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Khalilah Horton-Spencer

(AKA - Beta Epsilon Omega Chapter)

Venita Doggett

(AKA - Beta Epsilon Omega Chapter)

Education Equity Task Force

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 Memphis-Shelby County Schools (MSCS).


Our teachers are overwhelmed and under incredible pressure. With just three weeks before the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year, MSCS had more than 220 unfilled teaching positionsA recent national survey found that 80% of teachers are dissatisfied with their jobs and 40% are thinking about leaving education within the next two years. 


On wraparound services, MSCS has a ratio of: 

  • 1 counselor for every 400 students, but the recommended ratio is 1 for every 250 students. 

  • 1 social worker for every 8,700 students, but the recommended ratio is 1 for every 250 students

  • 1 school nurse for every 1,200 students, but the recommended ratio is 1 for every 750 students

  • 1 psychologist for every 3,400 students, but the recommended ratio is 1 for every 700 students.


Meanwhile, millions of dollars of deferred maintenance means our schools are literally falling apart placing our school staff and students at unnecessary physical risk.


The consequences of unsupported teachers and students are dire. 


At the end of the 2021-2022 school year, 56% of second graders were not reading at grade level and only 23.5% of third graders are at grade level, even lower than the state average of 35.7% For students with disabilities, just 8.5% of these students read on levelStudents who do not read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school.

Why should we care?

MSCS’s ability to provide a quality, equitable education is being undercut by high teacher turnover and year-long teaching vacancies, poorly supported students and families, as well as significant maintenance deficiencies within the schools, all of which leads to higher financial, educational, and health costs in the long run. Every student should have access to counselor that can give them the time and attention to plan for a successful education. 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:

    • 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.

  • Increase school board member decision transparency and expand community input opportunities as it relates to the 2022 superintendent search process and other key decisions.

MICAH’s Education Equity Task Force meets regularly on the 1st Monday of each month at 6:00pm on Zoom with the Momentum Memphis Coalition. Contact or  to be added to the email list to receive meeting information.

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