Education in the Mid-south

Back in August of 2011, the ruling was made by Federal court judge Hardy Mays for the Memphis City School district and the Shelby County School district to merge as one. After Shelby County officials fought to keep the County from having to pay for the City schools in the suffering economy that we are all facing now, the Judge ruled in favor of the consolidation. State law requires all school districts to be funded by the county, but a loophole that was created in the late 1800’s kept Memphis from the deal, although the city itself is ultimately under County control.

As the first semester after conjoining Memphis City Schools and Shelby County schools in the Mid-south comes to a closing point for winter break, a new challenge comes about as the schools once under the County School district fight for their own municipal school district. The suburban areas surrounding the city of Memphis including Millington, Bartlett, and Collierville are in high hopes of being granted by the Federal judges the “go ahead” to proceed with their plans of opening up their own school districts in the fall of the upcoming school year. The school board members for these new districts that are soon to come have already been sworn in as they begin search of a superintendent. All of the suburban areas are in agreement with the municipal school district idea except for Germantown residents who are still on the fence about the merger.

I think it is quite interesting that the suburban areas are trying to separate themselves from the conjoined system, but I did not for one second believe that it would not happen. I was not surprised. The idea that the County has the better off schools and the City contains some of the less desirable, although all are not bad, is one that has been around for awhile. As CNN covered the merger as it was first ruled upon stated that the Memphis City Schools students were 85% African American and 87% of those students are considered low-income, while the students attending the schools in the County were white and middle class. Everyone knows that classism plays a major role in the school systems. Poorer children who live in the less desirable areas of town, rather living off of government assistance or not, get the bare minimum of books and supplies for their education, while students who come from a more privileged background have more and have better.

With the school merger, parents and property owners are afraid of property values being lowered because they feel that Black children fester crime and violence and with the merger their areas will experience more of both. This could be true, but shouldn’t the Black child with the single mother who receives aid from the state receive the same quality education that the White child has who comes from a two parent college educated family? What do you think?

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We Won’t Stop

Here lately one name has been in the spotlights and headlines of many blog posts, magazines, and tabloids. Eyes have been glued to the likes of one young lady as people watch what some may say is her spiraling downfall of her once wholesome career. People are keeping a close eye on her actions, her career, and her parents for their reactions on what is going on with the young starlet Miley Cyrus.

Since the ever popular Disney Channel show “Hannah Montana” starring Miley Cyrus came to an end, Miley has been under a microscope in the public eye as she goes on a journey through life attempting to find herself, as many at her age do. Seeing as though many children idolize Miley Cyrus because of the influence she has had through her show, some parents feel that what she does after the show could still be of great influence to her young fans. Being in the spotlight, we have seen Miley transition from a girl into a young woman. We have watched her mark her body with tattoos, indulge in partying, and even her romantic relationships.

Her more recent “scandal” if I may say, began with her racy performance at the MTV Music Awards featuring Robin Thicke. The performance started with Miley in scanty clothing performing her new single “We Like to Party” which based on its title is about partying. The song makes various references to drug use, sex, and “twerking.” The performance ruffled feathers with viewers as the 20 year old child star began to “twerk” on a married Robin Thicke.

But what is “twerking?” “Twerking,” also known as gyrating has been around for years. Tracing the roots of twerking all the way back to West African culture, “twerking” is often associated with the African American community. “Twerking” isn’t new. Its ubiquity may seem sudden, but mainstream media’s merely catching up to something that’s existed in black global culture for years,” says blogger Christiana Mbakwe. Through the years “twerking” has become a small franchise for some who get paid to do so at club appearances and even in the popular music videos. Miley Cyrus has just become the new face of “twerking” as she is spotlighted for her Youtube videos showcasing her skill, and even to being recognized in a Jay Z song as he raps, “and somewhere in America, Miley Cyrus is still twerking.”

From a parents perspective I see the error in the performance because young girls really do idolize what Miley Cyrus stood for on Hannah Montana, although she would not be a preteen forever and would eventually venture out into other avenues as a young adult. That is not what bothers me. I think the standards the public are holding her to are too high for her unconventional way of living.

What seems to bother me is that there are some African American people who think that Miley Cyrus is mimicking the Black community and poking fun at our culture because she wants to “twerk” and makes cheesy pop music geared towards the African American community. Many people have spoken out in blogs, Facebook statuses, and even tweets to discuss Miley’s performance, and I have yet to wrap my head around this idea, the idea that her performance was racially offensive. As Miley pranced the stage at the VMA’s, she was joined by her voluptuous backup dancers who happened to be Black. In their crazy costumes you can see Miley slapping their asses as she bellows out her tunes. The fact that Miley only had Black dancers and the nature of the type of dancing they were doing, there were some people to really get offended, but why? Many people called the performance “ratchet,” or even “ghetto,” words often associated with the Black community. To me, the over sexualized performance wasn’t a shot at the Black community, but a strategic move by Ms. Cyrus to keep herself relevant and a failing try to expand her audience. It is just sad that her performance leads to negative connotations of the Black community. What are your thoughts? How did you feel after watching?

Religion in the Schools

Take a stroll through the streets of the city of Memphis. See any commonalities? One thing is for certain in Memphis you can always find a Family Dollar, a liquor store, and a church within miles of one another. If it is one thing about Memphis city residents, we love a bargain, booze, and to have church services on our specific Holy days. With different Christian churches on every corner ranging in every denomination known to man, along with holy places of other religions, you can assume that city residents are very much familiar with God and/or other higher beings that they may serve.

Religion plays a big part of the culture in the south, with an average of 63% of Memphians being able to identify with a religion according to Parents begin taking their children to church at early ages to expose them to religion. In one particular case in Memphis, a young lady attending a Shelby County school in Memphis was asked to do a homework assignment based on her hero. The young lady asked her teacher if her hero could be God, and the teacher told her no. The little girl of the innocent age of ten proceeded to write two papers on her hero, one being of Michael Jackson, the other being of God. Once the teacher refused to take the essay written on God, the child’s parents got involved, along with an attorney, and she was ultimately allowed to submit her paper with no amendments being broken.

With America being founded on Christian beliefs, one would think that a lot of things and practices we do would be centered around that belief system. Slowly but surely the America is becoming more “worldly” and is not necessarily abandoning their Christian beliefs, but altering the way that it does things to keep from offending nonbelievers. In one aspect, think about the school systems. While attending public school I was never involved in classroom prayer because it was long gone before my time, but I can ask my parents about a time when it was allowed in their schools. Then you can think back to when you were in school. At what grade did you stop reciting the Pledge of Allegiance with your class at the start of your morning? Many schools through the years have opted out of saying the pledge only because of the line “one nation, under God” can be seen as offensive to some. As America becomes more diverse day by day, the question linger, should schools be stripped of all religiosity or not.

Check out the link to the WMCTV article —

A Helping Hand or a Foot in the Ass?

The decision was made last week by the Achievement School District, the government operated charted schools in Tennessee, to change the grading scales in those schools in an effort to help to ultimately do away with an A-F grading scale and align it more so along the lines of T-CAP scores with a mastery of course subjects earning an Advanced or Proficient, and anything below those lines received a standard of High Basic, Low Basic, and Below Basic. The new grading scale gives students a wider range to score better on assignments and allows them a larger range to score better in their core area subjects. The Achievement School District feels as if it is a good start in turning these failing schools around, but is it really a good start?

Parents are more than leery of the new grading scale, and I do not blame them. The way the new grading scale is set up, a D grade earned by a student in an ASD school within the school year of 2012-2013 ranged between a 70-74, the new grading scale has been set to range from a 58-47. On top of that being an additional 7 grading points added, but for students it means that they can master at a minimum of 58% of their school work and still pass. In my opinion, the new grading scale found in ASD schools is anything BUT beneficial.

When I first heard about the grading scale change and how the new ranges were set, I was immediately upset. As a future educator I felt as if the change was not a help, but a crutch. I did feel that there were other alternatives that could have been devised to save these failing charter schools instead of what feels like giving them a passing grade without them actually knowing the material.

The schools in the Achievement School District in Memphis are all located in the lower income areas, areas where residents are more likely to receive government assistance and live in poverty. They are areas inhabited by our minority brothers and lower class Whites. They are people who cannot afford to move to the areas of town with better schools and have to utilize the neighborhood schools.

What upset me about the grading scale change was the fact that they have ultimately set in place this new standard of grading that does not show in favor of the lesson being taught and the comprehension of what they are learning, but how much of work is completed and how much is correct. So from my understanding a student can have a quiz with a hundred questions and they answer the ones that they know, say maybe 47/100. You mean to tell me that they are getting graded for that 47% work? In what world does that make sense? It upsets me that they have set the standard so low for these students. They are setting those future generations up for failure accepting mediocrity & giving them a piss poor excuse for an education that would ultimately not allow them to succeed & perform as well as those White kids that went to better schools. I see it as keeping the disenfranchised, disenfranchised.

Although there are some who are not directly affected that do not have a formulated opinion on the issue, take a look at this article posted by local WMCTV News Channel 5 it may make you gain one .