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CMS Equity Policy Moves To The Full Board For Consideration

Gwendolyn Glenn
CMS Board of Education Policy Committee Chair Ruby Jones (r) and Sean Strain (l) discuss equity policy

Residents will get a chance to voice their opinions soon on the Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools proposed equity policy. After more than a year of discussions, the school board’s policy committee members voted to send their recommendations to the full board for discussions and public hearings.

The equity policy will guide district officials in their efforts to close the achievement gaps between white students and students of color, and opportunity disparities between low- and high-income students. The policy, which hasn’t been updated since 2010, calls on school officials to identify and measure disparities between schools and find ways to make them equitable.

Credit Gwendolyn Glenn
Policy Committee Chair Ruby Jones says she will not negotiate on media specialists for all CMS schools

“I’m feeling what we take to the full board will be voted on in a positive, let’s move forward way,” said Ruby Jones, chair of the committee. “I don’t foresee big glitches around what was presented. We have a good product.”

[Related Content: CMS Officials Struggle To Make Schools Equitable For All Students]

The goal of the equity policy is to make sure all students have access to the same resources and quality of teachers, courses, facilities, school leadership and emotional support. It also addresses the outcomes of student assignment decisions and would require officials to track discipline and ensure that cultural training is provided to staff to prevent bias in how it is handed out.

School officials would be required to provide separate reports annually to determine where disparities exist based on race and economics and provide recommendations on how to fix them.

Char of the Black Political Caucus of Charlotte’s education committee Dee Rankin said he likes the policy overall and is glad to see it finally moving forward. But he said he thinks the policy needs to be beefed up in how it proposes to increase family engagement in schools.

“There could be a little more specifics when it comes to the family engagement piece,” Rankin said. “That’s very difficult to measure, but they need some kind of metrics. I think it’s important. Right now, the way it’s written it’s vague.”  

Some committee members shared this concern. Another item where there is sure to be a lot of discussion among board members is the policy’s call for trained media specialists in all schools. There was not total agreement on its inclusion because of the cost, but Jones said the disparity between schools on this is too large to be negotiable.

Credit Gwendolyn Glenn
School board member Elyse Dashew listens in on proposed equity policy discussion

“I’ll never agree to a policy unless we specify a media specialist. I’ve been in the schools and seen where it’s a sham," Jones said. "And then I go into a school with a media specialist and a high-quality media program and it’s a haven of learning and just enlightenment."

The school board will hold two public hearings on the equity policy before a final vote is taken. During that process, some or all of it could change.

Gwendolyn is an award-winning journalist who has covered a broad range of stories on the local and national levels. Her experience includes producing on-air reports for National Public Radio and she worked full-time as a producer for NPR’s All Things Considered news program for five years. She worked for several years as an on-air contract reporter for CNN in Atlanta and worked in print as a reporter for the Baltimore Sun Media Group, The Washington Post and covered Congress and various federal agencies for the Daily Environment Report and Real Estate Finance Today. Glenn has won awards for her reports from the Maryland-DC-Delaware Press Association, SNA and the first-place radio award from the National Association of Black Journalists.