MEMPHIS, TN - On the eve of the start of early voting in the school charter referendum, campaigning is in full swing. Ministers, unions, teachers and parents came out today to voice opposition to the surrender. All these different groups came together Tuesday. They say we need to stick with the school system that's already in place and work on fixing it, and they say it with style.
“Chicken little said over and over again, the sky is falling,” said Rev. LaSimba Gray. “The truth of the matter is he had no evidence.”
From children’s stories, to rhymes…
“If you don't know, vote no,” said Gregory Grant, of the National Action Network.
There was even audience participation.
“If you don't know, vote no,” the crowd at the Baptist Ministerial Association Building chanted.
They was even channeling the Lord himself.
“What would Jesus do?” asked Rev. Marvin Mercer.
Their position is clear.
“My vote is no,” said Dr. R.T Joyner.
“It is not a consolidation,” said Memphis Education Association President Keith Williams. “It is an acquisition or a hostile takeover.”
“We're strong, we're united and we're going to fight,” said AFSCME Local 1733 Administrator Shelley Seeberg. “We're going to fight to make sure it's a no vote.”
Amidst all the mudslinging, we meet a real MCS parent with real concerns. Patrice Brewer has two kids at MCS.
“Most of the children, they think MCS kids are bad,” said Brewer. “No, my kids have been Optional and Honor Roll since the 1st grade. There are some excellent children out there, outside of playing basketball and football and all these other extracurricular activities.”
Brewer says her 9th grader is counting on a violin scholarship to pay for college. An instrument she's learned through the MCS Optional program.
“What happens to those programs, are they just out the door?” asked Brewer. “Should she play the violin all this time to just disassemble it so it goes away? What happens with that? Those are my concerns. No one talks about the children.”
Brewer believes there are just too many unknowns.
“That's just like saying, hey, give up your rights, and let me do whatever I want to,” said Brewer. “Because there's so much uncertainty within this bill. They should just leave it in place. I'm voting no against the charter.”
Rev. Dwight Montgomery led the rally Tuesday. He said, instead of surrendering the charter, he challenges people to volunteer for mentoring and tutoring programs already in place at MCS.
They're holding an education rally later this month to try to sign-up 500 new volunteers.
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Memphis Baptist Ministerial Association, the Memphis Education Association, AFSCME Local 1733, the Shelby County Education Association and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition all participated in Tuesday's rally.