In my post about the Memphis-Shelby County schools yesterday, I quoted Jim Horn of Schools Matter. Horn was extremely critical of the plan to increase the proportion of students in charters from 4% to 19%, resulting in a $212 transfer of public school funding from the Memphis public schools to private hands.

A comment on the web site was highly critical of Horn and said he knew nothing about the plan or its supporters.

As a resident of Shelby County, former teacher, parent, and director of Stand for Children in Memphis, I take offense to the unbased reflection you present here about the merger of Memphis City and Shelby County Schools.

The plan you speak of was intentionally vetted through over 14,000 people in the community and led by 21 community volunteers on the Transition Planning Commission. Yes, one of them was Stand’s Executive Director Kenya Bradshaw is a member, read about her here,

To speak as if this plan was plopped down on Memphis and Shelby County by outsiders is irresponsible. You can read all the minutes to every meeting at this site, as well as supporting evidence for decisions that were made in the plan.

Perhaps Mr. Horn missed the parts about expanding to universal Pre-K, expanding access to AP and dual enrollement courses, developing a comprehensive community partnership to meet children\\’s needs both academically and wholistically, finding innovative ways to engage parents, the creation of a youth congress, and systems to target intervention services, especially around PBIS systems and socio-emotional learning?

Presenting the plan as a zero sum gain is part of the problem with the national narrative around ed reform. With this plan we have balanced accountability with supports that meet the needs of children.

Read the executive summary of the plan here:

As a communtiy we spent the past 9 months working on a plan that meets the needs of our students. Please talk to people that live somewhere and have experienced the process before making rote judgements.

Concerning your charter school comments, polling, surveys, and parent voices in Shelby County have asked for more choice and high quality options, otherwise the plan would not have incorporated the multiple achievement paths model.

We still have a long way to go, but we have a plan to begin to work to challenge an unjust system that involves a complex history of racial segregation, economic disadvantage, inadequate funding, and underperformance.

Jim Horn responded, as follows:

I did not neglect the pre-K proposal. See here: I must admit that I am not from Memphis, even though I did spend almost 20 years teaching in public schools in TN–and the last two weeks in Shelby County eating pole beans, white corn, field tomatoes, and peaches. Some ‘cue, too.While there, I was impressed by the corporate billboard campaign for the privatized pre-K for-the-poor plan, and no doubt some liberals will swoon at the prospect, even if it has to be paid for by “savings” from privatizing custodial and transportation services for a public school system whose mandate is to serve K-12.The bigger story, though, is the support from those who are lapping up corporate foundation money, while turning their backs on children who will move from intensely segregated public schools to apartheid charters run by corporations. And you must look at the report cards of those charter schools in Memphis to see one ugly story after another: of the MC-A columnists on Sunday tried to make the case that the plan is the best anyone could expect, as it represents the 70-30 black-white split from merged county and city systems. But the reality will be much different, with all black charter schools in the inner city and majority white schools in the county.

Waiting the wings there, too, is the possibility of a total balkanization of Shelby County, with another 6 school systems proposed to represent the outlying leafy suburbs. Part of the rationale for these proposed new systems is racial, of course, but there are those in the Germantown and Collierville who feel totally left out of the plan as devised by Stand, Broad, and Gates. I can’t say I blame them for trying to preserve their public schools, even if they are lily white. If the referenda fail, or if Shelby County is able to stop them legally, you can be that the next move in the leafy suburbs will be to create all-white charters, which will immediately make Shelby County Commissioners forget all of their resegregation concerns previously expressed.

In terms of the all the documented minutes from those public “input” meetings spread over the County, I believe it is still the Secretary who preserves the public record of those meetings. In this case, the Secretary of TPC was Stand’s Executive Director, Ms. Kenya Bradshaw.