Education in the Mid-south

Back in August of 2011, the ruling was made by Federal court judge Hardy Mays for the Memphis City School district and the Shelby County School district to merge as one. After Shelby County officials fought to keep the County from having to pay for the City schools in the suffering economy that we are all facing now, the Judge ruled in favor of the consolidation. State law requires all school districts to be funded by the county, but a loophole that was created in the late 1800’s kept Memphis from the deal, although the city itself is ultimately under County control.

As the first semester after conjoining Memphis City Schools and Shelby County schools in the Mid-south comes to a closing point for winter break, a new challenge comes about as the schools once under the County School district fight for their own municipal school district. The suburban areas surrounding the city of Memphis including Millington, Bartlett, and Collierville are in high hopes of being granted by the Federal judges the “go ahead” to proceed with their plans of opening up their own school districts in the fall of the upcoming school year. The school board members for these new districts that are soon to come have already been sworn in as they begin search of a superintendent. All of the suburban areas are in agreement with the municipal school district idea except for Germantown residents who are still on the fence about the merger.

I think it is quite interesting that the suburban areas are trying to separate themselves from the conjoined system, but I did not for one second believe that it would not happen. I was not surprised. The idea that the County has the better off schools and the City contains some of the less desirable, although all are not bad, is one that has been around for awhile. As CNN covered the merger as it was first ruled upon stated that the Memphis City Schools students were 85% African American and 87% of those students are considered low-income, while the students attending the schools in the County were white and middle class. Everyone knows that classism plays a major role in the school systems. Poorer children who live in the less desirable areas of town, rather living off of government assistance or not, get the bare minimum of books and supplies for their education, while students who come from a more privileged background have more and have better.

With the school merger, parents and property owners are afraid of property values being lowered because they feel that Black children fester crime and violence and with the merger their areas will experience more of both. This could be true, but shouldn’t the Black child with the single mother who receives aid from the state receive the same quality education that the White child has who comes from a two parent college educated family? What do you think?

Check out these articles

 http://www.wmctv.com/story/24114130/commissioners-approve-suburb-agreements-to-form-municipal-school-districts

http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/08/08/tennessee.memphis.schools/index.html

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