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.
Student Assignment must provide a way for all children’s needs to be met. We cannot rush into a student assignment plan without considerable input from all stakeholders in the community, especially parents, teachers and even students themselves. It is early in the School Board’s conversation, and we should respect the time it takes to craft and pass effective policy.
We must address the trend towards re-segregation of our schools, paying particular attention to the high concentrations of poverty within our school system, which indeed reflect those within our county. It is a complex issue that cannot fully be addressed by the School Board alone. We must have the cooperation of the City Council and the County Commission as well as other local groups.
We must also continue to strengthen our home schools and offer choices to our parents and students. I want parents to be confident in the choices they have for their children and teachers to be convinced that they are teaching at a school that has the best interest of every child in mind. I want students to be proud of the school they attend and challenged every day to learn.
As we look at student assignment we cannot take our eyes off student achievement, our ultimate priority for all students in the district. Our school district is improving student achievement every year, and we need to keep going in that direction.
There are several community conversations being held (Aug 24 at Caldwell Presbyterian Church, Aug 27at Meck Ed), and the School Board itself will likely seek input through public hearings as well. I would like to encourage more events such as those in order for Board members and candidates to hear from a wide array of community members. We need all segments of the community to contribute to this important conversation so that any assignment plan adequately reflect what the community wants.