Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Can grants make CMS schools safer?

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is seeking a little more than $7 million in federal money aimed at making schools safer,  and that launched some interesting discussion about risks and strategies.

The school board approved a $2.5 million request to the U.S. Department of Education to "expand the district’s capacity to assist schools in high violence communities in breaking the cycle of violence,"  the summary presented Tuesday says.  "The 13 CMS Project Prevent schools serve a total of 11,035 students. A position will be developed that relieves school counselors and social workers from the non-specialized duties that frequently monopolize their time. In addition, student services staff will receive training and consultative support in the delivery of evidence-based counseling methods to support children who have experienced trauma."

The 13 schools are Garinger High in east Charlotte,  Harding High in west Charlotte and the elementary and middle schools that feed into them.  Board member Joyce Waddell asked why Hidden Valley Elementary and Martin Luther King Middle School weren't included,  given that the Hidden Valley neighborhood in northeast Charlotte has been notorious for gang activity.  (She didn't mention it,  but Hidden Valley Elementary was the site of the state's only at-school homocide in 2012-13,  when police shot a teenager in the school parking lot during a drug sting gone bad last summer.)

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police reviewed crime in high school zones and found that the highest rates were in the West Charlotte,  Garinger,  Harding and Vance zones,  in that order,  according to the staffer making the report  (I think,  but am not certain,  it was Karen Thomas,  who is retiring as executive director of student support services.)  West Charlotte High already gets support from the public-private Project LIFT,  she said,  so the grant focuses on the Garinger and Harding areas.  Note that this refers to crime in the neighborhoods the schools serve,  not to crime in the schools themselves.

Hidden Valley is in the Vance zone.  The staffer said Vance and its feeder schools will be part of another request approved Tuesday,  for almost $4.6 million from the Department of Justice to "develop knowledge about the specific programs, activities and interventions that improve school safety in a sustainable and cost-effective manner. The researcher will collect evidence and evaluate intervention approaches that enhance school safety,"  the summary says.


Wiley Coyote said...

...Attorney General Eric Holder called upon the nation’s school districts Wednesday to rethink “zero tolerance” disciplinary policies that he said disproportionately punish minorities and push too many students into the justice system.

“Alarming numbers of young people are suspended, expelled or even arrested for relatively minor transgressions like school uniform violations, schoolyard fights or showing 'disrespect' by laughing in class,” Holder said during a speech in Baltimore.

Holder’s remarks accompanied the release Wednesday of new federal guidance from the departments of Justice and Education pressing schools to adopt disciplinary policies that are “fair, nondiscriminatory, and effective.”
January 2014

More wasteful spending on political correctness that will accomplish absolutely nothing.

So which is it?

We either have a problem or we don't and if we do, our clueless AG doesn't want you to do anything about it.

Garth Vader said...

The answer to the question is:


Schools are for education. Students at "troubled" schools who want to learn do not deserve to have resources diverted to "counselors" and "safety officers". These students deserve the same educational opportunity as students in "safe" schools.

Criminal behavior needs to first be handled by the justice system. It's better to put a remedial school in a jail than to put a makeshift jail and "counseling center" in a school.

Do the crime, do the time, then go to a special high-discipline school segregated from mainline schools like Garinger (my alma mater, BTW). Demonstrate academic progress, renounce your criminal past, and then come back to the school you previously attended.

Anonymous said...

How about aiming a portion of $7 million towards making the dump of a school building that is Garringer look more like the state-of-the-art police station up the street?

For those of you who have not been paying attention, Garringer was once featured in National Geographic as a shining architectural example of all the was possible in public education. I was embarrassed to take my Praxis 1 exam here.

The state of school buildings matter. Shame on Charlotte.


Carol S. said...

very simple, the answer to your question is NO and CMS know that already.

Wiley Coyote said...


Sure they know it....

...but it's MONEY!$!$!$!$!$!$ FREE government money!

Interesting how out of one side of their mouths, the BOE and downtown crowd tell you how wonderful everything is at CMS.

Out of the other side of their mouths - we have a problem and need to get $7 million to fix it, yet some schools as noted won't get a dime. You know, like the $55 million some schools got under Project LIFT and others just as "deserving" stand outside looking through the window.

Then you get the liberal educrat blowhards who spew their nonsensical blather "kids can't learn or are at a disadvantage depending on their zipcode".

I don't know how much more they can dumb it down.

Credits required to graduate reduced.

Grade requirements to play sports reduced.

Get a 50 for putting your name on the paper.

Despite looking for $7 million dollars to help with "making schools safer", calls to dratically reduce suspensions and expulsions is what they are really after.

Gutting NCLB and Common Core. Regardless of the incessant testing and demands of these programs, the intent was to require greater accountability from LEAs, students and parents, to get serious about learning on grade level.

Yet educrats would rather pass kids along instead of implementing summer school and other programs to ensure they do get on grade level.

God forbid a kid gets held back after all that.

Anonymous said...

This seems like a huge duplication of services when you consider how many students (and parents of students) at the named schools have moved from the welfare rolls to receiving lifetime federal SSI disability payments for psychological and emotional problems which have resulted in large part from lousy parenting. (How every other kid gets labeled as ADHD or Bipolar by age 8 is another story.)

Every recipient of SSI benefits is already entitled to free mental health counseling, medication and other therapies. Why would it be necessary for schools to hire more counselors, particularly through grant funding? My best guess is so that, when the grant money dries up, CMS can cry poverty yet again and demand taxpayers continue funding these "feel-good" initiatives which have not made a dent in the problems facing urban schools across the country. Or could it be that CMS recognizes that many of its failing schools operate as prison pipelines and they want to get ahead of the inevitable ACLU lawsuits? Perhaps it's simply the wake-up call of recent demographic data.

When we actually begin to hold PARENTS accountable through the loss of all they hold dear (public housing benefits, EBT cards, the aforementioned SSI checks), and lift them up by requiring them to volunteer at their child's school and attend GED and vocational training classes, then perhaps we can stop the bleeding and give these kids a chance to break the cycle of generational poverty.

Of course that would mean we'd have to care as much about children once they're born as we do about fetuses. Not sure NC is ready for that.

Anonymous said...

As one who has taught in CMS for 12 years I do not understand this story. I was at a school in which a kid got beat up pretty bad and the principal was in the media and stated that "we do not have gangs in our school." I was at another school that due to constant rezoning two different gangs vied for control and there was a huge melee covered by a couple tv stations first thing in the morning. At that same school four years later there were 5 instances of guns being brought in and it was just dumb luck that a shooting did not occur on campus. At my present school a student brought in a handgun which was seen by another student who did the right thing and reported it. By the end of the day the principal modified the incident and stated that the student had a garage door opener. I have witnessed and broke up fights too numerous over the years to mention them all in this forum.All I am going to say is this-- Public schools will be nothing more than holding pens for criminals and directly fuel the growth of magnet and charter schools until the kids and their parents are held responsible for their decisions/actions and expelled. No amount of money or "blaming the teacher" is going to change this.

Anonymous said...

There is truth in what you are saying. There is a good example in Huntersville/Charlotte. North Meck, Blythe and Alexander middle are very close together on the same road. One gets a much different impression when looking at each school, which I shouldn't because buildings don't teach, but you feel differently about a school by the appearance, at least I do anyway.

I also agree with a previous post, in that schools were never intended as anything more than a place to learn, I think perhaps CMS is over reaching.
Also to another point, Eric Holder is not clueless, he simply doesn't want to hold African American children accountable when they misbehave. Which I think is the wrong approach. We should hold every child to the same standard and when we do, they will benefit.

Anonymous said...

As a educator for thirty years I worked in four school districts and a couple of colleges. First of all, CMS and the Charlotte community are the most PC place I've ever lived. Why no one speaks the truth here is beyond me.

For fifty years this country has thrown good money after bad trying to fix a societal problem that no one wants to recognize or address. Personal responsibility has deteriorated. The media and "do gooders" aren't going to brainwash me into following their logic that bad policies are all it takes to improve things.

I wrote six-figure federal grants for part of my career. I came to believe that the money that came from them was like a drug that colleges, schools, and communities get hooked on. The government program it comes from is like the dealer who keeps you hooked by giving more away.

Do we have problems? Yes. Is more grant money the way to fix them? No. I agree with every comment left on this blog because I've seen it myself during my career.

We've done nothing but weaken our society and spend trillions of dollars in the name of equality, sympathy, and guilt. I retired because I couldn't lower my standards to meet those this system supports. The catch phrase "it's for the children" makes me puke.

Our educational system lags behind other countries because we spend so much money (50 years worth) trying to catch up students who do not value an education nor want to be in school. If that per student dollar amount were spent on average and gifted students in the amounts spent on the "underserved," our scores would be soaring.

I've studied the education systems of Japan, Germany and France, among others. And every educational reform movement the last half of the 20th century has told us we have a problem. I began my career when A Nation At Risk came out in the 1980s and if anything nothing has gotten any better.

CMS and American education need to stop trying to fix the symptoms of the problem and deal with what is really wrong. Society in America is broken. Our institutions are broken. Trying to keep doing the same thing year after year with pedigogy that is out of date for our needs is killing us.

Schools need to return to there basic mission: educating students. It isn't the place of the school to raise children, push political agendas or societal experiments, or make up for lost ground.

Get real. America is broke.

Anonymous said...

Money is not the problem with schools, discipline is the problem. Teachers having sex with students prove some of them lack discipline and self control too.

Since no one will address the real issues expect more of the same or worse. Only a fool believes money will solve the problems we see with kids today.