School bells will begin ringing for CMS students later this month – time for students to snap out of the summer daze and get ready for school days.
Most parents are breathing a sigh of relief, thankful their child will be out of the house, and for a few hours each day preoccupied with something else besides the latest adventures of SpongeBob Squarepants.
I talked with Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board member Tom Tate about how parents can help children prepare for the school year, and discussed some issues facing the district. Tate is the school board representative for District 4, which includes schools in east Charlotte.
One issue that received a lot of attention last year and is sure to garner some this fall is bullying. In March the school board adopted a policy banning bullying, or the tolerance of it by teachers or administrators. Under the measure, specific groups are to be protected. The policy is expected to be in place this school year, although some wrinkles still need ironing out.
“It has to be implemented fairly and across the board,” Tate said.
He advises parents to pay attention for any signs that their child is the victim of bullies: “Don't just shrug it off.”
Tate also offers these tips to parents:
Get involved with the PTA. Get to know your child's teacher and volunteer at your child's school.
Put your child on a regular schedule and maintain that schedule throughout the year. That includes making sure your child gets eight hours of sleep each night.
Establish focus on good communication with your child, especially when there seems to be a problem.
Meanwhile, another hot topic for the district is graduation requirements. There's talk of lowering the number of credits needed for a diploma. CMS require 28 credits, but the state will accept 20.
Tate says he's still collecting data but believes CMS requirements are too high and should be reduced to about 24, no lower.
“There doesn't seem to be a great need to have as many courses as the state requires,” he says.
Although schools were out for the summer, an east Charlotte school still made headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Last month, East Mecklenburg High School's athletic director was demoted, two coaches were suspended and the team forfeited its 2007 football season after district officials found illegal recruiting of three players and violations of the rule banning Sunday practices.
This came following a CMS investigation that revealed team officials committed several violations of the state's athletic polices.
“I'm saddened it happened,” Tate said. “They really messed up.”