News & Views » Citizen Servatius

Load Em' Up,

Ship Em' Out

comment
Although it may not always seem like it, there has been a method to my madness when it comes to kicking Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in the rear end over the last year and a half.

To understand what's going on here, you've got to go back to the school system's defeat in the Swann lawsuit. The educrats who run CMS have never gotten over their bitter loss in that case, and for years the resentment simmered at the Education Center. As I've opined before, since they could no longer legally bus kids to achieve racial balance in our schools, they immediately set out to overbuild schools in and around the center of the county while they let suburban ones overflow, setting the stage for the day they'd cap enrollment and begin to force white kids back into schools closer to the center of the county and African-American and Hispanic kids out to the suburbs.

As I correctly predicted last year, the system finally publicly announced it was studying a capping strategy last week.

The educrats genuinely believe that all education problems will be solved if the nirvana of white and minority children sitting next to each other in proper proportion in our schools is achieved. In the meantime, as they spent the last half decade and hundreds of millions of dollars on their stealth plan to desegregate the system, most of the poorest middle and high schools in the system lost 30 percent or more of their teachers year after year while the majority of students in those schools said they didn't feel safe in survey after survey. That left the neediest kids with the least experienced teachers. Though the system still flatly refuses to admit it, school safety and teacher turnover are not only related, but one drives the other.

Until recently, the educrats just hoped that no one would notice the two problems until they capped and desegregated the schools again, this time by income and achievement levels rather than by race. Then, they believed, the problems would take care of themselves. But if unsuspecting suburban parents had any idea what it was really like inside our most troubled schools, if they began to grasp the very real differences between the teachers that teach in them and those that teach in the suburbs, they would freak out to a far greater degree about their child's new, longer bus ride.

So CMS educrats spent the last year frantically denying they had serious unaddressed discipline problems and, until recently, pretending that the teacher experience gap didn't exist.

Suburban parents need to understand that right now, odds are pretty good that the votes exist on the school board for an initial, watered-down version of a capping program that will begin the long process of shuffling kids around by income and achievement levels.

Here's why you should support Pughsley's plan to force the system's best teachers into its neediest schools. Because of this, as we've published here before, suburban parents can no longer ignore what goes on in high and mid-level poverty schools if they plan to continue educating their children in county schools, because the way things are going politically, in a few years, the "right" to send your kid to a neighborhood school may be a thing of the past. That's why the best hope for the system, as well as for all concerned, students and parents, is to aggressively back Superintendent Jim Pughsley's plan to force the system's best teachers into its neediest schools if they won't go voluntarily.

Sure, the price will be high at first, because we'll lose some of those teachers to surrounding counties. But it will also finally force the system to clean up discipline problems at these schools if system leaders want to keep good teachers there. If CMS fails to get control of the kids, they'll lose the teachers. With the whole county watching, that would be a humiliating defeat that might finally spell the end for an administration that has been careful not to embark on anything it might actually be held accountable for. Lose some of the system's best teachers in another round of incompetence and school board members might finally be forced to clean house.

This experiment would also require more security personnel, more alternative schools for out-of-control kids, and the will to send them there. But a year or two down the road, we'd know exactly where we stood. If we succeed, we'll be in a much better place. If not, well, the way things are going, we don't have a whole heck of a lot to lose.

Contact Tara Servatius at tara.servatius@cln.com

Add a comment