Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is seeking public participation in the development of a six-year strategic plan. Initial work on the plan began in February with the public release of Breaking the Link, a comprehensive district report analyzing the link between poverty/race and academic performance.
Now CMS is seeking public input about the report and the plan. There are four avenues for participation. The first is participation in a community workshop. Nine workshops across the county are scheduled in March and April; see full details here at cmsstrategy.org.
The second is participation in a community-wide survey. It can be accessed here.
Third, the public is invited to hold a discussion in individual homes, churches, neighborhood groups or elsewhere. Two handouts will soon be available from CMS for use in these discussions.
Fourth, district representatives are available to discuss the report and the strategic-plan process at any gathering. The request form is here.
"Breaking the Link makes very clear that we must improve our schools so that all students have equal access and equal opportunity to succeed," said Dr. Clayton Wilcox, superintendent of CMS. "We are placing a very high priority on public input into our next steps and the strategic plan we're building to address the lack of equity. How well we address that lack will determine our community's future, so we want as many community members as possible involved in the work."
The report, which used 2016-2017 data, looked at three broad questions:
The analysis makes clear that district schools have resegregated: As school poverty level increases, so does the percentage of black and Hispanic students. Testing data also shows that high-poverty schools consistently score below low- and moderate-poverty schools.
"Every single student deserves the best education we can give them. But the hard truth in Breaking the Link is that we're not meeting that goal," Dr. Wilcox said. "So we need to do a better job. We also need to be clear about one thing: These numbers are not about the failure of our kids. These numbers are about our failure to help kids. Behind these statistics are real kids with hopes and dreams and talents."
The report identified three key levers that CMS can use to improve outcomes for all students: time in school, highly effective teachers and access to rigor.
"We can control these things and Breaking the Link will help us make the policy and operational decisions required to make our schools more equitable," Dr. Wilcox said.
He urged everyone to participate in the development of the strategic plan, which will focus on the three levers.
"We need the support of our whole community if we're going to break the link between poverty and race and academic performance," he said. "This is not easy work. Poverty and race have been linked to achievement gaps for decades. That link is visible in every urban district in America. But I believe we can break the link in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools if we work on it as a community."
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