Latest From Norris & Wharton on Schools

Here are a couple of statements in the ongoing schools standoff sage in their entirety for your consideration:

First, the statement from State Senator and Senate majority leader Mark Norris on his bill:

SB25, which codifies existing state law regarding the unification of schools via transfer of special school district administrations, passed first consideration today after introduction in the Senate yesterday. Shortly thereafter, I was advised that attorneys for Memphis City Schools and Shelby County Schools have reached an agreement in principle concerning efforts by Memphis City Schools to surrender its charter. Further legislative action this week seems unwarranted, therefore, in light of this positive development. The pendency of SB25 should not interfere in any way with the parties’ efforts to peaceably resolve an issue of such magnitude and importance to the schoolchildren and all residents of our County. The impact of litigation filed in Shelby County Chancery Court yesterday may be of more concern to the schools; it has no effect on the subject legislation.

I commend the representatives of both school systems for their efforts and hope they result in an orderly process. The right of our citizens to vote based on accurate information is critical to our future success.

Second, the statement from Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. on the day’s developments:
“We live in a country with laws, principles and procedures that govern us to ensure that the rights of its citizens are protected. There is not a right more precious than the right to vote. On this historic weekend celebration, we all can attest to that fact. The Memphis City Schools Board has legally asked a question of its citizens, and now in turn we will have an opportunity to respond with our vote.

“I’m pleased that the Election Commission has taken a step in the right direction. This is a uniquely Memphis issue and it is a decision that rests only with voters in our city.

“I pledge to continue supporting a public debate that is civil and robust. It is critical for Memphians to study this issue, ask probing questions of it, and ultimately vote for our children’s future educational plan. Whether you have children or grandchildren who attend public school or not; whether you work for education or not, education is everybody’s business. And I encourage you to participate in this process.

“I wish I could say it’s all over. But in many respects, it has just begun, and I will continue to monitor future events as they unfold. I assure you that we will get through it and not only be a better city for it, but one closer to my dream of One Memphis.”

We’ll have a web story up shortly incorporating this and tonight’s MCS board meeting discussion on “an agreement in principle” that doesn’t exist, at least not yet.

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