Working Together to Improve Memphis Schools
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Dear Max,

Bobby White graduated from Frayser High School in Memphis in 1990. Last fall, he came back — not just as an alumnus but as the school’s leader. 
In the time since White’s graduation, the school had become “chaotic,” and the students’ achievement was suffering. The school was in the bottom 5% of schools in the state of Tennessee, and so were many of the other schools in the local community.
“There needed to be a lightning bolt to kind of shock the school into a new state of thinking,” White told us. 
Because of its low performance, the school (now renamed MLK Prep) had been designated as part of the Achievement School District (ASD) — a special district created in Tennessee to dramatically improve the bottom 5% of the state’s schools.

“Every kid, regardless of where they live, regardless of their community, regardless of how much money their parents have, regardless of their race or ZIP code, they deserve to go to a great school," explained Chris Barbic, the founding superintendent of the Achievement School District. "That's what we're trying to do: create a great school in every neighborhood in Memphis.” 
Cultivating talented leaders like Bobby White is one of the main ways the ASD transforms school cultures and results. 
Watch this video to learn more about Bobby White and the ASD -- and how effective leaders and educators are transforming schools.  
Peeking inside of MLK Prep might prove particularly valuable for the parents, teachers, students, and community members who are part of Memphis’ Neighborhood Advisory Councils. These councils start meeting tonight and will provide important recommendations about creating a better future for their schools. (Learn more about the councils and their important work here.) We also hope this story of a school that is one year into the conversion process can provide a valuable perspective to other members of the Memphis community.


Marc Sternberg
K-12 Education Program Director
Copyright © 2015 Walton Family Foundation, All rights reserved.

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