Saturday, November 10, 2012

Hazards of Twitter, Whalum Edition

Here's a link to a blog, started today about a teacher's exchange with Shelby County School Board Commissioner Kenneth T. Whalum, Jr. starting on Twitter, and ending over email.  Here's a lovely photo of Ms. Malone, a special ed teacher at Kirby High School and member of Stand for Children.

It started with this twitter exchange as recounted by teacher Tamera Malone:  Earlier this morning I asked you a question about a comment you made on twitter. Your comment was “ASD is set to ‘take over’ 10 more inner-city schools. Entire staffs will be fired. Anybody still think the merger is a good idea?” My question to you was “even if we didn’t merge…wouldn’t those schools still be set for ‘takeover’ by the state because they are in the bottom 5%?” Your response was “your point?” I stated to you that “I was simply asking a question that would hopefully help me better understand the point you are trying to make.” You then responded, “and I am asking you your point.” 

So, I have to say agree with Commissioner Whalum - well, the first part.  Specifically, the first two sentences.  He's right.  There are ten schools - not sure which ones from the published list of 14 - at which most, if not all, of the current staff will no longer be working.

But then he takes a wrong turn - as he is wont to do.  "Anybody still think the merger is a good idea?"


He conflates the two issues.  One is the ongoing takeover of schools by the state.  Another is the gnashing-of-teeth process that is and has been the merger.  But the ASD has nothing to do with the merger.  No Shelby County Schools are eligible for the ASD because none of them are in the bottom 5% of schools in the state.  In this county, the only schools eligible for the ASD are in Memphis City Schools.  And unfortunately for MCS, of the 83 schools in the bottom 5%, 69 are in Memphis.

I'm not happy about the ASD's approach, but these Memphis schools are just too attractive to them for them to stay away because of a little old merger.

Commissioner Whalum finds himself in the (what has to be uncomfortable) position of being aligned with Commissioner David Pickler and the rest of the crew aligned in violent opposition to the merger of the two systems.  He is probably as astonished as anyone to find himself in that camp.

We get it.  Commissioner Whalum is opposed to the merger.  But Commissioner Whalum is turning into a one-trick pony.  It's not all about the merger.  There are lots of things to worry about with this merger.  LOTS.  But the ASD continuing to take over schools in Memphis does not prove that he was right about the merger in 2010.  And to those of us closely following education in Memphis, it causes him to lose credibility.  Well, that.  And not attending a bunch of School Board meetings, and leaving early from the ones he does attend.  Though I have to commend him for sitting all the way through the September business meeting.

Nov. 11 Update:  Apparently, Ms. Malone is just the latest in along list of local, interested denizens being blocked by Commissioner Whalum.

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