Education Equity Focus for Charlotte Black Lives Matter

The CMS student assignment review is leading to heated debate on educational equity in the district.

CHARLOTTE, NC — The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ student assignment review is leading to heated debate on educational equity in the district.

Tonight, Charlotte Black Lives Matter held a forum aimed at pushing that topic to the front of the student assignment discussion.

“Education is critically important, and we are having disparate experiences with educational outcomes for our kids,” says Tiffany Capers with Charlotte BLM. “They’re not performing at levels that really give them an opportunity to lead their best lives.”

Education equity. It’s a topic that Charlotte Black Lives Matter has been chewing on for months now. They held their fifth forum on the topic at Nations Ford Community Church in Southwest Charlotte on Thursday night.

Thousands of CMS students are stuck in consistently low-scoring schools; mostly in high-poverty neighborhoods.

13 CMS elementary and middle schools have been labeled by the state as low-performing for three straight years.

“That’s the part we need to be talking about,” says CMS Board chair Mary McCray, who attended the forum. “What can, you know, our city partners, what can our county partners do to help us dis-aggregate that poverty that’s located there in that grey zone?”

“There are schools in Charlotte that are predominately attended by students who are leading some of the most challenged lives when it comes to economic, their economic status,” says Capers.

Many of these schools are already the focus of efforts to improve performance.

CMS is also looking at census data to potentially increase socioeconomic diversity.

“You make the changes, you know you may get some gains for about a year or two, and then it drops back,” says McCray. “So we’re trying to see what can we do differently, and keep those gains consistently.”

“We have to be very careful about how we define success,” says Capers. “Is graduation success, if a child graduates from school but he or she is not really prepared for what’s next in his or her life?”

CMS will focus on neighborhood schools and school boundaries in the second phase of its student assignment review this fall. Any changes would take effect in the 2018-19 school year.