"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, September 30, 2013

Shelby County's Mayor, Mark Luttrell, Leading Public Effort to Privatize Head Start in Memphis

In 2010 State Democratic Chairman, Chip Forrester, said this about Shelby County mayor,  Mark Luttrell:

"He's a right-wing ideologue whose two planks are to build a bigger jail [now #10 in the U.S.] and to out-source county jobs. He's attempting to cozy up to Democrats, and he's not clear about his Republican pedigree. There's a sense that Mark Luttrell is a moderate, somebody who stays in the middle. That's not the case."

The bigger jail, Luttrell got as sheriff.  A really big one.  Forbes, in fact, lists Shelby County Jail as #10 largest in the nation.  Luttrell is now leading the charge in Shelby County to have the county school board take over the annual $23 million federal Head Start grants in order to find "someone who can enhance and expand this program to meet the needs.”

"The needs" that Luttrell refers to obviously have something to do with further chopping of public employees to benefit a corporation headed up by a Luttrell crony, John Threlkeld, who is not only President of the Chamber of Commerce in Bartlett, a Memphis suburb, but who is also President of the Board of Directors of Porter-Leath, a tax-sheltered corporation that is standing by to take over early childhood education in Memphis.  Oh yes, one of Porter-Leath's corporate partners is KIPP Memphis, Inc.:

The mission of KIPP Memphis Collegiate Schools is to provide high performing schools in the Memphis area that will equip all students with the necessary academic and life skills needed to succeed in college and the competitive world beyond. Porter-Leath partners with KIPP Memphis Collegiate Schools to provide pre-school services to 100 children in North Memphis.

From the Daily-News on September 23, quoting Mayor Luttrell:

“I would hope this school system, through the leverage they have, that they would certainly tie into the pre-kindergarten program as well as early childhood and elementary education programs,” Luttrell added. “We’re not nimble.

Things don’t move fast in government by design. When you are talking about Head Start … you need to consider that.”

Yes, nimble, that key corporate term for being able to turn an intentional disruption and manufactured crisis into immediate corporate profit.

We shall see how nimble taxpayers are, who are facing a second referendum (the last one failed miserably) to increase the sales tax by a half-cent to almost 10 percent.  With Luttrell and his ilk planning to collect almost $50 million if the referendum passes, want to guess where the money is intended to go?  

That's right--$30 million will go to a privatized early childhood program run by Luttrell's cronies, and $17 million to reduce property taxes for those who can afford property--not those people who will pay 10 cents on the dollar for milk and eggs.

More from the Daily News (my bolds):

The seven commissioners in committee last week agreed on the idea of the school system taking over Head Start. But beyond that they had different opinions about other options including alternatives, such as Porter-Leath getting the contract. 

Luttrell said he is open to a Porter-Leath plan or another private provider. 

“I certainly think the school system is very qualified to do this, and Porter-Leath has a very convincing package to sell,” he said.

Now was that a convincing package, or an impressive bundle?  Semantics.

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