Editorials

How can CMS best serve all students?

The Observer Editorial Board

Glenn Hoppe, left, and Kevin McKray work together on a project at Beverly Woods Elementary in 1973.
Glenn Hoppe, left, and Kevin McKray work together on a project at Beverly Woods Elementary in 1973. 1973 File Photo

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools have resegregated by race and income over the past 15 years. When a federal court struck down CMS’s use of race for student assignment in 2001, one in seven schools had poverty rates of at least 75 percent. Today, two out of five do.

Students in such schools typically struggle. The gaps in academic performance between students in those schools and in whiter, wealthier and even racially diverse schools are dramatic and persistent.

Now this community is debating the issue. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board is embarking on a student assignment effort. But members face a conundrum. Many of the system’s schools are outstanding and parents understandably want to protect those. Yet no one should accept a system in which half or more of the schools struggle because of deep concentrations of poverty.

Today, the Observer editorial board hosts a conversation. Justin Perry describes how his education in diverse CMS schools shaped his life. Parent Pamela Grundy describes the risk her family took in sending their son to a struggling school. Jeremy Stephenson articulates the concerns of many suburban parents. And parent Melanie Baron urges everyone to strive to understand the other’s side.

That last idea, we believe, is especially important.

53 percent of black CMS students who attend a school that is at least 90 percent nonwhite

45 number of schools where nonwhites make up 95 percent of students or more

45 percent of black CMS students passing EOC math tests, compared with 87 percent of white students

61 number of CMS schools (of 157) with poverty levels of at least 75 percent in 2013-14

14 number of schools with poverty levels of at least 90 percent that year

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