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Memphis Summit Moves Leaders to Action

Current Events & News, Parent & Family Engagement | 05/02/2016

Amariah Tyler Digital Strategist & Memphis Operations Coordinator

As Memphis Operations Coordinator and Digital Strategist, Amariah works to improve the education system and schools in Tennessee.

Stand for Children Memphis Summit Inspires Parents & Leaders to Action

Stand for Children Memphis hosted its second annual Education Action Summit on Saturday, April 30. The event, held at Playhouse on the Square, brought Stand members, parents, teachers, education and elected leaders together to discuss pertinent issues related to the state of education in Memphis, and to outline action plans to impact policy that will improve local schools.

During the half-day convening, participants were briefed on state legislative activity, Stand’s local education policy agenda, and school funding.

Guest speakers included: Tennessee State Senator Lee Harris; Tennessee State Representative Raumesh Akbari; Shelby County Commissioner Van Turner; Shelby County Schools (SCS) Commissioner Chris Caldwell; and SCS administrators Natalia Powers, Angela Carr, and Taurus Currie.

Following a series of interactive discussions with guest speakers, the Summit focus shifted to identifying specific ways for parents and residents to take action. Stand for Children Organizers facilitated group breakout sessions where participants formed plans to advocate for and influence policy decisions regarding public education.

“We designed the Summit to not just provide information, but also be a launching point into action to support the education of our children,” said Cardell Orrin, Stand for Children Memphis City Director.

“We recognize that the lack of parental involvement [in schools] can often be attributed to a lack of information and opportunities to engage. We wanted to give our members and other concerned residents a chance to learn more about the people and work that is occurring to increase local academic achievement, and help them uncover their own individual power to positively impact students and schools.“

Approximately 50 guests attended Saturday’s Education Action Summit. Among them was Zipporah Robinson, a local community leader who is passionate about supporting children.

“The nation is only as strong as its future, and that is our youth,” Robinson said.

“I realized there is a lot I don’t know and some of the statistics that I heard today from our county and school board commissioners are staggering…their presentations struck a nerve and showed me how necessary this work is. There is a real need to educate ourselves and learn how we can invoke change in our educational system(s).”

Amber Mitchell, a Stand for Children Leader at Leadership Preparatory Charter School where her son attends, was also encouraged by the Summit programming.

“It was very informative and it was nice to be around people with the same energy and passion for education advocacy,” said Robinson.

“I feel like citizens are really taking ownership now of what’s going on and willing to do their part instead of letting commissions and school boards dictate and make decisions without involving the people it really affects. We all have a role to play and everyone has a gift that they can use to help our children. In Stand, there’s room for everybody at every level to work together and to inspire others to action.

ON THE HORIZON

As a follow-up to the work at the Summit around the upcoming school funding needs, we encourage all education supporters to attend the following meetings:
 

SCS Budget Community Meeting
Monday, May 9, 2016
Location: Cummings Elementary
Time: 6:00 p.m.

SCS Budget Community Meeting
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Location: Dexter Elementary
Time: 6:00 p.m.

Board of Education Workshop - Budget Review
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Location: SCS Central Office Auditorium
Time: 4:00 p.m.

Board of Education - Final Budget Vote
Monday, May 16, 2016
Location: SCS Central Office Auditorium
Time: 4:00 p.m.

County Commission Education Budget Presentation
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Location: VAsco A. Smith, Jr. County Administration Building
160 N. Main Street, Memphis, TN 38103
Time: 8:30 a.m. 
 

Stand for Children Memphis is also partnering with Shelby County Schools and other education advocates on implementing the county-wide ‘Students Deserve More’ awareness campaign, which highlights a critical need to increase funding for schools. The initiative is in response to school budget cuts that have occurred over the past three years. Most recently, the SCS Board announced it would cut $36 million from the 2016-2017 budget to close a gap that has persisted.

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ABOUT STAND FOR CHILDREN TENNESSEE

Stand for Children Tennessee’s mission is to ensure that all children, regardless of their background, graduate from high school prepared for, and with access to, a college education or career training. Learn more at www.stand.org/tennessee.

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