An open letter ahead of tonight’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board meeting:
Dear Superintendent Clark and School Board Members:
Like many of my friends in the Chantilly neighborhood, I would be thrilled if my family could be part of a solution to reduce extremely high concentrations of poverty at a school in our city.
Unfortunately, the current plan doesn’t give us the opportunity. Please help us find one that does.
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Reassigning Chantilly kids from Myers Park to Garinger doesn’t do a thing to help Garinger. Ms. Clark: I’m on your side, but I think your staff is overly optimistic to project that Garinger’s low socioeconomic status will drop a single percentage point by adding our few kids to the mix. Chantilly kids won’t go to Garinger as it exists today, just as their friends in Plaza-Midwood don’t. Instead, they’ll move, vie for competitive magnet seats or abandon CMS.
And that last reality worries me more than anything. I’ve witnessed the history of resegregation at CMS, and the flight of many middle-class families. It troubles me that too many kids go to schools that can’t possibly keep up with their extraordinary needs. I’m sure Garinger has committed staff members and bright, promising students. Unfortunately, too many kids aren’t succeeding there. And that’s why you’ve taken on this crucial task.
But this plan doesn’t lift the needle in the least. Please come up with something bolder. Go for a full strong magnet that would attract all kinds of families. Create a Garinger with the diversity and academic aspirations of a Piedmont or Randolph Middle School (where my daughter is in eighth grade) and I’d send her there without hesitation.
I believe some of the proposals on the table show great promise. I love the idea of combining Billingsville with Cotswold, where my children went when it had an SES balance similar to what’s being proposed; and the Dilworth /Sedgefield plan. It heartens me that some families in those neighborhoods embrace such changes. I hope skeptics might see what a great opportunity their families have to make an impact.
I wish our neighborhood could foster such change. Help us do that by rejecting this part of the plan and coming up with something that would lead to serious, meaningful improvements without alienating committed CMS families. This doesn’t accomplish any of your goals – (except a feeder pattern revision that we didn’t ask for) – and it will violate your stated goal of keeping families in CMS.
Thank you for your consideration. And thank you for your service, and for the very difficult work you do.