Parents are being hoodwinked in Memphis, TN. First, parents were sent a one-pager with legal jargon that probably made it difficult for parents to understand. After parents received the first piece of correspondence, it was followed up with a robo-call. Then, Shelby County School District sent this letter:
Dear SCS Parents:
A recently passed law in Tennessee — Chapter 307 of the Public Act of 2017 (PC 307) — requires public school districts to release students’ names, ages, addresses, dates of attendance and grade levels completed to chartering authorities and public charter schools that request this information.
Shelby County Schools (SCS) receives numerous requests for student information that is protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (also known as FERPA), the federal law that protects the privacy interests of students. FERPA requires that a student’s education records and certain information contained in them be maintained as confidential and, except in limited circumstances, not be shared with a third party without your prior written consent.
SCS has already received one request from the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Education to provide student information to Green Dot Public Schools, a charter management organization for the Achievement School District. On August 29, 2017, our School Board responded to the Commissioner’s request by passing a resolution to resist the release of student information to charter schools and Green Dot Public Schools. Metro Nashville Public Schools is also resisting the release of student information, and our School Board has given the SCS legal department permission to support Nashville Schools if it were to file a lawsuit on this issue.
Still, it is very important for you to understand your rights regarding the release of your child’s information. Under FERPA, you have the option to direct that some or all of the information designated as directory information about your child not be disclosed to third parties. This process is called “opting out.”
If you wish to opt out of this information sharing process, please complete the attached form and return it to your school by October 22. You can also complete the online form on the Shelby County Schools website, www.scsk12.org. More information about FERPA and this state law is available on the website as well. If you're unsure of your child's Student ID number, contact your school or our Office of Student Services, 416-6007.
We appreciate your continued partnership and support of SCS.
As you have now read, they claim to be acting in the interest of parents, but THEY ARE NOT. They are acting solely to keep their jobs. I write out of full anger, suspicion, and wonder. There are so many things happening in education within our city. Let me just be frank and honest. I feel as though the phrase, “history repeats itself” has become a reality. In history, it was important for slaves not to be able to read. It was important because slave owners felt slaves would rise up and take a stand against them in revolt. This is why these school districts want to convince parents to opt-out. They want parents to follow along with their local district without checking into it. They don’t want parents to think, “Why are they sending me this?” They want to prevent parents from being aware about choices of coming into their communities.
I’m angry because this battle over directory information has grown so that the State Education Commissioner basically said give up the data and gave them a date in which our district is to comply. All this, while our districts are still refusing and trying to convince parents that opting-out is the thing to do. Parents are being bombarded with text messages and robocalls from the district. Shelby County Schools are doing this because they don’t want charter schools to have more access to our babies. We have over 111,000 parents in our city and only 7,700 have signed the petition according to the last school board meeting. This tells me that parents want something different.
My suspicion is heightened even more and leads me to ponder.
- Why don’t you want charters to work with our children?
- Have you not seen the great work that some of the charter schools are doing with children in this city?
- Why not consult with them about best practices?
Inquiring minds want to know!
The state has started the process of suing Nashville. Is Shelby County School district, next? Is our school district sitting around and waiting to see what happens in Nashville? If so, these people should not be running our school. Change and choices are needed.
I don’t understand why our school district has given these new schools permission to be here and operate in our city, yet the district doesn’t want parents to have direct access to these schools. What’s their motive? Is this political? The way schools are performing in our city are dismal. I would love to know about all choices. Having these choices will push our district to do more for our babies.
Is this about money? Is everyone really looking at our children with dollars signs on the top of their heads? The per pupil expenditure is over $11,700. Those funds seem to go to our top-heavy district and then trickle down to the school level. Raises are going out, but teachers are still suffering. This is crazy! Imagine if you had that $11,700 and gave it to a school leader on the first day of school as you dropped off your baby. You would certainly hold that school leader accountable for properly educating your baby! The moment your baby grades are less than desirable, you would be at the school talking to the school teacher and leader. You would be gaining clarity because along the way some part of the contract was not being followed, or you would request an amendment. If the end of the year arrives and your child is not ready for the next grade year, you will hold that school leader accountable for breach of contract and you would be headed to court to prosecute, right.
It is insulting for children to be treated as a dollar sign and it is criminal for them to go to school a full year and come out not ready for the next grade. As a parent, I am outraged about all those things. I notice politics do play a big part in this educational system. The state and the district are at war and parents don’t understand opting-out. While all this is going on, our children are suffering. What does this mean for our children’s education? Children not receiving a proper education are some of the same children out here committing crimes. What does the future really hold for Tennessee children who are being failed by the education system? Are we really producing children who will be our next doctor, lawyer, or scientist? I can’t give you answers to these questions and that’s why I am angry and suspicious.