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!

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, likely your child’s teacher. The teacher will appreciate being given the opportunity to address the situation, and they may even become an ally for your cause if it’s something that’s out of their 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.

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.

The Memphis Lift

  • Mission: The Memphis Lift is a movement by and for parents and grandparents whose children attend or are zoned to chronically low-performing schools. The Memphis Lift is a people’s campaign to build widespread awareness of the criminal manner in which many Memphis school students are underserved; and to build widespread demand for high quality schools and radical changes in public education to disrupt systematic educational inequity through choice and healthy competition. It is our mission to make the powerless parent powerful.
  • Current Issues: The Memphis Lift envisions the day when every child in Memphis, regardless of what community he or she lives in, has an opportunity to receive a high quality public education.
  • How you can get involved: There are many ways to get involved with The Memphis Lift, including The Surge Team (a team of Parent Outreach Specialists who are available as a point of contact for all Memphis Lift events and meetings), the Memphis Lift Public Advocate Fellowship (a 10-week advocacy training course), and Choice Counseling (assistance navigating school choice and transfers).
  • Contact: Sarah Carpenter, Executive Director (901-276-0805)
  • Website

Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs)

  • 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: Denozanna “Dee” Moore, President of the United Shelby County Council.

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: Cardell Orrin, Memphis City Director
  • Website


  • Mission: TennesseeCAN empowers local stakeholders—from community members to policymakers—to advocate for improved K-12 education policies that put Tennessee children first. Together, we have access to high-quality schools, teachers and resources that prioritize their unique educational talents and needs.
  • 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 both at the Capitol and in-district; testify at public hearings; learn about the state of education in TN
  • Contact: Victor Evans, Executive Director