VOL. 131 | NO. 185 | Thursday, September 15, 2016
Last Word: Rallings on Protests, New Home Sales Numbers and Special Session Over
By Bill Dries
$10 million goes a long way toward establishing a new school.
But Crosstown High School was not among the new high schools that garnered grants Wednesday from the XQ Super School Project.
Just last week, organizers of the school in the Crosstown Concourse development announced the school would open in the 2018-2019 school year instead of the original plan to open in August of 2017.
The school’s efforts continue despite XQ not choosing its model.
A few observations on this:
Most of the 10 schools awarded XQ grants of $10 million each were schools already in operation in some form.
There was a lot of emphasis on students calling the tune on how they learn. One of the school models involves students on a barge. It suggested a degree of experimentation that gave way long ago in the local hothouse of education changes here in Memphis to criticism about a “try anything” tone to some of the efforts Memphis has seen plenty of over the years especially from reformers coming to the city from other places. The criticism is that the city’s achievement gap and economic gap both make the city an attractive laboratory for such efforts. But parents have real and valid concerns about their children’s critical years spent testing out someone else’s theory.
That last point segues nicely into the effort by The Community Foundation of Greater Memphis to better evaluate what is working and what is not in summer and after school programs – specifically how well those programs align with and work in connection with what happens in the classroom.
There are lots of organizations in our city with ideas about how to motivate young people and most of them are utterly convinced their methods will work once they are scaled up with some amount of funding.
The Memphis City Council’s recent budget deliberations – specifically the groups making their case to the council for grant funding – offered an up close view of the pitches foundations and other philanthropy efforts field as well.
Some are nothing more than a pitch in which a slogan and buzz words are repeated over and over with the belief they are some kind of incantation that possesses a bit of magic. Others are what seem to be solid ideas that aren’t fully formed just yet or need more rigorous vetting to assuage some nagging and credible doubts.
The Community Foundation put together this effort to quantify what works after a survey of the funders it relies on consistently that found many of those putting up money are immersed in k-12 education. And there is a need to apply the same sort of rigor in the summer and after school part of the education spectrum as there is in k-12.
Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings is our guest on the WKNO TV program Behind The Headlines that airs Friday at 7 p.m. And among the topics we covered was the police response to recent Black Lives Matter movement protests in Memphis.
Top of the show was a discussion about violent crime – homicides – with Rallings saying 42 percent of the city’s homicides involve gang members. And he acknowledged that Memphis police are seeing a change in the behavior of gang members as centralized control by gang leaders breaks down. It’s a phenomenon police in Chicago have noted in that city’s more precipitous spike in murders this year.
New homes sales numbers from Chandler Reports, the real estate information company that is part of The Daily News Publishing Co. Inc., show a two-month slump in home sales ended in August. A cyclical late summer bounce came through in August. The Chandler numbers show the Arlington, Collierville and Bartlett-Brunswick ZIP codes had the most new home permits filed for August.
Meanwhile, the Chandler Reports mortgage market numbers for August showed a 17 percent increase in August compared to a year ago.
A different kind of housing about to take shape on Crump Boulevard west of where Danny Thomas Boulevard turns into Wellington. Mason Village will likely break ground in March to begin construction on a set of 77 two-story townhomes that will be affordable rental properties built for large families – two and three bedroom units. This comes at a time when there is a dearth of affordable housing and some families relocating out of federally subsidized housing and the last of the city’s large public housing projects are facing a shortage of such housing.
The Memphis Real Estate Recap includes a changing of hands of more industrial property – in this case Malone Distribution Park in Parkway Village, more details on the sale of the Union Plaza shopping center, a retail strip between McNeil and Willett that dates back to 1942, making it older that Poplar Plaza. Meanwhile, two retail strip centers in Millington at Wilkinsville Road and U.S. 51 have sold for $4.8 million. Three new tenants for Saddle Creek in Germantown. And Southern College of Optometry starts a $1.2 million build out at Crosstown Concourse.
The field day is an introduction to agriculture that many Memphis kids never get. That changed this week as Future Farmers of America held a field day at Agricenter International that drew SCS students. Those students mixed with high school students from more rural communities where the FFA is a tradition and a rite of passage for teenagers – to a degree.
Tennessee Agriculture Commissioner Jai Templeton was in town this week, including a stop at FFA Field Day at Agricenter, and told the Memphis Rotary Club that the average age of Tennessee farmers is 61 years old. Templeton said the aging of farmers is a concern for the future of the biggest piece of Tennessee’s economy.
With much less discussion than the forced exit of Jeremy Durham, the Tennessee Legislature took care of the central purpose of this week’s special session and fixed the underage drunk driving law that ran afoul of federal regulations and endangered $60 million in federal road funding to the state.
The special session ended with the Democratic minorities in both chambers mounting a short-lived effort to revive the prospects of a Medicaid expansion through a call for a statewide referendum on the November ballot. As our Nashville correspondent Sam Stockard reports in his View From The Hill column, it didn’t get very far at all.
The University of Arkansas at Fayetteville moves to reduce its out-of-state tuition starting next year.
Radio host Tom Joyner was just here last weekend for the Southern Heritage Classic where he and his show are a part of the TSU-JSU football rivalry. This week in Nashville, he and Tennessee State University announced an offer of scholarships to community school graduates including those at Southwest Tennessee Community College to attend TSU and become STEM teachers in Memphis and Nashville.
Allergan has a tentative deal to buy Vitae Pharmaceuticals for $639 million, which would give the makers of Botox a foothold in dermatology products. There’s a pun in there somewhere. Figure it out.
And Bayer’s buyout of Monsanto is prompting some concerns from farmers about higher seed prices.