Tuesday, December 6, 2011

It takes a crisis

Consider the throngs that met repeatedly in Mint Hill a couple of years ago to counter proposed Rocky River High boundaries.  Or the folks who packed school board meetings and marched in the street last year when the board was preparing to close and merge westside schools.

Then consider last night's ho-hum turnout for the first two forums on hiring a new superintendent:  about 20 at Butler High in Matthews,  40 at Johnson C. Smith University in west Charlotte. Weed out the school board members, moderators and presenters and you've got well under 50 combined.

It's hard to avoid the conclusion that it takes a crisis to mobilize people around public education  --  or at least it takes a specific change that affects them personally.

That's an ongoing challenge for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools leaders,  who are inevitably accused of failing to communicate once an issue explodes into public consciousness. (One odd omission: There were no signs directing people to the discussion sites last night -- people were on their own to navigate a college campus and a large high school.)

There are four more forums this week. It will be interesting to see who shows up. Will the people trying to create a stronger voice for Spanish-speaking families turn out for tonight's east Charlotte session?  Will the Huntersville folks who got blindsided by Hough High boundary decisions be at North Meck on Thursday?

Whether or not you agree with their philosophy and style,  you've got to respect the dedication of the "regulars" who turn out for all these evening sessions.  At JSCU I saw Kojo Nantambu of the local NAACP;  Elyse Dashew,  a magnet parent who just ran for school board;  and Blanche Penn,  who's a speaker at most school board meetings.  At Butler,  my colleague Elisabeth Arriero spoke with Aidan McConnell, a Providence High senior whose work with Mecklenburg Youth Voice is immersing him in CMS politics and policy.

Board member Richard McElrath has his own idea about who needs to get motivated: Men.

The online survey about the superintendent search drew four female responses to every one from a male.  The turnout at JCSU was even more skewed than that.  When the gathering split into two discussion groups,   McElrath found himself the only guy at the table.

"We need some men,"  he said.  "The community needs to see males out there working hard."


Anonymous said...

Butler is most defintely in Matthews, not Mint Hill

Anonymous said...

CMS is a hopeless mess; we've given up on government schooling and are happily paying non-union professionals to educate our children.

Wiley Coyote said...

White flight, Black flight, brain drain and political gerrymandering...

That's all you need to know as to why no one shows up.

It's amazing after 40 years, some people don't get it.

Anonymous said...

Unions, while I am not against unions it is strange to see that people think the teachers in CMS are less "professional" because they don't belong to a system of labor. Yes unions help protect people from abuses by the employers but they also protect those unfit to work. Not to mention the rising costs unions incure. (look at the auto industry). I have no personal experience in a union only what I have read and researched, I just don't agree with saying that the men and women doing the job in the classroom are not worthy of the same title.

Anonymous said...

I really hope that those non-union professionals would explain to you that North Carolina is a right-to-work state and what that term actually means in reference to unions.

Anonymous said...

Speaking for myself, the smartest thing I did as a "man" is keep my family out of the reach of CMS.

I don't have to worry nearly as much about the schools we attend.

Anonymous said...

This is the biggest crisis of all: complete apathy. The community has disconnected itself from the process - for the sake of their kids' futures. Stop the tests NOW. The school board needs to get its act together NOW. Parents are intently focusing on their kids' best options NOW. Do not mess with the schools that are doing ok. Good luck on the rest of these meetings - sincerely delivered, I live in this county, and care about education. amen.

Ann Doss Helms said...

11:46, you're right; my mistake. I've corrected.

Jeff Wise said...

I'm hoping to make Thursday's session at North Mecklenburg, but this week and next are really bad week's schedule-wise. Lots of holiday concerts and programs throughout CMS plus other holiday-themed events.

Almost all of which were scheduled well before these superintendent search meetings. Not much CMS could probably do, but why not consider spreading the meetings out over 2 weeks.


Larry said...

So now it has come to taking people to task?

No one comes to the meetings you feel they should be attending?

Your very story is proof positive that attending any CMS event is a waste of time, especially if you are the hard working taxpayers in areas not favored.

We have been there, done that and were ignored.

So if you want to take the real group at fault look at the cheerleaders who attend time after time knowing they are the only people who are listened to by CMS.

We have wasted too much time on CMS and talking only to be ignored, now is the time for Districts to move beyond so that fairness is distributed all across the County.

Folks now is the time to stop The Charlotte Observer, the agenda and the very nature of the decline in CMS and Charlotte.

We have never had a real voice on the Observer, yes say how fair the Editorial Board and all may be, but window dressing will never make the real difference.

And the system could care less about Men. They want yes people and compliance is the first thing they look for. Perhaps that is why real Men will try and find out too fast that what the system is really seeking.

Wiley Coyote said...


Educrats haven't wanted to hear the truth for decades....

Nothing has nor will change....

Anonymous said...

Until we get social engineers and social services out of the schools so they can get back to public education, our kids have no chance. Both the "good" kids that are being denied their educational opportunity by the lack of control in the classrooms and the CMS budget strangling and the kids that need discipline instilled in them when they did not get it at home.