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Our schools, our community, our future!

Despite our differences in position or opinion on schools’ consolidation – we must agree that all students deserve a high quality education.
 Kenya Bradshaw
 Kenya Bradshaw

There is no time like the present to take a stand for children.

The Memphis City Schools’ charter referendum has sparked interest, concern and dialogue in all segments of the Mid-South. Additionally, issues related to the merger of Memphis and Shelby County schools have been the topic of headlining news stories around the nation.

Despite our differences in position or opinion on schools’ consolidation – we must agree that all students deserve a high quality education.

OUR children need constant support and commitment from adults to succeed, and it is up to us to advocate on behalf of their best interests.

The affirmative vote on March 8 to form a unified school district is a call to action for community residents to become actively involved in efforts aimed at improving our public education system.

Now that Election Day has passed, the real work begins.

To ensure that we are providing EVERY child in Shelby County with opportunities to excel and succeed, our community cannot lose sight of the fact that education should remain our top priority.

Memphis and Shelby County residents and leaders must work together to determine the best way to build an educational system that will truly and adequately serve the academic needs of students in all public schools across the district.

At this point, the possibilities to transform our schools are limitless and as individuals, we have the power to make a significant difference.

Starting in April, Stand for Children invites you to engage in Education Study Circles, a unique opportunity for parents, teachers, students, residents and leaders to join together and make a collective commitment to contribute to the future progress of all students in the Greater Memphis area.

The sessions – held for four weeks – allow opportunities for participants to explore and discuss current facts and initiatives related to schools’ consolidation, public school funding, student achievement and public education reform, among a variety of other topics.

Study Circles’ participants agree to meet each week for two hours of dialogue, while also working to develop innovative “action plans” to stay involved and invested in supporting public education.

We can no longer afford to remain silent on issues that affect the lives of children. We have to consistently put their education in the forefront of our minds, our public policy agenda and governmental affairs.

Stand for Children commends the tireless efforts of various community members, elected leaders and civic organizations to raise awareness and voter turnout on the referendum to transfer administration of Memphis City Schools to the Shelby County Board of Education.

Over the past several months, these residents and groups have worked to increase community engagement in education through public forums, meetings, campaign rallies and debates that explored the schools’ merger from various points of view.

However the question remains: What can we do as individuals to help our community get on one accord and commit to stand united in always putting education first?

Stand for Children invites you to join us as we continue our work to build a community coalition of public education ambassadors and child advocates. We recognize that progress and change will not happen overnight, but we do believe that with your involvement, we can improve our local public education system.

The upcoming session of Education Study Circles will take place on Tuesdays, April 12th – May 3rd from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Idlewild Presbyterian Church. A second session will begin in May and will be held at First Congregational Church.  Registration is free and open to anyone that is interested in participating or leading an Education Study Circle as a facilitator.

Currently, the course is unclear, but until all students are traveling on an equal path to academic success, our community will continue to confront roadblocks that prevent us from arriving at our final destination of greatness.

In order to make the vision our reality, we need to be diligent, proactive and intentional as we work together to support the future leaders of Memphis and Shelby County.

It is imperative that we take personal action now to increase support for our students, our schools and our community.

Change begins with YOU! Learn more and register at www.educationstudycircles.org

(Kenya Bradshaw is executive director of Stand for Children, Memphis)

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