That Didn't Take Long: Kelsey Leads Counter-Attack on MCS

Posted by Jackson Baker on Tue, Dec 21, 2010 at 5:40 PM

State Senator Brian Kelsey
  • State Senator Brian Kelsey
One day after the Memphis City School Board voted 5-4 for a citywide referendum on surrendering the MCS charter, a suburban legislator has filed legislation that could place the city schools under state control.

State Senator Brian Kelsey(R-Germantown) filed a bill Tuesday in Nashville that would transfer to state authority the schools of any district with 15 percent of its schools on the state’s non-performing list if a majority of voters in that district opted to surrender the district’s charter.

The residents of Memphis will have the opportunity to do just that in the wake of Monday night’s vote by the MCS board to call a referendum of surrendering the district’s charter. The vote was taken as a way of countering prospective plans by the Shelby County School Board to seek special-school-district status for SCS schools.

What Board members Martavius Jones and Tomeka Hart intended in sponsoring the charter-surrender resolution Monday night was to force city/county school consolidation as a check to any separatist move on the part of the county schools. Kelsey’s bill would force the city schools instead into the Achievement School District which was newly created as an aspect of last January’s enactment by the General Assembly of “First to the Top” legislation.

Under the act, schools qualify for the Achievement School District if they are in the fifth year of improvement status or meet the federal definition of persistently lowest achieving schools.

Kelsey’s bill, co-sponsored in the House by state Representative Ron Lollar (R-Bartlett), would include all schools in a district if a majority of the district’s voters favor relinquishing of its charter and if 15 percent or more of the schools in the district are listed by the Commissioner of Education as high priority schools.

“This bill focuses on what is best for the children: improving educational outcomes by providing the tools to succeed,” said Kelsey. If the residents of a qualifying district “vote to give up local control, then it's time to give control over to the very best educational experts Tennessee has to offer."

House members Jim Coley (R-Bartlett), Curry Todd (R-Collierville), Mark White (R-Memphis) have also indicated they intend to sign on to such legislation.

Comments (28)

Showing 1-25 of 28

MCS board is way over its head.

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Posted by mayfield on 12/21/2010 at 6:26 PM

Won't pass. Middle and Eastern Tennesseans don't want to pay for, or be in charge of, Memphis City Schools. Heck, they don't even want to acknowledge Memphis exists!

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Posted by downtowner on 12/21/2010 at 6:50 PM

Somebody let me know when the 90 million from the Gates turns up missing, the politicians waste another 100 million in lawsuits over idiotic legislation like this and Kriner Cash is mayor with 3 pensions.


I hate remakes.

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Posted by Neondragon on 12/21/2010 at 6:55 PM

This oughta be interesting. The state has absolutely no interest in taking over MCS, but we'll see. I'm betting the rest of the state says to brian, et al, you all solve your own problems and leave us out.

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Posted by Packrat on 12/21/2010 at 7:04 PM

So the state will pay for MCS? Great!

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Posted by Wayne VanDeveer on 12/21/2010 at 7:56 PM

Wait....wait....there's more to come.

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Posted by tomguleff on 12/21/2010 at 9:01 PM

Kelsey.... I should've known.

Look, if Germantown, Collierville, and Bartlett want to form their own individual school districts and pay the taxes necessary to run them, then fine. Just drop this special district crap. Kelsey needs to go worry about passing some legislation to do away with gun permits or some such.

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Posted by mad_merc on 12/21/2010 at 9:50 PM

What are the odds that the MCS board attempts to rescind the surrender resolution with some sort of rule change in January 2011?

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Posted by tomguleff on 12/21/2010 at 10:17 PM

Tom, yes, under the threat of the state taking over management, they'll do that for sure. After all, the relinquishment of the charter was all about CONTROL and MONEY. Don't let anyone be fooled that the MCSB cares about the kids. If they did, they'd figure out why they spend $1400 more per student than the county, and have a 5 point ACT score differential.

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Posted by MoCash on 12/21/2010 at 11:05 PM

Grumpy, no, the state won't pay for MCS, they'll just come in, clean house, and run things. Total loss for the school board and MCS.

They rolled the dice to try to force consolidation. If they had not voted to relinquish, they COULD have (but would never until h*** freezes over) figured out how to address MCS problems and stay in control. Their plan was to force MCS+SCS, and when the new board was elected, they'd get power back (they would have more representation on the board). But now, with Nashville involved, they will have none of that. Supporters of SCS have the votes in both the senate and house to pass this without trouble, and Haslam will sign it. And SCS can take their time to form a special district anyway to protect itself when MCS re-forms after Nashville leaves.

The MCS school board tried to take the normal tactic around here and bully people, and bit off more than they could chew.

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Posted by MoCash on 12/21/2010 at 11:14 PM

There's little doubt about the board trying to rescind the surrender resolution, especially with Lewis coming in and if Whalum is still raising cane over it. However, I say stick it out. In my opinion this was the best course of action for everyone involved from both economic and student viewpoints. There is no reason to be intimidated by someone like Kelsey. Besides for every action, there is going to be a legal reaction. It may be a couple of years before this is finally resolved. I hope not, but it is a distinct possibility.

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Posted by mad_merc on 12/21/2010 at 11:33 PM

MoCasch the only bully in this scenario is Pickler. It's amazing how much the subuubanites love to hate everything about Memphis, yet want to reap all the benefits the city provides.

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Posted by mad_merc on 12/22/2010 at 2:51 AM

Look, the residents of Shelby County don't want to play, that's fine.

Easy solution - create a new county - Memphis County, whose boundaries are the city limits of Memphis. Shelby County will be responsible for everything in Shelby County - including Bartlett, Germantown, Cordova, etc and Memphis County will be responsible for Memphis City and County and no longer having to carry the ungrateful Shelby County residents on their backs any more. No shared services, no double-paying, no Shelby County residents getting twice as much voting power as city residents.

The leaders of Shelby County want to draw a line in the sand - and take their toys and go home like spoiled little children. Fine - let them, but put a fence up while they're gone so they can wallow in their own self-righteousness.

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Posted by critter42 on 12/22/2010 at 4:58 AM

Can you blame suburbanites from wishing to avoid the miserable leadership that exists at every level of Memphis government? The county level is only marginally better, but still not as dishonest, illiterate, self-serving and unethical as the criminals and know-nothings in Memphis government. Remember: Germantown is the real Memphis. And, by the way, Kelsey is a dick.

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Posted by friendlyphil on 12/22/2010 at 7:42 AM

That guy looks like a nerd.

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Posted by cdel on 12/22/2010 at 8:27 AM

Gutless piece of crap. This is the same guy who did not know what his district boundaries were when I asked right before the last election and gave me the smart ass replay of “I guess I better look that up, hu?”.

friendly- saying Germantown is the real Memphis is like saying Greenwich, Connecticut is the real New York City.

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Posted by barf on 12/22/2010 at 8:35 AM

I live in Germantown, and if it's the real Memphis, then Memphis is 95% white and affluent. And I think we know that ain't the case.

Cdel, he is a nerd. And what a grill.

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Posted by Packrat on 12/22/2010 at 9:06 AM

Midtown is Memphis. Duh. Bumper stickers don't lie.

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Posted by cdel on 12/22/2010 at 9:22 AM

Kelsey is a nerd. I saw him at a U of Memphis bball preseason party sitting at a table eating by himself looking like a geek. He's the local version of Marsha Marsha Marsha. He only does what he is told to do. He's GTown's version of Curry Todd without the red nose, wonder where that comes from?. Neither are very bright.

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Posted by robert30 on 12/22/2010 at 10:04 AM

"Remember: Germantown is the real Memphis."

Going back to this statement, this is one of the big problems around here. People don't want to accept what and who Memphis is. This sentiment expresses clearly what a lot of people WISH Memphis was, not what is actually IS. Wishing Memphis was a 95% white and affluent city doesn't make it so. We need to accept what we are and work to make the city better based on that.

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Posted by Packrat on 12/22/2010 at 10:20 AM

I doubt Kelsey's proposed law would withstand judicial scrutiny. It seems designed specifically to affect this situation; normally, laws cannot do that, they have to apply more uniformly. At least, that is this non-lawyer's understanding. Any attorneys out there care to provide a more informed opinion?

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Posted by frogamelanchier on 12/22/2010 at 10:33 AM

Not to mention, frog, the PR of MCS supporters who could pitch that state effort as an attempt by a GOP white legislature to help wall off a black school system from a same-county white system (just saying that's one way it could be depicted to a larger audience). Especially since the state legislature felt no need to interfere with Knoxville and Chattanooga's successful efforts to consolidate their schools systems....

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Posted by Packrat on 12/22/2010 at 10:40 AM

Brian The Boy Blunder and his henchman like Curry Todd prove that today's Republican Shelby County Delegation is just a more telegenic version of the White Citizens' Councils of yore. Both groups are well known for opposition to racial integration. I'm surprised Brian hasn't donned a sheet and hood and hopped on a horse to ride through Gtown screaming "The Coloreds Are commin', The Coloreds Are Comin'" The more things change, . . . .

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Posted by awculv on 12/22/2010 at 11:34 AM

YES--DO IT . . . I commented on another article about Cash~~I came from the West to teach in Memphis. JUNIORS AND SENIORS COULDN'T READ!!!! Kill the charter . . . kill it now!

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Posted by Douglas on 12/22/2010 at 4:37 PM

Tom G: the CA has a piece up about the leader of your "Save Shelby Now" group, and the effort it intends to mount to defeat the approval by Memphis' voters of the MCS' charter surrender, in partnership with the MEA and Dwight Montgomery's black minister's group. http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2010/…

In the piece, he's quoted as saying "we cannot negotiate or try to appease those whom [sic] so fully detest OUR WAY OF LIFE.” (emphasis mine). Here's his e-mail the CA got a hold of in which he makes that statement: http://media.commercialappeal.com/media/st… In that e-mail, which outlines SSN's strategy, you are prominently mentioned, Tom.

So, what do you suppose he meant by "our way of life," Tom, and do you subscribe to that belief? I'm sure I needn't remind you what historical figure aroused public sentiment against a group of people by invoking the "our way of life" rallying cry.

The CA's piece also discloses that, before he moved from Nashville to Memphis, recently, this fellow headed a group called Nashville English First, which supported a charter amendment that would have made English the official language of Nashville's Metro government. That amendment was soundly defeated, but campaign disclosures apparently revealed that the bulk of the money English First raised came from a group, Pro English, whose founder has been a donor to reputedly white supremacist organizations.

So, this is the group that's apparently going to spearhead the anti-surrender campaign. Is this really whom you, Tom, much less the black ministers, want to be associated with in this effort? Regardless of your answer, can we now set aside any doubt (as if there ever was any) about what REALLY motivates the anti-consolidation (and now the anti-charter-surrender) folks?

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Posted by M_Awesomeberg on 12/23/2010 at 5:34 PM
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