Thursday, December 16, 2010

Outside eyes on CMS

These are challenging times for public education, and those of us in Charlotte aren't the only ones keeping an eye on how Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is dealing with education and budget challenges. Here's a sampling of some interesting items:.

First, the Orlando Sentinal offers an outsider's take on CMS, noting the clash between racial turmoil at home and acclaim nationwide. "How could this school system be simultaneously viewed as hero and villain?" reporter Richard Fausset asks.

On the acclaim front, The Broad Foundation sends along a data brief on 30 large urban districts where black, Hispanic and/or low-income students outperformed state averages. As noted in Fausset's article, the foundation named CMS one of the nation's five best urban districts this year. CMS, Wake and Guilford county are among 18 districts nationwide where black students outperformed state peers, while CMS is the only Carolinas district recognized for success with Hispanic students.

And on the turmoil side, here's a look at the letter from the U.S. Department of Education's Civil Rights Office asking CMS for student-assignment data as it launches an investigation into complaints about 2011 school closings. I've filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the complaints, which should be arriving soon.

The most intriguing item isn't specifically about CMS, but about the difficulty of turning around low-performing schools. Greg Garrison of Charlotte was kind enough to tweet me a link to a Christian Science Monitor article based on a Thomas Fordham Institute study that examined low-performing schools in 10 states, including North Carolina.

I've only scanned the study, titled "Are Bad Schools Immortal?" In North Carolina, 19 charters and 174 regular schools that were weak in 2002 and 2003 made little progress in the ensuing five years, the study reports. That was pretty typical for what the researchers found nationwide.

"Both of North Carolina’s public-school sectors need to improve their efforts to eliminate bad schools," the study says. "This may prove more fruitful than investing time and resources in turnaround efforts. The findings from all ten states reveal that turnarounds are extremely rare. For those who put the closure option aside in hopes that schools will make dramatic improvements, these results suggest they are likely to be disappointed."


wiley coyote said...

Let the outside world peek into CMS.

The NAACP isn't going to be happy one way or the other.

CMS is 42% Black, 16% Hispanic and 33% White. The magnet programs are 52% Black.

All we have heard is the NAACP ranting about the school closings but they offer no alternative to closing them and cutting the budget.

CMS received a gold star on their paper from Arne Duncan. That should be sufficient enough, right?

Anonymous said...

Overpaid bureaucrats evaluating other bureaucrats makes a great deal of sense. Oh, there's rigor, there's SMART Goals, there's throwing money away on programs that yield little to no real value, there's the pandering, there's the simple fact that too many kids can't read and write and that their parent(s) want to blame everyone except themselves. I volunteer and occasionally teach and see it first hand. Celebrate social goals and low educational achievement....that's CMS.

Anonymous said...

Well, as already discussed elsewhere, we all know that the progress in "low income" students is a scam since nearly everyone gets to be called "low income" by gaming the FRL system.

Maybe these rewards are actually being given to the most DISHONEST school districts that know how to game the system.

That would explain how CMS could be hero and villain at the same time.

Anonymous said...


At first I thought there might be something to Ann’s story but after a little thought caused by my computer crashing, I’ve come to a different conclusion.

CMS for years has sent out people spreading the word. As recently as Tuesday night two CMS administrators were giving an AMAZING, THOROUGHLY ENGROSSING POWERPOINT presentation when they mentioned that two other people responsible for the work were in Washington making a similar talk.

No, it’s not that these peering eyes of strangers have the goods on us, its that they are either our partners in crime or we sent the evidence to them for safe keeping.

Bolyn McClung

Anonymous said...

CMS is not the only school district in America that is hampering higher and equal education. Ther are other districts firing top teachers, eliminating magnet schools, and using large sums of money on research to convince the public that these tactics are the only way education will thrive in these economic times. There is a cohort of swinders and thieves backing each other. Pete Gorman just happens to be leading the pack.

Anonymous said...


Getting a "Gold star" rating from Arne Duncan means exactly what? He absolutely single handedly destroyed the Chicago Public school system. If I am not mistaken, didn't the largest cheating scandal in Chicago public school history happen on Arne's watch?

Anonymous said...

When all is said and done, CMS will fall into chaos and self-destruct under Mr. Gorman's reign. Who do you blame? Every single member of the rubber stamp school board.

Anonymous said...

The reality within CMS is not being addressed in these macro-political debates.
Teachers have never been asked to do more, with complicated new evaluations whose validity is untested, more than 50 new standardized tests, and classes well over 30 students. Pay for performance, shown to be a failure in almost EVERY SINGLE study keeps getting rammed down our throat.
While you all complain about free and reduced lunch, or the reduction in this statistic or that, the reality is that CMS is making it impossible for us to do our jobs.
I cannot imagine what high school would be like next year, with even fewer teachers. Oh yes I can.

Anonymous said...

I think this is the same as being the skinniest kid at Fat camp. Not exactly a real 'reward' or accomplishment:

"As noted in Fausset's article, the foundation named CMS one of the nation's five best urban districts this year."

Anonymous said...

WHAT I DO NOT UNDERSTAND is, if CMS is making progress (2nd best out of 18 urban schools) now, why is the board allowing Gormon to ram this PFP system down teachers throats? ANN DO SOME ACTUAL REPORTING...... Recent document sent to CMS staff stated that CMS has hired a "Private Vendor" to create assessment questions to be used in non-EOC classes to be the baseline for establising PFP standards. WHY IN GOD NAME or HOW IN SATANS name can we justif hiring a PRIVATE VENDOR. If you are not aware these companies charge millions to do this, when we have thousands of teachers who already have this stuff in hand? SERIOUSLY AT WHAT POINT WILL THE PUBLIC BE INFORMED about the educational suicide we are allowing this clown to conduct in our classrooms. Teahcer lose 10 days of instruction to his PFP tests??????????

therestofthestory said...

CMS still looks good for an urban district becuase there is still high enough mix of middle class blacks and whites that most other big cities lack.

wiley coyote said...

Anon 6:04.....

I guess there wasn't quite enough sarcasm in my comment regarding Duncan for you to understand.

He's another educator that is and has been part of the problem with public education for 40 years.

Anonymous said...

Arne is not an educator....he's Barry's token basketball flunkie.

therestofthestory said...

A previous poster is right. This group of "educrats" is a tight circle. It is essentially a "pat each other on the back circle". The competition is who can milk as much travel/consulting/etc. fees out of each other's government body.

Anonymous said...

Beware of Charter Schools too who will take advantage of tax dollars. Go fig.