State steps in to fix failing school problem

With just a few days left before the start of the school year and the interim superintendent position not yet filled, Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen says he'll have a stronger hand in fixing Memphis' low performing schools.

The state Department of Education has given 20 schools failing marks this year and 17 of them are in Memphis.

Bredesen's authority over education issues increased this year after the legislature adopted new education accountability standards for schools on the state's low performance list.

"I need to roll my sleeves up and get more involved in especially some of these deeply failing schools," said Gov. Bredesen.

The Gov. Bredesen added, "for any individual school there always the possibility that the state would say look it's just not working we're going to grab hold of this school and run it in some other way."

Under his increased authority, Bredesen can shut down schools or reassign them an entirely new school board. "Turning it into a charter school giving to the University of Memphis and asking them to run it, setting up a separate board are all things I would consider," he added.

It puts the current City School Board in an increasingly vulnerable position. It's a board that has just lost their superintendent and could lose three board members who are running for other city offices.

But Bredesen said saving schools is not about politics.

"I know they make people mad politically sometimes to do that but when it comes to giving these kids a decent shot at life and giving them the tools they need I don't think there's anything you should put off the table in terms of trying to help those schools," said Bredesen.

The Governor said he prefers his education plan being more practical than popular.


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