’s down to a vote and the date is March 8
The Legal Fight Just Beginning In Shelby/Memphis School Merger
Planning Key in Chattanooga Merger
Charter Surrender Situation: What’s Next?
Shelby County Board President On Possible Litigation
Congratulations to Antonio Parkinson on his Democratic Primary win in the HD-98 election.
This was a very low turnout election. The Commercial Appeal reports just 629 of the 30,000+ registered voters turned out to vote.
The general election is on March 8th, the same day as the scheduled Memphis City Schools charter surrender vote. No Republicans filed petitions for the seat, so barring a huge write-in campaign, Parkinson will serve the district in Nashville for the next two years.
So the media is all flipping out about my Congressman, Steve Cohen, calling propagandists, what they are… propagandists. In doing so he chose to use one of the most notorious propagandists of modern times, Joseph Goebbels.
Folks have said he called Republicans “Nazi’s”. That’s not what I heard. What I heard was a guy that’s tired of hearing a big lie repeated over and over again until it becomes conventional wisdom.
That is what the Big Lie is:
…a lie so “colossal” that no one would believe that someone “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.”
It should, because as Congressman Cohen notes, the lie about the Healthcare Reform Bill being a “government takeover” of healthcare has been characterized as a falsehood again and again. Despite this fact, far too many Republican lawmakers, candidates and boosters have continued to repeat this lie for their personal and political gain with the help of a compliant media.
In effect, they have repeated the same lie enough times that it has infiltrated the American mind to the point that if you played word association with just about anyone and said “government takeover” they’d say “Obamacare”.
That is programming via propaganda.
But just because you invoke one of the world’s greatest propagandists, who also happens to be a Nazi, doesn’t mean you’re calling people a Nazi. It means you’re calling them propagandists.
It’s not as if Republicans didn’t know what they were doing. Frank Luntz “urged” it, and it was done. If only Democratic lawmakers would listen like this!
The point is, you don’t get a Pulitzer Prize winning media organization to call your rhetoric the Lie of the Year if what you’re saying ain’t a lie. And you can sit there and repeat your “winning phrase” all you want, you can vote to repeal, you can wave signs saying “Keep Government out of my Medicare” and it doesn’t make what you’re saying true.
“Government takeover” conjures a European approach where the government owns the hospitals and the doctors are public employees. But the law Congress passed, parts of which have already gone into effect, relies largely on the free market.
Free market? I thought you guys all had a hard on for all that free market stuff. Guess not.
In the end, if I say you’re like Walt Disney, I’m saying I think you’re creative and good with the marketing, not the creator of world recognized brand or owner of a slew of theme parks.
And if I say you’re like Joseph Goebbels, then I’m saying you’re not only a damn good ideology based liar, but pretty damn persistent and consistent as well as pretty damn good at getting away with it, not that you’re a Nazi.
Though I guess you’d be proving my point if you did stretch and say I was calling you a Nazi, wouldn’t you?
Republicans should either take the comment recognizing your largely successful effort to defraud the American people as a compliment and move on, or if being a propagandist that uses their propaganda in the service of creating one of the worst public health nightmares in human history is not your intention…stop being a propagandist and start telling the truth.
Here’s the whole speech.
I start off today with something that’s not necessarily “news”. The blog Memphis School Referendum has posted a study that looks at the impact of school consolidation on home valuations. Verdict? No change in districts that have over 1700 students. De Soto realtors, don’t get your hopes up too high too soon.
Ok, yesterday didn’t hold that much news on the schools front. An election was scheduled for March 8th, which just so happens to be the date of the HD-98 election, so that saves us a little money.
The County Commission, who will have to set the Board of Education districts for either the current structure of Shelby County Schools, or the new County wide Shelby County Schools started looking at the possibility of a HUGE elected board. Commissioner Mike Ritz proposed 23 members. That seems a little high, but I’m all about letting representative democracy work so what the hey? Gonna need a new board room.
Of course, all of this talk is a bit premature, as the voting hasn’t even started, and we have no idea how Senator Mark Norris and his buddies in Nashville are going to muddy the waters. He’s indicated that he intends to pursue his legislation, even if the outcome of the current effort could lead to the system both he and City Councilman Shea Flinn prefer. Go read Jackson for more on that.
In the end, for right now at least, we’ve got an opportunity to vote as Memphians on the fate of our schools. There are still a lot of open questions, most of which have nothing to do with the political process we’re currently going through. The task for supporters, at least in my view, is to get the vote out, and start talking about what ideas we’d like to see implemented after the election.
We have an opportunity to start a county wide discussion on education. We need to take advantage of it.
Geoff Calkins: Amid the yelling about schools, let’s remember what matters
MCS Board Rejects New Compromise
Council, School Board Agree: Memphis’ Will is Paramount
Courts unlikely to force county inclusion in school charter vote
School unification: The children speak
Magnet Program Added Balance to Chattanooga School Merger
Many Reasons for Compromise Failure
Memphis City Schools Board Stands By Charter Surrender
Charter surrender referendum set for March 8
Private Schools Expect Increased Demand from Consolidation
March 8 Set for Schools Election
Date Set for Voters to Decide Fate of Memphis City Schools
New Super-Sized School Board Contemplated by Shelby County Commission
Tennessee Legislators React to School Board Vote
County Commission Wants Advisory Team For School Merger
Date Set For School Surrender Vote
It’s Official: Election Commission Sets School-Charter Referendum for March 8
Shelby County Election Commission sets school referendum for March 8
School Charter Debate: From Harsh Words to Transition Team?
Norris Lays It Out