Where are the students? A common narrative.

It’s less than a week away from school starting and according to SCS officials and floating news reports, there are a whopping 20,000 children who still have not registered for school.

Some schools started as early as last Wednesday, a few started on this past Wednesday, and Shelby County Schools officially went back on Monday,August 6, 2018.

Even with very rigorous and intentional pre-registration efforts by the district, the number of non-registered students is still astronomically high, though not surprising.

In recent years, there have been similar reports and discussion around “Where are the children?” and more directly, “Where are the parents?” These children, of course, can’t register themselves.

It speaks to a bigger problem that leads to late registration of students, inaccurate resource counts from school leaders and the inability to properly plan when the numbers are so low, imbalanced, and inaccurate. It goes to the frustration of having to play catch up and/or just not being certain as to who and how many will show up for the first day.

The question lingers around how more convenient can the process. Currently, there’s both the option of online and in-school registration and multiple times in which both pre-registration and enrollment can occur. So if time is not the issue or convenience, then what exactly keeps parents from registering their children before the first day of school?

I reached out to a few parents and community leaders and asked them the simple question, “What do you think caused 20,000 students from being registered for school?“

Below are a few of the responses:

No sense of urgency from families/parent/guardians; No connection between school/community/families. The process itself is difficult, having to have proof of residency; No deadline is required to have a child registered which means no consequence for not being registered; if the district doesn’t take it seriously, why would the parent? Also, you have some families who may be in fear of deportation…

-Ashley Johnson, Community Member

ICE, maybe!! I got a text today from someone who said immigration came to their job a couple of weeks ago to interview all of the Hispanic employees and today they found out everyone has to leave but two!

So if Hispanic adults are losing their job then I’m sure they’re fearful for their kids.

What I don’t understand is why haven’t the media asked what is the demographics of those students that have not registered yet for school? That’s endless media hits for them if they uncover it’s related to ICE.

-TJ Jefferson, Community Member

Lack of access to computers even though there are libraries everywhere. 2. Using someone else’s address and getting that proof to the school. 3. Not able to get to the school because of work schedule. 4. Just bad parenting decisions.

-April Terrell, Community Member

Lack of Parental Concern. I have asked and some have the registered their child was told nope very nonchalant. They’re more focused on social media and other nonfactors and the new parents who wouldn’t even vote really hurting our babies.

-Wanlisha Hawkins, Parent

I honestly think it’s related to a computer glitch. I’m getting system generated emails. Taelor was registered back in March. I received that email back in March. I have no clue why I’ve received two more emails since then, a few calls and text messages AND an email from the PTA president. And that’s something they wouldn’t dare disclose to the public. They need to have more proactive measures: a child needs to be registered and approved for the next school yet prior to receiving their last report card. Heck, make it earlier than that! Any changes to addresses or transfers need to be received and processed by August 1st.

-Crystal Sawyer, Parent

Interesting perspectives from both community members and parents. They even added some insightful suggestions too. I do believe the number has to be more streamlined and figuring out more who those 20,000 students are. Are these numbers reflective of students who are in fear of being deported? If so, what measures are in place to assist with this reality for families? Is this more of a city-wide issue than just the school district?

The school year’s start is right around the corner. For the sake of the academic and social success of students, let’s hope this number significantly decreases soon. Whatever the actual issues, they should be revealed and addressed so that as a community we can solve why students not being registered.