Martavius Jones, the newest commissioner on the Memphis City Schools board, doesn't have children of his own. Not yet, anyway.
But he does have strong beliefs about the importance of family in a child's education.
"I think the biggest challenge facing the board is trying to increase parental involvement," he says. "I think you will see, whenever you have higher levels of parental involvement, you have higher levels of student achievement."
Jones was educated in the Bluff City. He went to a number of different public schools, sometimes in his own neighborhood, sometimes not. His opinion of busing is like the man himself -- sensible.
"I knew I had to go to school," he says, "that happened to be on the other side of town, and that the only way to get there was the yellow bus that came in the morning."
After graduating from Central High School, Jones went to Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he studied finance. "I look at my college experience as being everything, inside and outside the university. What was great about Howard was that D.C. was the political capital of the world."
Although he enjoyed living in that political hotbed, Jones insists that he is no politician:
"As far as my saying, well, okay, what office am I going to seek next, that hasn't crossed my mind. I would much rather Martavius Jones be known as a successful businessman, a financial adviser, and someone who has served on a number of boards."
Jones also sits on the alcohol commission, so he is used to the rigors of parliamentary procedure. Until Michael Hooks resigned last fall, Jones says he had no aspirations to be a member of the school board although he regularly attended school board meetings "to see how things work in the community." But Jones lives in Hooks' district and belongs to the political organization New Path, which encouraged him to run.
After college, Jones worked for Aetna Health Plans, then later for the brokerage firm AG Edwards and the bank now known as AmSouth. In 2001, he left AmSouth to become an independent financial consultant.
Jones believes his finance and insurance experience will make him a valuable asset to the school board.
"We've had parents, ministers, and lawyers, but I'm not sure we've ever had a black businessman on the school board before," says Jones. "I just want to make sure that when I have kids, they get as good an education in Memphis as I did."