Reduce Confusion in School Enrollment: Tent City Gone; Central Problem Remains

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By Lashundra Hall

I have three kids in school right now, and like many other Memphis parents, I know that some of Shelby County Schools’ optional schools provide a better education than the neighborhood public school.

Too many traditional schools in Shelby County Schools (SCS) are low-performing, so parents do what we have to.

For years in the January cold, we stood in lines wrapped around the corner, even camped out in Tent City, to try to enroll our kids in an optional school.

I was lucky enough for my children to be enrolled, but they were enrolled in different schools. Somehow, I managed three different drop-offs and pick-ups at three different schools.

It is not easy for parents to jump through all these hoops, for some parents it’s impossible. And, if you don’t know what you don’t know— you are left out in the cold again.

Why is it so hard for our kids to get access to something as basic as a good school? Don’t they deserve better?

Until all our schools are great schools, we should be making it as easy as possible for parents to get information to help them choose a school, and to make enrollment straightforward and fair.

The system we have now is about as far from that as you can imagine.

We have to follow different processes, meet different deadlines, and fill out different applications for every public school option, including 1) SCS zoned public schools, 2) SCS general choice transfer options, 3) SCS optional schools, 4) SCS iZone schools, 5) Achievement School District (ASD) schools, and 6) public charter schools.

There has to be a better way.

The Memphis Lift wants to work with the school district and elected officials to create a process that levels the playing field for all families— not just those who can jump through these hoops.

We believe parents and their students deserve an enrollment process that is transparent and fair. So we are issuing a rally cry: Powerful Parents, link up with us and demand change for our children.

No one knows what we need to do to fix this mess better than you.

Join the movement.

Lashundra Hall is a parent involved with The Memphis Lift and also has children who have gone through the SCS Optional School process.