More: Must Focus on Innovation
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam today released the following statement after Memphis voters Tuesday backed the referendum transferring administration of the Memphis City School System to the Shelby County Board of Education.
"The voters in Memphis spoke clearly that the schools in Memphis should be merged with Shelby County," Haslam said.
"Now comes the time for city and county leaders -- in government, in education and in the community -- to come together to develop a comprehensive plan to create a unified school district. There are a number of issues to be considered, but I believe the people of Memphis and Shelby County will get the job done.
"The state Department of Education is prepared to assist in the transition and plan development. I have asked newly-appointed Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman to reach out to the two superintendents and the two mayors and offer his assistance.
"The issues in Memphis and Shelby County are about more than a vote or the development of a plan. The vote has occurred and a plan will be created.
"The real focus now needs to be on innovation, taking this opportunity and using the tools available to lay out a classroom approach that offers a quality education for all students.
"Resources already are in place with funds from the Gates Foundation and a number of charter schools that are part of the Memphis school mix. The threads for reform are there. The opportunity is to take them and weave them into a unified approach where there are the best teachers, great principals, strong elected leaders and supportive parents and community.
"Let's take the opportunity after a local decision was made and transform the schools in Memphis and Shelby County into schools for the future."