MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Our voices matter was the message from dozens of Shelby County School teachers and parents to the school district Friday.
Some SCS teachers and parents believed the people making the decisions for the district aren’t in the classroom and they wanted that to change.
They voiced their concerns about returning to school this fall during the pandemic, the proposed calendar changes and the inequities in the system.
Cheronda Thompson is an SCS teacher and parent.
“Let’s talk about [how] our kids couldn’t read before the COVID-19,” Thompson said. “Let’s talk about how you were passing our kids along; that should be a criminal offense that you could graduate from high school and still couldn’t read.”
During the listening session, the group talked about what was happening outside of the classroom and what the Black Lives Matter movement means in schools.
Overton High School senior Gwendolyn Dickey wanted the district to create a curriculum about the movement for all students, not just high school.
“Lessons about of injustice, inequity and racism do not wait for a certain age,” Dickey said. “Every student will encounter or witness a form of injustice and should have the necessary knowledge to deal with those challenges adequately.”
The group said the district isn’t listening to them.
But an SCS spokesperson said they are listening with teacher representation on the re-entry task force, teacher surveys and the district teacher advisory council
“Making sure that teachers were heard,” said Jerica Phillips, SCS Chief Communications Officer. “A lot of those teachers not always represented in the union. So Dr. Ray wanted to have another platform to hear authentic teacher voice.”
Phillips said there are more than 6,000 teachers in the district, so they can’t hear from all of them, but they welcome the dialogue.
“We encourage them to rally, share their concerns and we rally with them around some of their concerns around teacher pay and the safety of their families and children,” Phillips said.
SCS staff members said they are using surveys from hear from teachers.
Next week, they will have another survey for teachers focused on social and emotional factors related to reopening schools.
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