Memphis Lift celebrates contact with more than 1,100 parents talking about priority schools

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- An organization of parents and others in the community said Tuesday that it has made contact with more than 1,100 parents in June to talk about underperforming schools.

The group is called Memphis Lift, and organizers gathered in the Foote Homes area Tuesday to talk about its impact on the community in the past month.

"I'm not a cheerleader for anyone but these children," one parent said.

Since June 1st, Memphis Lift said representatives have knocked on 4,052 doors and made contact with 1,156 parents.

The group targets neighborhoods whose schools are in the bottom five percent in the state.

The group said most parents did not know their children attended a school with that sort of ranking.

"If a conversion has to take place, then therefore, they'll be ready for that conversion. There's no surprises. They'll know your school was in the bottom five percent for the last two or three years," said Memphis Lift representative Johnnie Hatten.

By conversion, Hatten referred to transitions to a SCS iZone school, the Achievement School District, or another charter school.

Hatten said the group discusses options for parents to choose now, including how to better communicate with teachers and principals.

Parent Dominique Carpenter chose to enroll her son in another school after doing her own research. Her son used to attend a school in the state's bottom five percent.

"He struggled with reading. I mean, he was struggling with everything," Carpenter said.

She said her son's academics improved at another school.

Some people came to Memphis Lift's press conference to stand up against the group.

They think Memphis Lift advocates for something else.

"From what we understand, they were paid $1,800 to push the ASD and the charter schools," said parent and teacher Leeann Nolan.

Hatten denied that allegation.

A spokesperson for ASD said ASD does not fund Memphis Lift.