Memphis Education Advocacy Resources

Dealing with a difficult issue at your child’s school? You’re not alone – it happens to every parent in every school at one time or another. But you are your child’s best advocate, and you have more power than you think to make things happen!

Advocacy Tips

It can be intimidating to confront authority figures at school, but start with the assumption that they also want the best for their students, and go to bat for your kid.
Start by talking to the person most closely involved with the issue. If it’s your child’s teacher, she’ll appreciate being given the opportunity to address the situation, and may even become an ally for your cause if it’s something that’s out of her hands.
Easier said than done when it comes to your child, we know, but you’re more likely to be heard (and get help) if you approach the issue with a level head.
What is your child legally entitled to? Was the problem a one-time incident or an ongoing issue? Don’t rely only on your child’s version of the story – talk to parents, teachers and even other students to get to the bottom of what’s really going on.
If the problem affects more than just your child, it’s likely that there are other parents who share your frustrations. Many schools have a parent group (like PTA), or some type of school-based council with parent representatives who might be able to help. It’s much harder to ignore a group than one parent.

Local Advocacy Organizations

Sometimes you might need some outside help. In those cases, you can reach out to a local advocacy organization for help.

  • Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO)

    • Mission: BAEO works to increase access to high quality education options for Black children by actively supporting transformational education reform initiatives and parental choice policies that empower low-income and working-class Black families.
    • Current Issues: Advocacy training for parents; small group/cluster meetings with clergy; citywide clergy engagement initiatives; dialogue and educational informational sessions with parents, community members and clergy.
    • How you can get involved: Parents are always encouraged to become members of TN BAEO and work alongside organizers to educate and empower communities. Parents can attend any of community forums, educational talks, become a volunteer and/or sign on to be a Parent Advocate Leader (PAL). To join BAEO, text ‘PARENTS” to 52886.

    Contact: LaShundra Richmond-Deputy Director | 901.830.1674 | lashundra@baeo.org

  • Disability Rights Tennessee

    • Mission: Disability Rights Tennessee is committed to promoting and preserving the disability rights movement in Tennessee.
    • Current Issues: Abuse and neglect in institutions and community settings; appropriate functional behavior assessments (FBA) and behavior intervention plans (BIP); appropriate implementation of individualized education programs (IEPs) and 504 plans
    • How you can get involved: You can apply for free assistance advocating for your child concerning one of the issues listed above. You can also make a donation to help further the organization’s work.
    • Contact: Fill out their intake form to determine if your case is eligible for assistance, or call 800-342-1660.
    • http://www.disabilityrightstn.org/
  • Parent Leadership and Advocacy Institute

    • Mission: PLAI trains parents to be effective advocates by increasing their knowledge of the education landscape, introducing them to local education leaders, equipping them with technology and communication skills, and training them as community organizers.
    • Current Issues: PLAI does not focus on a single issue, but equips parents to get involved in the issues that matter to them.
    • How you can get involved: The Public Advocate Fellowship is a 10-week leadership training course, focusing on the skills described above. Applications will be accepted??

    Contact: Ian Buchanan, Deputy Director

  • Parent Teacher Associations (PTA)

    • Mission: To engage and empower families and communities to advocate for all children.
    • Current Issues: Issues vary by local organization.
    • How you can get involved: Many local schools have a PTA you can join and/or take a leadership role in, and there are several collective groups, including Shelby County Council PTA, Shelby County Regional Special Ed PTA (SEPTA),Germantown Municipal Council PTA, and Tennessee PTA. If your school doesn’t have a PTA, one of these groups can provide support in starting one.
    • Contact: Nancy P. Loggins, Tennessee PTA Memphis-Delta Region Director, 901-336-5920
  • Stand for Children

    • Mission: Stand for Children is committed to building teams of parents in targeted areas who are empowered and engaged in education policies; prepared to advocate and mobilize.
    • Current Issues: Leadership training for parents; passing a charter compact between Shelby County Schools and local charter schools; supporting parents in Priority Schools
    • How you can get involved: Through school-level teams, parents can learn about issues affecting their schools and then mobilize for school board meetings, community meetings, and meetings with elected officials. Parents are also needed to serve on the Stand Strategy Team, help with phone banking and voter turnout.
    • Contact: London Lamar, Community Organizer, 901-849-7622
    • http://stand.org/tennessee/about/memphis
  • StudentsFirst

    • Mission: The work of StudentsFirst is aimed at increasing the number of high-quality school choices that are available, empowering parents with accessible and transparent information, and ensuring every student has access to great teachers and great schools.
    • Current Issues: Access to quality education options (including charter schools, ASD, and vouchers) and accountability measures
    • How you can get involved: Email or meet with state legislators; testify at public hearings; learn about the state of education in TN
    • Contact: Brent Easley, State Director
    • https://studentsfirst.org/tennessee