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OneMeck holds Monday discussion of CMS demographics

Amy Hawn Nelson, director of social research for the UNCC Urban Institute, will lead a discussion of CMS demographics.
Amy Hawn Nelson, director of social research for the UNCC Urban Institute, will lead a discussion of CMS demographics.

OneMeck, an advocacy group pushing for greater diversity in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, will hold a public session Monday to discuss the latest enrollment numbers and racial breakdowns.

Amy Hawn Nelson, director of social research at the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute, will make a presentation based on recently released 2015-16 numbers. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in Room 212 of the Midwood International Cultural Center, 1817 Central Ave.

Nelson is co-editor of “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: School Desegregation and Resegregation in Charlotte.” In the last few months, hundreds have heard her presentation on the topic, in which she calls for CMS to take action to create greater diversity and break up concentrations of poverty. Charlotte Magazine just named Nelson one of its 2015 Charlotteans of the Year based on that work.

But thousands more who will be affected by the CMS board’s coming decisions about student assignment haven’t engaged. And if the recent school board campaign was any indicator, some are wary, even angry, about what OneMECK and the school board have in mind.

Rosalyn Allison-Jacobs, one of the event organizers, said the group wants to bring a wider audience to Monday’s talk, “including people who may disagree with us.”

40 percent of CMS students are black

29 percent are white

22 percent are Hispanic

6 percent are Asian

Nelson is scheduled to talk not only about racial breakdowns but about the challenges of working with poverty data, which some districts use as a factor in student assignment. Changes in the way CMS and other districts track family income have made it difficult to accurately compare poverty levels by school. Because of that, CMS has not posted school poverty data since 2013.

She’ll also talk about “some interesting comparisons with Wake County,” according to the OneMECK flier.

I’d love to see Monday’s session tap into the diversity of opinions in Mecklenburg County; the discussion would be richer for it.

But for those who aren’t eager to let OneMECK lead the discourse – or who will note that the location isn’t convenient for suburban residents – bear in mind that CMS board members have said they’re willing to hit the road to talk to community groups about student assignment. Find contact information for all board members at www.cms.k12.nc.us/boe.

The board’s policy committee will meet at 10:30 a.m. Thursday to talk about guiding principles for student assignment; they’ll be in Room 528 of the Government Center, 600 E. Fourth St. Those meetings are open to the public, and video is posted afterward at the board link above.

Ann Doss Helms: 704-358-5033, @anndosshelms

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