Memphis Lift calls for policy changes in Shelby County Schools

Memphis Lift calls for policy changes in Shelby County Schools

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Memphis Lift, a parent driven organization is demanding policy changes in Shelby County Schools.

After surveying 600 parents Memphis Lift created the Parent Manifesto.

It addresses how the coronavirus pandemic has placed responsibility on “parents to serve as their child’s educator” and as a result, parents are asking for help.

“We have become assistant teacher. We have to assist them in this work, because we’re going to be the ones that are at home trying to figure it out, so why not train us to do what we need to do,” said Teresena Medlock, parent and Director of Special Education, Memphis Lift.

The document calls for several concrete steps like individualized learning plans for every child, closing the digital divide, and changes to remote learning.

“The most popular one is individual learning plan for all children,” said Sarah Carpenter, Memphis Lift executive director.

Carpenter says the manifesto has been making the rounds in the district since June 24.

“We have sent this all over the place, we sent it to all our county commissioners, we sent it to all our city council members, we haven’t heard back from anybody yet,” said Carpenter.

Carpenter also says the document was also sent to Shelby County Schools, Achievement School District and other charter schools; as well as Penny Schwinn with the State Department of Education.

“How you going to make Memphis better if you don’t start with education,” said Carpenter.

While some of the manifesto's demands do line up with SCS plans teacher and policy and advocacy summer fellow with Leadership for Educational Equity, Ashlyn Sparks says not enough information has been shared.

“Schools already have some of these pieces rolling, we just need to be more intentional about how we communicate them to parents seems to be a really major theme for this manifesto,” said Sparks.

Carpenter says she talked with SCS superintendent Dr. Joris Ray in the past about some of the items listed in the manifesto and says he's been optimistic.

SCS says they are already addressing some of the issues mentioned in the manifesto, such as digital devices and internet access, training for parents, and choice of virtual instruction for parents.

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