Sunday, January 20, 2013

Gordon Elementary Got Its Pardon

Back in early December, I wrote about Dr. Cash's proposal to close Gordon Elementary School.  This is part of the MCS response to the TPC's recommendation to close at least 20 schools.  Since Gordon is not in the bottom 5% of schools statewide, it seemed strange that The Boston Consulting Group knew about Gordon's closure back in June 2012, and its planned conversion to an ASD school.

In early December, I speculated that BCG had not come up with this particular idea on their own, and that either someone at MCS or someone at the ASD had to have told them about these plans in order for BCG to include Gordon on their list.  BCG is nothing if not thorough.

At the Special Call Meeting back in December, parents and teachers at Gordon were irate about their inclusion on a closure list, and the plan to give over the school to its co-occupant, Gestalt Community Schools, which operates the Gordon Science and Arts Academy as part of the ASD.  GSAA currently is only made up of 6th graders, but is expected to expand to 7th grade next year and 8th grade the following year.  Thank goodness for Bill Dries at The Daily News, who has closely followed the GSAA and Gordon goings on.

I'm especially grateful for his reporting since if you miss a School Board meeting, and then wait almost a month for the School Board to post its approved minutes, then you might miss critical information - critical information like Dr. Cash's withdrawal of Gordon from the closure list.

Curiouser and curiouser.

Mr. Dries asked the ASD about it and got this:  "'Gordon is not on our list,' said Achievement School District spokesman [and possible internet commenter] Jeremy Jones. 'MCS is fully in the driver’s seat when it comes to decisions about Gordon.'"  In another article on the same day came this gem:  "Memphis City Schools superintendent Kriner Cash acknowledged that neither Gestalt Community Schools nor leaders of the Achievement School District are interested in taking over the entire school."

Well, I guess we know what my bias is.  When there are shenanigans anywhere close to the ASD, I assume that the ASD is involved.  But perhaps this little piece of work - volunteering an elementary school not in the bottom 5% to be closed so that an ASD middle school can use the building - was cooked up exclusively by Dr. Cash and MCS?

So the closure list is reduced by 1, likely to the great relief of the MCS administrators that have to plan the required community meetings (hearings) for each school.

Hard to say exactly what is going on here.  Perhaps the close working relationship between the ASD and MCS is not quite as close as we've been led to believe, and we'll continue to see this kind of public inconsistency in "party line" flare up from time to time.  Or perhaps the working relationship is so close, that Dr. Cash has agreed to take the fall.  Either way, it sure looks like Gordon should not have been on the list from the outset.

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