Governor Haslam Responds To A Threat By Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey

Alex Coleman,
March 18, 2011


Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam Talks About State Takeover Of Memphis City Schools
Haslam Says He Doesn’t Anticipate The State Running The School District
The Governor Says Politics Must Be Taken Out Of Education

(Memphis 3/18/ 2011) Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam came to University of Memphis FedEx Institute to tout a 10 million dollar investment into biomedical research in Memphis.

But he wasted little time also setting the record straight about whether he supports a plan to have the state should take over Memphis City Schools.

Haslam said, “I do not. The state of Tennessee is not anticipating taking over the Memphis City Schools.”

The governor is responding to a threat made last week by Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey. Ramsey said the recent vote by Memphians showed the city had thrown in the towel and that the state should take over city schools.

Haslam said, “We are here to help. There are certain tools the state has and we intend to where ever we can jump in and do that, but the state is not intending to take over the Memphis City School system.”

There’s also a debate over what should be the size of a new unified school board. Shelby County Commissioners have been sparring over the board having seven members versus 25 members.

Haslam said, “I don’t know if I’m the best authority on that. I’m kind of watching that and following that the best that I can.”

Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris of Collierville said the County Commission should read its charter before making any changes with a new school board.

Norris said, “I think the Shelby County Charter addresses the number and if they want to change it, I recommend they take it to the people for a referendum vote.”

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton said the unified school issue should be of interest to everyone.

Wharton said, “But since it was voted on locally we bare the brunt of the primary responsibility of resolving it. Everybody knows how I feel about the legislation. I’m not going to revisit that. It’s there. It’ll be challenged in court, but I’ll do all I can to help the 2 school superintendents get together, whatever board we come up with.”

But for now the Governor hopes Memphis and Shelby County can eventually take the politics out of education.

Haslam said, “I think there are a lot of places we want to engage in discussion and we’ll be very actively involved with both mayors, the superintendents, the school boards. This is too big of an issue to let it get caught up in politics.”


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