31 Mar 2011
- Written by Tri-State Defender Newsroom
The economic condition of the students who attend Shelby County Schools gives the impression that the educational outcomes of students were better than those of students who attend Memphis City Schools. In reality, the education standards of the Shelby County Schools pale in comparison to those of Memphis City Schools. Comparatively, the Memphis City Schools struggles are far more documented than the Shelby County Schools, which would also give the illusion that the school systems differed in their effectiveness in academic delivery.
Actually, statistics tell a different story. The 2010 No Child Left Behind Adequate Yearly Progress report, found on the Web site of the Tennessee Department of Education, shows that 45 percent of high school students in Shelby County failed the Algebra I exit test.
No, this issue is more than just academic delivery or merging of two school systems. The merging of Memphis City Schools and Shelby County Schools is about Memphis growing up. It is about the city of Memphis recognizing that we need to become a unified city with the common goal of growth as our moniker.
New vocal leaders such as Martavius Jones and Tomeka Hart, both Memphis City Schools Board representatives, have emerged. They saw that it was time for Memphis to grow up from its reputation of being a sleepy little town and become astute enough to capture an opportunity to consolidate the schools.
Others such as State Rep. G.A. Hardaway and City Councilman Harold Collins also became active voices that encouraged Memphians to look at the factual information surrounding the issue and not be distracted by the noise that the opposition was trying to sell to the public. Even Mayor A C Wharton, who had been criticized for being too passive on important community issues, rose up and became a vocal warrior on the idea of Memphians being allowed to determine their own destiny regarding the school situation.
Steve Mulroy, a Republican on the Shelby County Board of Commissioners, was one of the first to publicly blast persons in his own party for opposing the consolidation.
This was a unified effort among several groups, composed of Memphians from all walks of life rallied behind the theme of one school system.
In my earlier arguments, I was only opposed to the consolidation of Memphis governments because there was no attempt to consolidate schools. Now that we have taken the first steps to consolidate the schools, we can now begin discussions of how to fairly consolidate the two governments.
Now, I am the first to agree that political power gained in the African-American community is far too important for us to lose. We also need to understand that leadership that has been gained needs to be cultivated and upgraded with new and intelligent voices that will be able to lead our community in the future.
My friends, the consolidation of schools was more than just a vote. It was the first sign that this “sleepy little town on the Mississippi River,” with a reputation of racial division and corruption, is becoming something greater. We are becoming a city that is taking its future in its hands and making things happen.
Memphis, I think we are really growing up!