About 35 people gathered Thursday to talk about helping kids succeed in Charlotte-Mecklenburg's high-poverty schools.
Mickey Aberman, a lawyer, public-school parent and member of the Swann Fellowship board, launched a series of “issues in education” talks with a paper calling for the district to create much smaller classes in high-poverty schools and allowing teachers to tailor their teaching to the students, rather than following a districtwide plan to keep all students working at the same pace.
He also urged CMS to focus its efforts on elementary schools, before students fall hopelessly behind.
The talk at St. Martin's Church drew people active in education, churches and community groups. Many applauded the ideas.
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“I can't teach science to a student who can't read and do math,” said Carol Horowitz, who has taught in high schools in CMS and Union County.
In Union, she said, she had a class of about a dozen and was able to help even the struggling students reach grade level. In CMS, with 30 students in some classes, it was tough to get “face time” with the kids who need it, she said.
Some speakers lamented the resegregation of schools since court-ordered desegregation ended in 2002.
Most of the district's high-poverty schools have few white students.
Bill Anderson, a longtime CMS administrator who now heads the nonprofit Communities in Schools, noted that executives considering a move to Charlotte always ask about two things: the airport and public schools.
With schools, he said, “the answer is always, ‘It depends on where you live.'”
Leonard “Deacon” Jones, president of the Swann Fellowship, said the gathering failed to pull people from a wide range of political and philosophical perspectives. The nonprofit fellowship focuses on creating diverse schools.
“We're singing off the same sheet of paper,” Jones said. “We need people who see the world a little bit different.”