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Memphis City Schools

by James Yates Jr.

(CFN-March 2008 Memphis TN) - Momma always said, "make your 1st impression your best impression." We must when representing the public or our family name.

And so did Dr. Jeff Warren, school board Commissioner for Memphis City Schools. When prodding around for an interview from one of the MCS Commissioners prior to the seating of the new superintendent, we had the opportunity to chat with Dr. Jeff Warren on a few of the topics expressed by our CFN readership as important concerns in Memphis City School education.

We are not pleased to report that an increase in teacher salaries given our sad state of national economic affairs is NOT in the immediate plans for the Memphis City School system.

Our interview with Memphis City Schools Commissioner, Dr. Jeff Warren discussing discipline, salaries, the state of our Memphis City School system as well as other topics gives CommonFolkNews readers a slight look inside of those that are making daily decisions about the future success of our children attending school in the Memphis area.

Question: "Will the new superintendent and the commission be looking at increasing teachers pay while increasing their professional responsibilities?
Answer: If our funding sources say we must do more with less, I don't think I can promise that we are going to be able to raise teacher salaries. 75-80% of our budget is made up of teacher and other employee salaries. One thing I think Dr. Cash is going to work on is improving our business management structure.

On the subject of discipline.

Question: "Dr. Warren, how has discipline been addressed during your tenure by the Memphis City School System?"
Answer: "We have a conduct policy that list very explicit behaviors that are unacceptable. One of them is striking a fellow student and the other is striking a teacher. Any student doing something like this they should not be doing it and there are very explicit things about what should happen. This is one of our zero tolerance policies." And as it relates to the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB signed into law in 2002) Dr. Warren raises the possibility of creating alternative educational environments possibly boarding school environments to further help and assist those children that aren't getting the parental support that they need at home.

Dr. Warren goes on to say that discipline in all school systems particularly in urban public school systems provides an example of the breakdown in society that we are experiencing to where we're having children having children and the lure of gang culture. And that our children are really willing to be accepted and loved. And the love that they are finding is inappropriate, not healthy for them and comes from a very violent group of people that are promoting violence.

Question: Is the Memphis City Schools capable of dealing with and handling its different types of discipline problems?

Answer: Yes. It takes a different skill set to deal with urban youth now and it's not the same from the days when I was growing up in my hometown. We have different problems, stresses, and pressures. There are also different social moirés that are out there now that weren't there then.

Dr. Warren makes the point that these types of problems are not school related issues and to look at these issues as school issues will never allow us to solve the problem.

Warren further states that one very important role of our educational system is diverting our young people from the lure of gang activity. Dr. Warren handles this issue head on and is on track with what CFN thinks the problem is and where it stems from. What's one possible solution? Alternative programming. Dr. Warren states, "I'm looking at possibly seeing how we can get a boarding school kind of an environment for kids that aren't getting the parental support that they need at home."

Needless to say, the MCS hopefully will incorporate a new direction, standards and policies that will improve dropout rates, and discipline problems within the schools. Just how successful will the new superintendent be at bringing about needed change? Well, the jury is still out. Until then parental, teacher and local political support of our school system and its new Superintendent is desperately needed.•

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Online Dictionary Definitions

a headdress, of obscure Oriental origin, consisting of a long scarf wound round the head or an inner hat.
Early Persians wore a conical cap sometimes encircled by bands of cloth, which perhaps may be considered one of the origins of the turban. The turban did not become common among the Turks, however, until after the capture of Constantinople in 1453, when the Ottoman sultan adopted the style of the Prophet Muḥammad by surrounding his cap with a large amount of white muslin wound round and round. Since then, the turban has been worn by men of the Muslim faith and of such offshoots of Islām as Sikhism, though after the early 19th century it was no longer obligatory for Muslims.
The turban varies in shape, colour, and size, some up to 50 yards (45 m) long, depending on one’s position in society—the larger the turban, the higher the status. In wearing a turban, the forehead must be left bare so that the skin may touch the ground when one prays.•

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