EdTalks to focus on school system inequities

UnifiEd is hosting an EdTalk at Southern Burger Co. in Ooltewah's Cambridge Square Thursday, Aug. 17.

Team members at local nonprofit UnifiEd have long heard of the disparities that exist between Hamilton County's 79 public schools. But they say what they haven't yet heard are solutions.

That's why the education advocacy organization is working to develop policy that would ensure a bright future for every student in the community, regardless of his or her socioeconomic status - a process that starts by gathering input from parents, teachers and citizens all over the county.

"It will be a grassroots-developed policy," said UnifiEd Communications Director Natalie Cook. "Rather than being top-down from the school system control office, we're organizing the community to give their input on what they see as the biggest issues of inequities in our school system, and then gathering their ideas on what they feel could work within our school system specifically."

Each week, UnifiEd will solicit such opinions and ideas about educational equity from local residents during small community gathering throughout Chattanooga.

On Thursday, Aug. 17, UnifiEd will solicit such opinions and ideas about educational equity from local residents during a small community gathering at Southern Burger Co. at 9453 Bradmore Ln #101 in Ooltewah.

Metro talks

Aug. 24, 5:30-6:30 p.m.The Tap House, 3800 St Elmo Ave. #114Sept. 7, 5:30-6:30 p.m.Universal Joint, 532 Lookout St.Sept. 21, 5:30-6:30 p.m.Los 3 Amigos, 3536 Cummings Hwy.Aug. 29, Sept. 5, 12, 19 and 26, noon to 1 p.m.UnifiEd Office, 1609 McCallie Ave.

The meetings are part of a new series of "EdTalks" started by the nonprofit earlier this month as part of its new Action Plan for Educational Excellence, or APEX, to create said policy.

From now until Sept. 26, UnifiEd will host one EdTalk each Tuesday at its McCallie Avenue office, and another each Thursday at rotating locations across the county.

One is being held at The Tap House in St. Elmo Aug. 24 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. The Tap House is located at 3800 St. Elmo Ave., Suite 114.

After hearing from county residents, the nonprofit's policy and research team will create an initial list of policy recommendations by working with the APEX project's newly formed steering committee, made up of three community representatives from each of the nine districts selected by UnifiEd. From December to January, the resulting policy recommendations will be taken back to the community to allow citizens to vote on how they should be prioritized, Cook said.

The issues and needs most important to the community will then be rolled into an equity-policy platform and released to the public by February in hopes that the school board, Hamilton County Commission and Hamilton County Department of Education will implement it.

Email Myron Madden at mmadden@timesfreepress.com.