The Observer asked all nine candidates for the three at-large seats on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board to select a top priority for student assignment and explain their views in 500 words or less (get links to the others here). This statement is unedited.
Anyone sitting and hearing the delivering/sharing of ideas and thoughts from the policy committee can easily come to the conclusion that this task isn’t easy by any means. As stated in the letter from the Charlotte Mecklenburg Board of Education to Ann Helms, the simplest thing to do would be to retreat to ideology and personal preference and hand over the hard work of getting this right to another board in the future.
As I have stated many times, this process is larger than the board of education, we must have the support and cooperation of our county and city governmental partners, parents/students and the entire community of Mecklenburg County. But this process can’t begin until a few important questions are honestly answered by all stakeholders.
▪ Do we truly believe that education is the way out of poverty? Will we contribute to the cost?
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▪ Are we willing to work toward mixed-income housing to promote mixed-income schools? (+ refer to the Montgomery County, MD zoning policy)
▪ Are we willing to ensure that all schools in CMS are the kind of schools we would choose for our children?
▪ Has Charlotte Mecklenburg become a place that accepts separate and unequal schools as if nothing can be done about segregation?
▪ What is the plan to assist highly segregated, impoverished neighborhoods where businesses have shut down and middle-class families have moved out?
When every school in our community is well-resourced, well-staffed, exhibit high expectations of every student, equipped with an enriched and relevant curriculum that prepares all students for a career, higher education, or military duty, then we can truly be about the business of educating our students, rather than just sending them to school.
So before we attempt to work out the nuts and bolts of a plan for reassignment, it is imperative that we strive to make each of our schools a place where our students have access to a high quality education. When detractors say “we can’t afford that!” – we must be willing to stand up and say, “We can no longer afford not to.” Thanks.