MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis Branch of the NAACP is calling for changes in public education.
Members of the organization spoke out Thursday, mentioning concerns about school vouchers, state funding, and the state’s model for turning around failing schools.
The NAACP said the state has treated schools like an educational experiment, and it wants that to change.
“There are no quick fixes,” said Memphis Branch NAACP Executive Director Madeleine Taylor.
The organization’s Education Committee defended Shelby County Schools’ lawsuit for more state funding.
The NAACP also opposes school vouchers that would send some students, who qualify for free or reduced lunch and are zoned to attend failing schools, to private schools with public funds. That is an item that as of Thursday, is not moving forward in the state House.
The NAACP is also joining others in the community calling for a hold on the state’s Achievement School District. The ASD is tasked with turning around schools in the bottom five percent.
“We respectfully request that there be a statewide moratorium on the addition of schools to the ASD model until sufficient improvement can be demonstrated by the existing schools,” Taylor said.
“We have a proven model with iZone in Shelby County Schools,” said NAACP Education Committee Member Dr. Freda Williams.
A district-run turnaround model that a Vanderbilt study backed up late last year.
The state Department of Education responded to NAACP’s call to stop adding schools to the ASD for now, saying, “School turnarounds take time, and we have seen that schools perform better the longer they are in the ASD.”
State House Education Administration and Planning Subcommittee Chair, Representative Mark White, is also standing by the ASD.
“I think it would be a mistake to back up. Let’s keep improving our iZone schools, let’s keep improving our ASD schools, our charters, and our traditional public schools. Let’s not be backing up and saying that one’s doing better than the other,” Rep. White said.
“We are disappointed by the NAACP Memphis Branch’s call to suspend the work of the Achievement School District and the mischaracterization of our turnaround efforts. Our students are showing real and significant gains, and it would be a shame to let politics put the progress of our schools on pause,” ASD Superintendent Malika Anderson said, in a statement.