Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Crowding and poverty at Albemarle Road

Cynthia Stone,  who attended last week's school board meeting,  asks a reasonable question in a letter sent to the Observer Forum:  Why hasn't she seen any coverage of crowding at Albemarle Road Elementary School?

At that meeting parents and teachers told the board about the challenges of squeezing more than 1,000 students into a school that has a high level of poverty and a large number of students learning to speak English. They talked about chaotic hallways and  faculty stretched too thin.  They told the board that hauling in more classroom trailers isn't the answer.

Complex issues raised by public speakers at night board meetings seldom make for good next-day articles.  They call for fact-checking,  context and an exploration of other views and possible solutions.

In an ideal world,  I'd have done that in the next couple of days.  In the real one, my week was consumed by a trip to cover President Obama in Asheville,  a day spent reporting a long-term story and a long weekend with my husband.  But that doesn't mean I've forgotten about Albemarle Road's challenges.

Alternatives to hauling in trailers pretty much boil down to redrawing boundaries, expanding the school or building a new school nearby.  That puts Albemarle Road squarely in the context of a bigger picture:  Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is overdue to review its long-term plan for building and renovating schools.  The last timetable I heard called for those talks to start next month,  possibly culminating in a November bond vote.

Last time I covered a bond campaign,  back in the the boom times of 2007,  the challenge was often cast as suburban crowding vs. urban renovation.  The plight of Albemarle Road suggests that population changes  may be shifting that lens.

Trying to predict enrollment trends and balance needs throughout the county is never easy.  This time around the task promises to be particularly complex.  A growing number of charter schools in and around Mecklenburg County will have to factor into projections.  And a Raleigh-driven proposal to turn school construction over to county commissioners could further shake up the scene if it gains statewide traction.

So keep me posted on the talk around the county, and I'll do my best to keep you posted on the plans that emerge.


Anonymous said...

No new school needed. Answew: Deport all the illegal aliens and the population goes back to "normal".

Anonymous said...

And what is *your* tribal affiliation, may I ask?

Anonymous said...

Dear 6:06.

Are you aware that 90-95% of the students at Albelmarle Road are United States citizens?

Obviously not.

Anonymous said...

Why aren't mobile units an option for a couple of years? Our south charlotte elem school had 1400 students for a couple of years, and 20+ mobile units and we survived. Student numbers fluctuate so CMS needs to be flexible and fast with the solution.

Anonymous said...

The problems are:
1) Bad parenting
2) Illegals
3) Bad parenting
4) Welfare state
5) Bad parenting
6) Lack of respect for authority
7) Bad parenting

Anonymous said...

8:00: what do any of those have to do with overcrowding at this school?

Anonymous said...

I pulled my rising 5th grade child out of CMS the year they shoved 5th graders from two overcrowded south Charlotte elementary schools into Community House Middle School. That dog didn't hunt.

Is there an underutilized middle school near Albemarle? I thought K - 8 schools were the latest CMS rage.

Pamela Grundy said...

The whole east side is crowded, partly because of growth, partly because of the unwise school board decision to close several schools, including Oakhurst and Plaza Road Pre-K. As Ann notes, CMS needs to look carefully at this situation as it re-evaluates its facility needs.

Anonymous said...

If 90-95% ( and frankly you are guessing - if you knew you'd give the actual number) are legal that means 5-10% are illegal. Every illegal we put in school drains resources from the legal students. And bc illegals don't speak English, they drag down performance, require extra professional attention and services - and none of it matters bc they go home to an environment where our rules, language, laws are not valued and respected. They should all be kicked out - we are tired of good kids from good families being penalized bc of crap like this.

Anonymous said...

8:47, I am a CMS teacher with a LOT of experience in teaching students who are English Language Learners. Yes, I am certain that many of my children were not here legally. However, my job is to teach EVERY child who is entrusted to me regardless of how they came to my school. I am a teacher, not an immigration agent.

Now, were these kids a "drain"? In my experience, the answer is NO. They did require added help from ESL teachers but these kids WORKED. They may have spoken Spanish at home but they spoke English at school. When they were offered a choice of text in English or Spanish, they chose English.

Based on my experience, these "illegals" will grow up and contribute more to our country than so many of the natives who take everything for granted.

Anonymous said...

Will any teachers at Albemarle Road share their experiences anonymously? I for one would love to get the perspective of the people who actually interact with the students each day. Please be honest and open with the good, bad, and ugly. Offer real solutions since you are there daily. Please do this!

Pamela Grundy said...

My son went to elementary school with a large number of children of immigrants. Some were documented, some were not. Some spoke better English than others. Neither the children nor their families fit any of the ugly stereotypes referenced above. They were great kids, from great families, and the better their education, the more they will be able to contribute to our society. For our country to continue to succeed, we need to concentrate on educating all our children, not on separating out the "deserving" from the "undeserving."

Anonymous said...

I don't know what the poverty rate is at Albemarle.

My experience with this issue suggests a "tipping point" for middle income families who have their children enrolled at a school with poverty rates pushing the 40-50% mark. If conditions are ideal, middle income families will stay. If conditions become overcrowded, middle income families will start to flee raising poverty rates at a school even further. The severe overcrowding that took place in south Charlotte with 20 plus trailers at elementary schools which required shoving 5th graders into a middle school one year was unconscionable although, to a large degree, middle class families tolerated the situation. It's unlikely middle class families would have tolerated a situation like this at elementary schools with higher poverty rates.


Anonymous said...

For many years in the late 90's and into the 2000's s much of the southside was overcrowded because of the refusal of the school board to 1) acknowledge the growth in the suburbs and 2)build schools in the suburbs. This attitude was abetted by activists who railed against suburbanites as selfish elitists.

Poor planning back then is partly to blame for the current situation. By the time a board was elected that was willing to honestly look at the needs of all parts of the community there was an overwhelming need for schools in the outlying regions of the county, which absolutely had to be addressed. Waddell High has been brought up many times. But it wouldn't hurt for all to be reminded once again that if the school board had actually built its new "south" high school where it was needed in far south Charlotte in 2001 (perhaps at the current location of Ardrey Kell instead of on Nations Ford), there would have been no need for the major expense of building a true south high school less than 5 years later. Just one example of very poor management of public money, which continues to affect our system today.

Pamela Grundy said...

We can all pull up problems from the past. In 1997, when a state team visited "urban" Shamrock Gardens Elementary, teachers and students had been sickened by classroom mold; the media center carpet was held together by duct tape, and students had to stand outside waiting for the bathroom. On chilly days, the water ran ice-cold and no one wanted to wash their hands. The state team was staggered by the dilapidation. "My heartfelt reaction was relief that my children didn't have to go there," one team member remarked.

The key is: what lessons from the past can help us make the future better. Poor planning and limited funds affected both urban and suburban children in the past. How do we avoid those problems in the future?

Anonymous said...

Dear 8:35. Ann states in her article that the Board sayhs mobile units are not the solution. Why not? They are for every other overcrowded school in CMS.

Anonymous said...

Gee, I thought I had heard that Shamrock was a thriving middle class school until busing ended.

Be that as it may, a prime lesson we should learn from the past is that all policy decisions have consequences, often far reaching. If decisions are made based primarily on political agendas or political correctness the community is not going to be well served and both the taxpayers and our children are going to pay the price. A second lesson to be learned is that demonizing on the part of either side does nothing to solve our issues. In fact it only complicates matters as it further divides the community.

Anonymous said...

True but it's also worth noting CMS was still under federally mandated court ordered busing laws. Waddell was built for the purpose of busing students from south Charlotte to the Nations Ford area which is part of the reason the building is one of the nicest high schools you will find in CMS. Of course, a K-8 (?) magnet school now inhabits the building complete with a football stadium, track and field, fully equipped stage, locker rooms, band room, and so forth. Every new school facility built south of Hwy. 51 after court ordered busing was lifted has the aesthetic charm of a penitentiary which is still better then the facility conditions at poor Garringer which was featured in National Geographic in 1962 as a state-of-the-art example of modern architecture representing all that was bright and possible in U.S. public education.


Anonymous said...

"Be that as it may, a prime lesson we should learn from the past is that all policy decisions have consequences, often far reaching. If decisions are made based primarily on political agendas or political correctness the community is not going to be well served and both the taxpayers and our children are going to pay the price. A second lesson to be learned is that demonizing on the part of either side does nothing to solve our issues. In fact it only complicates matters as it further divides the community."

Amen. With any luck, future building and renovation projects won't require the blessings of a school board appointed Equity Committee to determine the "fairness" of installing donated ballet barres on a cafe-gym-atorium stage.


Anonymous said...

When we moved here in '94 our child was bused from far south Charlotte to Billingsville for grade 4-6. I had taught school in Chicago suburbs and in Dallas suburbs; my kids had attended school in Tennessee and Kansas City area. We were not prepared for the state of the schools in Charlotte--had not seen anything like it in schools we were associated with in other parts of the country. Billingsville, like Shamrock, had no hot water after 1:00 (cafeteria manager told me they had to be finished cleaning up by then so that water would be hot). Billingsville is in a high poverty pocket but 2/3 of the kids attending there were bused in from southeast Charlotte, so I couldn't see this as neglect due to poverty or race. Was it always considered okay here for schools to have shoddy maintenance? Did the much vaunted West Charlotte suffer from maintenance issues as well or did it fare better with the children of the city's elite attending there? Incidentally, once we were able to attend schools in south Charlotte we found that the schools were newer but aging quickly because of maintenance issues.

Pamela Grundy said...


Don't know where you got your Shamrock info, but it wasn't from anyone who knew the school's history. CMS allowed Shamrock and several other center-city schools to re segregate well before busing ended.

Looking to the future, with the experience you describe, you could be an excellent advocate for schools such as Albermarle Road. For example, a number of the folks who've commented on this blog could certainly use your advice about divisiveness and demonization.

Anonymous said...

From a Toronto Star article, February 10, 2008:

Only six years ago the school's white population was much larger – and
there was a more representative balance among racial groups.....

"This school has resegregated economically," says Pamela Grundy, a white woman and independent historian whose 7-year-old son, Parker, is
in Grade 1. "Eighty-nine per cent of the children here get a free or
reduced (fee) lunch, which means you are dirt poor.

Anonymous said...

Addendum to above. Article was written in 2008. Note that it says "6 years ago the school's white population was much larger". That was the year busing ended. Someone apparently was fudging on the facts when speaking to this reporter, perhaps to scapegoat end of busing.

Pamela Grundy said...

If you're going to accuse me of lying, you should have the courtesy to use your name, lest I lose respect for people who take your general approach to comments but are not responsible for this particular statement.

As I think you know, reporters often assume things they have not been told. Shamrock doesn't follow the typical pattern, and the Toronto Star got this one wrong. Shamrock had resegregated, as I said, and suffered from the problems that came with resegregation, but unfortunately for the school it happened well before busing was stopped.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm--looking at NCDPI school report cards it appears that Shamrock had pretty close to the same percentage of white children in 2002 as it did in 2008, 11% versus 8%. Also, poverty level was very much the same both school years. Toronto Star did not exactly research carefully, did they!

Anonymous said...

"Problems with resegregation"?

Now what might those problems be?

The only problem with "resegregation" are the people who refuse to stop living in the past and move on.

In this day and age if people - all people - no matter their household income or skin color don't understand that getting an education is the key to a better life, then tough.

CMS is 32% White. Desegregation is history. Again, accept it and move on.

Regarding illegals:

According to the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, anyone born on U.S. soil has the right to U.S. citizenship.

Originally ratified in 1868 to guarantee citizenship rights to freed black slaves, the amendment has been controversial more recently in the American public political debate because of poor, illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America coming to the U.S. and giving birth. An estimated 340,000 of the 4.3 million babies born in the United States in 2008 were the children of undocumented immigrants, according to an analysis of Census Bureau data by the Pew Hispanic Center.

Not only do we have illegals pouring through our borders, that same loophole in our law allows affluent Chinese women to come to America and give birth here, affording their offspring immediate US citizenship, which allows them to take advantage of our benefits later in life.

CMS has yet to spend all the bond monies from the last one years ago. Whining about overcrowding at Albemarle due to "demographic changes and closed schools" falls on deaf ears here.

Albemarle should go to the back of the CMS bond line behind overcrowded schools in the suburbs, just like the illegals who want to become citizens. They should go to the back of the line behind those who have gone through the immigration process legally.

However, until the Federal government secures our borders and fixes outdate immigration laws, nothing will change.

Anonymous said...

Ladies & Gentlemen this is only a suggestion I am giving. My children are adults, but when I was not happy with a school's performance, I took them out and sent them to private school. Nowadays you have also online schools. If the majority of parents did this, you would certainly gets results from the School Board. Sometimes you have to be ruthless to get what you want, and that means putting your children's education ahead of any comments from a teacher or CMS. Remember YOU have the upper hand to make decisions on how you raise your children. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Don't know where you got your Shamrock info, but it wasn't from anyone who knew the school's history. CMS allowed Shamrock and several other center-city schools to re segregate well before busing ended.

CMS did not "allow schools to "resegregate". A Federal judge ordered busing to stop.

Where people live is one thing politicians, educrats and bleeding heart busing advocates couldn't control after busing.

Shamash said...

I don't think immigrant kids are the problem in our schools(legal or illegal).

If you check the "gaps", you'll see that the Hispanics generally perform better than the US-born blacks.

However, immigrant blacks perform fairly well and are often near the top performers (much like their Asian immigrant counterparts).

As for all those Chinese babies dropped here by their affluent mothers...

If their moms are SMART and affluent, they'll probably send their children back to China for their education.

Until they're ready for college, at least...

Then they can probably get into a top university or graduate school, as so many before them have done.

Anonymous said...

Word to the mother:

The whole world has re-segregated economically...

Ann Doss Helms said...

9:43, it was the parents and teachers from Albemarle Road saying mobiles are not the answer. The board never responds to public comments, so members didn't weigh in on this one way or the other.

Anonymous said...

Pamela isn't entirely wrong in terms of CMS allowing some schools to re-segregate. Maybe "allow" isn't the best word but some CMS schools have clearly been spared high level poverty rates at the expense of others.

If you look at a CMS boundary map, you can easily identify the schools CMS went out of it's way to gerrymander while letting other schools fend for themselves. For example, the Myers Park High School boundary line extends all the way to Highway 51 at the intersections of Rea Rd. and Providence Road. There are some funky school boundary lines north of downtown Charlotte too. South Meck. has boundary lines that don't make sense. Then we have the issue of "split-feeds". I believe South Meck. has 4 different middle schools that "split-feed" into it - Carmel, South Charlotte, Quail Hollow and Community House Middle. In the meantime, we have East Meck. which pulled a "snatch and grab" (South Meck. did this too) of "right" neighborhoods while ditching "wrong" neighborhoods. CMS quietly redrew boundary lines at Smithfield Elementary after middle-class families started to leave reassigning an area called South Side Homes to a school off South Blv. with higher poverty levels and a high ELS population.

Pamela isn't entirely wrong. Some schools in CMS have more clout then others. Why is West Charlotte more worthy of millions of dollars in private donations then Garinger which appears neglected? How did Aurdrey Kell wind up with boundary lines that make sense?


Anonymous said...


Illegal immigrant kids are a problem in our schools as they take resources away from those legally here. Yes, there are two groups; one being kids of illegals born here that are now legal American citizens even though their parents are not and the kids who enetered the country illegally with their parents after they were born in another country.

The government continues to use estimates regarding how many people are here illegally because they don't have a clue to the real number. They can certainly tell you how many LEGALLY immigrated into the US.

I could care less how many people immigrate to the US, the more the merrier, however, we have a front door and still have laws on the books and procedures to follow as the nearly 900,000 who immigrate legally do each year.

For decades, it's been all about Black and White. With the huge influx of Hispanics over the recent past, they have thrown a wrench into the 50 year old busing and desegregation argument.

Many Hispanics and other races come here and can't speak a lick of English, yet outperform Blacks and have a more narrow achievement gap to Whites. Yet, it all comes back to Black and White.

Missouri said...

Looking at the 2010-2011 per pupil spending spreadsheet (most current), you will notice Albemarle Rd's $, demographics, etc. numbers are pretty much in line with Windsor Parks. So they get the money per student. I guess how they deal it out and how they recruit staff makes the difference. That would not seem to be a BOE issue.

Bottom line, I have no sympathy for those who talk about overcrowding of schools. Suburban students have suffered through that since the mid 1980's. I remember nny first year here when McAlpine Creek ES opened and they had kids stting in the hallways for lack of desks and classroom space. A child of mine had to go to lunch at 9:55 and a neighbor's kid went to lunch and then got on the bus to come home. A fact of life in Mecklenburg County whose whole environment is driven by race and looking back into the 60's.

Shamash said...

Anon 12:38

Sure, the immigrants may consume more resources, and I don't like illegal immigration one bit.

However, many, if not most, immigrants have at least shown that the money spent on their education has an impact.

Showing (at the least) that if you lead THAT horse to water, at least it has enough sense to drink...

So I don't see them as a particular problem.

Anonymous said...


Breaking the laws of this country is a problem; drugs laws, gun laws, speeding laws, rape laws, murder laws, theft laws, burglary laws and even immigration laws.

Pamela Grundy said...


If you look at the facts, you will see that CMS did indeed allow a few center-city schools, Shamrock among them, to resegregate before the busing order was lifted. Check, for example, Thomasboro, Hidden Valley, Druid Hills.


Still waiting for you to stand up and claim your statement.

Anonymous said...

So if those schools "resegregated" before the ruling, that happened over a generation of students ago, prior to 1999.

This is 2013 and you're still preaching the same bullet points.

Desegregation and race mixing by government edict is dead.

Move along, educate the kids.

Anonymous said...

As I understand it Hidden Valley was never under a busing order. Wasn't it allowed to always be a neighborhood school? I believe that's what the community wanted.

Anonymous said...

But here's the thing, Pamela has always been consistent in her views which is more then I can say for many of us who often have a hard time acknowledging our own hypocrisy - south Charlotte, the Middle Ring, West Charlotte - everyone's got their own doo-doo. Easier said then done but having everyone burry their legitimate beefs related to 40 years of federally mandated forced busing would be a nice start. We're free to forge our own way without interference of an imposed philosophic agenda mandated by the federal government and without the need to hire a 6 figure race expert from the Pacific Coast.


Shamash said...

I don't see the "problem" so much as the existence of the illegal immigrants as much as all the things we decide to do for them once they're here.

Basically, they're trespassing and violating our laws and should be deported when found.

But we do SO MUCH more for them once they cross our borders.

I see THAT as the more serious problem.

And for that, I blame our system, not just the illegal immigrant, who is mostly an opportunist.

It's a bit like setting all your belongings on your lawn and then complaining when someone takes them.

Sure, they're thieves, but you need to practice some common sense as well.

And we've failed to do that.

Pamela Grundy said...

Hidden Valley was left out of the busing order because it was possible to draw a neighborhood boundary that allowed it to be an integrated neighborhood school. But changes in the neighborhoods ended up resegregating it.

Missouri said...

Pamela, wasn't Hidden Valley the school Darius Swann would have gone to but was denied?

If so, incredible. A kid just wanted to go to his neighborhood school, was denied and the decline of the whole American public education system started.

Pamela Grundy said...

No, it wasn't.

Plus, Darius and Vera Swann wanted their son to attend an integrated school. They requested the closest elementary because it was more integrated than the one to which their son was assigned.

Anonymous said...

As noted CMS closed several schools in that area of town. Just like it closed schools all over town. With zero secondary crowding plan to support such closings. Very Very poor planning by CMS once again. Many of the schools in the district face the same challenges that Ablemarle staff is bringing to the table. They also have a added hurdle with the language barrier issue. My guess is the Board and Heath will act in a few years when the parents/staff take their issue to the state education folks. Seems thats what parents have to do in todays CMS world end around directly to the state education folks. Keith W. Hurley

Anonymous said...

Swann in 1970.

The highest graduation rate ever achieved in the US was in 1969 at 77% (Education Week).

It's been all downhill from there, however, the amount of money spent on education and related programs during that time has skyrocketed with not much to show for it.

Ann Doss Helms said...

What someone just told me was this situation was created by the closing of the pre-K centers, which resulted in several Bright Beginnings classes being added to an already large/crowded elementary school.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:31.

Do those graduation rates also include GED's?

If so, it would be interesting to see how many more GED's are given out today.

Simply because GED's aren't nearly as good as a regular diploma as far as future prospects go.

Missouri said...

No Pamela, that was the point of Swann. Darius was not assigned to his neighborhood school. He was assigned to a school because of his skin color. He just wanted to go to his neighborhood school.

Anonymous said...

Historical data can be used to trace the nation’s graduation rate well over a century into the past. In 1870, the earliest date on record, only 2 percent of 17-year-olds in the nation had a secondary-level education. The turn of the 20th century brought rapid social and economic changes, which ushered in a new age for education. In 1940, for the first time, half of all students finished high school, although graduation did not become an established norm until the 1950s. The U.S. graduation rate reached its historical high point at the end of the 1960s, with the graduation rate peaking at 77 percent in 1969.

When contemporary data on the nation’s public schools became available in the late 1980s, the rate of graduation had gradually declined from its historic highs to around 70 percent. The graduation rate fell precipitously during the early 1990s, eventually stabilizing around 66 percent by the latter part of that decade. The period since then has generally been characterized by gradual but steady improvements. The class of 2005 was once again earning diplomas at a pace last seen in the early 1990s. However, two consecutive annual declines since then have eroded the nation’s graduation rate, which stood at slightly less than 69 percent for the class of 2007.

SOURCES: EPE Research Center, 2010; U.S. Department of Education

Anonymous said...

Ann, if indeed it is because of the pre-K assignment, that is simply indicative of the incompetence of CMS leaders. Several pre-K schools were moved to ES's where there was plenty of room like Shamrock. Of course the thought was to put these kids into the physical building they move to next year. But I bet that happened for less that 40% of the kids. But I'll bet they are within a short range of their homes.

As I stated before, I do not have any sympathy for ARES's overcrowding. Suburban students have been abused and continue to be abused by CMS in overcrowded classrooms and schools. The BOE deliberately does not want to know the numbers. The article you did 2 years ago or so embarrassed those with a conscience.

Pamela Grundy said...

Missouri: Have you discussed the Swanns'decision with them? I have. Also, Darius was the father; the son's name was James.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if graduation rates declined partially because of the decline of vocational classes in high schools and the requirement that all kids be "college ready". Unfortunately we had activists insisting that everyone could and should do college work, that to channel some kids into vocational options was unfair. What is unfair is a system that causes so many to drop out because they are frustrated by what is required to graduate. Perhaps if they were learning a meaningful skill along with education basics they would be more inclined to stay in school. The equity crowd, touting the that equity means equal outcomes for all, have done a great disservice to our educational system and many students. (and they've cost us a heck of a lot of money besides).

Anonymous said...

The overcrowding because of the pre-K shift would not have happened if the BOE would have done their job and cut the program like Gorman asked.

They refused to do their job and lacked the guts it would take to do it.

Instead, they deferred it to the BOCC and saved their political rears with the status quo.

Anonymous said...

All I can say is we the staff at ARES don't need anyone's sympathy. It was our desire to bring awareness of a very challenging and inequitable situation. 1200 kids with a population that has 92% economically disadvamtaged students and 50% ESL students means something different than 1200 kids in a school with little poverty or ESL. Frankly, these two situations are simply not comparable beyond student enrollment. The argument that middle class white kids had to suffer so now let the poor minority kids suffer is an offensive and sad argument in 2013. Racism and classism is still rampant in Charlotte, NC.

Unfortunately our families at ARES tend to be disenfranchised from the economic and political arena. Our staff choose to be the voice for our kids and cast a light on a situation that is making the challenges of educating this population even more challenging.

Why do we have to put one side of town against the other. Why can't we do what is right and want what is right for ALL KIDS!

Anonymous said...

at 6:20.......Well said!

Anonymous said...

6:20. I agree with your final statement, that we should be doing what's right for all children and stop pitting one side of town against another. But to say that racism is alive and well (your words) because one person has spouted off is also offensive. And may I remind you that suburban schools are not enclaves of white children any longer. One of the things that got us into this us against them mess is the accusation of "racism", which has long been leveled at suburban parents because they want their children educated close to home. Nothing gets everyone's hackles up like throwing out that word.

Anonymous said...

The argument that middle class white kids had to suffer so now let the poor minority kids suffer is an offensive and sad argument in 2013. Racism and classism is still rampant in Charlotte, NC.

Yes and you just showed your racism against Whites because some dare to question and criticize the situation.

92% ED means nothing. You're already getting more money than other kids plus additional programs and funds through the NSLP just to name one.

If you need classroom space, get some mobiles. They've worked for years at other schools.

That isn't racism. That's just a cold, hard fact.

Anonymous said...

No that's ignorance!

Anonymous said...

Trillions spent since LBJ with no measureable results. Scores going up in a marginal amount beacause of the loss of white students in CMS is not an answer for the BOE and administrators to jump for joy and more money.

Race and facts are a hard truth to swallow now that immigrants are scoring better than blacks.

Anonymous said...





Pamela Grundy said...

6:20 has hit the nail on the head. A group of caring teachers attempts to bring attention to school conditions that harm their students' education and thus our nation's future. The response? Racist rants and members of the white middle class whining about the supposed injustices they suffered in the past. I'm just thankful that these comments don't represent the community at large. They're pathetic, and anyone who replies to this anonymously is a coward.

Anonymous said...

" demonizing on the part of either side does nothing to solve our issues. In fact it only complicates matters as it further divides the community."

Missouri said...

We in the University City area have been the most integrated area of this city since this area's inception. Louise Woods told me personally that the BOE needed our area to move from school to school to keep any one school from looking too bad with test scores for too long. We were just being "used" to help some liberals feel good they were doing something for the blacks. Much the same way they "use" blacks. I lost my cool with her when she insisted our assigned middle school change every year for the 3 years one of my children was in the middle school. I have no respect for her and her ilk.

Anonymous said...

Once again we see more of the infection spread from our federal government of class envy and disdain for those who stuck to the boring virtues of hard work, perseverance, and living up to their personal obligations.

Anonymous said...

Albemarle Road does currently have over 1200 students and 30 mobile classrooms and CMS is predicting that they will add 300 more students and 15 mobiles next year bringing the total number of mobiles to 45. That is why their staff, students, and others showed up to bring the issue to the attention of the board. Also, the neighboring middle school is over capacity and has recently added a large mobile village of it's own. Contrary to popular Charlotte belief, not all urban schools are under capacity and under-utilized.

Anonymous said...

6:20's comment doesn't count.

They posted anonymously so that makes them a coward as well.

But I guess that makes it ok if it makes someone with a name feel better about themselves.

Posted by a fellow coward.

Anonymous said...

No answers here, just a bunch of hot air.

BolynMcClung said...


Albemarle Elementary has always been a bellwether school. In 1974, the school superintendent sent a specially selected group of Black teachers there to test if the community were ready for an integrated school staff. A teacher who was part of that group of about six, told me the thinking was that if they made it through the year alive, then maybe Charlotte was ready for more than just busing of students.

Those teachers survived but nearby and recently built Eastland Mall didn't.

If Albemarle's population problem were to be solved partially with a K-8 building would CMS do it haphazardly, like during the school closing, or would the district use this as an opportunity to formulate an attendance and academic policy that takes advantage of K-8 better features?

K8's are thought to be part of the solution to the challenge by charter schools. Where is the policy?

There is still more than half of the 2007 bond money unspent. That's $270M. There are four reasons for this:
1. The unwillingness of the county to sell bonds in this economy
2. The cost of construction dropped instead of growing as predicted in 2007
3. Interest rates are much lower.
4. Until recently, student population didn't grow at the rates predicted in 2007.

CMS shouldn't dangle the Albemarle ES population problem as a reason for new bonds. It has saved enough money on construction in the last five years to build a K8 or two from the 2007 money. But they probably will use this as a wedge and they'll throw-in all the money needed for technology.

CMS has the opportunity to use the over population at Albemarle to show that its management can plot an effective education policy that fits the social and economic realities that are sure to be with us for a while.

Bolyn McClung

A Teacher said...

After reading these comments, I am disturbed but so thankful that the generation that is coming up is more colorblind than the generation raising them. I work in an over crowded school, with 25% Caucasian, 25% Hispanic, and 50% African American. For the most part, these students could care less about the color of a person's skin. They judge a person by their actions and words. Say what you will about the problems with this generation, but god bless them for being more tolerant than the adults.

Pamela Grundy said...


CMS employees such as 6:20 make some of the most valuable contributions to this forum, because they're on the ground doing the work. But when they post about school conditions or district policies, their jobs are on the line. So I understand why they do it anonymously.

What are you afraid of?

Anonymous said...

Pamela Grundy,

I guess anyone who's not independently wealthy needs to be concerned about the PC thought police in today's society.

Your attitude against all the "racists" who disagree with you is typical.

Besides, the US has a proud tradition of ANONYMOUS pot-stirrers speaking truth to authority.

Publius comes to mind...

So learn to live with it.

When the time comes, you'll see our John Hancocks on the proper papers.

Anonymous said...

10:52 Thank you for the numbers. That is a large number of mobile units (called villas in some parts of town). It doesn't matter what part of town you're in, mobile units are fine but that is an excessive number, and sounds like the student pop is just getting larger. CMS needs to make some quick, sensible decisions for this school.

Shamash said...

Teacher at 7:12am.

I hope you are preparing your white students to accept the FACT that they are racists due to their "white privilege" in our society.

It doesn't matter that they REALLY judge others by their actions and not their skin color.

They are judged by their SKIN COLOR alone as being racists.

That's what PEG/Singleton will soon teach you.

There is no "colorblind" in their world.

Hopefully you won't forget their lessons.

All whites are racist. No matter what they DO.

It's their SKIN COLOR that's oppressive.

Are you a WHITE teacher by any chance (so many ARE, you know)?

Can you change YOUR skin color?

If not, then you'd better learn how to dance.

It's mostly bowing and kissing lower extremities, but if you're WHITE, you'd better get working on that flexibility...

Anonymous said...


It wouldn't be chess without the "white pawns" and the "black pawns" to sacrifice.

Especially if it makes the "white knights" feel better.

Anonymous said...

When a "CMS employee" posts anonymously on this blog how do we know they really are a CMS employee. I'm certainly not saying that these posters are faking it but how can we be sure? Do they get a pass because they are espousing what Pam wants to hear? I personally have a problem with a teacher who would say " Racism and classism is still rampant in Charlotte, NC." Of course, I guess that teacher won't need much training from PEG and Singleton.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Pam Grundy for showing us you're the typical, politically correct, liberal hypocrite.

If the teacher can't stand the heat from CMS, then get out of the kitchen or don't post anonymously on a blog.

I know what Pam is afraid of; the truth and having to deal with it.

Anonymous said...


Some people who post on this blog see racism behind every tree and rock.

These same people are the bleeding hearts who won't face facts about illegals, overspending, fraud and other problems facing public education.

They have a kumbaya mindset towards dealing with issues because they lack the will and fortitude to make the hard decisions that are needed to affect change. They would rather throw more money and resources at the problems which has been done year after year with no results.

If you think about it, it is they who are the real racists. They DO see color at every turn and if you disagree with their point of view, then you become the racist.

Anonymous said...

How does CMS plan to secure 45 mobile units filled with children ages 5 - 11 after Newtown? Are there toilets in mobile units? What about water fountains? Where do kids play? What time does lunch start and end? Art? Gym? The media center? How does this work?


Anonymous said...

There are Pre-K students here too. Are 4-year-olds in mobile units? Is there a separate playground for preschoolers?


Anonymous said...

What if a teacher anonymously posted the following: "I teach at (fill in the blank) school. Two of our biggest problems are truancy and disrespect. These issues are seriously impeding the learning process. Too many parents refuse to address these issues and are themselves disrespectful to us."

Would Pam be okay with this being posted anonymously, since the poster is says they are a "CMS employee".

Anonymous said...

(cont.) What about a music room? Resource (EC, gifted, etc.) room? Is there a school nurse? How often do children have to put coats and hats on to move between mobile units, the main building, and to use a toilet?

Pamela Grundy said...


Yes, I would be fine with that. We need to know what teachers think, no matter what it is. What I don't appreciate is the volume of posters who thoughtlessly and inaccurately denigrate others – frequently those less fortunate than themselves – while hiding behind pseudonyms or anonymity. Looking back through these posts, I see a whole lot more of that than any "speaking truth to authority." If any of the Federalists read these comments, I expect they would embarrassed to be held up as as a model for them.

Anonymous said...

Alicia, Same questions that parents had about suburban mobiles for many years. Of course, at least one poster considers these questions irrelevant and whiny if brought up a by a suburbanite who she immediately assumes is white.

Having volunteered at Nations Ford Elementary, which had a fleet of mobiles (not sure if they still do), I would say that yes, there are restrooms provided for each block of mobiles. Security to me was an issue, especially for teachers arriving during the winter months before dark. The mobile area was poorly lit and was out of view of the office. Lunchroom times, playground times, and access to nurse and other services were the same issues as found within regular classroom in any crowded school (although it was a quick few steps to the playground from the mobile). I will have to say that the classroom mobile I worked in was well furnished and cheery.

Anonymous said...

" Racist rants and members of the white middle class whining about the supposed injustices they suffered in the past."

Not denigrating others? But I guess that's okay since you are not anonymous.

Pamela Grundy said...


What's irrelevant and whiny is when people bring up the problems of the suburbs in a "told you so" manner without any effort to work on making things better for all kids. Then the discussion gets distracted into a "who's suffered most" issue, rather than actually getting anything done. And all the folks I actually know who tend to whine in this manner, including you, are indeed white.

Pamela Grundy said...


I'll stand behind my assessment of this thread.

Anonymous said...

So if someone came in with the data to prove spending $10k per pupil gets no more benefit than spending $6k per pipil, would you support cutting CMS spending?

Anonymous said...


You obviously do not know much about our Founding Fathers.

Look who they gave the right to vote...

Anonymous said...


"And all the folks I actually know who tend to whine in this manner, including you, are indeed white."

Have you spoken to many "affluent" Asian parents lately?

Just asking...

Because they say many of the same things.

And even worse. If only you knew.

Maybe you should get out more.

Or at least dismount your high-horse.

Anonymous said...

Just a thought...

What if suburban parents who put up with the same unconscionable overcrowding issues as Albemarle Road made their voices heard for the benefit of another school? Yes, it's unfortunate that teachers (not parents) have to advocate for this school. It is what it is. However, at the end of the day, we all have children who we hope and pray grow up to be the kind of people who are able to demonstrate compassion and a capacity to love.

As far as high horses, we've all got one which is perhaps why Jesus walked through the gates of Jerusalem on a donkey.


Anonymous said...


I think Jesus road on a donkey after walking on water.

Anonymous said...

Why is it acceptable to have ANY child attend an elementary school with a "fleet of mobile units"?


Shamash said...


I don't see a problem with "mobile units".

My "affluent" child attends such a school.

And some people actually LIVE in "mobile units".


At least they have heat and air-conditioning.

Even if Jesus wouldn't approve.


Anonymous said...

There are only 22 letters in the alphabet in mobile classrooms.

Shamash said...

I'm not so sure that a fleet of well-designed mobile units isn't the optimal design for a school.

That way capacity can move to where it is needed.

Just an idea...

Anonymous said...


As you state, there is nothing wrong with mobiles, but with the same people who see racism behind every tree, they attach a stigma to the mobiles.

The sad tyhing is, that stigma depends on where the mobiles are; in an urban school or a suburban school.

If you say too bad to the mobiles at the urban school and demand they stand in line like other schools have done to get relief, you're a racist.

If you say too bad to the illegals here and they should stand in line behind those who have filled out the proper paperwork to come here legally, you're a racist.

Even though all you have done is point out the facts, liberal socialists can't deal with facts and therefore, again, you become a racist.

Shamash said...

Anon 1:41.

Of course I'm a racist.

And I've never even tried to deny it.

But that's why I need to remain anonymous.

To avoid the public dunking to prove my innocence through drowning...

But, yeah, I guess there is all that stigma attached to being in a trailer.

The term "trailer trash" does come to mind, now that you mention it.

But since that insult is usually leveled against "white" people, excuse me for not making the connection.

My "white privilege" makes me oblivious to all that.


Who Wants Jesus' Donkey?

Anonymous said...

I just think most children benefit from having the luxury of playing outside on a playground, eating lunch at lunchtime, getting paint on themselves in an art room, singing a song in a music room and perhaps dancing on a stage to the music of Philip Glass.


Anonymous said...

If you want art and music, go to a magnet.

There is no funding for art and music in all schools anymore.

Anonymous said...

With obesity at near epidemic proportions among our young people, you'd think physical education would be at the top of schools' priority lists. But you'd be wrong.

Only six percent of schools in the United States offer daily physical education classes, reports The Early Show's Debbye Turner.
The problem, she explains, is money.

To start a phys ed program costs a school approximately $500,000. And increasingly, schools just don't have that kind of money to spare.

We don't need PE either.

Shamash said...


Who says you can't have mobile classrooms along with a playground, cafeteria, and art classes?

Like I said, my kid goes to a school that has all that and more.

There's also no reason a mobile class room couldn't have water and sewage connections, either.

Even an RV has that.

As for "security", a gunman would have to enter each mobile unit separately, wouldn't they?

Seems like a cafeteria or gym or playground would just be easy pickings in comparison.

Again, I don't see the problem.

Schools should probably be built to grow and shrink as needed.

If not "mobile", then at least modular.

Most of these schools today are ready for the scraphead in 40 years anyway, so it's not like they're permanent.

(Don't forget, we're banned from speaking about Philip Glass...)

Shamash said...

Why do we need a $500,000 physical education program for kids to get exercise?

C'mon, just take their iPads away and let them run loose for 30 minutes.

Give them a couple of balls and sticks and tell them not to put their eyes out.

What's the world coming to...

Anonymous said...

Pam, you said--
"What's irrelevant and whiny is when people bring up the problems of the suburbs in a "told you so" manner without any effort to work on making things better for all kid."

Exactly how do you know who is or is not working for make things better for all kids? Have you really investigated who is volunteering, donating supplies and/or money, mentoring, etc. Do you know what individual schools are doing to help partner schools? Do you know what's going on inside churches, clubs, etc. throughout Charlotte? Or do you believe only you have the answers as to how to "help kids"?

Anonymous said...

Here is part of Pam Grundy's view of the world. She rails against those "living in the past" yet does it herself.

She believes "separate and unequal schools" mean that some children matter more than others".


Read more here:

These schools get more funding and other perks than their counterparts.

To Pam Grundy, there will never be anough money or government interferrance for "some kids" and there is always the distain for her neighbors who decided to send their kids to other schools than the one she chose for her child.

In that N&O post, her statistics at the time showed Whites in 2008/2009 to be 34% of CMS. Today that number is 32% and dropping.

The direction she wants CMS to go is not going to get Whites back in the system.

Pam refuses to accept the fact many of us out here don't by into her point of view and to think otherwise, we're racists.

Anonymous said...

Why would any parent still subject their children to CMS/government school brainwashing any way? Pam Grundy is perfectly happy with the liberal slant her kids will be spoonfed for 12+ years. I am not, and wasn't as a subject of CMS myself many years ago, as well its torturous busing policies. The busing is gone, but the liberal garbage and "white privilege" insanity will not end, until Christians, conservatives and whites are summarily drummed out of the system. So glad my kid is not a government school experiment. If you think you cannot afford private schools, think again. My family sacrifices vacations, eating out, nice cars, fun things, etc. in order to pay tuition. You can do it too -- think about it, for your kids' sake. Unfortunately those of us that are working hard and paying our ever-increasing taxes will continue to be asked to pay more, more, more by these liberals like Pam Grundy, the school board and our pathetic excuse for a President, with zero improvements in test scores, and more children of illegals clogging up the local schools. I assume Obama's pro-abortion policies are his way of keeping the government schools from being even more overpopulated.

Anonymous said...

What child needs a playground, physical education, art, music, dance and lunch at lunchtime when we've got mobile units and IPads?


Anonymous said...

I read somewhere recently that kids are being instructed to throw their IPads at an armed gunman should they intrude their school. I can only imagine what those chain link security fences will look like surrounding all those mobile units at Albemarle Elementary School. Or, perhaps THOSE kids don't deserve the luxury or security of a chain link fence?


Anonymous said...

I read somewhere recently that kids are being instructed to throw their IPads at an armed gunman should they intrude their school. I can only imagine what those chain link security fences will look like surrounding all those mobile units at Albemarle Elementary School. Or, perhaps THOSE kids don't deserve the luxury or security of a chain link fence just like they don't deserve art, music, PE, or lunch at lunchtime?


Anonymous said...

I've never been to Albemarle Elementary School but I can tell you the facility conditions (where I took my Praxis exams) at Garinger ticked me off. The police station down the street is real nice though. Perhaps National Geographic can feature some "before" and "after" photos of Garinger?


Anonymous said...

I teach at Albemarle Rd and can tell you the conditions are as described and more. There is an excellent dedicated staff who do more for the students there than you would ever believe, and the school operates more efficiently than you can imagine, but due to the sheer numbers present, we are plagued with overcrowded hallways, 15 minute lunches (actual eating times) and fewer custodians and English language teachers than a school can operate with. If it weren't for our staff, the school could not operate as it does. Wake up school board and DO SOMETHING!!!!! PS--the permit for the additional modular classrooms was denied. We have no idea where to put the additional students!!!!

Anonymous said...

The students are probably citizens but not the parents. Many of them are probably here illegal. You know, not paying taxes. Getting an education for children for free.

Shamash said...


I wouldn't worry too much about the kids in school.

Despite the recent high-profile shootings.

Many kids (especially in the poorer parts of town) are probably safer in school than they are at home.

The streets are still more dangerous.

Just compare the number of children who were shot in CMS while at school over the past 10 years to the number of children who were the recipients of random bullets in their neighborhoods.

I think you'll see a pattern.

Now, for suburbia it may be the other way around.

But no one worries about suburbia anymore.

They are all "white" and "affluent" and can take care of themselves.

Or go to a private school if they don't like things.

Anonymous said...

I was at a school on Beatties Ford Rd. durring a lockdown drill. Some students lived in the area. There was a different kind of fear in the room that threw me offguard. As it turned out, the school went on lockdown due to someone with a gun in a park nearby.

I grew up hovering under my elementy school desk in case the Russians attacked. My son was in Kindergaren on 9/11. This generation gets to worry about the kid next door shooting them in their classroom.

Is there something inherently wrong with children beiing able to go to school where teachers are happy and where the weight of the world doesn't interfer with recess?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I bet if they put 30-33 kids in a class like the do in South Charlotte, they won't need mobiles at all. Our kids play in the parking lot, and every couple days they get to play in the area behind the school that has actual grass!!

The 2nd grade kids are in mobiles, along with the music teacher--they don't have a drinking fountain out there, so we have to send in water bottles so the kids can have a drink of water when they get thirsty. Lunch starts at 10:30 and ends at 1:55. But hey, we're "privileged." We also get 4500 per kid. Give ARES the same things we have in the suburbs and see how much fun they have.

Anonymous said...

If the illegals in the area weren't allowed to stay in the first place, then their offspring wouldn't be overpopulating the schools. DUH!

Shamash said...


It's the adults who create the irrational climate of fear in the schools.

The kids are just following along.

Again, look at the reality of what is most likely to happen in a school.

They are still safer than the streets outside in most cases.

More bad things happens to kids at home and in their own neighborhoods than happen in schools.

As for the climate of fear in the schools?

Well, that's the adults over-reacting.

The real problems start when you let the kids OUT of school.

2012 in Chicago:

http://www. breitbart .com/Big-Government/2012/12/24/Chicago-Is-Gun-Control-Capital-Of-U-S-Yet-Over-440-School-Age-Children-Shot-There-in-2012

2013 in Chicago (good start):

Shamash said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shamash said...

Anon 9:56pm.

You've forgotten the CMS motto:

"From each according to his ability, to each according to his need."

Since you are "affluent", you GIVE, while others TAKE.

Just think of all the "good" work you're doing for others children while sacrificing your own children's benefit.

That should make you feel good.

Especially if you have a really bad case of white liberal guilt, in which case, send MORE money.

Better yet, send MORE of OTHER PEOPLE's money (which is even more noble and selfless).

And if you don't like that, you can keep on paying those taxes for the "poor" kids and pay an additional private tuition for your children as well.

Of course, you can also move.

Anonymous said...

Liberals - no Progressives- like Pam and her group and the politicians they support are the real racists.

For all the money spent and belly-aching they do - what results do they have to show for it all?? Right -

Why? Because people like Pam refuse to acknowledge the real problem. It doesn't matter how many dollars you take from one part of town to make things "fair" for Black kids in the poor areas - spending more and more and more DOES NOT WORK!!!

Busing poor Black kids into Ballantyne is not going to work.
Spending more is not going to work.
LIFT is not going to work.

The problem is the parents of the poor Black kids. It does not matter what happens at school when mom or dad or grandma is uneducated. It doesn't matter what goes on at school when a child goes home and is beat or neglected or lives in an environment of generational dependency on government welfare.

When will you people stop with all the crap and start focusing on the actual CAUSE of the problems. You are like a bunch of doctors - trying to drug up a patient to mask the symptoms while never addressing the actual cause of the problem.

How many MORE DECADES and BILLIONS do we have to waste before you racist progressives get a clue???? Oh wait - you progressives don't want problems solved because if we solved these problems, educated poor kids into a life of success you'd lose your voting bloc bc when Blacks get educated and become successful they get Conservative. That's not what Pam and her ilk want - don't kid yourselves.

And THAT is the truth.

Missouri said...

Shamash, 9:22, perfect encapsulation!!!!

Shamash said...

Anon 9:26am...

In the "progressive" ideal world, you're supposed to neglect your own children for the good of others neglected children.

The actual life of Karl Marx is a testament to exactly that.

Karl Marx and his children nearly starved to death because he was too good to work and focused on his economic theories instead.

Fortunately, Marx eventually found a selfless benefactor willing to work for and support the Marx family.

His name was Friederich Engels.

Their relationship was truly progressive.

From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.

And Marx was very needy.

And it shows in the results of his work.

But even the Chinese have stopped following this losers philosophy.

It's just taking us a little longer to see the light.

Missouri said...

Always loved the contradictions of the liberal agenda!

Lynne Wiesecke, ESL teacher, ARES said...

I have been a teacher at Albemarle Rd. Elementary School for seven years. I issue an invitation to all interested parties, particularly Ms. Helms to please, please come visit our school before making snap judgements about our population and our concerns. Meet our students. Hear their stories. Most are legal refugees brought by our government to the Charlotte area, or children of hard working documented immigrants. They are fleeing bigotry and hatred in their own countries, should they really need to face that here too? Please come visit our village of twenty plus trailers already crowded onto a small enclosed property, and picture how another fifteen could possibly fit? Find a parking space in the morning. Check out the bathroom areas and lunchroom around midday. Yes, we do face real challenges, and yes they are complex. More the reason, for them not to be ignored. I am sorely disappointed in your coverage Ms. Helms. Instead of taking the time to come visit and talk with the teachers and administrators at Albemarle Rd. Elementary school, in order to address issues uniquely challenging for a title I school of 1250 students and the largest concentration of English Language Learners in CMS. You simply took a broad brush swipe at "poor CMS planning" and let that be enough. It's not.

Missouri said...

Lynne I appreciate your stance but many of us and our children have been put into these situations many times by incompetent BOE's and CMS ivory tower staff. We know first hand much of this is done to "use the children" for arguments for more bond money, more tax money, etc.

If you are not used to being used by politicians, community organizers, high horse elitists, hand wringing libs, etc., get used to it. Charlotte is king of these. Remember our city/county motto is "to seem rather than to be".

Ann Doss Helms said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ann Doss Helms said...

Lynne, THANK YOU for weighing in, with a name and everything. I totally understand your disappointment, but my goal with this blog was not to scratch ARES off my list forever. Actually, it wasn't even to take a swipe at CMS planning. It was to let the interested folks know that you've been heard, but that it's going to take awhile to get out there and follow up.

I'm tempted to whine about how I'm doing a job that was done by two reporters just a couple of years ago, and how there's enough education news to keep at least two reporters busy in Charlotte OR in Raleigh these days. But I know that still doesn't stack up to what you're doing to keep up with all those kids. If you've got a formula for maintaining superhuman energy levels, please pass it along. I'm going to need it for the next few months. And I'm going to need a thick skin, because some things just won't get done.

Anonymous said...

What happened to Peter Smolowitz? He was a good reporter.


Missouri said...

Ann, you would be amazed what a court order and 12 investigators would turn up on the school system and its books over the last 15 years.

Ann Doss Helms said...

Alicia, Pete left probably about five years ago to go into PR. Eric Frazier took his place, but he's no longer on the ed beat.