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.

Dorsey Hopson Stepping Down as Superintendent of Shelby County Schools

Dorsey Hopson has announced he will be leaving the post of Superintendent, effective January 8th. He will be moving to a national position with health insurance company Cigna, and called it a “difficult” decision to make the change. In his new role, Hopson will help Cigna “expand its services to school districts for health benefits and wellness programs.”

Via Chalkbeat:

His hiring came on the cusp of massive change in Memphis’ educational landscape. The district’s student enrollment steadily declined after six suburban towns split off from Shelby County Schools in 2014 to create their own districts, and the state-run Achievement School District continued to siphon off students by taking over chronically low-performing schools in the city. Hopson and the school board eventually closed nearly two dozen schools to shore up resulting budget deficits.

In a press conference, Hopson said “I would love to see this work to this work to the finish line,” he said. “But I feel confident that we have laid a strong foundation for the next leader of Shelby County Schools.” No word yet on a timeline for a new superintendent.

Powerful Parents from across the country link up in Memphis: Join us this weekend for the Annual Parent Summit

The Memphis Lift started with a small group of people determined to make the powerless parent powerful.

Founded in 2015, we are now a movement of over 1,000 parents, grandparents and concerned family members who believe our children have been underserved in failing schools for too long.   

We are working together to demand high quality schools and radical changes in public education to disrupt systemic education inequities.

In the last few years, we have spoken at school board meetings, had discussions with state and city leaders, knocked on more than 10,000 doors, and equipped hundreds of parents to become advocates for their children.

Information is power and we are working to make sure more parents and students have access to good schools. We are insisting that our voices and concerns are heard and changes are made so that every child can get a great education.

And here’s what we discovered: parents from around the country want to be empowered and equipped, too. When people heard about what we were doing in Memphis, they wanted to start a parent movement in their own city.

It was exciting, then, to have some of our “cousin” organizations all in town together last week. Groups from Oakland, Nashville, and Atlanta visited The Memphis Lift HQ to learn more about how we can link up across the nation to make a difference.

From coast to coast, we are seeing what happens when parents come together and take action on behalf of their kids and communities.

Do you want to be part of this movement of powerful parents? You can be. Come to our Third Annual Parent Summit on Saturday, October 27th. We will be discussing important issues that matter to YOUR child’s education and OUR community, such as school quality, access to quality schools, and Unified Enrollment.

We will also have notable speakers and panel discussions with local district leaders as well as parents from Indianapolis, Chicago, Denver, and Washington, D.C. who will share innovative ideas and talk about what’s working in their cities.

Are you fired up? Ready to be part of the solution? We are. Plan to join us for the Parent Summit this weekend, and register online today. When we come together for our kids, great things CAN happen!

Is your school district making good on its mission statement?

I was scrolling through my email when I saw this question. I immediately thought, “NO” then had to contemplate whether that answer stemmed from me as a parent or me as an educator.

Many educators are also parents and the dichotomy of these two are engulfing. I once wrote that I haven’t had the pleasure of teaching at a school I would send my daughter. I think a lot of my reasoning has to do with what I’m not seeing in the system.

What does it mean for a district to make good on its mission statement? Will there be room for improvement or is the actuality of that mission enough?

In Shelby County, the school district’s mission is:

  • By 2025, 80 percent of seniors will be on track to learn in a postsecondary classroom or enter the workforce straight out of high school;
  • 90 percent of students will earn their high school diploma on time;
  • Every student will enroll in a postsecondary opportunity college or career-ready.

I don’t believe the mission of our school system is inclusive enough. After all, before you can accomplish the end-goal, there must be attention paid to the beginning. Perhaps it’s implied, but I believe the school district should make explicit in their mission statement that there is an intentional focus on early literacy and early childhood education to strengthen the foundation and (hopefully) eliminate the foundational gaps in literacy and numeracy that exist for many students who are served by the Shelby County school system. In order for us to be ready by 2025, we have a lot of work to do inside the classroom.




The American dream is broken and it will take more than education to fix it

Back in the 1990s then-President Clinton said those who work hard should make it into the middle-class.

That might not be true anymore.

There’s an interesting story in the Commercial Appeal about the broken link between working hard and making it. 

In the article there’s this interesting observation:

Memphis, like many U.S. cities, talks constantly about a skills shortage and low wages. In Memphis and Shelby County, about 102,000 of the nearly 350,000 households report annual income of $25,000 or less, including government assistance.

High dropout rates and flawed public schools are said to contribute to both low skills and low wages. Sure, wages are low, the thinking goes, because people are uneducated. Wait a second, though. Here’s where the uncomfortable truth fits in. Memphis may be under-educated, but it is not uneducated.

Almost nine in 10 adults ages 25 to 64 residing in Memphis and Shelby County have a high school degree; 38 percent hold two-year college degrees; 31 percent have four-year degrees. These rates almost match the statewide average for high school diplomas and exceed the other two rates, according to data presented by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.

Read the whole story at the Commercial Appeal.

Heidi Ramirez resigns from chief of academics role with Shelby County Schools

Shelby County Schools Chief of Academics Heidi Ramirez is resigning from the school district, effective March 31.

Natalia Powers, chief of communications, informed board members of Ramirez’s resignation in an email Tuesday morning.

Powers said Ramirez resigned “to make some personal and professional changes to be closer to (her) family and friends.”

Ramirez served as chief for over two years. The announcement of her resignation comes a month after the district announced a restructuring of the academics department that shifted Ramirez’s role in Superintendent Dorsey Hopson’s cabinet.

Dr. Ramirez’s vision has helped enhance planning and coordination across all of our academic departments and stakeholders—from teachers and coaches to school and District leaders,” Hopson said. “She has also been instrumental in increasing focus on our strategic plan, Destination 2025, and we appreciate all of her contributions.”

Read the full story at the Commercial Appeal.