With Memphis and Shelby County schools on the verge of merging, it has many parents parting ways and going to charter schools.
"I'm not sure what the direction of the school's going to go in and with the merger and everything else. We're just unsure and just want to find a good school that's not so much concerned about politics but concerned about the children and their education," says Ezekiel Cleaves, a parent looking for a charter school for his daughter.
Cleaves is one of nearly 800 people who attended the Tennessee Charter Schools Association's first Memphis Charter School Information and Enrollment Fair on Saturday. Parents were lined up 45 minutes before the fair even began.
"Some of our charter schools are going to have waiting lists, so one of the excitements here and why we had parents 45 minutes early is they don't want to be on the waiting list," says Matt Throckmorton, Executive Director of the Tennessee Charter Schools Association.
Throckmorton says parents flock to charter schools because of the choice of schools and the quality of education at charter schools. But what is the impending Memphis and Shelby County school merger bringing in more students?
"In general, we're just growing and the success of our schools earns the right from more of the schools. I know that the merger they have a lot of issues that way and they're talking about a lot of different things," says Throckmorton.
The educational difference between charter and city schools is dramatic according to parent Latosha Wirt whose three children all attend Memphis charter schools. She transferred her fifth-grade daughter Koriyana Wirt from Memphis City Schools into Promise Academy three years ago.
"When she first started in the charter school I noticed that she was behind on their curriculum versus the city schools, so she had a lot of catching up to do," says Latosha, "Since she's been at Promise(Academy) you can tell the difference in her reading, her math level. The teachers take initiative in teaching the kids rather than just giving them work and leaving them to do it on their own."
There are currently 9,000 children enrolled in Memphis charter schools, according to Throckmorton. Another ten charter schools will be established in Memphis in the fall, bringing the total to 40 charter schools in Memphis.
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