• Plans for new Memphis learning laboratory facing criticism from parents, teachers

    By: Kirstin Garriss


    MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The plan for a new learning laboratory middle school is already facing some criticism from parents and teachers.

    The school would be directed and operated by the University of Memphis like the Campus School, which is for elementary school students. 

    If approved by the school board, University Middle would be the first county-wide option for project-based learning at the middle school level. It would also be a training site for teachers. 

    FOX13 talked with some Campus School parents who are excited about plans for a middle school, but some parents said they had concerns about the lack of diversity at the student and staffing levels. 

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    The United Education Association of Shelby County teacher’s union also expressed their concerns about to diversity to the board. 

    School board chair Shante Avant said the board worked with the university on the recruitment process to ensure equity at the new school. 

    “It’s a third campus school students would be able to attend. A third of the neighborhood within a two-mile radius and then a third of the county to make sure the population is representative of the entire county,” Avant said.

    If students want to enroll, they must have a record of good behavior and attendance over the past school year. 

    There also isn't an academic admissions requirement, which was a recent change from the initial proposal.

    “It was important for board members if we're going to make sure we're meeting kids where they are, having that academic requirement could prohibit or serve as a barrier, so we wanted to remove that barrier,” said Avant. 

    If the school board approves these plans on Feb. 26, University Middle would open this fall starting with sixth grade.

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