CMS District 3 Board of Education Candidates Share Their Views

Oct 26, 2017

The election for Charlotte Mecklenburg's school board will take place on Nov. 7.  There are six seats up for grabs in the district with incumbents seeking re-election in three of them. WFAE sent a list of questions to all of the school board candidates about their backgrounds and thoughts on a few issues the district is facing, including student assignment and school bonds.  

Here are their responses. Some were edited for brevity:

DISTRICT 3

JANEEN Bryant

Occupation: Museum and education consultant; CMS teacher development volunteer; former teacher

Janeen Bryant
Credit submitted

  

Have you ever run for an elected office?

Candidate in 2015 for a CMS school board at-large seat

 

What will be a top priority for you if elected?

We need an updated equity assessment to see not just how schools are performing on state and national tests, but also measures teacher qualifications, building age, courses offered, disciplinary statistics, school resources, etc. This will allow us to pinpoint where there are inequities and deficits in our schools. That data can be used to delve into issues and collaborate with the community for ways to truly address the concerns as well as set real deadlines and accountability measures for the identified prioritized issues.

What is your position on the bond issue and why?

I support the bond. Our schools need support and investment from the community. While there may be ways that we can better target funding in the future, I think this bond begins some worthwhile work.

 

What is your position on the student assignment plan?

The current mix of neighborhood-based assignments and choice is only a start to correcting years of inequity in school assignment. However, there is more courageous and bold work that we can and should do to make sure that we fully address the problems of hyper-segregation. Great care should be taken to ensure that we are not perpetuating having under-represented communities bear the burden of school assignment.

Every zip code/school zone should have multiple highly desirable schools within it. It is not enough to move some students to better schools and leave others stuck in struggling school buildings. Alongside changing the boundaries and assignments, we must invest work in improving every school.

What do you think needs to happen to make CMS schools more racially and economically diverse and improve low-performing schools?

I believe the equity assessment is a true first step to put us all on the same page community wide about the range of the achievement problem in CMS. The achievement gap sits at the intersection of so many educational, social, and even economic issues. We need a fuller approach--targeted metrics for improvement and buy-in that we will prioritize improving low-performing schools and creating racially, economic diverse schools. This will take public-private partnerships, working with the city and county councils as well as with our CMS faculty, staff, and parents. Recruitment of high quality educators supported by continuous cultural competency training is a must.

Emmitt Terrell Butts

Occupation: Teacher 

 

Emmitt Terrell Butts
Credit submitted

  

Have you ever held or run for an elected office:

No.

What will be your priorities if elected?

Transparency

 

What is your position on the school bond issue?

I support the bond

 

How do you feel about the student assignment plan?

My position is that all efforts should be made to corrections at the sending schools before undertaking a merging of schools.
 

What needs to happen to improve low-performing schools and make CMS schools more racially and economically diverse?

Teach skills, not standards

 

Levester Flowers

Occupation: Retired banker and former teacher/school administrator

 

Levester Flowers
Credit submitted

  

Have you ever held or run for an elected office?

I ran for school board in 2015 for an at-large-seat and in 2013, I ran for the District 4 City Council seat

 

What will be a top priority for you if elected?

My top priority is to improve the academic standings of Project Lift and Beacon Initiative schools.

 

What is your position on the bond issue and why?

I am for the bond package because of the need for school facility upgrades and replacements.

 

What is your position on the student assignment plan?

I support the new student assignment plan; however, I feel that the board should be open to necessary tweaking as circumstances arise.

 

What do you think needs to happen to make CMS schools more racially and economically diverse and improve low-performing schools?

I am a strong advocate of magnet schools as a way of increasing diversity in schools, both racially and economically. Additionally, strong neighborhood schools can serve as a catalyst to better this situation.

 

RUBY JONES

Occupation: Educator and instructional specialist for low-performing schools across the state.

 

Ruby Jones
Credit submitted

  

Have you ever held or run for an elected office?

No, I was appointed to fill the District 3 Board of Education seat three years ago.

 

What will be a top priority for you if elected?

Addressing social, emotional and behavioral needs; academic achievement through enriched experiential and expeditionary teaching and learning; valuing parents as partners; valuing community/business/church partnerships; yonder thinking for future success that begins in kindergarten - SAVVY

 

What is your position on the bond issue and why?

I staunchly support the bonds because of the overcrowding of many schools and the need for major repairs at schools built 50 years ago. They have to be upgraded to meet the requirements of today's career needs, which makes the bonds an imperative.  

What is your position on the student assignment plan?

As a sitting board member, I believe that we have made a pathway via magnet options. However, the work has to continue to find innovative ways to diversify our student populations.

 

What do you think needs to happen to make CMS schools more racially and economically diverse and improve low-performing schools?

We must begin through relationship building--getting students to know and value each other through a plethora of school sponsored clubs such as chess, robotics, creative arts, etc. These are value-added means of loosening the fear factor that too many families express about schools and students that they simply do not know.

Blanche Penn

Occupation: Retired recreation specialist and facility manager; former board member of the NC Developmental Disability Council

 

Blanche Penn
Credit submitted

Have you ever held or run for an elected office?

No.

What will be a top priority for you if elected?

I will address the high number of suspensions and career and college readiness for our students. I believe that CMS needs an action plan to resolve these ongoing concerns. We need students to be ready for college but I also want to ensure that parents and students understand their options such as attending community colleges if they are not ready for a university. I also want to make parents aware that vocational training is an option.

 

What is your position on the bond issue and why?

I support the school bond referendum. I feel it addresses the need to relieve CMS schools of overcrowding by providing new schools and renovations and additions to some of the district’s oldest schools. The greatest benefit of the bond referendum is that it does not increase taxes.

What is your position on the student assignment plan?

I believe that diversifying our student population enhances performance.  I also believe it renders more favorable learning environments and will attract more qualified teachers. 

 What do you think needs to happen to make CMS schools more racially and economically diverse and improve low-performing schools?

What they can do better is provide choice and promote equitable access to all children, and reduce the number of schools with high concentrations of poor and high-needs children. What needs to happen to make CMS schools more racially and economically diverse and improve low-performing schools is quality teachers in all schools. We can also reduce concentrations of poverty by having better schools in our communities, such as STEAM and magnet schools.

Olivia Scott

Occupation:  Childcare center director 

 

Olivia Scott
Credit s

  

Have you ever held or run for an elected office?

No.

 

What will be your priorities if elected?

Reframing a culture of apathy in regards to some of our most troubled schools.

 

What is your position on the school bond issue?

I am in favor of the bond package because I believe it is necessary to make our schools more equitable across the board.

 

How do you feel about the student assignment plan?

I wish it was not necessary.

 

What needs to happen to improve low-performing schools and make CMS schools more racially and economically diverse?

Schools should partner with organizations such as Charlotte Unite to bring improvement to our schools. We also need to completely revitalize the learning environment at our troubled schools because they are often extremely dreary places to be. Our affluent PTAs should partner with low-performing schools and organizations such as SCORE so that mentors can be brought in who are experts at fundraising. When we diversify schools, we need to make sure that all schools in CMS are affected. Diversity project milestones should also be a part of the CMS experience for children starting in elementary school.

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