Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The School Debate Goes Prime Time

Posted By on Tue, Jan 25, 2011 at 11:10 AM

Tomeka Hart and David Pickler pair off in WMC-TVs Wednesday night debate.
  • Tomeka Hart and David Pickler pair off in WMC-TV's Wednesday night debate.
Headlining a plethora of meetings, forums, colloquies, and what-have-you on the ever-simmering subject of the schools are three public debates scheduled for this week, two of them televised.

On WREG-TV, News Channel 3, there is a Tuesday night encounter featuring two opposed teams — MCS Board member Martavius Jones, State Representative G.A.Hardaway, and city councilman Shea Flinn for charter surrender; and Shelby County Schools chairman David Pickler, the Rev. La Simba Gray, and Germantown Mayor Sharon Goldsworthy opposed.

On Wednesday night, on WMC-TV, in a program held at Playhouse on the Square and co-sponsored by the Memphis Rotary Club (followed up by a "town hall" event), Pickler and MCS Board member Tomeka Hart are paired up, taking the anti- and pro- sides, respectively, on charter surrender.

And on Thursday, a “Town Hall” meeting at Snowden School will feature Shelby County Commissioner Melvin Burgess, City Council member Jim Strickland, and MCS Board member Jeff Warren in an exchange on the charter-surrender and special-school-district issues.

The number of such meetings is fast proliferating, to the point that at the regular Memphis City Schools Board meeting Monday night, outspoken member Sara Lewis, addressing a proposed series of joint MCS-Memphis City Council meetings, was moved to expostulate: “Everybody understands. I’m Sara, and I’m just going to be very, very blunt about what I’m going to do and what I’ not going to do. I just can’t run all over Memphis.”

Lewis did weigh in for some sort of “structured meeting and civil exchange” with the Council, but she and other members of the MCS Board expressed themselves as wary of initiatives from the Council or the Shelby County Commission or SCS or wherever — at least until the Board was able to develop a coherent approach of its own.

MCS member Patrice Robinson underscored the point: “We need [to develop] a common, single message, and we need to do it yesterday.”

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