July 18, 2023
Memphis — Tennesseans for Student Success (TSS) released the following statement in response to tonight’s decision by the Memphis-Shelby County Board of Education to ignore the need families in South Memphis and Orange Mound have for a high-quality public school choice. Board members voted down an amended application from Empower Memphis Career and College Prep to open an innovative K-8 public charter school with a strong focus on setting students on a path to career discovery and success. The board’s own review showed the school met every standard set forth by the state.
“Tonight’s decision by the Memphis-Shelby County Board of Education overlooked the district’s own findings that Empower Memphis met or exceeded all state requirements to serve the students of the South Memphis and Orange Mound communities. The board failed to account for population growth and the needs of students both now and in the future in its decision, ignoring the concerning reality that 40 percent of the public schools in these communities are Priority Schools,” said Latetrica Wilson, West Tennessee Advocacy Coordinator for Tennesseans for Student Success. “The board should focus its attention not on empty seats, but on seats filled with students who are falling behind and want more diverse learning options. Empower Memphis would provide families with the choice of attending a rigorous and supportive learning environment that accelerates academic achievement, fosters individuality, inspires leadership, and cultivates the career mindsets students will need to succeed. There is a need for more high preforming schools in the South Memphis and Orange Mound communities that will prepare students for career, college, and beyond. There is no elementary or middle school that has a career and college focus curriculum in the district.”
Board members also voted down an amended application from Pathways in Education to open a public charter school serving at-risk students.
Tennesseans for Student Success conducted a thorough independent review of both applications earlier this year and found them to be high-quality options for Shelby County and worthy of approvals. You can read those reports on our Quality Charter Review page.
Tennesseans for Student Success is a statewide network of parents and caregivers, teachers, community leaders, volunteers, and advocates dedicated to championing and supporting Tennessee’s students and their futures.