Monday, October 4, 2010

Sorting through CMS shuffle today

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board reconvenes from 1-5 p.m. today at the CMS Leadership Academy, 7920 Neal Road, to get more details on the complex list of school shuffles presented last week. I'll be posting live updates, but they may not be as extensive as last week's, when I had the luxury of another reporter backing me up.

The proposed changes for 2011-12 include closing schools, moving magnet programs, changing grade levels (including the creation of CMS's first K-12 school, at Marie G. Davis Military/Leadership Academy) and redrawing boundaries. Board members and parents have plenty of questions that haven't been answered yet, and staff will start providing some of those details today.

Board Chair Eric Davis said he's not sure whether those answers will include the one that affects taxpayers: How much will these changes cost or save? "If we don't have it today, I'll be pressing that we've got to have it next week," he said this morning.

Officials will also offer more details on opportunities for public input. Today's meeting is open to the public; if you're not familiar with the Leadership Academy, it's off IBM Drive, part of the Governors Village complex of schools in the University City area.

It was intriguing to see the CMS changes in the national context presented at a four-day conference on urban education at the Columbia University journalism school last week. Many of the things Superintendent Peter Gorman is talking about, from closing low-performing urban schools to replacing principals to paying teachers based on their results with kids, are among the biggest national trends. Panelists made it clear these are the best working theories about how to help all kids learn, but they're far from guaranteed solutions.

Pedro Noguera, a New York University professor and executive director of the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education, says the federal government is prescribing interesting but unproven strategies that could lead to "shutdown plans," rather than improvement plans.

Will CMS's closings bring real improvement? That's what Gorman and the board have to figure out, and quickly. By Nov. 9, the board expects to vote on the fate of dozens of schools.


Mike said...

"..Panelists made it clear these are the best working theories about how to help all kids learn, but they're far from guaranteed solutions..."

This is the most telling statement from the whole conference. Once again the taxpayer is being forced to burden additional costs when all the other strategies, forced integration, new buildings, etc. have failed and left the too few taxpayers holding the burden for others to "feel good" and get their backs slapped for being so noble with others' money.

Anonymous said...

Interesting how the BOE is being asked to decide the fate of so many schools and in turn CMS families, yet they're not being provided the necessary information.

This can only lead to (2) possible outcomes: limited community buy-in, and/or CMS/BOE back pedaling when confronted with facts that refute the decisions.

Gorman bristling when challenged, yet doesn't have the facts to support his proposals. In corporate America, he'd be a statistic! Yet, this is the norm at CMS.

KathrynA said...

thank-you for doing this. I am so afraid that charlotte has lost focus of what a world class education means. Wait, I know we have, so parents, it's time to speak up!