ROUNDUP: SCS gets mark of excellence, teacher evaluations critiqued, diversity in Germantown

We have a veritable cornucopia of education-related news in today's print edition. It may not get the pageviews of those "Cute cat does crazy trick!" stories, but we hope readers find that articles about local education make supporting our products (subscribe here!) well worth the nominal daily cost. There are four separate items in just Thursday's print edition:

And as the political PR pros like to say, ICYMI (that is, In Case You Missed It):
  • We ran this story Monday on the big new Central Office Building that Shelby County Schools is building and is near completion.
  • Here is the full story on a study looking at teacher effectiveness programs by Jane Roberts. For the full state report, click this link here.

As always, check out our landing page for education news at .


Zack, I noticed your tweet regarding the Richland Elementary auction and was wondering why you posted that. Your area is zoned for Ridgeway/Balmoral Elementary and I can't imagine you would have sought a transfer from your neighborhood school to one that is much less diverse (FYI for those who don't know, Ridgeway/Balmoral is around 80% Black, 8% White and Richland is 69% White and 23% Black). That is how you and your friends at Rebuild Government (Tomeka and Martavious) define diversity when comparing MCS and SCS isn't it? The overwhelmingly black (MCS) school system is diverse and the racially balanced system (SCS) is predominantly white? Right?

I expected you to be biased based on your history, but the hypocrisy is a surprise. Well, at least your connections with Tomeka, Martavious, and Rebuild Government got your children into a choice school. Bet when Riverdale is out of reach as part of GMS (unless you pay tuition) it keeps them out of Ridgeway Middle as well. If I were you, I'd also want my children at Riverdale instead of Ridgeway, but why not go on and tell everyone that and write actual editorials instead editorials pretending to be news stories?

Is there no one on the editorial board or in management at the Commercial Appeal that has journalistic integrity? Does such a concept even exist?

While I reserve the right to delete irrelevant, unjustified or otherwise inappropriate comments, I'm going to leave this one up. Someone (or some people) invested in the push for Germantown municipal schools has decided to attack me personally, and so I'll respond. First of all, we waited in line all night (twice) for a transfer to Richland because a) we had several friends with children already there and b) it is is the most convenient Memphis city school for us in terms of location -- about a 7 to 10 minute drive vs. 12 to 15 minutes to Ridgeway/Balmoral. It's also right on the way to/from our workplaces. c) We initially planned to do Grahamwood or Snowden's optional program after Kindergarten (stood in line for that, too), but decided Richland was a great fit for us. As for the other tired issue ... following is a slightly edited comment I posted back in August --->
I spent Jan. and Feb. of 2010 at Rebuild, well before it ever took a position on the Metro charter. My main duty was to publicize efforts to create small-group gatherings that would include MORE voices from MORE communities all around the county in the process. I was neutral on the issue even while at Rebuild, other than advocating for people to make sure their concerns, hopes, fears, visions were considered.

In terms of schools, I made it clear it was imperative schools be kept out of the metro government discussion. I’ve never once advocated for consolidating schools, though of course I understand the rationale behind pushing for it just as I understand the reasons for pushing against it. As for Martavius Jones and Tomeka Hart, I never once spoke/emailed/anything with them in my two months away from the newspaper.

Anyway, it cuts both ways. The fact that I chose to accept an offer to return to The CA and leave Rebuild could be read by pro-consolidation people as evidence of my bias AGAINST the effort. Just like the fact that my children attend MCS can be read as evidence of whatever agenda people want to ascribe. I’ve said this to those on both sides – my family has been very happy with our experience in MCS thus far and were comfortable with status quo.

Now, like everyone else, on a personal level we have anxiety connected to the uncertainty over schools. We have some fears, we have some hopes. Which only makes my professional duty as a journalist all the more important – being as accurate and fair and timely and relevant as possible, every day and on every issue. This is too important for everyone involved.

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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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