Grassroots movement gaining momentum in opposition to MCS - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Grassroots movement gaining momentum in opposition to MCS charter surrender

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By Jason Miles - bio | email | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A new grassroots campaign called "Save our Students" is gaining momentum in the debate over the Memphis City Schools charter surrender.

During a special meeting of the Memphis City School Board called Thursday night, some people had no problem expressing their opinion about the board's decision to surrender the charter, pending a public vote.

"You are to be elected and trusted officials," said Rev. LaSimba Gray.  "How could you dare do something like this to this city?"

Others who oppose possible consolidation with county schools are making plans that are arguably more subversive.

A newly-formed group called S.O.S. for "Save our Students" was organized by a man named Jon Crisp, who heads the previously formed anti-consolidation group "Save Shelby Now."

In an e-mail obtained by Action News 5, Crisp spelled out plans to "defeat the misguided MCS Board action."

"This fight will take all of our wits," Crisp wrote.  "If a person does not have toughness, at the first cry of 'racism' they will become a quick casualty of this endeavor."

Crisp called for collaboration with the teacher's union and African-American ministers in Memphis.

There are well-organized forces on the other side of the issue urging Memphians to vote Yes on the charter surrender.

Meanwhile, the district itself will be covering the cost of the election as set forth in state law.

School Board member Kenneth Whalum, Jr. made it a point to focus on the cost of the election during an exchange with board attorney Dorsey Hopson.

"When we spoke with the election commission, they said they'd get back with us, but it's estimated to be somewhere around $1 million," said Hopson.

"Somewhere how much?" asked Whalum, Jr.

"A million dollars," said Hopson.

"Somewhere around $1 million?  Thank you," said Whalum, Jr.

Hopson explained the money used to pay for the election would come out of the district's unrestricted fund balance.

Several people in the audience booed the prospect of spending the money on an election they feel should not take place.  Proponents of the charter surrender said they consider it the cost of progress.

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