Rise & Shine: As six Memphis charters await their fate, parents told to look for other options

Good morning!

Shelby County Schools is encouraging parents and students at a half dozen Memphis charter schools to look for other schools next year. The charters are all on the state's "priority list" and are in jeopardy of closing because of poor academic performance. State law requires school boards to close charters that lag in the bottom 5 percent of schools in Tennessee, but the Shelby County board has delayed action since October.

Board member Stephanie Love said she has “no faith” in the problem-plagued TNReady test that the priority list is based on. “I’m not going to tell you I’m going to hold you accountable for a test I have no faith in,” she said. Love wants to know if charter schools with high academic growth scores can remain open just as improving district-run schools are protected from state takeover.

In other news, interim Shelby County Schools Joris Ray outlined his priorities for the next 90 days. We also have more details about how much Gov. Bill Lee’s proposed vocational education initiative is expected to cost. Check out our updated story. Also, a new survey commissioned by a pro-voucher group says there’s support among Tennesseans for starting voucher-like education savings accounts for families to use. We’ve updated that evolving story, too.

— Jacinthia Jones, bureau chief

TOP PRIORITIES Interim Superintendent Joris Ray delivered the “State of Shelby County Schools” address and reiterated his 90-day plan that prioritizes early literacy, curbing student misbehavior, and preparing students for life after high school. Chalkbeat, The Commercial Appeal, WREG, WHBQ

SCHOOL SHOPPING District leaders are urging families to choose another school for their children, as four charter operators await the Shelby County Schools board’s vote on whether to shut them down. Chalkbeat

APPEALS HEARD Three Shelby County schools are hoping the state athletic association will reverse its decision to ban them from postseason play for two years. WREG, The Commercial Appeal

EDUCATION POLL According to a new poll by the Tennessee American Federation for Children, Tennesseans across all party lines support the education accounts, with the strongest support among Republicans and those in East Tennessee. Tennessean

EDUCATION FUNDING Gov. Bill Lee is proposing $25 million in one-time money and as much as $5 million a year in lottery funds to pay for an expansion of vocational training in Tennessee. Tennessean, Chalkbeat (Feb.5)

NO-BID CONTRACTS The legality of two no-bid contracts authorized by Metro Nashville Public Schools Director Shawn Joseph are being questioned. WTVF

AUDIT FINDINGS A district inquiry into Nashville schools purchasing practices found all but two of 15 allegations against the district were unsubstantiated. Tennessean, WTVF

TOP GOALS Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Bryan Johnson delivered his State of the System address and outlined goals of increasing the number of students reading on grade level, passing Algebra I, taking advantage of advanced courses, and graduating on time. Chattanooga Times Free Press

OPINION Our country has most of the best colleges in the world. Students should be able to afford them, and borrowers should not be crushed by debts, says U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander. The New York Times