Editorial 

Editorial

School Reform

In the last year, we've seen four -- that's four -- plans to reform the city and county educational systems. The first plan -- put together by a task force appointed by Memphis mayor Willie Herenton and now referred to as the Gwatney plan -- was the result of months of closed-door meetings. It proposed a new funding formula, froze the current boundaries of the two systems to avoid consolidation, and, theoretically anyway, came up with more money for early childhood education. No other plan has looked at all the issues facing the dual systems so comprehensively.

The second of the four proposals, county mayor A C Wharton's plan, focuses mostly on funding and getting the county district's Arlington project off the ground. It also includes an advisory committee to determine what each district actually needs in terms of capital improvements but doesn't get rid of the current funding formula.

The most recent two proposals have come fast and furious from Herenton and are more concerned with the district's governance than its finances. On New Year's Day, the mayor said he was going to revive the Gwatney plan to fix the funding problem. But his first recommendation was to have an appointed city school board rather than an elected one. Just two weeks later, Herenton proposed another plan, which involved having the city schools give up their charter.

The question is: Which, if any, of these solutions will actually work for everyone involved?

When Mayor Herenton asked the city council to call for a referendum to surrender the Memphis City Schools charter, the mayor's spokesperson, Gale Jones Carson, told a Flyer reporter that the mayor had done his homework by researching what had happened in other cities. The mayor has lots of smart people on his staff who can advise him on such matters. But we need definitive answers. If research on comparative situations in other cities has been done, the public needs to have access to that information. There's too much at stake to rush to judgment.

If You're Happy ...

If you cannot find Osama, bomb Iraq.

If the markets are a drama, bomb Iraq.

If the terrorists are frisky,

Pakistan is looking shifty,

North Korea is too risky,

Bomb Iraq.

The foregoing bit of doggerel is a verse from a song circulating on the Internet these days. It's sung to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It."

As the Bush administration continues to press for war with Iraq, much of the rest of the world, and increasing numbers of Americans, are not happy about it. They remain unconvinced of its necessity. And necessity is the key word. War should be undertaken only out of necessity. The case that war with Iraq is necessary remains to be made in the minds of most.

Certainly, putting pressure on Saddam Hussein to disarm or go into exile makes sense. He's a despot and needs to be removed. But a threat to the U.S? Not likely at this juncture. Two-thirds of Iraq's landmass is a "no-fly zone" controlled by the U.S. If something tickles the radar screen, it gets shot down. If we perceive a threat on the ground, we don't hesitate to take it out. Meanwhile, U.N. weapons inspectors continue with daily inspections of potential weapons sites. Saddam is not in a position to attack anybody.

We've got him pinned into a corner. It's likely only a matter of time before his regime folds. Why risk a single soldier's -- or Iraqi civilian's -- life just to hasten the inevitable? War should not be just another option, only the last resort.

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