Elyse Dashew’s path to advocacy began with lobbying for her children’s magnet school.
She had just scaled back her work in a family publishing business to spend more time with her children, who were in a French immersion magnet. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools proposed changes to school hours and transportation, and she thought it would be bad for the school.
She started working with magnet families across the district, then branched into broader advocacy for school bonds and other issues. She co-founded MeckFUTURE, a coalition of parents and community groups that fought to protect CMS from budget cuts during the recession.
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Now she’s making her second attempt for a school board seat. In 2011 she was unaffiliated and finished fourth in a field of 14 seeking the three at-large seats. Democratic turnout was strong, and many believed her lack of affiliation hurt her.
This time Dashew is registered as a Democrat, one of seven seeking the seat. At the most recent financial report, she had raised more donations than any of the nine candidates; her list of endorsements spans an array of community leaders.
As the school board tackles a review of student assignment, Dashew says CMS and the community must work together to reduce racial and economic segregation in schools and neighborhoods. She urges leaders to look at such “models of local success” as Shamrock Gardens and Rama Road elementary schools for creating academic success and attracting diverse families to high-poverty schools. Her son attends McClintock Middle School, which uses robotics and engineering themes to attempt the same mission.
Dashew touts her record of building coalitions as a plus in other crucial tasks, from increasing teacher pay to hiring a superintendent. And she wants to make sure successes aren’t forgotten amid the district’s challenges.
“My children are receiving a great education, superior in many ways to my own K-12 years,” she says.
▪ Political experience: Making her second attempt for a school board seat.
▪ CMS connections: Parent and volunteer; co-chair of Bond Oversight Committee; co-founder of a group that lobbied to protect the district from spending cuts during the recession.
▪ Occupation: Education advocate.
▪ Education: Bachelor’s degree from Brown University.
▪ Quote: “I have a long and tenacious history of fighting for our kids and our teachers and our schools.”
▪ Age: 45.