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State Looks to Charter Schools to Improve Education

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(Memphis) Sixty nine of the lowest performing schools in Tennessee are in Memphis.

The state’s achievement school district runs the lowest performing five percent and is taking applications from charter schools management groups to run them.

The goal is to have underperforming schools in Memphis to be in the top twenty-five percent within five years.

To do that thirteen charter school management companies from across the country have applied to take control of underperforming schools here in Memphis.

Marquita Tellis loves her 5-year-old son Jonathan`s school Lester Street Elementary, “I feel my child is always catching on. He always comes home telling me something new that he learned at school, and I`ll be like `what?."

The state is in the process of changing that school into a charter school.
Charter schools are still public schools funded by the state, but they have more flexibility in school schedules, hiring, and money spent at the school instead of a central office.

“What does the curriculum look like? What sort of platforms are they going to use. Are they really centered around technology that serves kids or are they based around service and community leadership,” said Jeremy Jones with the Achievement School District.

Memphis has open enrollment, but Jones with says there are so many underperforming schools, 69 in fact, that Memphis parents don`t have many options.

Jones believes the new charter schools will provide parents with a choice.

Aspire is one of the largest charter school management groups in California and is one of the groups applying to open a school.

If selected groups like Aspire will either open a new school in an underperforming neighborhood or transform an existing school into a charter school.