The Memphis School Board's Kabuki Politics



Let me see if I've got this right: The Memphis City Schools Board, which voted to drop its charter in January and hand over the administration of city schools to the Shelby County School Board, is still in charge, still meeting, and still messing with our schools.

Not the Memphis School Board.
  • Not the Memphis School Board.

The latest move, in which the MCS board voted 8-1 Tuesday to delay the start of the school year until October, or until Memphis pays the court-mandated $55 million it owes city schools, was kabuki theater, posturing for the camera — and for dramatic effect. It worked, as the story got top billing in the local media and spread to the national media throughout Wednesday, with council members, school board members and Mayor Wharton all making appearances on national news programs.

It's the local version of the debt ceiling debate, where posturing and politicking take precedence over common sense — and the common good. The city of Memphis is taking a huge PR hit nationally, thanks to these shenanigans.

And shenanigans is exactly the right word. Does anyone really buy the idea that MCS can't "afford" to start school with only $950 million dollars on hand out of its billion-dollar annual budget? It's absurd, like saying we can't go swimming if the pool is only 95 percent full. The school board is playing games, trying to stir up parents, students, teachers, and the media. These people did us all a favor by renouncing their jobs in January. It's time for them to go — the sooner the better.

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