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Student voices heard at rally for education


Amid the adults who attended last Saturday’s “Community Rally for Education,” children stood tall. by Julia Griggs
Special to the Tri-State Defender

Amid the adults who attended last Saturday’s “Community Rally for Education,” children stood tall.

Stand for Children Director Kenya Bradshaw gives information to Voleeta Johnson and Malcolm Johnson, a fifth-grader at Riverview Elementary School. (Photos by Earl Stanback)

Elechi Egwuekwe, a fifth-grader, and Sobenna Egwuekwe, second grade, both are on Principal’s List for achievement at Peabody Elementary School.

“There is a place for everybody, there is a need for everybody. We are the next generation of youth in this community,” said 10-year-old Elechi Egwuekwe. “If we are built on a shaky foundation, we are destined to fall, don’t let us fall.”

The rally at the Children’s Museum of Memphis at 2525 Central Ave. was coordinated by Stand for Children. In the crowd were parents, teachers, students and others united by the need for better education.

“This community rally is inspiring and motivating, seeing so many students, parents, and teachers come out to support our children,” said K-97 radio personality Big Sue, “because we want the absolute best for them.”

Ryan Tracy, organizer of Stand for Children Memphis, said, “Our kid’s need more….If the kids are well, the community is well.”

The rally unfolded against the backdrop of the March 8 referendum on whether to transfer the administration of Memphis City Schools to the Shelby County Board of Education. The Stand group is not taking a position on the MCS, but actively is encouraging citizens to let their voices be heard.

“Stand for Children is committed to every student in the community to have great teachers and to work to ensure that early childhood education is expanded,” Kenya Bradshaw, director of Stand for Children Memphis, said during an interview with the Tri- State Defender.

“We are advocating programs (and) resources to ensure every one of our children is prepared for college,” said Bradshaw.

“We as a community will no longer be satisfied when 50 percent of our children are not graduating from high school. Our children go to college unprepared and we are tired of paying for remedial courses. We will no longer ignore what happens in our public schools.”

On March 15, Stand plans to take two charter buses to Nashville to tell legislators that, “tax dollars are not being put to good use when our children don’t have textbooks and working computers in the classroom,” said Bradshaw.

The rally speakers included Harry Cash of the Memphis Ambassadors Program.

“We as a community must do a better job in being supportive of our children’s education, not just in this community, but children in all communities,” said Cash.

For Elechi Egwuekwe’s mother, Pamela Egwuekwe, a good school environment is one that makes children well rounded and pushes them to achieve.

And, she said, “Parents are vitally important in their children’s education. We are their first teachers and should be heavily involved in our children’s education.”

Luke Ramsey, 17, said, “Our school system needs improvement. Education is our future and we must be determined to improve it.”

Education and community are two things that should go hand in hand and support each other, said Courtney Jackson, 17. “It is time for a change and the time to act is now.”

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