Monday, December 10, 2012

Competition and common ground

Can leaders of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, private schools and charter schools in the Charlotte area find common ground that will help students?

CMS Superintendent Heath Morrison has asked the heads of the other schools to start exploring that question at a Tuesday meeting, which isn't open to the public or press.  The goal is to have something to report publicly in January, Chief Communications Officer Kathryn Block said Friday. She says Morrison invited about 45 school leaders and 31 had confirmed attendance as of last last week.

Morrison, who started in July, is trying to strike a balance.  When he rolled out his vision for CMS recently, he made it clear he wants his schools to compete and win back students who are opting for other alternatives.  He says he caught flak from some charter-school supporters after the CMS board unveiled a legislative agenda that includes asking lawmakers to give local school boards,  rather than the state Board of Education, the authority to issue charters to independent groups that run the publicly-funded schools.  But Morrison blames an Observer headline that referred to CMS seeking "control over charters" for creating that friction.

Morrison says being competitive doesn't have to mean being at odds:  "It’s competition, but it’s good competition."

Block said she anticipates more than one meeting before the group is ready to announce anything.

Read more here:


Rev. Mike said...

This remains an area where CMS appears to be particularly tone deaf. The entire reason why many people in this area choose charters is because they're tired of talking to CMS.

Anonymous said...

We put our children, all four of them in Private Schools to get away from the mediocrity that is CMS.

Anonymous said...

6:40, I put my two elelmentary-aged children in private school as well, and I teach in CMS.

Regardless, I think all citizens should see the value in improving our public schools since that benefits everyone in the community (through rising property values, higher employment levels, less crime, etc).

I am in favor of anything that will help improve CMS. If this dialogue might do that, why not try?

I hope that one day, there is no need for me to put my kids in private school and that I can send them to a quality public high school.

Anonymous said...

I am sure that with all the smart people running CMS ...Highly educated people with every degree known .....
Just look at CMS as it is today with the smart people running it..
They will do anything to avoid reality.. but keep them checks a rolling.

Anonymous said...

Talk talk talk, Meanwhile CMS circles the drain.
Spend spend spend,
Meanwhile CMS circles the drain.

OPEN your eyes people and just look at what is in front of you.

Anonymous said...

Sorry fellow commenters, I am not buying it. Mediocrity is alive and well in these so called private schools, and I have overheard conversations by teachers and others whose real reason for putting their kids in charter schools is to keep them away from what we used to call the rif raf. It's alot like home may keep them segregated for now, but someday they will have to go into the real world and deal with all kinds of people and make choices. Surely it would be better to start learning now with kid choices so they are ready for adult choices.

Wiley Coyote said...

"The best thing you can do for your children's education is to take them out of public school and put them in private school" - ...a former RCSD 1 superintendent's comment to my father.

Heath, you do realize these charter and private schools want nothing to do with CMS, anymore than the parents who work in Mecklenburg County and live in Union County, Ft. Mill and other areas outside Mecklenburg County.

I had to chuckle at Block said she anticipates more than one meeting before the group is ready to announce anything

This sounds like a Seinfeld show, a show about nothing.

Shamash said...

As far as the riff-raff is concerned, you don't have to live among them to know they exist and how to avoid making their bad choices later in life.

You can learn from others mistakes without having to live their lives.

As Robert Frost once said:

"There are two types of realists: the one who offers a good deal of dirt with his potato to show that it is a real one, and the one who is satisfied with the potato brushed clean. I'm inclined to be the second kind."

If you prefer to see the dirt on your potatoes, then that's your choice.

But there are other choices.

People go into the "real world" all the time and still manage to avoid the riff-raff.

I've been fairly successful at it for decades.

Anonymous said...

Hi 8:09, I don't want my kids to make adult choices right now because they are kids. I took them out of CMS because they were dealing with constant "rif raf", disruptions in class, unmotivated students, tired teachers and many other reasons. We all couldn't be happier with our move to private school.

Anonymous said...

A private, public, charter, consortium in Charlotte?

This would be a first. 6 years in CMS and 6 years in private school, I welcome the idea!

The public state university I attended had a fantastic consortium with 4 private colleges:

The 5 College Consortium - UMass, Amherst, Hampshire, Smith, Mount Holyoke. I took academic classes on all 5 campuses with free shuttle bus service provided. All grades transferred to my transcript. I was also able to audition for dance and musical theatre productions on any campus. Once or twice a year the dance programs at all five colleges would get together and present a joint concert. I also went on a foreign exchange program and ski club trips with students from all 5 colleges. Each college had something to offer the other didn't. It was a win-win!

Alicia Durand

Anonymous said...

What amazes me is the number of CMS teachers and staff members who's children are in non-CMS schools. Why is this happening??? Do they know something the rest of us don't? My kids go to one of the South Charlotte middle schools, yet some of our local area teachers and staff members have their children either attending other CMS schools, or have them outside of the CMS system altogether....

Anonymous said...

I put my 2 kids in private school too. They are much happier with the 45 minute classes with study hall in the middle of day (no more 90 min blocks A/B day!!), small class sizes, lots of attention from teachers, competitive and inclusive and positive sports program. Oh, and they get an extra hour of sleep every morning and are doing much better academically.

Anonymous said...

No thanks CMS, been there done that. The behavior that is tolerated at the middle and high school level was unacceptable and we knew nothing would change so we left. The bullying, cliques and social pressure was too much for my daughter and her school work suffered greatly. Thankfully she is happy now and doing well in her classes.

Anonymous said...

My children attended one CMS elementary school with ZERO children with moms who were teachers at the school.

I transferred my children to a different CMS elementary school with LOTS and LOTS of kids with moms who were teachers at the school.

Guess which school performed better?

Also, on the diversity front: the first school had lots of African-American and Hispanic kids but ZERO Jewish, Indian, and Asian kids. The second school had plenty of Jewish, Indian and Asian kids. I know it isn't politically correct, but I wouldn't send my kids to a CMS school that completely lacked a Jewish and/or Hindu population of kids.

Bill Stevens said...

Due to issues at one of children's high school, I elected to move them to a privare high school for their senior year. I had strongly suggested to them that maybe we should do it for the junior year at that time but they had good reason for not wanting to go. In the junior year, I had a meeting with their advisor and one fo their teachers. There I learned they had little concern for students of their color and average academic performance. Looking back, I guess I should not have been that surprised becuase that was th epoint I was tryign to make to them to move the junior year.

Once they were at the private high school, they were amazed at the seriousness the students took their study and the calmness and family sense of the school.

Needless to say, I took a much more agressive approach with my next child in CMS and they had a much more successful experience. With that I can say, your child can get an education in CMS not exceeded by many other publci schools in the US. But you have to agressively manage the teachers and principals and you have to put in volunteer time to show them you are part of team to educate your child.

However, the conditions in CMS may have changed enough now with the ever increasing focus on AA's that it may not be possible if you are white.

Anonymous said...

Heath, ask all the teachers why they don't send their own kids to CMS? or why they moved out of Meck county??

Anonymous said...

Dr. Morrison isn't off to a very good start with supporters of private and charter schools...blaming the CO, hiring a "racist" to provide training to teachers and further divide, etc., etc. Good luck to him anyway. But it is the discipline that will bring kids back from private schools if anything will. He appears to be ignoring that inconvenient truth.

Anonymous said...

There are apparently two "diversity" tracks in education.

One is geared for success and includes Indian, Jewish, and Asian kids.

And the other is geared for failure and includes Hispanics and Blacks.

I suggest people make their choices early in life and pursue whatever form of "diversity" they desire for their children's future.

Wiley Coyote said...

Cut to the chase here... it's not just the riff raff, it's the riduculous mindset from educrats, special interest groups and politicians that keep public schools in turmoil and driving kids to private schools.

When you go to a private school, your parent(s) have forked over thousands for you do do one thing - go to school and get an education or you're kicked out. There is no mindset that the government is paying for your every need and you can just skirt by or do whatever you want.

While diversity exists in private schools, it's not the "guiding principle" dictating every decision. Where a child lives who attends a private school means nothing, ZERO. Again, they are making the CHOICE to go there to learn and not have to deal with all the crap public schools dish out.

If more people could afford to send their kids to private school, CMS would be out of business.

Bill Stevens said...

10:01, I do not believe Heath thinks this is a productive path to follow. This is how he and other "educrats" operate. Additionally, to get the most accurate answers, you'd need the CMS home school zone of residence or what county they live in, the teacher's current school assignment and which alternate school their child is in. Additionally, you'd need to know if the family unit's income is primarily from the teacher or the spouse. And lastly of course, you'd need to know the race of the teacher and child. I can see several principals getting bent out of shape putting pressure on these teachers in their evaluations to get their child(ren) back into CMS.

Moving/relocation is still challenging right now with the housing market the way it is.

Lastly, I'd bet some of these urban kids with what CMS is spending per child can get a better education for that child if the family unit had a VOUCHER for even 2/3 of that value and let them go to some alternate school.

It will be interesting to see when these 2 or 3 charter schools open next year in West Charlotte and see what students they skim off (probably from the top).

Wiley Coyote said...

I might add that this has been going on since busing began over 40 years ago. We all know it.

Evidently Heath doesn't. Every time he opens his mouth, he takes a step back a decade.

BolynMcClung said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

CMS is too big, too many administrators, too politically correct, with too much silly, time consuming paperwork for teachers to do, with too little discipline. Who has time to actually teach?

BolynMcClung said...


I attended a meeting that included mostly school board members. It was an open meeting.

One member said of the relationship between CMS and charters, that CMS will become a dumping ground for students the charters don't want.

That member of course meant that Charters can be more selective of their students than CMS. (yes it's a lottery but charters are successful because the will of its parents is the will of the school.)

That member was arguing for improvements in CMS and was clearly fighting to make CMS the public education choice in the future. The Board member was also arguing for a legislative agenda that restricted charters.

Bolyn McClung

Anonymous said...

There are school systems that have "inter-district" educational offerings. I attended an inter-district magnet high school that represented 10 or so different school districts. Each district had it's own rules on transportation but other than this, it was an awesome experience. As far a disciplinary issues, there weren't any - nada. If you didn't behave and demonstrate a high level of motivation and commitment, you didn't get to attend. Simple as that.

Who knows? A CMS, private, charter partnership could be doable. Never say never.


Wiley Coyote said...


Here is some advice for you.

1 - stop pacifying parents and students.

2 - Eliminate diversity, race and income as driving principles to make every decision.

3 - Identify those kids who need extra help and let's implement programs to help them.

4 - Identify those schools with large class sizes, regardless of what their overall FRL number is and put funds towards reducing those class sizes.

5 - Inform the citizens of Mecklenburg County that CMS will be operating similar to a private school, that tax dollars being spent are just as valued as the dollars paid by parents to send their kids to private schools.

6 - Put a no excuses policy in place. No longer will CMS tolerate absent parents, absent kids, bad language, bad behaviour or bullying just to name a few.

7 - Make sure parents understand the days of babysitting and coddling are over and that their kids are coming to school to learn. In return, CMS will put the product and environment in place to ensure every child has an opportunity to learn.

If they don't, kick them out or send them to an alternative school.

Heath, the days of playing in the public education sandbox is over.

Nothing you have proposed so far is going to fix one damn thing. It's just a continuation of past failures.

Anonymous said...

Heath does seem entirely clueless about the history of forced busing in CMS and the ongoing ramifications that still impact the system today. He isn't going to last long on the freedom train retro ride.

Anonymous said...


"Fences make good neighbors".
Robert Frost

Anonymous said...

and one more thing Heath, save CMS some money and cancel your buddy's upcoming diversity in teaching speech. What a waste of time and money. You've heard it enough, paraphrase it for the staff in 5 minutes. But, until all races start to value education and work with their own kids at HOME, NOTHING will change. CMS is filled with these kids and families and it dumbs down the education for the rest of the students who want to actually get something out of school.

Anonymous said...

Too much is tolerated by the CMS teachers, staff, and athletic coaches to stay in CMS.

We put all of our children in private schools to get them away from the student population that makes up too much of CMS.

Anonymous said...

NOT a CHANCE. CMS quality is very low and what they have to put up with other schools do not. Of course its not a fair comparison , but neither is comparing the NY Times to the CO.Just saying apples to oranges never works. Heath dont ever compare yourself to the A team it just looks bad from the D row.

Anonymous said...

We sent our child to a school where she can say the word Christmas!

Anonymous said...

10:58, AMEN!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I went to speak with the principal of a large south charlotte CMS MS when my child was in a class with constant disruptions by a group of students. Security actually had to be in the class everyday. I was told by the principal that those kids were entitled to their free education too and nothing was done. We left the next school year.

Bill Stevens said...

11:04, yep and your kids have that right also and those kids were denying you your rights, a civil rights case that if filed in court and Department of Education Civil Rigts Commission could change public education in the country more than Swann vs CMS.

Anonymous said...

To WC, as a grad of an RCSD1 school, I have to wonder which Sup. gave your parents that advice?What was the context of the statement? Additionally, there are numerous schools in District I that have excellent academic programs even now. For example, I would put DHS of ACFHS up against any of the private schools in the Columbia region, and Charlotte for that matter. I do not think things were much different when you were in school.

CMS has to have these conversations in order to get clarity about what they need to do well in order to maintain and increase support. There are things that area private schools cannot offer, they do not have the physical plant or the academics to do so. It is what it is. These are just conversations to see how the district and area schools can support each other. Spread the gloom and doom elsewhere...

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Wiley Coyote said...


The context was the mid-70's...

In the mid-80's RCSD 1 debated closing either Flora or Johnson because they didn't have enough students to fill both schools.

I fought against closing Flora, as Johnson had no growth in the area. I also pointed out the school capacity versus enrollment numbers they were using were bogus.

In the end, they wound up doing nothing.

Since then, Flora has been expanded while Johnson still exists in the same languishing area.

Johnson today is 99% Black, which is a higher percentage than when my father was told what I posted back when my brother went there, one of 9 Whites in his class.

Anonymous said...

to 10:52. I agree, and I'm a CMS parent. I think that kids need to be held more accountable in the classroom and on the athletic fields in CMS.

Anonymous said...

Come on people! Where's the "can do" spirit!

OK, UMASS-Amherst and Amherst College aren't exactly in the same league. However, both colleges advertise the 5 College Consortium as a major selling point. Here are a few apples to oranges reasons:

1. UMass - 108 B.A. programs, 76 M.A. programs, 50 doctoral programs. 28,000 students.

2. Amherst College - 36 B.A. programs. 1,700 students.

3. UMass - $23,167 tuition, room, board.

4. Amherst College- $60,809 - $63,259 tuition, room, board and estimated fees.

OK, so I didn't take Quantum Physics at Amherst College but you bet I took some other courses here. Ditto for Amherst students venturing over to UMass because they only offer 36 undergraduate majors and fewer clubs - like skydiving.

CMS does offer things even the best private schools in town don't. It's true. Private schools have their own advantages. I think a consortium is worth exploring. Why not?

Alicia Durand

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I got to study in the Robert Frost Library on the Amherst College campus if I felt like it. Robert Frost taught here. Emily Dickinson is from the area too. The 5 College Consortium was a great public school/private school experience.


Anonymous said...

...its not like we don't know what works--look at the Chinese, Koreans, Germans and Finns. We just dont have the discipline to make the changes.

Anonymous said...


The time period that you list for having serious discussion about school closure seems off. I was a student at one of the schools mentioned and have rather intimate knowledge about the other. Stating that closure was the only option for one, I feel is disingenuous. I liken it to saying that WC should be closed and all students from that area should be served by Vance and North Meck.

As CAJHS was predominately one race then and now...well it was designed to be just that. Context and history needs to be brought to bear in understanding that issue. CAJ was built during an era to service African American students that could not continue to go across town to Booker T Washington (prior to the school closing and being sold to USC) and prior to integration. If you remember correctly upon closure BTW's student body (BTW) was bused primarily to Flora, Dreher and LR. CAJ's population was (and still is) the north side of Columbia with Two Notch as the dividing line between Flora and Johnson High.

My point is that the neighborhood has not and probably will not drastically change. The school on the other hand has done wonders for the community and remains a Columbia institution. I would argue that regardless of the racial make up of CAJ at the time of your brother's attendance, he would have availed himself to some of the best teachers that the City of Columbia had to offer at that time. I know graduates of the Naval Academy, Duke, NC State, Harvard, Michigan and other excellent schools that came from BOTH CAJ and ACF.

By the way, it is not lost on me that you did not answer the original query.

Wiley Coyote said...


Original query as to the superintendent?

I will not disclose his name.

I also have intimate knowledge of the school system from 1960 forward.

It is a fact that in the mid 80's, they were looking at closing one of the two schools and spreading the population between the remaining school, Dreher and Keenan.

I took a day off and spent it in the district's records room going through enrollment and capacity numbers all the way back to 1972, before any of the records were on computer.

I know all about CA Johnson, Booker T Washington and all the other schools.

I don't need a history lesson. I lived it. My family lived it.

Anonymous said...

Then please stop invoking the statement about the super. There is no context and validity to back it up. As far as closing CAJ, that is a constant issue (and relatively empty threat) that is recirculated every ten years or so. I am sure that your research then showed that neither Dreher or Keenan could hold the number of kids. As you may remember, Keenan was designed to be a middle school, not a High School. As such it could not take in that large a number of students. DHS was probably close to capacity as well. Like yours my family lived through that era as well. I however do not vilify th district.

Wiley Coyote said...

It is the fact of the matter. Just because it's something you don't want to hear, well that's too bad.

Also, you might want to review your "facts" as the CA Johnson boundary does not stop at Two Notch Road and in fact, goes one mile east.

I lived 1.25 miles from Flora and 1.5 miles from Johnson, yet was zoned to go to Johnson. 50 feet from my house was the dividing line.

I was allowed to go to Flora to take the electronics program I had signed up for - at KEENAN - when I was in junior high there, only after my father retained a lawyer to sue the district over their refusal to either the put the program at Johnson or allow me to go to Flora. I got the waiver.

You also might want to ask why my brother took courses at C A Johnson in the 10th grade he already took in the 8th and 9th grades at Crayton.

When my parents finally could afford it, they took the superintendent's advice and put my youngest brother at Cardinal Newman.

Is there anyting else you would like to know about the school system that lost thousands of students to Irmo and Spring Valley during White flight?


The state made big gains in eliminating so-called “dropout factories,” a designation for a school in which less than 60 percent of an incoming freshman class ends up graduating.

The report says the state had 101 dropout factories in 2002, but reduced that number to 58 in 2010.

The Midlands still has its share of those factories: C.A. Johnson High (38 percent graduation rate); Columbia High (48 percent); Dreher High (59 percent); Eau Claire High (35 percent); Lower Richland High (51 percent); W. J. Keenan High (49 percent).

CA Johnson 38% graduation rate? No change in 30 years.

Anonymous said...

Notice I said historically, I do apologize for the fact that you could not continue the electronics program at Keenan, as I am assuming that the Voced Center down the street from Keenan had not opened during the time of matriculation.

As far as Drop out factories are concerned, that designation just looks at that as one major factor among many. Historically, since integration, CAJ has had the most challenging student population in the Midlands as its attendance zone. As far as comparing the R1 schools in totality with Spring Valley and Irmo because of white flight...that is just as much a function of available housing as The City of Columbia has not built much in town housing in at least 20 years. If you look at student population at either school now...close to half of both schools would be minority.

Race, class and values are integral to this debate. Charlotte is unique in the way that it approached this issue fifty years ago. Just as much as if feel that Midlands Districts did not. Just as you state white flight was a factor....I am sure you must also remember when there were no schools in NE Columbia.

Anonymous said...

Forgive the typos...framing a response while cooking....

Anonymous said...

If you have an accademically gifted student, you only choices are private or charter schools. CMS is trying to dumb down your child so the minority students look brighter.
The Scholars Academy (formerly Mertrolina Regional Scholars Academy) is a charter school that requires that you have a minimum IQ of 135 to apply for admission. The curriculum is challenging and the students are excited about learning. My only regret is that they stop at the 8th grade!

Wiley Coyote said...

The electronics "magnet" was at Flora, not Keenan (LR also had one).... I signed up through guidance couselors to take the program in junior high and at the time, I was zoned to go to Flora.

By the time I went to the 10th grade (the year I went, they added 9th to high school and formed the 6-8 middle schools), RSD1 had moved the boundary 2 times, eventually dropping the block behind us.

They couldn't get enough Whites to go to Johnson because most moved out. That's why my father had to threaten to sue because I was White and they needed Whites desperately there.

RSD1 didn't give a damn I wanted to go into electrical engineering in college, which is why I was eager to take the program through high school. They just wanted White people at Johnson.

The White student population currently in RSD1 is 18%, yet Richland County is 48%.



- Black 74%
- White 18%
- Other 8%

Percentage receiving free/reduced-price lunch 74%

Heathwood Hall, Hammond Academy, Cardinal Newman...three of the private schools in Columbia.

Spring Valley High School established 1970...Richland Northeast in 1978 to handle the overflow from Spring Valley.

Anonymous said...


Five Colleges, Incorporated, sustains and enriches the excellence of its members -- Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith colleges and the University of Massachusetts Amherst -- through academic and administrative collaboration. The consortium facilitates intellectual communities and broad curricular and co-curricular offerings; affording learning, research, performance and social opportunities that complement the distinctive qualities of each institution.

If our public, private and charter school community can pull off a miracle like this, count me in and sign me up for THIS task-force! Imagine. Wow. Note to all the Christian schools in town - if one of your primary goals is spreading the love of Christ, than here is a possible opportunity to reach a broader audience. Just a thought.

Alicia Durand

Anonymous said...

Hey Wiley and other guy, nobody cares about your dispute from long ago.

Wiley Coyote said...

Hey anon 8:20...

Then we both have something in common because I could care less about your opinion.

Perhaps you should read the comments and the context in which thwy relate to the overall discussion for this thread.

If you don't like the minutia of our discussion, don't read it.

Anonymous said...

If the dispute from long ago wasn't relevant, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

Alicia Durand

Bill_Stevens said...

Alicia 8:16, a number of Christian schools do have a type of collaborative learning. But you have to realize, it is Christian schools so enrollment is limited to those that respect the Christian faith and the carrying on of their traditions and faith practices.

I know of a Christian preschool at a church that has had Muslims enrolled. They recognized and respected the Christian practices. For years, one family member would not attend parent functions in the sanctuary, (it was the only space large enough for the student programs.) Near the end of the year, that family member began showing up for performances.

There are many that carry out such collaborations. They just do not wish to publicly pat themselves on the back like many of our politicians and community organizers do. They operate behind the scenes. They operate quietly and effectively. There is some biblical saying about this but I am not a bible scholar and can not recite passages.

Anonymous said...

Your observations and comments which are worth pondering.


Anonymous said...

your observations and comments are worth pondering...