Tag Archives: Metro

Nashville, Memphis School Boards Oppose Voucher Bill

(Note: Expands, updates previous post)
Following in the footsteps of Knox County, and perhaps aligning with Tennessee’s two other largest school districts, Metro Nashville Public Schools went on record Tuesday urging the state legislature to reject legislation accommodating vouchers that would divert public funds to private schools. So reports The City Paper.
“I don’t think it’s the proper way for our children in the Metropolitan Nashville public school system to go,” school board chair Gracie Porter said of a voucher system she contends would subtract public dollars from the classroom.
The Metro Nashville Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday to oppose voucher legislation like the one state Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) has vowed to reintroduce, which would create what he calls “Equal Opportunity Scholarships.” Such scholarships, totaling half the amount the state and school districts spends on a student, would be available for students to attend independent, private or religious institutions. The formula equals $5,400 in Metro.

Previous post HERE.
Meanwhile, the unified Memphis-Shelby County school board also voted to oppose the Kelsey voucher plan, according to the Commercial Appeal.
Board member Diane George cast the lone no vote, saying she was a person who believed in relationships and wanted to invite Kelsey to discuss the issue with the board.
“I offer that we sit down and talk to him and maybe come up with something that is going be a better bill if we just sit down and communicate.”
… “I am concerned that it will look like we cannot take a position. I hate for them to see Memphis and Shelby County as ambivalent when we are two-fifth of the coalition of large urban districts,” said board member Betty Mallott.
“I hate to leave them standing at the door.”
Board member Tomeka Hart wrapped up the discussion by saying she had had several conversations with Kelsey on the bill.
“It keeps coming, so I don’t think there is any interest in talking,” she said, pushing board members to vote for the resolution. “This is taking public dollars and going to private schools and we can do nothing about it. If charters don’t do certain things they can be closed by state law, but there is nothing we can do with private schools.
“People say we shouldn’t do this resolution because we don’t know the bill,” she said, adding that whatever the bill turns out to be it will take money from the public schools.

Census Data: Memphis Poorest Metro Area in the Nation

With nearly one in five residents stuck below the poverty line, metropolitan Memphis ranks as by far the most impoverished large metro area in the nation, according to new census figures reported by the Commercial Appeal.
Of the 1.3 million people in the eight-county metro area, an estimated 246,265 — 19.1 percent — lived in poverty last year, according to figures released Thursday from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.
That poverty rate, although a slight improvement from the 19.4 percent estimate for 2009, was the highest among the 51 U.S. metro areas with populations of at least 1 million. Metropolitan New Orleans, with an estimated 17.4 percent of residents living in poverty, had the second-highest rate.

Nashville Council Takes Up ‘Don’t Say Gay,’ Discrimination Override

The Metro Nashville City Council has two items on its Tuesday agenda that relate to legislatilon in the General Assembly earlier this year, reports the City Paper. Both are sponsored by council members soon to be losing their seats
(Jamie) Hollin, the outgoing District 5 Metro councilman, has introduced a memorializing resolution to recognize local high school students who protested the state’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
It’s similar legislation to the resolution two council conservatives worked to defeat five weeks ago, igniting a now-legendary verbal tirade from Hollin that began on the council floor, spilled to the council’s back rooms and ended in the courthouse parking garage.
…In a separate item, Councilwoman Kristine LaLonde has sponsored a memorializing resolution to request that the Metro Department of Law file an amicus brief in support of an ongoing suit over the constitutionality of the state’s Equal Access to Intrastate Commerce Act.
The law, passed this year by the Republican-dominated state legislature, nullified Metro’s nondiscrimination law that required city contractors to provide employment protections for gay, lesbian and transgender employees.

Bredesen Backs Challenger in Nashville City Council Race

Two days ago, it was Mayor Karl Dean. Now, former Tennessee governor and Nashville mayor Phil Bredesen — as had been expected — is featured on a campaign mail-piece for attorney Sarah Lodge Tally, the well-connected election challenger of District 24 Metro Councilman Jason Holleman.
More from The City Paper:
Bredesen’s appearance simply reinforces what was clear from the list of names who signed Tally’s qualifying petition several weeks ago: Holleman must stave off much of Nashville’s Democratic Party establishment — and Dean — to win a second term serving his West Nashville, Sylvan-Park-area constituents.
“As a mayor and governor, I worked hard to move Nashville forward,” Bredesen says in the campaign ad. “Sarah Lodge Tally is part of the new generation of leaders who will build on our success and build a better place to live, work and raise a family. Please join me in supporting Sarah for Metro Council.”
Similar to the Dean mailer, the Bredesen piece says Tally can help make sure Metro schools are fully funded; expand parks and greenways; increase police protection; and foster growth and development along Charlotte Avenue.

(Note: Tally is the daughter of Richard Lodge, lawyer-lobbyist and former state Democratic chairman, and Gina Lodge, who was commissioner of the Department of Human Services during Bredesen’s gubernatorial administration.)

TN Regional News Notes on Hispanic Growth and Such

Hispanic Political Growth In Nashville
In an article on the growth of the Hispanic population in the Nashville area (which has the highest concentration of Hispanics in the state, according to Census data), Chas Sisk writes “they may force political lines to be redrawn and cause more Hispanic candidates to begin appearing on local ballots.”
One Metro Council District is now more than 40 percent Hispanic. And there’s a significant Hispanic population in some state legislative districts.
In the Senate, the largest Hispanic population is in the 21st District, which stretches across southern Davidson County into Tusculum and Antioch. Hispanics represent more than 13 percent of the residents in that district, which is represented by (Democratic( Sen. Douglas Henry.
In the House, the 59th District is nearly 27 percent Hispanic, by far the highest concentration in the legislature. …The rapid influx of Hispanics has changed the area, said (Democratic) Rep. Sherry Jones, who has represented the 59th District since 1995.
“It will continue to change,” she said. “My job is to take care of the people I represent.

The News-Sentinel had an earlier story on Hispanic growth in East Tennessee that also focused on potential political imact.
“Five or 10 years out, you’ll have one or two Hispanics on some city and county boards in East Tennessee; five or 10 years out, whether it’s Knox or Sevier or some other county, you’ll probably see a Hispanic mayor,” said (Angel) Martinez, president and CEO of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of East Tennessee.
The 2010 census numbers released Wednesday by the http://www.census.gov/U.S. Census Bureau certainly support his vision.
Almost all East Tennessee counties show a huge growth in the Hispanic community since the 2000 census. In Knox County, for example, the population more than tripled – from 4,803 in 2000 to 15,012 in 2010.

More Memphis School Lawsuits
In a flurry of federal court filings, the predicted lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the Memphis City Schools’ charter surrender came to fruition, reports the Commercial Appeal.
The Memphis City Council, the city of Memphis and the MCS board have each counter-sued Shelby County Schools, saying the school board has shirked its statutory responsibility to educate all the children of Shelby County.
“Shelby County Schools has failed to perform their duty; all they have done is file lawsuits,” said deputy city attorney Regina Morrison Newman.
Allan Wade, lawyer for the City Council, said it is disingenuous for county school leaders to claim they don’t know how to proceed. “Let’s get busy …. it’s a done deal,” he said, adding that the charter was legally surrendered with the council’s vote in mid-February
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Metro Government Eyed in Maury
From The Columbia Daily Herald: Charter Commissioner Ashley Brown proposed making the sheriff the chief law enforcement officer in a metropolitan government encompassing Columbia and Maury County.
Brown, a former chief deputy in the Sheriff’s Department, made the recommendation Thursday at a meeting of the Columbia/Maury County Charter Commission, a group tasked with drafting a charter for a proposed metropolitan government.
“The sheriff would take over all law enforcement duties in the county,” Brown said.