Goals Set for CMS Student Assignment Plan

Board of Education has set it's goals, but what does it mean for our students?

I'm feeling a little anxious today. I don't think I'm alone. For parents of children in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, last night's board of education meeting has sparked more unsettled feelings. The goal of the meeting was to come up with a set list of goals to guide a new plan for student assignment. The Board of Education approved the following goals in a 7:1 vote:

  • Provide choice and promote equitable access to varied and viable programmatic options for all children; and
  • Maximize efficiency in the use of school facilities, transportation and other capital and operational resources to reduce overcrowding; and 
  • Reduce the number of schools with high concentrations of poor and high-needs children; and
  • Provide school assignment options to students assigned to schools that are not meeting performance standards established by the state; and
  • Preserve and expand schools and programs in which students are successfully achieving the Mission and Vision of the Board.

That's a great list and nothing surprising, but still it's so very nebulous how the board plans to achieve these goals, and that's what has me and many other parents throughout the system anxious. Will neighborhood schools still exist and will boundary lines move? Those are my two big questions.

I've written about this before, and truly do believe all children need a fair shake and school may be the only place some can get that fair chance. That said, I still hate to see my child's school routine upset. Children build a community of friends, develop a comfort level in an environment and get to know all the teachers. When a child has to make a switch, it certainly can upset his academic progress. 

I wrote a blog last week titled: What do you want your school to look like? It is the question Board of Education member Eric Davis says the board is asking all CMS parents as they create a new student assignment plan. Here's what I'd like to see for my children:

Smaller number of kids in classrooms. Let's say 20 kids per class. That shouldn't unobtainable, especially on the elementary level. With inclusive classrooms and high achievement goals to meet, it makes sense for teachers and students. It can help promote higher achievement with all students, including high-needs students, because it ideally gives a teacher more time per pupil to focus on individual needs.

Less testing. I would like more attention spent teaching kids things that matter in the world, and less time spent worrying about will the student, class and school make the score that makes a grade that gets them a nod from the news. It just creates too much stress on kids who care.

Parent involvement. A supportive PTA, and parents who care about their child's school, helps schools to overcome lack of funding constraints. Let's face it, CMS needs more money to meet the needs of our growing city, but it's not coming easy. Though public schools are free to attend, parent's monetary support helps fund special programs, IT initiatives, field trips, etc.

Balance. That is balance of race and socio-economic backgrounds, because that's the real world we live in and I want my child to be live in reality, but that doesn't mean my kid gets bussed anywhere.

Neighborhood choice. I like my child to attend school near home. Choices of schools near our house is even better. I like where I live and want my child to go to school with the neighbors' kids.

But for now, I wait along with the thousands of other CMS parents to see what happens. The board's deadline for an assignment plan for the 2017-18 school year is November 2016. In the meanwhile, a consultant is coming in to help advise; and survey results from 27,240 community members will be evaluated and considered in the development of the plan. The results of that survey are to be presented at an upcoming board of education meeting.