Many CMS Schools are excellent in education! Others are and have been spiraling out of control, requiring an immediate intervention, rather than the same ole "fix."
Parents need more and creative ways to be involved at school. Develop an array of options for parents to be part of the school system. Help them help CMS. Let them know how to help!
Stabilize the system. Recruit and retain quality teachers because experienced teachers are far more valuable than what they can be paid by any school system - and they know it!
Just as our metropolitan area grows, so widens the rift among Charlotte and its suburbs - both deserve the respect and help good neighbors provide.
Run down schools produce run down results. The first piece of a puzzle is always the easiest to find. Make schools LOOK great from the outside.
We cannot just teach students about climate change and the solutions. Students must see real leadership act and SOLVE THE CLIMATE CRISIS.
I've never had a subscription to the closed door policy. As a taxpayer and parent, you will know "what the School Board is doing" because you deserve it and the School Board deserves your confidence.
School Board oversight by parents, teachers, and members of our community has been overlooked long enough. No turning a blind eye. No looking for excuses. No reason to hide from the public view.
Safety is first, last, and always. It is not something you think about to prevent accidents or worse. Secure schools and personal data information of everyone involved with CMS is an imperative, not an option.
Bridging the gap of inequity is a task for more than CMS alone. It takes engineers, architects, and construction to build a bridge. It will take Charlotte and surrounding towns to build a bridge to a brighter future indeed. CMS cannot go it alone.
Review CMS By-Laws for out-dated ideas, dysfunction, and duress. Pivot the transformation toward a more efficient, transparent, and effective school district by focusing on what works today and considering tomorrow.
Reach out to the businesses, ordinary citizens, and, of course, other arms of local government bodies for a help to reach our goals by embracing the positive outcomes of neighbors working together, hand in hand.
First things first, schools with low student performance require interventions. The same solution will not work at every school. It takes an entire team to turn a school around. And it does not require replacing every staff member. It requires the authority to do the job properly with the attention and resolve of every staff member. Administration, teachers, and supporting staff need the flexibility to work within the system AND think outside the box. They need to know what makes other schools successful. And they need top support from the School Board. In an emergency, you address the immediate issues AND stabilize the patient. Failing schools are losing their pulse.
Areas of our community over-ridden by poverty have under performing schools. When you are unable to teach children effectively within these communities, the cycle continues. And what comes out in the wash of a new School Board isn't a solution, it's a candidate who either identifies this as the main problem they intend to solve - or a candidate determined to stay on the same path because it will ultimately solve the problem of low student performance - or, what's worse? A candidate intent on building or continuing a platform of both. I think the problem extends well beyond what can reasonably be expected of a school board. If the problem is poverty, how is a school board going to solve that issue? It can't. School Board members can devise every which way, and by the time it's done turning in every direction, it leaves us spinning around and around ... a completely dizzying approach. And when the merry-go-round of this fairground experiment finally comes to a stop, ultimately the kids whose ride is over stumble through life and hardly catch up. Working with Charlotte City Council - and all other towns within Mecklenburg County - to combat poverty is the way we solve the crisis within both our communities and schools. We all tend to look at this problem from the vantage of what we can do for the younger students, however, if we greatly expand our occupational and trade skill programs for students in high school, not only will drop-out rates plummet but our cities will benefit exponentially. We all want what's best. But instead of effort after effort, let's get results.
The question is more like a survey for parents ... Based on your schedule and availability, when is the best time for your child to attend school? What school would you like your child to attend? What can you do to help make your child's education a success? How can CMS help you help your kids? How can you help CMS? We parents lead very complicated lives and it seems like we are missing from the CMS equation for success: Students + Parents + Teachers = 1. Is it really impossible to be more parent focused? Many of the complaints parents have about CMS could be resolved by CMS simply doing more outreach. Just think: as a parent you need to visit CMS headquarters downtown and when you get there, they won't even validate your parking! But when it comes to a business trying to sell a pack of pencils, "Let me stamp your ticket!" they say. I want an end to asinine, disrespectful, and plain ole dumb policies parents have to deal with. Our number one priority is our children - and we do everything within our power to provide for our children in every way possible. It comes as no surprise to any of us that we have a tough job, filled with daily challenges and decisions that will affect our children for the rest of their lives. We all learn along the way how to be better for our kids because they don't come with instructions. Parents will even go so far as to endure Charlotte traffic for hours a week just to reside in an area zoned for a good school. Where schools aren't so good, the despondency and despair of our child's future sets in - leaving parents with no other option than to pursue candidates who promise them the School Board will fix this problem in a number of tried, but still not true ways. What's more? Often parents must play the lottery for a good school! One thing remains clear, parents have dedicated their lives to ensuring our children are prepared for every day, plus tomorrow. Funding goes a long way in determining the success of a school. And schools located in affluent areas of the district undoubtedly have access to greater resources that throttle up the success rate. So what are we to do with schools where it's certainly not the parents who have neglected their children, but rather the school system unable to meet that area's needs for support? Repeating the formulas of success in one area, does not necessarily guarantee success in others. The solution: enable parents to support the school in exciting, easy, and creative ways because the key to parent involvement is time, and not necessarily money. We can buy a lot more of value and worth with time than we can with money. Discovering new means and methods enabling parents to contribute to their child's education and support it in ways tailored directly to them will drive success and contribute to the overall well-being of a family, not only a child. Our community is a not a desert of resources, but do parents really know all the support available to them? Do they know how to contribute their time? Are they ABLE to contribute their time? It all circles back to what we can do not only as a School Board, but what we can do as parents within the community at all levels and in every way - offer direct, easy access to the support we offer.
Teachers get more than just a paycheck in return for the education they give to our children. And they deserve much more than just a pay increase! While I am a total advocate for increasing teacher pay, I also believe they deserve respect - and I think who better to ask than teachers themselves what kind of respect they want! It's no surprise every politician says they will "increase teacher pay" - but let's examine the fundamentals of all the benefits they receive from the State of North Carolina to the local businesses they support and do BETTER. Multiple local businesses offer discounts by the truckload for firefighters, police, medical care providers, and, of course, teachers. Ten percent off a cell phone bill is nice, but I think a larger than life appreciation is more appropriate. We can follow politicians who tell us they voted time and time again for increased teacher pay, but what difference does that make if the same politicians won't pass a budget resolution that actually funds it? How about reduced city and county taxes for teachers? How about something as easy to accomplish as good, free coffee or donuts - or bagels? I mean, sure that won't pay the bills or keep the lights on but our teachers deserve a heck of a lot more than having to work another job to make ends meet. Our community can better display its appreciation for the value of its teachers AND for the custodians, maintenance workers, bus drivers, and more. The School Board must reflect in the brightest light possible it is looking out for EVERYONE in ways totally unique they won't get anywhere else. We need to work with teachers and businesses to rediscover ways that can amplify the respect all who make our schools better deserve. BUT we also must continue to reduce class size; hire more social workers and counselors to deal with the distress students endure as a result of both poverty and just being-a-kid; and have everyday, normal, good members of the community volunteering and helping out on a larger scale. We are a community of people with tremendous resources and a variety of options to think outside the box and do a double-check to ensure respect.
Charlotte has long prided itself on being big. In fact, it seems every few years, the City swells a bit more and swallows up another part of the county. Charlotte's insatiable growth and desire for additional and new tax revenue is perplexing ... and despite Charlotte's got-a-lot, all it seems to offer sometimes is water, sewer, and garbage services. But is it really necessary to go bigger and bigger?
As an At-Large candidate and At-Large School Board member you must first believe that all parts of the County are equal. Just because Charlotte is big, does not mean that it gets to bully. And just because the surrounding towns are small does not mean their issues are petty. In fact, Charlotte could learn a lot from the small towns of Huntersville, Mint Hill, Matthews, Cornelius, Pineville, and Davidson! Instead of constantly projecting an attitude of the bully down the street, it should be the big brother and sister. These towns deserve the respect to govern themselves in the way they see fit - NOT to have Charlotte tell them how they will be governed according to its own interests. I am a native Charlottean and I still reside in the city, and honestly I think Charlotte has gotten so big that it's out grown the sense of small town friendly and southern hospitality that was once both a source of pride and the reason so many relocate here.
I don't believe it should come as any surprise that local towns want to "secede" if you will, break away from Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools and charter their own path forward with education, but frankly I don't see this as a problem, nor a solution. I think leadership at all levels within Charlotte and other local municipalities needs to converge and chisel away at a plan. Call me an idealist if you want, but the only thing that matters is an education - and an excellent education is ideal so that's where I'm coming from. CMS cannot remain stoic as a statue in the face of discontent. Can you imagine the amount of energy and effort that would go into completely breaking away from CMS and a town starting its own school district? To even consider this as an option means there is a BIG problem. It makes no difference how loud you shout when nobody is listening to your voice - and there is definitely disquietude and rumblings among residents both outside and within Charlotte's city limits. Charlotte needs to display the character of community I grew up with - especially when it comes to educating our children. I know Charlotte is the Queen City but it needs to listen to and work with outlying communities, not behave like a royal pain in-the-you-know-what, nor an enlightened despot. The fact is, we live in a democracy - and it's always an experiment.
I often wonder why the traditional problem of simply listening to the needs of communities everywhere, noting their issues, and working to resolve them has fallen apart? But I think it's just that - that we haven't listened, haven't allowed for transparency, haven't acknowledged the problem. It is certainly much easier to find a solution to our problems as neighbors than to build division. My one and only approach to this issue as an At-Large Candidate is that I must be a voice to all within the County BUT also listen to all voices within the county. With that said, I keep returning to the same wisdom and observation at every glance: Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools is a massive organization. And if it really does think that it's too big to fail that can only mean one thing: it hasn't looked in the mirror. Taxpayers at every residence in Mecklenburg County must have confidence in School Board governance. It is not too much to ask and certainly not too much to expect anything less than a school system designed for one thing only: excellent education for all students. In fact, it is perhaps the only real demand of parents.
A welcoming, beautiful, and simply inviting school yard seems to have been so overlooked that we have been blinded to the reality an unkempt campus perpetuates. What you see on the outside of a school is ultimately the first reflection of what you will find on the inside. Maybe you can't judge a book by its cover, but with the deteriorated appearance of so many schools, the jury is out: these places need help. When students and teachers arrive at a place to learn that is run-down, overgrown, and swelling to the masses with landscape architecture that resembles more of a vacant parking lot than a place of learning, achievement, and opportunity, an immediate success is obvious when we transform it from being an eyesore to easy on the eyes. So far the standard approach is either that this costs too much money or that it really doesn't matter how places look on the outside, so long as the test scores are up ... but the fact of the matter is that the places where test scores aren't up and learning and student performance are down ... well, you get the picture and it's not pretty. Mecklenburg County's Adopt-a-Stream and Charlotte's Adopt-a-City Street are both wildly successful programs at picking up litter off the sides of roads and in streams - keeping our area beautiful. Our schools are desperately reaching out to the community: "Please give us a helping hand!" Implementing programs designed to not only remove trash and garbage from school grounds, but transform them into growing and vibrant school yards will work tiny miracles because it's all part of the puzzle. And when we understand how significant each piece of the puzzle is and where it fits, only then can we assemble it in its entirety. Making schools beautiful will have an immediate visual impact. We can carry this beautification beyond the community of folks, businesses, and civic organizations who participate and include students themselves! Planting a tree might never make it to the core curriculum, but it will go a long way to actually showing students how to make a positive impact, and decades later when the mighty oak from a tiny acorn has grown, our grown children will benefit in ways immeasurable from knowing it was their own two hands that planted that tree and sowed the seeds of change.
When I was a sixth grader at Piedmont Middle School in 1990, my ninth grade brother did a science fair project on "The Greenhouse Effect." Three decades later, I can only imagine how many middle school students do projects pertaining to climate change! What began as knowledge within the scientific community, slowly began spreading - but it was always so far off in the future ... maybe by the year 2100 we would see the effects. Today, it is a known fact: climate change has arrived and it is a tremendous problem and only getting worse. Leaders of today blame their own ineptitude and obstruction on foreign countries. "We shouldn't have to do something because the rest of the world isn't doing anything." They pass the buck on our future, while their campaigns and the special interests they represent reap the rewards of inaction: profiteering at the expense of ... the planet. Then there's the gross negligence concept: "Well, it's here, so instead of investing in ways to reduce our carbon footprint, we should instead invest in ways to engineer our cities for tomorrow." While the debate may rage on among folks who like to hear themselves talk, few are doing little more - and the rest of us wonder why nothing's being done. Fortunately for CMS, it has the power and authority - plus the moral imperative - to transform every aspect of its operations and maintenance and reduce its carbon footprint, and be the solution. As a Board Member, I will advocate and push forward with reliable and economically feasible solutions to show our children - future generations - that we as adults lead by example ... that we are not just teaching them climate change is a problem, but we are showing them we are working on a solution. Yes, indeed, the current climate of doing nothing at the school board to be the solution will change when you vote for me.
You can't be confident in a School Board that does not feel confident enough about its decisions to share with you how they arrived at the decision. And when the public loses confidence in the ability to make decisions, you lose the ability to lead. Decisions of the school board need to be public in all ways.
When you head the wrong way down a freeway, you are going to cause accidents. The School Board must make credible and wise choices with what's best for students, parents, and teachers at the core of every decision. CMS must demonstrate through action it understands it is accountable to everyone in Mecklenburg County. But honestly, I think the word "accountability" is way over-used for what we get these days. "Holding accountable" barely matters anymore because nobody ever seems to even get a slap on the wrist for knocking out of public view the most disconcerting decisions. Frankly, it shouldn't and won't be an issue the way I see it. CMS is accountable to students, parents, and teachers. It ends there.
Are we really operating our schools in the safest way possible? Times have changed, and so have threats to our schools. We must take measures in all operations to provide a safe and secure school system, as well as protect private data indefinitely. Some retail outlets have enough money to hire police officers to handle security - and we are to believe that our schools do not have enough money to have resource officers on school grounds during school hours. What's obvious to me is when diamonds and jewelry or even groceries need more protection and security than our children we have a serious problem.
We have an extremely large school system. CMS needs help to accomplish its mission. It must reach out to every city and town in Mecklenburg County and re-identify combined interests to proceed forward in education effectively.
Quite simply: CMS needs more committees made up of members from the community who can be partners in administering and promoting school excellence. The committees need to be comprised of parents from all walks of life, in all areas of the district, and with a broad array of ideas. CMS needs to harvest ideas by growing the influence of committees comprised of local citizens and normal everyday folks.
Our area's largest corporations can have profound impacts within our school system in positive ways. Let's do it. CMS also needs to pursue more home grown relationships with small businesses, rather than focusing entirely on massive companies to be partners in education success.