Nashville, TN— Today, Victor Evans, Executive Director for TennesseeCAN released the following statement regarding the urgent need to bring an emergency mindset to our current education crisis:
The ongoing tragedy of Covid-19 reared its ugly head twice earlier this week. First, we saw the public release of appalling student learning data in Shelby County Schools showing the crisis in student learning that we had before COVID has only gotten worse. In addition, the New York Times publicly exposed deep scars and deeper mistrust within our communities over the state of our broken public school systems. It was sad to have the country know it and even sadder because it is something Memphis families have long known.
These two challenges have always driven the work of TennesseeCAN. Well before the pandemic, our children were being failed in a way that continues to create generational poverty for families, and burdens our entire state with long-term social and financial costs.
While we and many others have been speaking to this — yelling about this, in fact — sometimes it takes extreme tragedy to push people to make change. What the data released by Shelby County Schools presents is just that…an extreme tragedy. It cannot be any clearer. Our kids are suffering and trust in our systems is deeply compromised. We must do better for our kids, and do better for them now.
We thank Governor Bill Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly for bringing an emergency mindset to this discussion during the special session that just ended – funding powerful interventions like focused tutoring and additional access to classroom time. This was a good start and we look forward to working with the Governor and local elected officials to identify additional solutions to help children in Memphis, in particular, as well as throughout the state.
We will also continue speaking directly to the families. While politicians and bureaucrats have a role, no voice is greater than that of the families who are caught in the middle of this historically tragic moment of learning loss, while also at the same time distrusting the system that is supposed to step in to help them. Coincidentally, today we released our parent survey to help capture this often overlooked voice.
We call on everyone to join with us and bring an emergency mindset to a problem of historic proportions. When our children are not educated, they are not truly free and we must never forget that their freedom is at stake when we work to improve the education they receive.
About TennesseeCAN: The Tennessee Campaign for Achievement Now has been active in Tennessee since 2011. We are a nonprofit education organization that advocates to ensure every Tennessee student has access to a high-quality education through great teachers and great schools. We work to advance policies and programs that prioritize positive impacts for students statewide—especially those with the greatest needs.