Tuesday, January 04, 2011



1. We are one county. Schoolchildren in Memphis deserve an equal education
opportunity to schoolchildren in the suburbs. We should have a system
where the dollars follow the kids depending on need, regardless of which
side of the city-county line they're on.

2. This is the best chance we have to prevent SCS from getting special
school district status
, which would
(a) permanently wall off the suburban kids from Memphis kids;
(b) permanently prevent us from ever reconsidering school consolidation;
(c) shrink the tax base for MCS, so that Memphis taxpayers would have to
pay higher taxes-the rate would rise over 40 cents
(d) permanently choke off our ability to grow education funding in the
future for MCS.

3. This would end the double taxation of Memphians, who pay for schools
through county taxes and then again through City taxes. The City would
no longer have to pay for MCS. That's $78 million per year that
Memphis could save

4. This would spread the funding among the whole county. We've been
saying for years we like "single source funding" of schools. This would
accomplish it.

5. This would lead to more efficient spending of our education dollars.
(a) eliminate duplicate levels of higher-up bureaucracy, and
(b) get rid of the ADA formula (the state rule which says that every
time the county spends a dollar on county schools, it has to spend 2.5
dollars more on city schools), which, while good sometimes and needed as
long as we have separate school systems, also causes a lot of wasteful

6. Even if the day-to-day experiences of schoolchildren didn't change all
that much, the fact that they would grow up in a unified school
system would help to get rid of this "us versus them" mentality that has
held us back for so long.


fancycwabs said...

Even if the day-to-day experiences of schoolchildren didn't change all
that much...

As long as consolidiation is about money and power, and not about students, I can't see how I could support it. Memphis City Schools is a horror show, and needs much more to save it than the County can muster, I'm afraid.

EarthWindFire82 said...

It needs to be unified. It's a very "us versus them" mentality. It's elitist to even keep the systems divided.

fancycwabs said...

"Elitist" and "Us vs. Them" are setting up emotional arguments for what needs to be a rational decision. Demonstrate to me how consolidation would make the education the students I taught better and I'll stand behind it completely.

As it is, it looks like a way to get more money into the hands of people who'd rather spend money on fancy telephones for administrators than on textbooks for students. Administators so corrupt and reviled that you have to pass through a metal detector in order to visit MCS headquarters.

Steve Steffens said...

FC, I understand your skepticism, as you have been on the frontlines.

One hopes, though, that a merged school system will result in decreased bureaucracy with extension of needed programs throughout the entire County.

Also, it will hopefully mean the end of Cash as the superintendent.

fancycwabs said...

MCS's troubles predate Cash by a decade, at least. I don't think he's the problem as much as the entrenched power structure currently in charge at MCS. A power structure that will likely be returned to power should special countywide school board elections be held.

Unfortunately, I fail to see how this is going to improve the quality of education for a single MCS student, while I do see how it could potentially send SCS into a downward spiral, when a good portion of the tax base (and their privileged students) move out of the county or to private schools, leaving the less-economically secure behind.

Who benefits? In the short term, the Memphis City Government and city residents who no longer have to foot the bill for MCS AND part of SCS. MCS board members in entrenched positions, who will regain their seats in a more-powerful consolidated school board.

Who suffers? SCS, suddenly, if temporarily, saddled with the responsiblity for a school system that is in complete and utter chaos, known more for posturing than for progress. The students, teachers, and low-level administrators in both systems, working without a clear chain of command or direction--students who are often perilously close to failure, and for whom the hood, gangs, drugs and violence are markedly more organized and consistent than school is.

Maybe consolidation is the miracle panacea everyone who's never spent a day teaching is touting it as, but if it diminishes the education of even a single student in the hasty (and frankly, disreputable) way it's being pursued, it is a bad thing.

Better by far to have the state (with actual state resources) take over MCS on a temporary basis, bring it up to a level of basic functionality, then pursue consolidation.