The Memphis City Schools are 85 percent black, 87 percent economically disadvantaged and based on 2009-2010 data from ACT, only six percent of Memphis seniors who took the ACT (an already self-selected group of less than four percent of total students) were college ready. On December 20, 2010 the Memphis school board voted to give up their charter and consolidate with the whiter, more affluent, and better performing Shelby County Schools. The question was put to Memphis voters on March 8, 2011. It passed. The Shelby County Schools sued in federal court to try and stop consolidation. That lawsuit was settled in August. A 21-member Transition Planning Commission and a 23-member unified school board were appointed. The two systems will officially merge in September 2013. But that deadline has not settled the matter. Many parents, especially parents in the county outside of Memphis, are trepidatious about sending their kids to a merged district and all six of the suburban municipalities are considering forming their own school districts. The details of the merger are still being worked out and parents are still deciding whether they want to send their kids to a merged district.
Eleanor Boudreau covered all these events with the aim of helping listeners make critical decisions for their children and the future of education in their community.