Rise & Shine: Memphis leaders urge state to stay out of their school improvement work

Good morning!

The state and Shelby County Schools are at odds again over the best way to improve chronically underperforming schools in Memphis. But this time, the dissension is in response to the state’s new accountability and school improvement model, developed as part of the 2015 federal education law. Read about the stance taken by the school board last night on several struggling schools.

Also, Tennessee's Achievement School District is seeking to down-size again. Find out more about its newest plan.

— Marta W. Aldrich, bureau chief


PUSHBACK  Memphis school leaders take a stand against the state’s new plan to intervene in several struggling schools in their city. Chalkbeat, The Commercial Appeal

ACHIEVEMENT SCHOOL DISTRICT  Tennessee’s school turnaround district wants to combine two of its Memphis elementary schools and return the remaining building to Shelby County Schools. Chalkbeat

TNREADY TALLY  Find out which Tennessee school districts plan to use TNReady scores on student report cards. The Tennessean

FACT CHECK  Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland fires back after CNN pundit Angela Rye unleashes a blistering critique of the city and its leadership, including its lack of spending on public education. The Commercial Appeal, WMC

TEACHER DISCIPLINE  Tennessee lawmakers give their nod of approval to a teacher licensure discipline rule that is expected to help better punish teachers who misbehave. The Tennessean

SCHOOL SAFETY  A Williamson County student recounts how this month’s school shooting in Florida, which began when the shooter set off a fire alarm, affected a recent fire drill at her high school. “Not a single person moved,” she said. The Tennessean

While not officially endorsing student walkouts planned for March, Hamilton County officials will not punish students for taking part. Times Free Press

Here are five things to know about school safety in Knox County. Knoxville News Sentinel

An Oak Ridge gun range offers free handgun lessons for school teachers. WBIR

National research shows that, 19 years after the Columbine shooting, most schools are locked tightly, but it’s not perfect. USA TODAY

PROJECT GRAD  A third-party report about the results of Project Grad suggests the program has little-to-no impact on graduation rates at Knox County Schools. WATE

BRAIN HEALTH  A Knox County high school leads weekly talks with students about mental health issues like bullying, toxic relationships, suicide, depression, and stress. Knoxville News Sentinel

GET FIT  Three Tennessee schools will be chosen to receive $100,000 fitness centers. The Chattanoogan, Winchester Herald-Chronicle

HOMELESS STUDENTS  Metro Nashville Public Schools uses a new program called Purposity to connect private donors with students experiencing homelessness. WTVF

BOOK LADY  Homegrown entertainer Dolly Parton likes to give away books to kids. She just gave away her 100 millionth. The Washington Post, Knoxville News Sentinel