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<br />‘Yes’ voters deliver early knockout on MCS charter surrender

Tomeka Hart celebrates
Memphians voted in trickles, but those who did overwhelmingly chose to surrender the MCS charter, with 47,812 voting for the surrender and 23,612 voting no. by Tony Jones
Special to the Tri-State Defender

“We can go home already!” crowed Shelby County Board of Commissioners Chairman Sidney Chism less than one hour after polls closed in Wednesday’s crucial Memphis City Schools referendum showdown.

 
Memphis City Schools Board Commissioner Tomeka Hart celebrates as election results come in that show Memphis voters overwhelmingly in favor of surrendering the MCS charter to Shelby County Schools. (Photos by Warren Roseborough)

 
Memphis City Councilman Shea Flinn and Deidre Malone are in accord about the referendum results.

Chism’s comment and wide smile reflected the elation evident at the headquarters of Citizens For A Better Education, the grassroots advocacy group pushing for – and getting – a “Yes” vote on the question of whether to turn the administration of Memphis City Schools (MCS) over to the Shelby County Board of Education.

Memphians voted in trickles, but those who did overwhelmingly chose to surrender the MCS charter, with 47,812 voting for the surrender and 23,612 voting no. The turnout was about 17 percent, according to the Shelby County Election Commission.

And yes, it was over early, as the margin ballooned in favor of surrendering the charter and pushing Shelby County schools to embrace the concept of one school system for the entire county.

Looking like eager siblings gazing for Santa on Christmas Eve, compatriot school board commissioners Tomeka Hart and Martavius Jones were focused on Hart’s telephone screen as every minute brought more good news.

“The early voting numbers are right at 71 percent in favor of the transfer,” the beaming Hart reported. “We are predicting victory because that is a near impossible margin to make up on Election Day.”

Jones watched happily over her shoulder. The point man for the charter surrender move, he dedicated a number of 18-to-21-hour days pushing the issue.

“It was all worth it,” he said.  “Every moment…. A win is a win.”

City Councilman Shea Flinn joined in the celebration.  

“This provides a tremendous opportunity for us to be the game changer in urban education,” said Flinn, noting that 1968 (the year that the Sanitation Workers Strike and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sent out haunting images of Memphis) gets farther away everyday.

“It is time we show the world that we can come together and go forward.”

The boards of both Shelby County Schools and Memphis City Schools scheduled press conferences for Wednesday to weigh in on the results and the next steps.


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