Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Shooter drill and CMS-TV school

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is working with county officials to plan a safety drill simulating an armed attack.

Superintendent Heath Morrison would like to see a high school partner with the newly-revived CMS-TV station to air student-produced programs.

And the cultural competency task force is exploring what an expanded diversity office might do to help students.

Those are a few of the tidbits I picked up at Butler High last night,  at the last of three CMS town hall sessions designed to give the public a voice in budget planning and a chance to check in with the district's 22 advisory task forces.

Plenty of CMS officials and task force members were on hand,  but there wasn't much public.  Attendance has been light throughout,  several people said,  and Monday's was so anemic that everyone went home 20 minutes early.

Some people may have opted for more convenient outlets,  such as a recent online budget poll that got more than 11,000 responses.  And most of us know that the public seldom mobilizes on a big scale until specific proposals are on the table,  especially proposals that upset people.

"Compared to 2009-10,  the crisis mentality isn't there,"  CMS magnet director Jeff Linker said,  referring to school-closing plans that drew big crowds and angry protests.

On Monday,  his task force on magnets, choice and alternative schools drew one parent unhappy with his middle school options.  They'd gotten about a dozen visitors at an earlier town hall held at Waddell Language Academy.

Joel Gilland,  a Mountain Island Elementary parent who co-leads the group with Linker,  said the task force has talked about ways to help neighborhood schools work with their communities to become schools of choice.  They're thinking there should be a way for CMS staff and people with ideas to work together to explore academic specialties,  partial magnets or alternative structures  (such as turning Mountain Island into a K-8 school)  that might boost interest.

Morrison's mention of creating a video-production academy,  which would give students experience that could translate to a career,  ties in with a push to explore stronger career-tech programs throughout the district.  Linker said the task force is also looking at areas with  "pent-up demand"  for magnets  (the suburbs have mostly been left out)  and new themes that might serve new needs.

At the session to talk about cultural competency Monday,  it was just me and three staffers there to lead the discussion.

"It's been a little bit disheartening,"  said co-leader Maria Petrea,  interim East Zone superintendent and former principal of Collinswood Language Academy.  "For whatever reason,  I don't think the public has seized the opportunity to be involved."

Reports on Morrison's interest in working with racial equity consultant Glenn Singleton have stirred plenty of online commentary,  but apparently folks who love or hate that idea aren't turning out to talk in person.  Petrea said the task force has been asked to explore options for a diversity office that would recognize the district's cultural and linguistic diversity and encourage a staff pool that reflects that diversity.  She said the group hasn't been asked to weigh in on whether CMS should work with Singleton's Pacific Educational Group and doesn't expect to make recommendations for the 2013-14 budget.

The budget overview that launched the meeting had the biggest crowd,  with all the task force members and other staffers in the audience.  Morrison's comment about staging an  "active shooter drill"  sometime this year came in response to a question about mental health and school safety.

The town halls are over,  but there will be two more public sessions to comment on the budget after Morrison presents a plan:  April 16 at West Charlotte High and April 22 at Rocky River High.  You can keep up with budget developments on the district's web site.


Anonymous said...

It may be that the public has figured Heath's game plan, just like the last game plan, and no matter what has discussed, CMS has reached implosion status. As retired Marshall Mart Howe said in High Noon referring to the the townspeople, "They don't care, they just don't care."

Anonymous said...

"Reports on Morrison's interest in working with racial equity consultant Glenn Singleton have stirred plenty of online commentary, but apparently folks who love or hate that idea aren't turning out to talk in person."

It sounds to me like people just don't consider CMS and its little band of PC Police worth the effort any longer.

Yep, this is the whole problem with public education today.

Frankly, many of the smart people are voting with their feet.

You'll probably NEVER see them at a CMS meeting.

Just don't confuse this with public "acceptance".

It isn't.

Anonymous said...

I care but I'm too busy with all my kids, homework and extra-curricular activities to give up my valuable Monday night for CMS. It's easier for me to sit here while I have a quiet moment before I head off to work to let you know that in 2 years my kids won't be attending CMS schools anymore. Yippee!

Anonymous said...

Bring in the racists consultant and pay for it with LIFT or Chamber funds. I am good with it at that point.

Anonymous said...

The status quo is still in place and as long as it is, nothing will change.

To all of you "task force heads" - You're old news, especially with the "cultural competency" garbage.

Cultural competency, aka diversity, is the main reason for an apathetic public who is tired of the crap that still goes on daily in public education driving every decision made.

Anonymous said...

I see the CMS online survey is mentioned again.

That survey was a complete joke and waste of time plus whatever money was spent producing it.

Anonymous said...

Soon enough Charlotte will be just another Birmingham.

Eventually "white" flight becomes "bright" flight which eventually becomes "middle-class" flight.

And it's all downhill from there.

And, suddenly, the same old problems reappear in the "new" locations and people have to move again...


Anonymous said...

Why would anyone attend a CMS task-force meeting lead by the same ol' forced busing band leaders who got us here in the first place?

Anonymous said...

Imagine a diversity office with a department devoted to a moderate to conservative viewpoint?


Anonymous said...

Imagine no diversity office.

That way, color, race, income and where you live would become irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

When we moved here in the 90's we almost immediately were faced with reassignment hearings which we felt we needed to attend (and during which some school board members appeared to be quite hostile to suburban concerns).

In the two much smaller school systems that our children had previously attended I couldn't recall ever attending a "reassignment hearing" nor could I recall board members being so curt with the public. When a new high school was built in one of our previous communities the administration recognized how difficult it can be for neighborhoods and families to change schools. They worked very hard to make the transition easy, with lots of options for students (sophomores through seniors could stay at their present high school for one thing).

Also during the years my children were in school here day after day the paper was filled with one school crisis after another. Rarely did you read anything positive about the schools (except how proud everyone was that we bused). Nor did you very often read about students who excelled or won awards (thankfully that's changed somewhat). This hostile environment was such a different experience for us.

So why do people not turn out for meetings? I think they are sick to death of showboat superintendents and school boards. I think they are tired of rah-rah plans that are upended after a couple of years so that the hoopla can begin for something new. And I think that everyone is just too busy with life in general, especially trying to keep a calm, nurturing household going, to be running out to meetings which they believe really aren't going to make any difference in the long run.

Believe it or not, folks, in many places sending your kids to school is not nearly as complicated or all consuming as it is here. Schools are a friendly, helpful part of the community. I will make an exception to that for Jefferson County, Ky--Louisville--where my son and his wife are just starting to enter the assignment maze for their 4 year old. The school system still buses. Although they would much prefer to have her in the public schools, assignment there is so complex and unstable that as good parents they feel they have to look at other options. If in the end they should chose the public schools I fear they'll quickly be on the meeting and crisis treadmill just like we were here.

Anonymous said...

Ann, would it be possible for you to find out what the current diversity specialist does right now? I know he has held this position for a long time. What are his accomplishments? And I think much of the public might want to know how much a new "diversity office" is going to cost. What will diversity nirvana look like? How much staff and funding will it require to reach this state?

Anonymous said...

Excellent post 11:50.

You summed up the public school experience here and elsewhere perfectly.

My brother's youngest daughter is facing the same scenrio, with a new high school being built to help overcrowding in the one she attends now.

The district has done everything possible to give parents and students options and plenty of time to get ready for the change.

Since my niece lives closer to the new school and will be a senior the year it opens, she at least has been given a choice of which school she can attend.

Ann Doss Helms said...

11:59, I don't have details of what the current diversity director does. They will definitely need to present costs if they want to expand that office. I got the sense it might be 2014-15 rather than the coming year, but I could be wrong.

Anonymous said...


Let's just kick the diversity status quo can down the road.

Anonymous said...

some of us parents have fought the CMS authority, and they don't want to hear common sense. We had enough and pulled our 2 boys out of CMS. They are doing great and we are all much happier. CMS' loss.

Anonymous said...

MOrrison and the BofE