EDUCATION: Disruption Could Work; But State Credibility? | Written By Joe B. Kent
Local & National News | February 22, 2024
in the State House. He, like White, had aIt’s time for White to hang it up, even though his proposal for an expanded MSCS Board may have merit.

Written By: Joe B Kent

It took some thought, but a disruption in the form of a Memphis Shelby County Schools (MSCS) Board expansion could work. After all, poor results in the State’s largest school district in MSCS have sustained themselves for years. 

But the timing of such an announcement for disruption was suspect, after the MSCS Board had finally done their primary job in selecting a permanent superintendent, Dr. Marie Feagins. The announcement came from Republican Representative Mark White, Chair of the House Education Committee, followed by concerns expressed by Democrats on the Shelby County Commission. 

Then again, a front-end disruption, coinciding with the arrival of a new Superintendent, might be exactly what is needed for a new superintendent to be effective. But does the State, who would mandate this, have credibility in education? 

First, it’s hard to believe Chair White, representing Shelby County, even lives in the County. White works full time for Nashville’s David Lipscomb University. I have been down this road before with my father when he represented White’s current District 83. He had moved to Nashville years earlier when a bit of a family food fight broke out regarding that it was time for him to retire after 20+ years in the State House. He, like White, had a good long run. Likewise, it’s time for White to hang it up, even though his proposal for an expanded MSCS Board may have merit. 

Then there is State of Tennessee Education Commissioner Lizette Reyolds, who does not have education academic credentials, all while taxpayers, as of 2/19/24, are currently left with no 2023 State Report Card data on the state website.

And finally, there is Bill Frist’s State SCORE Board. The SCORE Board is an education policy think tank, that over 10 yrs. ago promised to lead the Southeast in education. Yet state achievement outcomes have failed to lead, with outcome growth stagnating in recent years. Postsecondary completion growth is near the bottom of the Southeast since Frist and SCORE. And the Achievement School District was a complete failure. 

So, does the State have credibility with education? No, not at all. But timely disruption may be exactly what is needed, in the State’s largest school district and in support of a new superintendent. 

Let’s hope if disruption happens, with an expanded board, that such disruption is well thought out and Dr. Feagin feels welcome. Memphis Shelby County needs a successful new superintendent. And that superintendent needs State and community support.


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