Thursday, March 14, 2013

Reid Park Project: Pass, fail or incomplete?

A lively debate over the success or failure of the Reid Park Project flared up at Wednesday's joint meeting of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board and Mecklenburg County commissioners.

The project centers on Reid Park Academy,  a preK-8 school in west Charlotte. CMS, Mecklenburg County's Department of Social Services and various private partners are trying to rebuild a fragile neighborhood and the school that serves its youth, uniting educational efforts with family services and other supports.

School board member Eric Davis cited that project as the kind of joint effort the two bodies ought to seek as they move forward with a 2013-14 budget.

County commissioner Vilma Leake, whose district includes the Reid Park neighborhood, cut him off.

"It sounds good, but the end results are not there,"  Leake said.  "The kids are still performing low."  She told Davis that parents are frustrated that it took half the year to launch a PTA,  and that "K-8 is not working for that community or those children."

Joint meetings are strange affairs.  If either body were reviewing the project as part of its business agenda,  staff would have come with data and a framework for measuring results.  But joint meetings tend to be more free-floating,  so no one came prepared to settle the question.

It's an important one.  Large amounts of public money and community energy are focused on improving the prospects of children in neighborhoods like Reid Park.  The school itself has been involved in major CMS turnaround efforts, including strategic staffing and the creation of preK-8 schools (it's not part of Project LIFT because it feeds to Harding, not West Charlotte High). Many civic leaders hope the neighborhood-focused approach,  based partly on the Harlem Children's Zone, proves to be a model for life-changing transformation.

I've reported on the major challenges the school faces,  as well as ongoing efforts to turn things around.

So who's right?

The final word went to Richard McElrath,  the school board member who represents Reid Park.  He said he voted for the preK-8 conversion because it meant students who advance to middle school with weak reading skills will still have access to reading teachers,  something that's lacking in traditional middle schools.  The school isn't a success yet,  McElrath said,  but neither is it a failure.

"A year is not enough time to say something has failed,"  he said.

A personal note:  Your Schools topped 1 million lifetime page views Wednesday, so I've celebrated by updating my photo. I figure if it's been seen a million times, it's time for a new one.


Anonymous said...

Ms. Leake might want to transport the flower over to Waddell to see what success looks like. It started back in the 90's at Bruns Avenue with determined parents, teachers, administrators and staff making sure that the program succeeds. Somehow, that's a foreign language she needs to learn.

Anonymous said...

"The kids are still performing low." She told Davis that parents are frustrated that it took half the year to launch a PTA, and that "K-8 is not working for that community or those children."

Reading teachers in middle school?

Strategic staffing?

Why would it take half a year to form a PTA?

Sounds to me as if the overall sentiment there is that parents really don't care.

The system hasn't failed. Parents and students have.

Anonymous said...

I taught at Reid Park. No amount of money is going to make a difference. The parents and the children must want to achieve. I did not see that desire.

Anonymous said...

Leake - What in the world do children have to do with the PTA? Davis - you IDIOT just link them with LIFT your JV that is supposed to prosper with all that cash. Richard - Really you may want to go spend some time in that school to brush up on that English. While your at it take Joyce she is struggling. CMS cannot force parents to be involved in PTA frankly they should not have too. Its clear the parents dont support their children in this area so just put them in project LIFT schools probelme solved.

Anonymous said...

Total agreement with 6:32 a.m. and 7:11 a.m. You could spend $15K per student and still not see any difference. PTA failed to form due to lack of parent involvement. If a parent is not involved in their child's learning, the student cannot succeed. How many of these parents are just sitting in front of the television or ignoring their children instead of working with them to help keep them on the straight and narrow? When there is a change in the mindset of the parents, then success will be achieved. Unfortunately, you cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

Anonymous said...

The cycle of government dependence will not end in Reid Park. Build all the homes you want. Have all the volunteers and funds you want. Change the teachers. You will not see improvement until you see a desire to succeed from the parents and their children. That is a fact.

BolynMcClung said...



Richard was correct yesterday at the joint meeting and he was correct Tuesday night when he jumped all over the Common Core for being almost 100% reliant on reading.

CMS is heading for big time failure with the Common is most of North Carolina. The problem is reading.

Sounds like Eric Davis and Vilma Leake need to be having lunch together three days a week at Reid Park. That way it would be easier to hear which wheels need the grease.

Or maybe the Board just holds all its meetings at Reid Park until at a minimum the students are able to read that agenda that Vilma never wanted of approve.

Bolyn McClung

Anonymous said...

Yeah, surprise, surprise.

The low performing kids still aren't learning.

But that's old news isn't it?

But we can't put any pressure on the parents or kids.

Just spend more money on them.

Get rid of their "racist" teachers.

Anonymous said...

Nice to find something Richard was right about...even though it was a very simple, easy to understand concept.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately Bolyn Common Core is a recycling of TRICA, something that CMS used in the early eighties to spread the reading skills to all the curriculum, all the time, all the way through high school. Did that one too. Just add the data and testing on steroids and we've got the cure to all of our issues. Never mind scheduling the computer labs for an entire school to test. One problem that the STEM folks seem to forget in their quest to rule the educational world is the ability to read. It certainly helps figuring those math word problems while waiting to be told the iPad grants were revoked.

Anonymous said...

Why is it so hard to understand that kids have a hard time succeeding, at least according to the standards White men have asserted, when there are struggles to meet basic needs, safety, physical and mental health, or overall wellbeing? It sounds to me like public opinion is quick to blame the victim.

Think big picture - why would anyone care about doing well in school when they don't have higher order needs met? Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a great illustration for why kids with high needs might not function at the "self-actualization" level. You have to have many other needs met before you can focus on academic achievement. There's a reason why people in poverty talk more about "survival" than "picking yourself up by the bootstraps."

The West Boulevard suffers from a great deal of economic turmoil and social ills related to poverty. Why not blame that instead of blaming the kids and the families that are just trying to SURVIVE.

Anonymous said...

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

Why not blame "poverty"?

Simply because it's the same demographic over and over with all their other problems.

Even within the same socioeconomic level there is the same stratification of who performs better and who performs worse given their limited resources.

Check those NAEP scores and you'll see.

Compare the FRL whites (the poor) to the non-FRL blacks(the not-so-poor).

You'll find that the poor whites still do better.

And they do this despite their "hierarchy of needs" not being met.

The same is also true of other cultures across the world in which their poor do well in education.

South Korea comes to mind as an example.

They've even come up with a label for those kids to "explain" why this happens since to the typical liberal social engineering mind, it shouldn't.

They're called "Resilient".

"How do some children overcome their socioeconomic disadvantage"

In fact, the majority of students from disadvantaged
backgrounds in Korea and the partner economies Hong Kong-China, Macao-
China and Shanghai-China were considered resilient. Over 35% of disadvantaged
students in Canada, Finland, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, S pain, the
partner countries Liechtenstein and Singapore and the partner economy Chinese
Taipei were also resilient.


So, what do they seem to have in common?

They study more and are in classes longer.

So much for Maslow's hierarchy of needs and White men's standards...

Go tell it to the Asians, they seem to have missed that excuse.

If only we had brainwashed them sooner...

Anonymous said...

Trillions of dollars spent since LBJ over the last 50 years with:


Now every other ethnic group as surpassed the African American. When will the NAACP want to teach a man to fish instead of demanding to give a man a fish?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone still listen to what Vilma Leake says?Really?