Report: Over Half of SCS High School Students Not Ready for College

New data is out from a report highlighting the college readiness of Shelby County Schools High schools students and the results are grim.

According to the report, nearly 6 out of 10 SCS high school students require remedial math classes before college, with that number being 4 in 10 for remedial reading classes.

Educator Marlena Little notes that this is a major problem: “Students who do take remedial courses actually do not mostly finish. You have about between a 20 and 50 percent of students who actually take remedial courses do not finish and complete their degree.”

Read more about the report here.

Once again politics blocks families from accessing better schools

Blame Betsy DeVos.

Passing any legislation that gives a golden ticket to parents who want out of public schools (and into private schools) is difficult, but it is next to impossible now that all school choice proposals are attached national boogiemen (ahem, boogie women?) like school reform’s moneyed maven from Michigan.

When DeVos came to Tennessee recently and urged lawmakers to pass school voucher legislation, the proposal went into hospice.

Now, for a fourth year a bill to provide a pilot group of Tennesseans with publicly funded access to private schools – this time aimed just at families in Memphis – is dying a soft death. State Sen. Brian Kelsey who sponsored this year’s legislation says he won’t ask a Senate committee to take up his bill, citing lack of parent support in Germantown for its passage.

Just another example of how politics gets in between families and life saving opportunities families need.

Suffocating another school choice bill means 5,000 students who may have had a broader group of schools to choose from in 2018 won’t have an opportunity to do so. They can thank local school boards and elected officials across Shelby County for trapping them in schools where those officials see children as dollars and opportunity as a zero-sum proposal.

The Daily News quotes Bartlett Schools Superintendent David Stephens as saying “Anytime we take dollars out of public schools, we’re hurting public schools…We don’t need to do anything to hurt or cut funding there. When we talk in Shelby County about school choice, we have the municipal districts, charter schools, the county school system. That’s choice.”

Maybe parents don’t want more choices. Maybe they feel their current schools are just fine. Even if Memphis’ achievement gap is larger than most cities, it’s closing

But there is one problem: if parents are so against vouchers why are school officials so worried offering them to parents would result in a loss of revenue? Because parents would use vouchers even though they don’t want to use them?

Come on people. Wake up. It’s a trap. Our kids are paydays. 

But….

If you’re a parent worried about finding a school that works best for your child, don’t worry. Stephens, Kelsey, and all of the people who earn paychecks or campaign cash from school districts have decided you have all the choice you need.

And, conveniently, DeVos makes it easy for them to justify limiting your pathway out of schools that don’t work for your children.

It’s all a game and you are losing.

Camping out for Choices but Are They Good Choices?

In Memphis, there is a window of time in January that has great significance for parents because it determines where their children will attend school. This year, that window was January 23rd through January 27th. 

It is during this time that parents must apply to the optional or as some call them, “the good schools”. These optional schools can only be attended two ways: you are either zoned to them or your child gets in via the optional school application. Now in the past, you would have to camp out just to get your hands on the application. And you only had one week to return it.

Today, the process, while a bit better, is still pretty horrible. Parents still feel the need to camp literally camp out in order to get the application and return it. But I really don’t want to just focus on the process. I want to focus on the information parents have — and don’t have — about the quality of the schools they are choosing. It saddens me to know that parents endure this exhausting process because they trust that the word ‘optional’ means ‘good’ here in Memphis.  

If it didn’t, parents would not camp out for days in tents and wait in long lines just to secure an application for a school of choice.  

So I started to look at how the schools are actually doing and well, my findings were very disheartening. I went to www.memphisschoolguide.com to look at the TVAAS score of every school here in Memphis.

What is a TVAAS score?

It is the score that measures growth on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the best. It tells us whether or not children are showing growth from the beginning of the year to the end. There are approximately 46 optional schools here in the city and 16 of them have a score of 1 or 2. This is very disappointing.

I had to wonder, do parents realize they are choosing schools that are seeing so little growth in their students? My guess is no, they do not.

So the next question is, would they still camp out if they had this important information about school performance in hand? Would they continue to go on word of mouth instead of doing their homework?

But is it really their homework to do or should the information be more readily available. Sure, it’s not hidden but while we see school closures, mergers, and total conversions, I thought that this was very deceiving a little bit. Yes of course, the information is out there and it is not hidden, but there are other level 1 or 2 schools in the news because they are being closed, merged, or converted into a new school. And those changes needed to happen. But it should also be happening with these optional schools? We can’t protect any schools in Memphis if they are continuing to fail our children.

And parents deserve to know if their school of choice is showing level 1 or 2 growth and they shouldn’t have to go searching on the internet to find out.  

So I am taking a stand by putting this information out there. Our children deserve better and we all need to take ownership of this and make change happen. Our kids can’t wait and neither can our city.