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CMS Seeks Public Volunteers To Oversee Equity Efforts


The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board is taking nominations for a panel to oversee equity in public education.

The board plans to vote in October on up to 40 community members, including CMS students, who will ensure the district is giving each student what they need to succeed. One school board member will also be named to the panel.

The board has spent more than a year trying to craft an equity policy. Members have grappled with how to define equity, how to measure it and how to monitor the efforts. The policy approved in May calls for the superintendent and staff to report on educational opportunities, demographics, staffing, facilities, student wellness and family engagement at each school.

Creating the equity committee was one of the last tasks left to the board. Just laying down the rules for nominating and selecting members took about 90 minutes Tuesday.

The discussion was convoluted and at times contentious, prompting student adviser Kendall Sanders to call the adults back in line.

"We are here to come up with an equity committee to make schools more equitable," said Sanders, a senior at Northwest School of the Arts. "I just think we need to focus on that, because that's the problem and that's why we're here... To be honest, students don't care who called who or didn't call who."

While board members had clashing ideas about how to set up the panel, all of them spoke about the importance of the work. 

"We are a long time coming in putting this type of citizen watchdog advocacy group in place," said board member Ericka Ellis-Stewart. "And it's not just about feel-good opportunities. It's about what our data tells us."

Ellis-Stewart said inequities for students of color and students in poverty show up in such things as academic results and discipline.

The plan that was finally approved calls for individual board members, including the student adviser, to nominate 20 members, with up to 20 more being nominated by themselves or community groups. The board is slated to vote on a committee Oct. 8.

Nominating forms will be available on WeAreCMS.com next week. People who want one before that can contact the board services office or email charlesr.jeter@cms.k12.nc.us. Nominations will be open through Sept. 24.

Ann Doss Helms has covered education in the Charlotte area for over 20 years, first at The Charlotte Observer and then at WFAE. Reach her at ahelms@wfae.org or 704-926-3859.