#MCS Following the Media – 2/2/11

Defining “Enhanced Self-Determination”

Anyone familiar with the work of George Carlin has likely heard his rant on on language, particularly euphemisms. Carlin aptly notes:

I don’t like words that hide the truth. I don’t like words that conceal reality. I don’t like euphemisms or euphemistic language. And American english is loaded with euphemisms. Because Americans have a lot of trouble dealing with reality. Americans have trouble facing the truth, so they invent a kind of a soft language to protect themselves from it. And it gets worse with every generation.

If you follow politics, you know that euphemisms have become a hallmark of our political discourse. Hell, political discourse itself is a euphemism for debate. So there ya go, I’m guilty of it too.

The issue becomes more difficult when the intention is to hide the actual intent. Political discourse is pretty straightforward, though muted. Debate is a little less specific, but folks can generally get where you’re going by following the context.

Self-determination, itself is a euphemism. It means making decisions. Still, self-determination is pretty well understood. So when someone says “enhanced self-determination” the immediate response is that somehow making decisions is going to be made easier, or the choices are going to be better. Of course, “enhanced self-determination” in and of itself doesn’t say who the enhancement ultimately benefits. In the current situation, it means that the enhancement is not for the people initiating the self- determination, but for those who are completely removed from the initial process.

Yesterday, Sen. Mark Norris introduced an amendment to his bill SB0025. This amendment doesn’t deal with the initial act of self-determination, in this case the referendum, but the process of transferring one system to another.

The amendment calls for a change to TCA §§ 49-2-502 that would take the existing language and make it the first section, and add a transition planning section as detailed in this amendment.

Until now, it was relatively understood that the transition plan would be set forth by TCA §§ 49-2-1201, which would establish a transition commission with five members each appointed by the County Mayor, County Board of Education, and the district or districts that initiated the transfer for a minimum of 15 members.

Norris’ amendment would allow this section of code to remain for every district in the state with the exception of the current situation here in Shelby County. In Shelby County, the situation would be far different. While the three entities would be allowed to appoint 5 members, in addition, the three people responsible for appointing serve as ex officio members, and the Governor, Speaker of the House and Speaker of the Senate jointly appoint 3 members for a total of 21 members.

Further, upon certification of the election results the transfer of a special school district was governed by TCA §§ 49-2-1002. Based on that understanding of the law, a new school board would have to created to ensure that people within the new area covered are represented and then 49-2-1201 would kick in.

Based on my understanding of the amendment, if the transfer happens after the passage of Norris’ bill, 49-2-1201 would not apply, nor presumably would 49-2-1002. The transfer would be held up for three years while the newly codified planning commission moved forward. Further, the amendment would effectively open up the potential of additional Municipal and Special School districts in the county, effectively doubling down on the whole rationale for the referendum in the first place.

This is neither “enhanced” nor “self-determination”, this is an assault.

The Senate Education committee passed the bill to the floor of the Senate. It will come up on the floor Monday.

In response to this, the Memphis City Council scheduled a meeting for today to address the developments. How they will proceed is in question, but there is some indication that a previously passed resolution will be amended to effectively cause the transfer before Norris’ bill becomes law. We’ll see at 4:30 today.

I hope to have video segments of the committee proceedings later in the day so you can see for yourself.

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Norris Bill Passes TN Senate Committee
Shelby County Commissioners move toward creating 27-member unified school board
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Senate Committee Passes Bill Regarding School Charter
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Interview: David Pickler
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School Charter Showdown: City Council could vote to accept charter surrender before bill is approved in Nashville
It’s a State Issue Now!

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