ASD parents sending message to Nashville: ‘We just don’t want them to take their eyes off Memphis’

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Memphis parents made a public plea to state officials regarding Achievement School District leadership Thursday afternoon.

Sarah Carpenter, leader of the organization Memphis Lift, spoke about the value of education to her grandchildren.

“I still think everything goes back to education and opportunities," she said.

She spoke on behalf of parents who send their children to ASD schools, most of which are located in Shelby County. Schools qualify for ASD if they perform in the bottom 5 percent in the state for more than one year.

They reacted to news that Achievement School District Superintendent Malika Anderson is stepping down at the end of September.

“We just don’t want them to take their eyes off Memphis,” Carpenter said.

“The ASD remains critical to our work as a state to improve students' performance, especially in our Priority schools and this is an ideal time to transition to a new leader of the district,” said Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Candice McQueen in a news release.

“We need a strong leader that’s going to keep the structure the ASD brought when they first came. I feel like the ASD has gotten weaker,” parent Marquita Finnie said.

In fact, district officials previously announced massive layoffs and restructuring in May.

Opponents like Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D- District 98) said the superintendent’s resignation presented an opportunity.

“This is the best time to consider something else instead of the Achievement School District,” Parkinson said.

He said he’d rather the ASD schools go back to local control.

State officials said they'd already launched a search for Anderson's replacement. They stated the winning candidate would need to have a commitment to the Memphis community.