I believe SCS is headed in the right direction. There has also been success with iZone, charter schools, and within traditional models. I applaud efforts focused on improving public education for all of our children. There is always room for improvement; however, we should recognize and build on our successes. My number one priority moving forward is working to fully realize Destination 2025. By achieving Destination 2025, we will be able to resolve a lot of the issues cited above.
I don’t believe that test scores provide a comprehensive picture of the classroom, and so I’m wary of them playing a significant role in teacher compensation. However, I would like to see parent and student evaluations of their experience play a bigger part in how we evaluate classroom success.
Charter schools within Shelby County Schools are public schools with different models on how to educate our children. And that is ultimately our #1 goal and the role of all schools within SCS. I support educating our children with various models that are best tailored to an individual student.
Relationship between SCS and ASD:
The Achievement School District was created during a time in which SCS was in a period of transition and perhaps needed the stability the State attempted to provide. However, SCS has made strides with programs such as iZone. And, SCS has a unique understanding of its district that the State does not have. Sharing our resources instead of carving out areas of authority will serve the children of these schools better. I hope the appointment of Sharon Griffin to head ASD at the state level will improve the relationship between SCS and ASD.
I am a strong and passionate advocate for public education; as a result, I do not support school vouchers. I don’t believe that redirecting funds for public education to private schools is the best way to allocate our resources to benefit the students of Shelby County.
Reducing Academic Inequity:
Shelby County Schools is doing a good job on addressing educational inequity. The Back 2 Students funding model they’re introducing next year will focus on the needs of students instead of just the numbering students in a school. I believe the number one priority is working to fully realize Destination 2025. By achieving Destination 2025, it keeps the focus on the purpose of SCS, which is educating our children to be contributing members of our community and society in general. The challenge is to expand efforts to support the entire child, inside and outside of the classroom to ensure their success in school and in life.
Inequities arising along Socio-Economic Lines:
More than 40,000 (36%) students within the Shelby County School system live in a household with an annual income of less than $10,000. Our students’ success is linked to their community’s success, and since 6 out of 10 of our students come from economically disadvantaged communities, it limits their academic success.
I am an advocate for implementing a Community Schools program, which provides another multi-faceted solution to a lot of the problems SCS is facing with its students. I believe that Community Schools can be a lifeline for these students and their families. Community Schools program addresses the entire child and the challenges they face outside of the classroom that ultimately impact their success inside the classroom. By investing in our students’ communities, we increase their potential to achieve.