On September 16, 2011 the Commercial Appeal published the editorial “A unified voice for the schools Districts prepare to merge: On the charter approval question and other matters, MCS and SCS should speak as one.” It is available to read in full Here. With a superficial reading it sounds reasonable, however, we would point out it appears the Commercial Appeal is more concerned with protecting the “education system” and “power structure” in Memphis than protecting Memphis’ children (and the education of those children) who have been robbed of a safe and quality education for too long and in too great of numbers.
The Appeal is more concerned with protecting an “education system” that in 2010:
- Did not meet Tennessee’s Adequate Yearly Progress standards in 161 out of 194 Memphis schools.
- Shelby County Schools’ ACT score dropped from 21 to 20.7 & Memphis City Schools’ ACT score dropped from 16.6 to 16.2.
- Had a graduation rate of 70.8% in Memphis.
Think about that folks. The system the Appeal wants to hire lobbyists to protect is tossing aside thirty percent of our children. We remind readers:
- The poverty rate for families headed by dropouts is more than twice that of families headed by high school graduates.
- Nearly 44% of dropouts under age 24 are jobless and the unemployment rate of high school dropouts older than 25is more than three times that of college graduates.
- 65% of U.S. convicts are dropouts and lack of education is one of the strongest predictors of criminal activity.
Rather than suggest a lobbyist to fight for the educational needs and civil rights of Memphis’ children (something long past overdue), the Appeal’s priority is:
“…district leaders should have the interests of the unified school district in mind. Lobbyists employed to represent public education in Shelby County should be deployed at the direction of both Memphis City Schools and Shelby County Schools.”
The Appeal also expresses more concern with retaining power than enabling families the freedom to find a quality school:
“As long as there is a fair and open-minded approach to charter approval, with a fair and transparent appeals process in place, there is no reason to move charter approval from the political realm. The unified school board should get a chance to show that it can fairly administer the charter school application process. It would be unfair to take that responsibility away before the board gets its feet on the ground.”
Any honest discussion on the failures of Memphis would have to include the corrupt, crony, good ol’ boy political culture that enriches itself by peddling and nurturing a culture victimhood and hopelessness. Rather than empowering the parents of Memphis by opening up the education system to school choice as they have done with great success in D.C. the leadership in Memphis would rather keep it’s citizens segregated – segregated not by race as in days of old, but segregated by wealth and zip codes – sacrificing Memphis’ children at the altar of their hold on power.
We understand the new unified system is not technically the same as the MCS, however, the system (and we fear the culture) is the same, only the number of schools and name has changed. Only time will tell if the boards in Memphis will “fairly administer the charter school application process.”