QUALITY EDUCATION FOR ALL: Stand for Children Believes That Every Child Deserves an Equal Opportunity to Succeed
A great education is at the core of the American dream; it is the bedrock of jobs, security, and the pursuit of a better life. Yet the opportunities of too many children are limited through no fault of their own. 1.3 million students in the United States drop out of school every year, with Black and Latino students leaving at higher rates than their peers. Of the students who do graduate, more than one-third require remedial education when they enter a public college.
Stand for Children is passionately committed to righting this wrong.
We work tirelessly to do our part to level the playing field so that children of all backgrounds have the tools and preparation to succeed. We know that learning to read and graduating from high school are the main make-it-or-break-it points in a child’s life. With that, our core work focuses on making sure children can read and write by third grade and helping students graduate ready to go to college, enter the workforce, or both.
We believe that parents and community members can change their communities as advocates for education. In Memphis, Stand for Children members represent a broad spectrum of school and community teams and ZIP codes in the Mid-South area. Our members have:
- Helped secure and continue to assist in the implementation of the Teacher Effectiveness Initiative Grant from the Gates Foundation and serve as a lead partner in the work from 2009 until present day.
- Used the University of Chicago’s Network for College Success program to develop a research-based solution for increasing graduation success and then piloted the program at Mitchell High School and Martin Luther King Jr. College Preparatory High School.
- Launched Stand UP, an 8-week university for parents who want to prepare their children for college and career that has graduated over 200 parents all across the community.
- Hosted more than 75 educational events, including an ongoing series of monthly panel discussions, led by a diverse array of experts from our classrooms, executive offices, and community organizations, designed to provide Memphis parents and neighborhood leaders with background information on local education issues as preparation for effective community advocacy.
- Run a comprehensive school board campaign and won 4 out of the 7 seats on the 2013 unified school board.
Even with these accomplishments, our work in Memphis is far from over. Low graduation rates, persistent poverty, and limited access to job skills training continue to prevent our children from reaching their full potential.
In 2017, we launched the Momentum Memphis campaign to bring the community together around these issues as a movement for youth opportunity and success.
Inspired by the number of people who heard Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. give his final speech in Memphis 50 years ago, Momentum Memphis aims to get 15,000 citizens to commit by April to taking at least two actions in 2018 to support four education platforms:
Graduation Success for College & Career Readiness
“Graduation success” means not only that students graduate from high school but that, when they do so, they are fully prepared with the literacy, critical and effective thinking skills, and aspirations to enter postsecondary education or a career. Shelby County Schools currently has a 79.6-percent graduate rate and only 11 percent of SCS students meet all four ACT college-readiness benchmarks. Our goals for this platform are to:
- Ensure that every high school student is on track to graduate and planning for the future
- Increase Career and Technical Education (CTE) and post-secondary programs
- Enhance early literacy education and focus on literacy in all grades
Community Investment in Our Youth
Memphis has the highest percentage of opportunity youth (young people who are not in school or working) out of the top 50 largest metropolitan areas – a factor that contributes to Memphis having one of the highest poverty rates in the country. The future success of Memphis and Shelby County is connected to how we treat our young people today. By fully investing in programs that engage our youth, we can address the issues and traumas that can limit their future success. Our goals for this platform are to:
- Increase summer job opportunities that prepare youth for life success
- Support after-school and summer programs that improve student achievement
- Support efforts that address poverty and trauma that impact youth and communities
Facilities & Funding Our Students Deserve
Studies have shown that school facilities can have an impact on student learning and academic achievement. Shelby County Schools facilities operate with $500 million in deferred maintenance, which means that students must deal with leaky roofs, malfunctioning heaters and air conditioners, and other issues that detract from a conducive academic environment. Success in this platform requires:
- High-quality school facilities that enhance learning for all of our community’s children
- Advocating for necessary and equitable funding to address student needs and create modern environments that provide students with the tools and resources that they need for life and careers in the 21st century
Breaking the School to Prison Pipeline
In Tennessee, black students are five times more likely to be suspended as white students, which, in turn, increases the likelihood that their lives will be negatively impacted by more suspensions, expulsions, interaction with school resource officers (sheriff’s deputies), trauma, lack of opportunities and support, and, ultimately, entry into the youth or adult criminal justice system. Within this platform we hope to achieve:
- School discipline reform that lowers suspensions, increases restorative and non-exclusionary practices, and puts in place proactive preventive measures
- Collaborative effort toward criminal justice reform that values our children and our communities
We do not believe that advancing these four platforms will be easy, but we do believe that the work is worthwhile, and we invite you to join us as we act for change.
We urge you to sign the Momentum Memphis pledge and add your passion, talents, and resources to the larger body of community advocates who are channeling their efforts to make a difference.
Stand for Children is working here in Tennessee to mobilize people like you around a common goal of changing the odds for American children. We work on all levels – to help parents be empowered and involved at home, to make and implement changes in local schools, and to win policy changes at the state level that have a positive impact on kids and schools. We show up. We speak up. We reach out. We vote. We know that you do, too, and we want to combine efforts to ensure that every child has an opportunity to succeed.
Together, we can make a difference.
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