Now What? Pondering our educational options as parents

I believe that now is the time to begin truly pondering the future of education of those of us in the suburbs. This past week I was extremely dismayed when Kriner Cash got up from his seat in our school board meeting and made the statement, “this new district will be an urban district. Municipalities come on but if you do, understand that we will be an urban district.” Tough words from a short timer.

I don’t know about you but I did not move to the suburbs and pay a premium for a home to attend an urban school system. I know that is where many if not most of you are. So since you have been denied twice the ability to create your own school district, I believe that we as parents need to look at our options. You must be educated. Maybe I can help.

1) You can stay in the district. There will be a merged district next year. And although the TPC plan mentions few changes to the district, I can tell you that is garbage. Most of this plan is aspirational in nature.  This became plainly clear last night when I realized that Memphis has lots of underutilized schools with few students in the worst parts of town. Lack of students impacts educational programming in a school. The more full the school, the more than can be offered. This is where we hear thinks like equitable education. It is why for several years that Arlington and Bolton’s programs eclipsed Bartlett. Lack of students. On top of this, the district is broke. It was broke before the merger (MCS)and the merger has made it much worse. There is little to no money in areas to really make a dent except for benefits and salaries.80% of our budget is comprised benefits and salaries.I believe that will impact programming at our suburban schools ultimately. We could see removal of arts programs and athletic programs due to lack of funds. In better words, we do not have enough money to bring the entire county up to our standards. We could see the “equitable” redistribution of programs and resources across the district.

2) We can convert our schools into charter schools and allow a charter management organization to run them. A charter school is a public school funded by taxpayer dollars. However, the charter management organization is a non-profit group with an appointed board. They run their schools like a school district. Public money flows directly to the CMO. The unified board has no say over the school except the charter contract that includes things like performance and lease agreements. The only real power the scs board would have would be to take the school back over if they are failing. There are lots of benefits to this structure. And it could be a good short-term solution until the new districts are started. The beauty in charter districts is that parents or teachers can vote by 60% to convert and it will have to be done. Or we as  board can vote to convert. There are other details like open enrollment and other issues that exist but it gets you much closer to what you want.

3) Virtual/Home School Education – A huge opportunity that presented itself this year was approval of virtual schools in TN. K12 virtual schools allow children to be educated remotely/at home/ in a group at no cost. This is because K12 is registered as a Tennessee school and all state and local dollars go to K12.Currently, only k-8 is authorized in TN. However, high school grades could be authorized to provide secondary options.. This could be an excellent option for many of us because we can create remote classes for our children utilizing local churches, homes, or municipal space and create our own virtual schools. Since we have access to the state approved curriculum at no cost, it could make it a more attractive option than traditional home school. We could hire former teachers as tutors and away we go.

4) Private School – you can go to private school if you can afford it but based upon the governors summer study report on vouchers, unless you are poor, a voucher for private school is not likely.

I do not know the future of educational legislation for municipal districts. I do not know how long it will take for this to run its course. I do know that the future education of Shelby County Public School system has been compromised by a group of people who believe that we are the devil because we try to provide the best for our children. I am not a gloom and doom person but our most cost-effective education as parents may be to take our children’s education in our own hands. We have some good options. But you must take the power out of our hands.

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One Response to Now What? Pondering our educational options as parents

  1. Jennifer Proseus says:

    I sure appreciate your blog, David! It is difficult to understand the situation as reported by the media, but you shine light and sanity. Thank you for all you do for children!

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