What's the problem?
Issues related to poverty, poorly maintained schools, adverse childhood experiences, trauma, disproportionate consequences for students of color, insufficient resources for wraparound services (such as school nurses, counselors and social workers), and inadequate support for teachers, their professional development and classroom supplies, continue to negatively affect educational quality and school attendance among Shelby County Schools (SCS).
Why should we care?
SCS’s ability to provide a quality, equitable education is being undercut by high teacher turnover and year-long teaching vacancies, as well as significant maintenance deficiencies within the schools, all of which leads to higher financial, educational, and health costs. A lack of access to wraparound services provided by qualified social workers, psychologists, and nurses inhibits the successful treatment of trauma or Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE). Abuse, neglect, and trauma significantly increase the likelihood of suspensions, juvenile criminal behavior, and incarceration. With a median age four years below the national average, Memphis’s population can support economic development, but only if we provide children in our community access to opportunities and support.
What should be done?
Ensure funding for and transparency about progress with:
Clean, safe, updated, and modern school facilities for all our children
Raising the number of nurses, social workers and school counselors per student in the schools to nearer the number recommended by professional organizations
Fairly compensating teachers and paraprofessionals in high needs schools or lowering class size to make workload equitable to that of teachers of more affluent students.
Communicate with parents about their rights, publicizing the budgeted SCS per-pupil expenditure, and empowering them to seek support in their community
Training teachers and school-based staff in proven methods of social-emotional support and trauma-informed care in the classroom
Implementing school-based and improved professional development for school leaders and teachers around school budgeting and testing procedures and scheduling to make school operations more transparent and comprehensible.
Engaging teachers and parents in open dialog over testing products and expectations to improve the implementation of existing tests or seek out better options to decrease teacher burnout and retention.
Sign our petition, developed with our partner Stand for Children-Tennessee, demanding a comprehensive facilities plan from Shelby County Schools. Click here to access the petition in paper form for distribution.