December 31, 2011 in Question of the Week, Spotlight Answers, What should the Memphis area's New Year's resolution be for 2012? by Rick Donlon
If an entire community could make a New Year’s Resolution, what should ours be for 2012?
Our collective New Year’s Resolution should be to create an excellent county-wide public school system. Nothing would do more permanent good for Memphis and Shelby County.
Each of us can make meaningful resolutions toward that end:
Our county neighbors can resolve to wholeheartedly join the effort and abandon attempts to further separate from our larger community.
Parents with children in private schools can resolve to imagine the unimaginable: placing their kids in the public school system. Whether we’re willing to admit it or not, the MCS is in its present state because too many of us with resources and influence elected to go elsewhere. A very wise person once said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be”. If we all had our treasured children in a unified school district, we’d see an educational revolution.
The organization formally known as the Memphis City Schools can resolve to remove ineffective and failed leaders, including administrators and principals. Memphis has the worst performing schools in Tennessee–no other city is even close. With the merger, we have an unprecedented opportunity to make large-scale changes that could insure better futures for over 100,000 students and their families.
The Memphis Education Association can resolve to put the interests of students above the financial and job security concerns of their constituents. The union has routinely protected bad teachers, resisted rigorous teacher evaluations, and attempted to block new teachers from innovative programs like the Memphis Teachers Residency.
Parents can resolve to take a far more active role in the education of their children. Private schools are successful largely because parents insist that their children have high quality administrators, teachers, and curricula. The lack of vigorous parental participation in many city and county schools is shameful.
Voters can resolve not to re-elect self-seeking and obstructionist school board members who have presided over the long-term mismanagement of the Memphis City Schools.
Taxpayers can resolve to press the City Council and County Commission to appropriately fund public education for all county residents.
Religious leaders of all stripes can resolve to speak boldly to their congregants about the injustice of our two-tiered educational system. Consigning the poor to chronically failing schools is a civil rights travesty. It’s also a biblical injustice.