It’s budget time for Memphis City Schools (MCS), which means the city council will be asked to fund another billion dollar budget. But first, journalist John Branston has some hard questions for MCS Superintendent Kriner Cash. In part:

  • On the report card, enrollment is 104,829 in 2009 and 110,753 in 2007 and 116,528 in 2006. But there are more administrators (439 to 359), schools (199 to 194), teachers (7,259 to 6,438), and per-pupil spending ($10,394 to $9,254) now than there were three years ago. Why is that?
  • The report card classifies 100,617 of the 104,829 students in MCS as “Title 1,” which is federal government-speak for “high-poverty schools.” Are you telling us that there is no middle class and no upward mobility in Memphis, a city that takes great pride in its entrepreneurship, flagship companies, and aspirations to become a “city of choice”? …
  • Approximately 86 percent of MCS students are classified as “economically disadvantaged” and eligible for free and reduced price lunches. Have you ever audited this number, and how and when does MCS ask kids or their parents to document their family income?

    A full-price lunch in a school cafeteria costs $2 and includes an entrĂ©e, two vegetables, bread, and a beverage. That’s $10 a week, or less if you brown-bag it. If everyone is that poor, then why do you need a cell phone policy?

The entire article is brilliant. Unfortunately, questions like these rarely get asked to anyone in a meaningful forum.

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