Education is the Key to a Better Memphis!
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The Memphis City School charter surrender has crippled the city of Memphis for any opportunity toward substantial progression. We are faced with challenges from overwhelming poverty to an increase in crime. The paradigm shift that has occurred over the past 5 years has caused some of us to examine what happened, how we got here and what solutions must be implemented to achieve the goal of wholeness in our city. Research and studies have shown quality education is the key toward economic and social progress. When we prioritize education and our children’s future, the city will see growth in economic development, an educated and skilled-ready workforce, and healthier communities.
Context: In 2011, 67 percent of Memphis voters sided in-favor to dissolve Memphis City Schools into the Shelby County Schools. While the vote can be considered a landslide, less than 20 percent of registered voters turnout for the city-wide election. The referendum was passed by both the Memphis City Council and a 5-4 vote by, then, Memphis City School board. However, the Shelby County Commission and leaders within the County School board, actively protested against the resulting influx of approximately 100,000 former MCS students into a Shelby County School System of 50,000 students. In 2014, county leaders won a lawsuit to create municipal school systems in their respective municipalities, leaving the children inside Memphis city limits in a state of educational limbo.
Five years later, over 20 inner-city schools have closed indefinitely, leaving students and families to seek options outside of their communities. According to a poverty study conducted by the University of Memphis, our poverty rate sits at 26.2 percent with childhood poverty hovering around 45 percent. In a recent journalistic study Memphis was found to have the most disconnected youth, young people between 16-24 who are without employment or not in school. In January, our unemployment rate was 6 percent. Crime continues to rise, leaving parents nervous and fearful as their children have longer commutes to school and cross through gang territory to get there. It can only better us as a city, community and our children to dramatically and fervently invest in our education system.
We the undersigned, in an effort to improve the quality of education for the children of Memphis and reverse the worsening trend of crime and joblessness in our city, call for City Council to place the following question as a ballot referendum at the earliest available opportunity:
"Shall the City of Memphis be authorized to create a Memphis Municipal School System?"
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