Parent University debuts at CMS

A 27-page catalog offering courses that range from “Science Saturday” to “Hip Hop/Pop Culture” marked the rollout of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools' Parent University today.

The latest push to help parents help their kids pulls together expertise from public and private agencies, with a $300,000 boost from grants to extend their reach.

“If we can reach the parents of Mecklenburg County, we will build this community from the inside out,” Eve White, editor of Charlotte Parent magazine, said at a kickoff at ImaginOn this morning.

Soon after Superintendent Peter Gorman took CMS's top job in 2006, he promised to create Parent U as part of his 10-year plan for improving public education. His wife, Sue Gorman, served as the volunteer leader of the nine-month planning that led up to today's debut.

Miami-Dade's Parent Academy was the model for CMS's effort, Sue Gorman said, but the Charlotte group added its own twists to create a program that's pioneering for North Carolina.

The Wachovia Foundation granted $200,000 and The Belk Foundation $100,000 for start-up costs, which include printing catalogs and other material and hosting a fall parent celebration, to be announced soon. The group has used CMS staff and volunteers from various agencies to create the program.

The first “semester” will be Sept. 16 to Nov. 24, with another round of classes in January. Organizers hope houses of worship, employers and community groups will see the offerings – most of which are located in schools – and offer to host sessions.

Classes are open to all Mecklenburg parents, regardless of whether their kids attend CMS. Call 980-343-0318 or find a link for the online catalog and registration at (click the lead item, “Strong parents, empowered children”).