Memphis and Shelby County Schools might be on their way to consolidation, but sentiments on the matter are far from unified. The transition team and the unified school board charged with planning and executing school consolidation have met less than a handful of times, but already five of the six municipalities surrounding Memphis are thinking about creating their own municipal schools districts, rather than send their kids to a merged Shelby County Schools, and their concerns about consolidation may not be something the people captaining the merger can overcome, no matter what they do.
One of the main concerns about the merged Shelby County school district is its size. Ramon Cortines has been superintendent of school districts of all sizes, including New York City and Los Angeles—the two largest in the country. And he’s got some advice.
On October 3rd, 1961, thirteen African-American children walked into formerly all-white schools in Memphis. Unlike other cities, Memphis schools desegregated without violence; and first-graders—not high-schoolers—broke the color line. There’s a new documentary out about the event. Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles is in the movie. Kyles remembers bringing his daughter to the doors of Bruce Elementary School 50 years ago today.