On Wednesday, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education unanimously adopted phase 1 of a new student assignment plan. This vote follows 18 months of careful study and discussion with the community. While our board is diverse by political ideology, race, age and geography, we came together to support a plan that will serve all students. We are committed to helping each parent understand the new assignment plan so their child can meet the high expectations we have for them. Parents will learn how the system works in the coming months, but today, we wanted to explain why we have started on this course.
We know that many families have chosen charter schools, private schools and home schooling. There is a competition to provide the best education for our children. :
CMS intends to be the preferred choice for a high quality K-12 education.
This plan creates opportunity for the high-performing student who loves computers to focus on coding, or for the student who is interested in medicine to focus on health sciences.
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This plan gives the teenage student who learns best in a Montessori environment the opportunity to continue in that environment.
This plan gives more high school students the opportunity to attend school on a college campus, potentially graduating with tuition-free college credit.
This plan gives students the opportunity to interact with peers from different socioeconomic backgrounds, which studies prove is a benefit to all.
This plan allows families who want their children to learn close to home to remain at their children’s assigned home school.
This plan gives the student whose current school has not met state standards for three consecutive years the opportunity to find a better CMS option, while we continue to strengthen their current school.
What this plan does not do: It does not accept the economic and racial segregation that has occurred in too many of our schools, and it does not leave valuable magnet seats open while we try to fill a quota.
We know that by breaking up the concentrations of poverty, we will create conditions more conducive for excellent teaching and learning in all of our schools. And we can take the first steps to do so by leading with choice. We are expanding our high-demand magnet programs, adding new magnets, and ensuring that families of high, medium, and low socioeconomic backgrounds have seats in the entry level grades. We will ensure that children from disadvantaged backgrounds have the opportunity to access programs where they can flourish.
Some critics may say this plan is “unproven,” because it is the first of its kind in the United States. They may prefer 1990s or 1960s type solutions. If we keep doing what we’ve always done, we know what we would get. But this plan, while innovative, builds on successful models found elsewhere in our country.
We have high expectations for our students and for our schools. In the next year, we will ask the Board of County Commissioners to place a bond referendum before you so that our facilities meet the same high expectations we have of our students, our teachers and ourselves. We look forward to winning your support.
But for now, know this: The CMS Board of Education will compete to provide the best education available anywhere for every student. We will give every family the opportunity to find the best place for their child in a CMS school. We will prepare every child to lead a rich and productive life.
McCray and Dashew are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education.