Saturday, February 12, 2011

SB25: The View from Norris' Head

Posted By on Sat, Feb 12, 2011 at 12:49 PM

What follows, abstracted from the weekly "News from Nashville" email of state Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) but otherwise unfiltered and unabridged, is a statement issued by Norris concerning the passage of SB25/HB51, the Norris-Todd bill on school consolidation and special school districts.

The statement alleges that the "race card" was played by the bill's opponents and suggests that the City Council's motive in Thursday's vote to accept the charter surrender of Memphis City Schools was "to avoid the City's legal liability" of $57 million.

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...Early on the morning of Friday, February 11, Governor Haslam signed his first legislation into law — SB 25.

SB25, which I sponsored along with Rep. Curry Todd, addresses what Tennessee Education Commissioner Patrick Smith identified as "an anomaly in the law." The question is how to consolidate a large school system into one less than half its size in an orderly way which assures a unified and balanced county school system. The case arose out of Shelby County, but it could happen in several counties with special school districts across the state.

Those opposing an orderly transition in Memphis, one with a plan and a timetable, played the race card early. Sad.

Others tried to make it look as though the legislation was an effort to abort the referendum scheduled on March 8. False.

In the end, on the evening of Thursday, February 10, the truer motives of "opposition to order" became apparent. The Memphis City Council, which cut funding to the City Schools and now refuses to satisfy a $57 million judgment for its abdication, attempted to dissolve the City Schools. No referendum. No debate. No questions asked. Just kill it.

Perhaps their rationale is that, if dissolved, the $57 million liability is dissolved with it. Could this entire charade have been designed to avoid the City's legal liability? Was the City's filing a certificate of the schools' dissolution with the Secretary of State just hours after the new law went into effect an effort to defraud its creditors (in this case, 103,000 school children)?...

(The brief statement was followed by a series of links to videos, interviews, and articles pertaining to the scope and passage of the bill.)

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