Germantown parent appeals for mutual 'respect'; urges Memphians to consider smaller districts

This quote from Ken Hoover, the Germantown parent who came so close this summer to ending David Pickler's 11-year run as Shelby County Schools chairman, drew the largest applause of Thursday's Stand for Children Forum in Cordova:

"The most disturbing thing about this discussion is we seem to rapidly shift to, 'Well, I'm going to tell you why those other guys are a bunch of sorry so and so's.' And you heard it again tonight, 'They were trying to do that and we were only trying to do this.' The problem with that conversation is it's not focused on how we all need to do better."

That got cut out of our story this morning for reasons of space. Hoover also said that while he would urge Memphians to vote no, he respected them (but disagreed) for believing a vote to merge the schools could create harmony. But he emphasized: "I certainly don't want to call any of you names because you live on a different side of the city limits than I do."

One question asked what those opposed would do if the merger passed, and Hoover was emphatic -- he will continue to evangelize for his belief that smaller districts are much more effective at delivering optimal educational outcomes for the communities they serve. Hoover said he would encourage Memphians to contemplate a Whitehaven special school district, a Frayser special school district, an East Memphis special school district, etc.

"Bigger school districts serve children less well and impoverished schoolchildren are particularly at-risk," Hoover said.

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As the process for merging Shelby County's schools accelerates into action, we'll provide bonus coverage here at, with a particular focus on the 21-member transition team and the 23-member unified school board. Comment early and often. If you have any tips or suggestions you wish to share, contact Zack McMillin at or 529-2564.

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