Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board: Janeen Bryant on the issues

Name: Janeen Bryant

Hometown: Greenville, S.C.

Neighborhood: Sugar Springs

Family: A mother to a 9 year old daughter and two dogs.

CMS connections: PTA member, Volunteer in multiple CMS schools, A daughter in CMS, Worked within a nonprofit that is dedicated to helping elementary, middle and high school students.

Education: Masters, Leadership and Management, Montreat College BA, Anthropology: focus on Ethnic Studies, Davidson College

Occupation: Regional Director, South for Leadership for Educational Equity

Political experience: None

Community service: Teach for America, Charlotte Charter Corps Alumni Member, Girl Talk Foundation INC, Programming Committee Member, International Sites of Conscience, Immigration Sites Network Member, Tomorrow's R.O.A.D 501(c) 3, Fiscal Agent, American Association of Museums Member, Association for the Study of African American Life and History Member, Leadership for Educational Equity School Board Fellow, YWCA 1902 Society Member, LU40, Leaders Under 40 Participant, The Collective, Charlotte, Leadership and Engagement Co Chair, Leadership for Educational Equity, Public Advocacy Fellow, Lead with Intention participant.

Party affiliation: Democrat

Campaign contact info: www.janeenbryant.com, 704-879-5152, bryantforCMS@gmail.com

Why are you running for school board?

As a mother, an educator, and an engaged community member I believe the public education system has the power to change the lives of students. I have been living and working here in Charlotte for 15 years and have experienced how one school year, one teacher, and one class can change the trajectory of a child’s academic experience. My experiences as a parent showed me the importance of informing parents and supporting parents as allies to schools.

What are your top priorities for the district?

My top three priorities for the board of education is to help the district focus on being more accountable to the success of all students in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, better advocates for the students, parents and teachers today and more attentive to the needs of the future of Charlotte.

What are your thoughts on hiring a superintendent?

As the search for superintendent continues, we need to focus on looking for someone who has sustainable leadership. Grassroots and Grasstops must be engaged in the process of developing policy. We have to search for people who are not engaged typically and do not assume that because someone does not attend a school board meeting that they do not care about their children’s outcomes.

What are your goals for student assignment?

We need to ensure that the student assignment plan takes socioeconomic diversity into serious consideration. Racial/ethnic trends in housing are strongly correlated with income thusly impacting the socioeconomic diversity of schools within the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school area.

What should CMS do to address persistently low performance by large numbers of students at many schools?

Something must happen now. There is no longer time to wait to make a change. Students are returning (to school) now and they can't wait five years for the adults to find a solution for the challenges they face in their schools each day. Punishment fits the infraction and the age of the student and ensure that students do not consistently receive negative consequences (ie. ISS, OSS) without communication with parents/guardians or the student. We need to implement instructional practices that are sustainable and yield the best success and provide teachers with adequate support to achieve success.

What should CMS do to attract, motivate and keep strong teachers?

While the school board cannot change the teacher salary in NC there are certainly ways to creatively address the many challenges that teachers may face related to their classroom experience, expectations from the district and professional development.

CMS Budget-ensuring professional development funds are spent on trainings that are most beneficial to teachers and focus on developing teachers and administrators professional skills in cultural competency and school culture. CMS budget- what is supported by grant, board of commissioners, how much is supported by PTA, how much is spent to support teachers professional development.

Additionally, according to the 2014 Teacher Working Conditions, beginning teachers indicate they need more support. Providing adequate support helps teachers reach their potential and encourages them to remain in the classroom.

What is the district's biggest challenge, and how would you address it?

I see the disparities present in academic performance, diversity, and suspensions within CMS and sees that something must be done to mitigate the factors that contribute to the imbalance among schools.

What is the best thing about CMS?

The Students! Serving as a kindergarten teacher and later as an educator who was able to interact with hundreds of students each week, I saw the true brilliance, creativity and longing of students who yearn to be challenged and respected by the public school system.

What else should voters know about you?

I believe in the potential of all students to succeed. I believe in parents as partners to schools, and educators as change agents. I am running from a place of genuine concern about the trajectory of all students and the welfare of our entire community. The pursuit of individualistic glory while negating the ways in which we intersect as a collective lead to our downfall as a community and reports like Sam Fullwood’s, Charlotte’s Shame and the low score on the social mobility report. Our community has a history of championing education, so this really is a necessary and critical approach.