Sorry, couldn’t resist.
Our cover story this week in The Memphis News is a retrospective of Kriner Cash’s time as superintendent of Memphis City Schools.
And there is a lot of ground to cover in the time he has been heading the school system.
That time formally ends at the end of July which will make his length of stay here five years and one month.
Next week’s meeting of the countywide school board is expected to be his last as superintendent. After that, he serves as an advisor to the school system through the end of July. And Cash gave every indication this week that the time will be spent in pursuit of some ideas that got lost in the move to merger.
At Tuesday evening’s board work session, Cash told the board his staff will continue to work on one of his ideas for a “university corridor” of elementary, middle and high schools with a link to neighboring colleges – the University of Memphis, Rhodes College, LeMoyne Owen College and Christian Brothers University.
The corridor concept of 24-30 Memphis City Schools with such a link to higher education was put on hold as the work of the schools merger advanced.
As he leaves Cash wants to “reactivate” the effort “so that the feeder patterns that are in and around those colleges can become really strong.”
The resumption of the effort will likely begin with a call for a middle college university linked to Christian Brothers University.
Some other notes about Cash’s tenure that didn’t make it into the cover story this week.
Cash took on parts of the school system’s operations that Superintendent Carol Johnson had walled off during her brief tenure including the Central Nutrition Center, a program with abuses that began during Johnson’s tenure but came to light early in Cash’s time.
He also sought a school system police force of commissioned officers that got little traction in the Tennessee legislature which would have to approve such a move.
As his detractors described it as a power play, Cash said he wanted the force to have some control on the number of students who were being jailed by police and taken to Juvenile Court when that kind of action wasn’t warranted.
He also defended the idea of no grade retention for students up to third grade. The policy was part of the introduction of the larger concept of intervention during the school year for failing students instead of retention at the end of a school year to begin the remedial work. Cash was openly critical of high failure rates of students by some teachers whom he felt were failing the students because they had lost the ability to teach.
“You’ve been giving Fs for a hundred years hand over foot to these black children – every day, all day, in every subject, in every class, every year,” he said in 2010. “And you wonder why you get an F on the state report card. Failing children – you didn’t have a problem with it.”
Ultimately, Cash was forced by parental reaction to adopt a policy in which parents could request that their child be retained at grade level.