When you run for school board you spend a lot of time talking about students.
Tuesday evening, eight of the nine candidates seeking seats on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board came to a GenerationNation forum to talk with students.
About 50 students – most in high school, along with a handful of elementary students brought by their parents – turned out to ask the candidates questions and share their ideas.
It’s impossible to summarize the sprawling discussion, in which clusters of candidates moved between three rooms to meet with all the youth, into a coherent report. Check the accompanying video to get some impressions from the three teen organizers, Rickey-Levon Burch of Butler High, Jason Kerman of North Mecklenburg High and Hasaanah Kersey of West Mecklenburg High.
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A wandering reporter’s take was that the candidates and teens got into some substantive discussion about such issues as how to keep good teachers, whether magnet schools encourage diversity and whether their schools offer enough electives.
Of the candidates, Jeremy Stephenson didn’t attend and Amelia Stinson-Wesley left early for another event. But the rest – incumbents Mary McCray and Ericka Ellis-Stewart and challengers Angela Ambroise, Janeen Bryant, Larry Bumgarner, Elyse Dashew and Levester Flowers – spent a good 90 minutes with the students.
GenerationNation, formerly known as Kids Voting, is a youth civics and leadership group. The trio of organizers told me afterward that they enjoyed the session, though they found that some candidates answered their questions and others talked about whatever they wanted to.
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As the teens scattered, they were invited to vote digitally for their favorites. Ellis-Stewart and Bryant tied for the top spot, according to adviser Amy Farrell.