Forum hosts opposition to charter surrender referendum - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Forum hosts opposition to charter surrender referendum

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By Kontji Anthony - bio | email | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Rainbow PUSH Coalition president LaSimba Gray hosted a handful of critical leaders at Monumental Baptist Church Saturday to share opposition to the March 8 referendum to transfer Memphis schools to Shelby County.

"Resolved to defeat this referendum," said Gray.  "There's no benefit to consolidation."

The Memphis Teachers Association, AFSCME, Action National Network, and SCLC heard from former Chattanooga Schools Board commissioner Sherman Matthews, who urged them to keep schools separate.

"It does not save any money," said Matthews.  "It's not going to provide any better education for any child."

Tennessee Representative G.A. Hardaway was the lone referendum supporter at the forum.

"I understand that they have a problem, but it does not apply to us," said Hardaway.  "If there's anything that we can do to help, we'd be happy to come to Chattanooga and give them advice."

A passionate Memphis Schools Board Commissioner Sara Lewis said poverty must first be addressed.

"Someone needs to gut up, and man or woman up and do that," said Lewis.

Representative Hardaway then fired a series of questions at Shelby County Schools Chairman David Pickler.

"Mr. Pickler, even though I like him, tends to twist and distort the facts," he said.

"There are passionate feelings on both sides," said Pickler.

The two went toe-to-toe over Pickler's claims that Memphis City Schools will lose money in a merger.

"The children of Memphis City Schools stand to lose a quarter of a billion dollars in funding and resources," said Pickler.

Hardaway denied Pickler's claim.

"We have facts out there," said Hardaway.  "And then we have facts as presented by those who oppose what is going to happen."

Hardaway said the city could cut $780 per student at most.  He said city leaders assured him they would keep funding in place.

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