Monday, July 1, 2013

Should CMS create an all-male school?

An all-male school to help African American boys excel, stronger offerings for gifted middle-school students and more STEM, language and Montessori magnets in the suburbs are likely to be among the suggestions we'll see this month when 22 task forces publish their advice for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

Superintendent Heath Morrison created the panels,  made up of employees, students and citizen volunteers,  in November,  when he unveiled  "The Way Forward."  Those groups recently wrapped up their study,  and Morrison said he expects to publish the reports and start discussing them with the school board in July.

My predictions come not from a crystal ball but from minutes filed on the task force web site.  Those minutes,  prepared in a standard format by CMS staff,  don't give much away,  so I'm sure there will be surprises when the full reports come out.

For Morrison and the board,  the next step will be sorting out the long list of recommendations:  What can be done quickly?  What needs to be part of a long-term strategy?  What's just not practical?  The next phase  could be a turning point in Morrison's leadership.  Lots of people stepped up to serve on task forces.  If they think their work ends up sitting on a shelf,  they could grow disillusioned.  If they see results,  enthusiasm could build.

Traditionally,  CMS advisory boards have also been a training ground for school board candidates.  Filing for the six district seats opens Friday;  we'll see how many task force members put their names in.

As Morrison marks the end of his first year,  I'm trying to get updates on the biggest efforts he has talked about or launched so far.  Morrison's staff is getting answers to several items I've asked about.  Let me know what you're thinking;  I may have left some out.

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

No CMS should not. If a private project like LIFT wants to pay for it, then let it. Otherwise, the tax payers shouldn't shoulder the burden.

Anonymous said...

I think single sex schools are a great idea--research backs that up--but it should not be limited to a single race and there should be a sister school for girls. Also, there is a whole segment of kids CMS is forgetting about. Children who having learning disabilities that are not severe enough for the Metro school. These children are not being helped enough in their neighborhood schools. I would like to see a school for those children. I am fortunate enough to send my child with LD's to a private school, but what about those kids whose parents can't afford it? Those kids are at a higher risk of dropping out. We need that more than we need all these magnet schools.

Wiley Coyote said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wiley Coyote said...

From the National Association of Single Sex Public Education:

...If your district wants to offer a coed school with single-gender classrooms, then the requirements are more complex. You should began by contacting us and we will be glad to help.

Unfortunately, there are still school administrators out there who think it's legal to ASSIGN girls and boys to single-gender classrooms, without first obtaining "opt in" consent IN WRITING from parents. This "opt out" approach is explicitly prohibited by the Wood County precedent. If you aren't familiar with the Breckinridge ruling and the Wood County ruling, then you need either to become familiar with those rulings, or collaborate with someone who knows those rulings - or abandon the notion of single-gender classrooms in coed school altogether and instead create a girls' school and a boys' school, if only to keep your legal bills down. Do not assume that your school district's counsel is up-to-date on these rulings.

We have found that most attorneys hired by American public schools are not familiar with these rulings. If the attorneys bill you on an hourly basis, then they will bill you for the time they take to read the rulings and analyze them. That's not a wise expenditure of scarce funds. Do your homework before you launch single-gender schools or classrooms, and please check with us BEFORE you make the announcement regarding the launch of your single-gender program! There's never a charge for a consultation via phone or e-mail.

I personally believe any attempt to segregate one group of students from another, either by race, income or gender should be met with strong opposition.

What if I demand a school for all White boys or girls?

Is the ACLU watching?

Veronica said...

A school that only permits black males?

How about calling it the Kim Ratliff Academy?

Anonymous said...

7:04
I concur. Boys are also diagnosed with LD's at a much higher rate than girls. Today, boys only represent 40% of college attendees which - according to one article I read - is partially responsible for a large increase in college educated women choosing to have children out of wedlock. Children born out of wedlock is a subject that is often bemoaned here as it relates to student achievement in poor/minority neighborhoods. I pay for private school as well for a child with a LD. It's been a long journey.

I think gifted students can be at-risk too if their needs aren't being met. My only problem with being labeled "gifted" is the wide disparity in the definition of the term and the wide disparity of diagnostic criteria used across states and school districts to identify students. Gifted and LD children are entitled, by law, to receive special education (or Exceptional Children) services which costs additional money. Add these two groups to the ED (Economically Disadvantaged) population - which also costs more money to educate -and I'm left to wonder what kind of education "average" Joey receives.

Having grown up in the 60's and 70's when the push was to integrate everyone into a one-size-fits-all educational setting, I find the current direction of specialized educational programing aimed at specific populations of students fascinating. I attended an arts magnet school established in 1973 as an alternative to federally mandated forced busing. My experience was remarkable and set the stage for the rest of my life. Therefore, I'm a huge fan a full-magnet schools with highly specialized programs that have been proven to work. I'm not a fan of piecemeal partial magnet schools spread all over the place - especially at the elementary school level - with overlapping "themes" since I think limited funding would be better spent enhancing traditional neighborhood schools. I think all elementary schools should have access to the latest technology, a foreign language teacher and band.

Alicia

Anonymous said...

What a pipe dream this is. Of all the ridiculous things CMS has brought to the table this is a top 5 all time. CMS has no money to pay a teacher , but they can speak of pipedreams like this? No wonder teachers continue to run from the system !

Ann Doss Helms said...

9:14, remember that the task forces were charged with looking at the big picture and making suggestions. It will fall to Morrison and the board to decide what's practical, and they haven't done that yet.

Anonymous said...

It's amazing how many more kids are "LD" these days or need special this or that. Funding is on a shoestring, teachers are paid a pittance, yet the expectation is that schools are all things to all people--parenting, feeding, clothing, transporting, after school programming, special school offerings for African American boys, project this that or the other, STEM, languages, arts... it's enough to make your head spin. The part that is missing in all of it: student and parent responsibility.

Anonymous said...

Smoke and mirrors!

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:30, You hit the nail on the head. As a teacher I feel we have lost sight of our mission which I believe should be 100% academic. Unfortunately our public schools have become a combination of Social Services including child care, nutrition, mental health and community advocacy. Until CMS has leadership which focuses solely on academic advancement and avoid all other political entanglements we should expect the same. Lets stop hiding public funding for entitlement under the cloak of education.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:04 and Alicia,

Are the private schools you send your children to self-contained (only for children with disabilities?). In my experience, creating a separate school for children w. LD would cause an uproar (and be illegal under IDEAs "least restrictive environment"). Most parents fight for MORE inclusion with typically developing peers, not less. Should we really segregate students with high incidence disabilities? Or can we just work to better serve them in their neighborhood schools?

Anonymous said...

9:30
You have a point since identification procedures for special education services (LD and gifted) can vary widely across states and local school districts. LD and gifted identification can be murky and confusing at best.

However, most children are born with a LD. My child was diagnosed with an LD at age 6 because they couldn't identify a single letter in the alphabet. It's hard to learn to read when you can't identify a single letter in the alphabet. My father holds a PhD from Columbia University and my brother graduated from Yale as a physics major before attending law school. I hold a master's degree that I received on full scholarship. Therefore, the implication that my child's LD is a result of neglectful parenting or a lack of student responsibility hits a little close to home. Naturally, I become defensive at the suggestion my LD child "milked" the system or prevented other children from learning to read at a faster pace.

In the old days, my child would have been sequestered in a special education room all day with little hope of attending college. I was required to learn how to sew and sift flour in Jr. high school and was not allowed to take Shop or play soccer until Title IX passed. In my lifetime, "coloreds" and "whites" had separate drinking fountains, schools and hospitals. My point is that public schools now encompass and are responsible for educating a significantly more diverse population of students than ever before. With this comes challenges we haven't resolved.

Again, having grown up in the 60's and 70's when the ideal was to have everyone learn equally in a one-size-fits all setting (often through forced and manipulative measures), the "specialized" direction our educational system appears to be embracing targeted at specific groups of students be it an all-male school for poor African-Americans, a Spanish emersion school for English Language Learners, or an arts school for the creatively inclined, fascinates me. Political correctness flying in the face of political correctness.

Alicia

John said...

Alicia,

I respectfully disagree on the "latest technology" in elementary school. Kids need to learn the manual way of doing things first! Kid's brought up on word processing are often incapable of stringing together a coherent thought! Go back to having to write it out with paper and ink and students will learn to better organize their thoughts before they start writing! We are raising generations who won't be able to function if the power goes out!

Anonymous said...

10:46
My LD child attends a private school that offers special education services for an additional cost. Students are ability grouped and aren't labeled anything. The graduation rate is 100% and 100% of students further their education at places including Georgetown and CPCC.

To answer your question, I think we could do a much better job meeting the needs of LD students in the regular classroom. However, there is a place for self-contained schools like the Metro school. I also think there is a place for students with exceptionally high intellectual abilities. There is a charter school in Charlotte that limits enrollment based on IQ scores. CMS (not an expert) offers the Horizon's program for highly gifted students. I prefer ability grouping without labels when we're not considering extremes.

Alicia

Wiley Coyote said...

Alicia,

What is Chicago's excuse regarding political correctness???

The last Republican Mayor was in 1931 and even he was a Democrat before changing to Republican. He was also in bed with Capone.

Since Democrats have controlled Chicago for decades, what's their excuse for a dismal public education system?

Democrats keep voting the same Democrat mentality into office, shooting themselves in the foot every time.

Chicago schools are 8.8% White.

Anonymous said...

John,
I actually agree with you.

"Latest technology" doesn't always usurp learning to do things the old-fashioned way. I took a college level math class last semester along with 20-year-olds who could run circles around me on anything related to technology. I hadn't taken a math class since the early 1980's.

Guess what? The formula for the area of a triangle hasn't changed since my great-grandmother attended school and Pi to the 634th digit is still the same. Now, the Periodic Table of Elements has changed since my schooldays but my future goals don't include teaching high school Chemistry.

Alicia

Anonymous said...

The ACLU is against this so expect a lawsuit. Personally, I went to a Catholic all-boys school and was much the better for it.

Mamma Mia said...

John 10:56 You are correct in your statement that elementary students do not need technology to learn. It is a total copout for the school system to be pushing this. Young students need to learn how to hold a pencil, work problems out, read and socialize with their peers. We are raising a generation of spoiled, self indulgent kids who need a tech device in their hands to function. Students learn to be tech savvy in a very short amount of time and don't need to learn these skills in K-3, despite what CMS and educrats say.

Anonymous said...

LD students are able to do better in area private schools because the class sizes are smaller, students don't fall through the cracks like they do in CMS and the teachers are more accountable.

FYI...Ann, please get info from South Charlotte Middle School. They have had the option of same sex classes for a couple of years now and the parents and students love it. Very successful program from what I have heard from parents.

Anonymous said...

Wiley,
I have no idea who was sleeping in bed with Al Capone but I believe the Bush administration was primarily responsible for implementing NCLB which hasn't accomplished a darn thing in over a decade expect to confirm that there is a very real achievement gap between various populations of students - which we already knew. The Obama administration hasn't improved anything either and I don't think their current policies will. The chronic failure of SOME American public schools is a bi-partisan issue. When I attended George Washington University from 1985 -87, public schools in Washington DC were a disaster. If you had any money, you headed to Montgomery County MD where Dr. Morrison worked. To my knowledge, there's been little to no improvement in pubic education in our own nation's capital regardless of democrat or republican leadership. Oprah decided to open an all-girl's school in South Africa after becoming disillusioned with the Chicago public school system.

I don't have the answers.

Alicia

Anonymous said...

I agree with some of these posters. Parents should fight the tech push for as long as they can. It doesn't benefit any kid, or give them any advantages. It actually stunts their emotional, physical and creative growth. Think of all the things kids are missing now because of their technology use. Parents need to wake up and just say NO.

Anonymous said...

11:41
My LD child attended CMS from K - 4th grade where teachers were accountable and performed some remarkable and miraculous feats. Granted, this required being highly assertive as a parent and volunteering as many hours as I could to ensure my child was assigned the best teachers possible every year. I pity the LD child who isn't a behavioral problem and doesn't have a strong adult advocate. During this time period, I also paid enough money in outside special education therapy services for my child to attend Charlotte Latin School. Our primary reason for leaving CMS was student assignment instability and overcrowding which had nothing to do with the quality of CMS' teaching force. I also had enough of the stigmatism that comes with being labeled LD.

I've heard nothing but good things about the single-sex classes at South Charlotte Middle School. My oldest child attended SCMS before this program was implemented.

Alicia

Anonymous said...

How about a school for ALL BLACK FEMALES !!!

CMS should have no problem finding Adminstrators for this project.

Wonder why education in this county is in the mess that it is in.Best place for black and white women to find a job.

Wiley Coyote said...

11:41...

Same sex is different than same sex of one ethnic group.

Let me know if it's all Black males. I'm guessing not.

Wiley Coyote said...

Alicia,

NCLB was a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act passed by the Johnson Administration.

Some provisions were changed but it is essentially the same thing that has gone on for decades.

NCLB was also bi-partisan, with Ted Kennedy supporting it.

God forbid we ever implement a program that holds, parents, students and the government accountable for children's education.

Ann Doss Helms said...

The minutes from the task force on African American males includes a suggestion to "Initiate a plan for an African-American male school of excellence." I would bet money that if CMS adopts this suggestion enrollment will not be restricted by race -- though as we all know, location and/or theme could lead to a de facto black school.

Ann Doss Helms said...

11:41, I wrote about South Charlotte's single-gender classes when they debuted, but haven't checked in recently. I think several schools have them now.

John, I'm not convinced that writing by hand encourages organized thinking. I find it MUCH easier to organize my thoughts with the speed/clarity of typing (my handwriting stinks) and the ease of rewriting and/or rearranging paragraphs. I think computers just make it faster and easier to create and share sloppy thinking as well as good stuff. Wouldn't you hate to have to go back to hand-writing a letter to the editor and snail-mailing it in?

Wiley Coyote said...

The minutes from the task force on African American males includes a suggestion to "Initiate a plan for an African-American male school of excellence."

...if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck.... it could possibly be an owl?

Anonymous said...

My child is in the SCMS single gender class and we LOVE it - unfortunately I think it is going the way of the dinosaur. Very say as our child has flourised under the system. Wish it would continue - but in CMS when you have a working program - sometimes it gets cut.

Anonymous said...

Yes, CMS is known for constantly changing curriculum (at the school level),even when those math and literacy programs are working, with new fangled programs/ideas. Just ask the suburban elementary schools.

Anonymous said...

What if a "white task force" comes up with a novel idea to create a all white school with vouchers outside of CMS? Similar to what the state is trying to create today. CMS can become LIFT and everyone else can get a quality education.

For what its worth said...

Ann 1:37, they will get around the race based of this idea by implementing it in schools with only black males.

Secondly all, there was a huge push in CMS some 10 or 15 years ago to have "behavorial challenged" children classified as LD. That way they feel under the federal laws governing (the limitation of) discipline and threw a little extra into the family unit's monthly government payceck.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Nicole Jenkins said...

Anonymous 12:21 -

I know I can't be reading your post correctly. Education is in the state it is in because WOMEN can get jobs as teachers (black & white--thank you for being racially inclusive of your SEXIST comment).

Seriously? What the ham sandwich is wrong with you? I'm pretty sure it the misogynistic policies of bureaucrats and educrats, much like yourself, that have wreaked havoc of late. And I can also tell you I didn't "find" a job in education...I chose my job in education..it was purposeful, trained for, and I am dang good at it...as are many of the women who choose teaching...red, yellow, black, white...

Jim said...

How does this differ from "Separate but Equal"?

Anonymous said...

Jim,
This is what I find so fascinating in the push to create more specialized schools targeted at specific populations of students. From a teaching perspective, I wonder if colleges will eventually develop training programs for teachers targeted towards specific subgroups of students. In other words, as a general subgroup, do Hispanic girls learn better through one teaching method vs. another teaching method? Do boys learn better in all-male classes taught by male teachers? Should teachers be specialized at teaching different subgroups of students? Ideally, teachers are supposed to meet the needs of every individual child in their classroom through the practice of open inclusion. However, in the real world, is it possible that this entire approach and philosophy is actually contributing to the achievement gap problem?

"Different but Equal"?

Alicia

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding me? Really? After all that the civil rights leaders of the 60's and 70's sacrificed to attain equal opportunity for education - after being sprayed with fire hoses, beat by police, faced down by a southern governor that was passing out axe handles on the steps of the schools, all to attain the right to give their children the same education opportunities as the white children, NOW it is suggested that what is really needed is a SEPARATE school for African American boys only? Really?

Anonymous said...

So sad! What do you think the reaction would be if the idea was floated to have a all white boys school? That would be labeled racist! What the heck is wrong with the Charlotte school board! They have already driven the best performing students out of the system. Now they want to create a place to foster segregation!