In School Forum, Experts Debate Money, Family Values
(Memphis) In a panel hosted by News Channel 3, several experts on the school merger debated the merits of recent legislation and possible municipal districts.
Martavius Jones, a school board member, Dr. Fred Johnson, a transition planning commission member, Steve Mulroy, a county commissioner, Mark Norris, a state senator, Wyatt Bunker, a county commissioner, and Sharon Goldsworthy, the Germantown mayor, participated on the panel.
News Channel 3 anchors Claudia Barr and Richard Ransom were joined by News Channel 3 Commentator Otis Sanford as moderators.
At many junctures, the conversation turned to money.
Even explaining how this all started with the dissolution of the Memphis City Schools Charter, Martavius Jones explained it was out of fear that the city students would lose funding if Shelby County Schools became a special school district.
“This was done as a defensive measure,” Jones said.
Another hot-button issue centered on school buildings, and whether the estimated cost of municipal districts accurately accounted for receiving the buildings for free.
Mayor Sharon Goldsworthy said, “To us, it doesn’t make sense for us as taxpayers to pay again for buildings we already participated in paying for.”
But perhaps the most controversial topic, poverty among city students, went beyond money to family values.
Dr. Johnson said that the main problem within Memphis City Schools is socioeconomic in nature.
“We’ve got to eradicate poverty in this community, which is the number one thing that is killing us,” Johnson said.
To that, Wyatt Bunker responded, “The real problem no one wants to talk about is the deterioration of the family in the inner city.”
Bunker explained that families outside the city limits are more likely to have two-parent households and to instill more discipline in their children.
To that, some News Channel 3 Facebook users reacted strongly.
Shatamara Moore, a teacher who went from teaching city students to county students, said, “The only difference I saw was that my suburban parents had jobs. My inner city kids wanted to learn despite their situations. They appreciated what I did for them. My suburban kids felt like I should have done it.”
Moore also posted about how she raises her children as a single mom: “I am a single parent and I don’t accept anything less than excellent from my child. We do homework. We don’t watch TV during the week. We go to the library on Mondays. So don’t categorize all single parents.”
Another viewer, Patrice Campbell, said, “I wonder if most suburbanites really do see MCS parents Mr. Bunker stated – as a bunch of “single moms” who don’t feed their children proper meals, do homework and put their children to bed on time????
Still, another viewer, Debbie Smith, said, “What it ALL boils down to is… They want Shelby county teachers to give the city students a good education because the city teachers don’t have the smarts like the Shelby county teachers!”
The discussion about improving the academics of a struggling community turned into a conversation about whether government and education are responsible for helping remedy social ills.
Bunker explained later that he did not feel throwing money at a school system would help the problems of what he felt was an inferior family unit.
To that, Martavius Jones said, “I think it’s just stereotypical to blame a single parent for his or her circumstances. If that happens to be a child’s result or a child’s circumstance, do we say you’re not entitled to a quality education?”