Groups express opposition to MCS charter surrender - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Groups express opposition to MCS charter surrender

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - As Shelby County Schools board chairman David Pickler looked on, a group of labor, civil rights and faith groups came together Tuesday for one cause.

"We called a press conference to express our opposition to the surrender of the charter," said the Rev. Dwight Montgomery of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Leaders from eight local groups - the SCLC, Rainbow PUSH, the Baptist Ministerial Association, Coalition of Concerned Citizens, the National Action Network, AFSCME, the Memphis Education Association and the Shelby County Education Association - joined together to say 'no' to the Memphis City Schools charter surrender referendum.

Rainbow PUSH president LaSimba Gray said Monday night's Memphis school board meeting, and the fact that a meeting was held, was offensive.

"At first I called it irresponsibility on steroids," he said. "But last night, to have a meeting after voting to surrender the charter is arrogance and egotism on steroids.  Vote no!."

The groups have a list of reasons why they believe Memphis and Shelby County Schools should not combine.

They say it won't address urban concerns.

"Try to change the socio-economic conditions of those children," Montgomery said.

They also argue there are two many unknowns about the combined district that would result.

"It's not a good thing to vote on something if you don't really know what you're voting on," said R.T. Joyner of the Memphis Baptist Ministerial Association.

"If you don't know, vote no in the midst of all this confusion," Greg Gant of the Memphis National Action Network added.

Representatives from the unions that were present were also united in their opposition.

"It is not a consolidation," said Keith Williams of the Memphis Educational Association. "It is an acquisition or a hostile takeover."

"The Shelby County Education Association opposes surrender. Surrender is not in the best interest of any child," added Heather Fischer of the Shelby County Education Association.

The groups argued that a combined school system would be too large, would not lower Memphis property taxes, and would lose money.

Copyright 2011 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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