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Parent group offers a three-point plan for CMS assignment

A new group called CMS Families United for Public Education has put together a 21-page report on student assignment.
A new group called CMS Families United for Public Education has put together a 21-page report on student assignment.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board plans to hire a consultant to help craft a new student assignment plan, but a group of parents has submitted their own report at no charge.

A newly minted crew called CMS Families United for Public Education sent board members a 21-page report this week outlining research findings and recommendations. They suggest a three-pronged approach:

▪ Strengthen neighborhood schools through measures such as strong principals, neighborhood partnerships and recruitment efforts in areas where many families are opting out.

▪ Improve the magnet program by adding locations, emphasizing academic specialties and simplifying the application process.

▪ Build on current turnaround programs for low-performing schools and explore new ones.

The report includes mini-bios of 13 people involved in the effort. Several have been involved in the south suburban push to protect neighborhood schools and resist busing for diversity.

Melanie Baron, a Providence Spring Elementary parent who is one of the authors, says the group is working to broaden its membership, perspectives and knowledge.

“We all started out thinking my kid, my school,” said Baron, a former teacher who has been on staff at ImaginOn. Now, she said, “we’ve been listening to other parents.”

The report includes analysis of test scores and demographics in CMS. It suggests that the district “recognize the diversity that already exists in our classrooms, and use the even greater diversity that exists systemwide as an opportunity for shared learning.”

One suggestion is pairing neighborhood schools with different populations to share lessons, field trips, research assignments and “crosstown team projects.”

“We believe this approach is one step toward developing meaningful relationships between students from different areas of Charlotte while preserving the school assignments close to home that families throughout the county value,” the report says.

The founders say their group and their ideas will keep evolving (the report is labeled Version 1.1). To join, go to the CMS Families United for Public Education page on Facebook (yes, it used to be CMS Families United for Neighborhood Schools) or email Christiane Gibbons, christianegibbons@yahoo.com.

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

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