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More On Schools Consolidation

 

The cover story in the current edition of The Memphis News looks at the coming local schools consolidation against the backdrop of larger changes in education philosophy taking place across the nation.

And along the way we examined some other factors while we are in the time between the establishment of the new countywide school board and the consolidation planning commission and the first decisions about consolidation.

Here are a few points that didn’t make the cover story starting with a planning commission member who joins the others in agreeing the consolidation plan the group comes up with could be transformative for the city and county as a whole.

But also like the others, he acknowledged the risks are also just as real if the consolidation blueprint isn’t solid.

And a Realtor sees a window, at least for now, in terms of the public’s verdict which will determine whether consolidation is a bust or a success.

Christian Brothers University president John Smarrelli Jr. is bothered by what he termed the enduring “demarcation” between those inside the city of Memphis and those outside the city. The schools consolidation, he said, should go after replacing that with a new mindset as a larger goal.

“It’s bigger than our schools. It’s a state of mind and if we don’t start educating our pre-k through twelve that this is a state of mind and we need to be living it, I think what we are going to be looking at is one big wasteland and potentially one semi prosperous area that is not sustainable,” said the planning commission member. “We’ll die slowly.”

Realtor Sue Stinson Turner has not seen the first indication of parental concerns translating into the kind of flight that preceeded and followed busing in the 1970s. But she is quick to point out that ongoing concerns parents have about education even without such a historic change are part of the equation in the real estate market.

“In all honesty, I think it’s always affected real estate in some shape, form or fashion,” she said at a recent “Master Your Market” forum sponsored by Chandler Reports that focused on the coming consolidation. “That’s not going to change.”

Turner says whatever concerns are out there among homeowners haven’t translated to for sale signs. And she added the difficulties in the market amount to “an inability to sell properties for what they were once worth.”

“I think too many times our community reacts on fear. We react on what we don’t know is going to happen and the fear that something might happen. And so, people jump before they find out what the reality of it all is,” Turner said.” “We sell what we’ve got. And let’s give this a chance and see what it looks like before we decide we’re moving to DeSoto County. Because guess what, DeSoto County’s going to have those same problems before it’s over with if everybody goes there.”

 

What we’ve got here is a failure to negotiate

The National Basketball Association is still dealing with a lockout as a result of players and owners butting heads.

A so-called supercommittee of congressional legislators has failed to come up with a deficit reduction plan that prevents even billions of dollars more in painful, automatic and across-the-board cuts from going to effect.

More broadly, Republicans and Democrats in Congress remain farther apart than ever on key issues like taxes and the role of government.

I’m starting to see a pattern here: What we’ve got here is a failure to negotiate.

The economy is in shambles and nobody is attending professional basketball games these days for one simple reason: people have forgotten – if they ever really knew at all – how to negotiate effectively.

The most fundamental element of any good negotiation comes from the great English philosopher Michael Jagger. “You can’t always get what you want.”

Imagine how differently the country would look right now if some of these deadbeat decision makers tried a few of these approaches:

Start with numbers. The congressional supercommittee had 12 members. I say that’s 10 too many. Why can’t a deal be reached with two honest brokers, one from each opposing camp? Imagine how efficient it would be to try and jointly write one book with 12 authors.

Those two dealmakers need to be given a framework. They need to be working toward a specific goal, not the idea of a goal. Even if lease terms haven’t been drafted when two sides sit down to arrange a property rental, the sides at least agree on why they’re there in the first place.

– Speaking of which: part of the trouble is this idea that compromise is bad – after all, add just one letter and compromise becomes compromised, which no one wants to be. But negotiating does not automatically equal compromise. Compromise is only an element of the larger process of negotiation.

It’s easy to say “I don’t negotiate with terrorists” until the life of one of your family members is on the line. It’s probably a no-brainer that the hostage in that scenario is going to prefer the outcome of negotiations with the negotiator who’s got a stake in the outcome as opposed to the defiant one – the one who has nothing to lose.

Welcome to Stifel Morgan Keegan

I ran into a Morgan Keegan & Co. Inc. source tonight who said the rumored sale of the Memphis firm to St. Louis-based Stifel Financial Corp. is so serious that a name change is already being discussed – something like Stifel Morgan Keegan.

I’ve also been told that Stifel representatives were in town last week, and that Stifel was negotiating exclusively over Morgan Keegan for a period of time that expired Wednesday night.

If you’ve followed the national press, the most recent Bloomberg report put it like this: “Stifel remains days or weeks away from agreeing to an acquisition and may not reach a deal.”

A top official at a Memphis-based investment firm that’s a competitor of Morgan Keegan’s – and which has Morgan Keegan alums throughout its operation – told me today he’s expecting a deal as soon as Friday, Nov. 18. Others are looking for an announcement between now and Thanksgiving.

Tennessee Jobless Rate Dropped Slightly Last Month

Tennessee’s unemployment rate for October ticked down two-tenths of a percentage points from September. That’s according to an announcement today from the state commissioner of labor and workforce development.

Tennessee’s unemployment rate for October was 9.6 percent, down from September’s revised rate of 9.8 percent.

The national unemployment rate for October was 9 percent.

Tigers Notebook: First game provides insight on 2011-2012 team

A few quick impressions from the Tigers’ season-opening 97-81 victory over Belmont on at FedExForum:

Words such as fast, athletic and quick hardly do justice to this University of Memphis team. It’s impossible to imagine any team having an advantage over the Tigers should that team dare to try and run with them. Most likely, those teams will be running to their own death. As forward Tarik Black said, “If a team wants to run with us, we’re open arms – `c’mon, let’s run.”

The Tigers’ No. 10 ranking in the AP poll is legit. They have top-10 talent, which by definition means they have Final Four potential. An injury to Black, their largest inside presence, might be impossible to overcome long-term, but there is so much depth everywhere else. Antonio Barton is a starting point guard on most Top 25 teams and he played all of 13 minutes because Joe Jackson was simply playing too well to remove from the court.

As for Jackson, I’m inclined to believe the player that scored 20 points with seven assists and just two turnovers against Belmont is the player we will see most of this season. He progressed greatly at the end of last season and he seems to be growing more comfortable by the day in being a point guard first and a scorer second.

Senior Wesley Witherspoon might be a different story. Give him props for a great debut game this season – 22 points on 8-for-8 shooting, 3-for-3 from 3-point range – and hustle that went beyond his five rebounds and two steals. I don’t think we’ll see a lot of the lost Witherspoon who wondered through last season, but I also don’t think he will consistently play with this level of efficiency or grit. Reality lies somewhere in the middle, which is fine.

Freshman Adonis Thomas is the real X factor. Coach Josh Pastner has said many times that the X factors are Jackson and Witherspoon, that if they don’t try to be supermen and just play their games, the Tigers will have a special year. I disagree, in part, because I think Jackson will have a breakout year and Witherspoon will still have his off nights. When those off nights come, Thomas can make up for them. When there’s foul trouble, as there was in the first game, Thomas can play down low and allow the Tigers to go small. If Thomas has a great year as the Super Sixth Man, so will the Tigers.

Dansette

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