MeckEd holds forum on Student Assignment

MeckEd holds forum on Student Assignment

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The education advocacy group MeckEd held a community forum Thursday to talk about student assignment.

The title of the event was How Far, How Fair. There was a panel discussion about Charlotte - Mecklenburg School (CMS) District's student assignment plan. The plan will help decide what school students will attend. One proposed goal is to create more diverse schools.

There is much concern 'forced busing' will make a comeback to force diversity. The President of MeckEd, Dr. Ross Danis, tells WBTV the process is complicated.

"Everyone wants the same thing for their kids and their community," Danis said. "But they don't want it at the expense of their own kids."

At this event students weighed in on the discussion. Hannah Lofton is a senior at Independence High School. She served on the panel. She attended to give a student's perspective about creating more diverse schools. She will also report back to her peers about the meeting.  She expressed what students are saying about the student assignment plan.

"They aren't comfortable with it," the student said.  "They want to be with the ones they went to elementary, middle school with and stay in high school with them - because that's who they are comfortable with. And they feel like if the schools are changed then they are going to be around people who they aren't used to. They might shut down or not be able to succeed as they usually would."

Lofton tells WBTV she understands the district's desires to create more diverse schools.  In one of Lofton's classes, she tells WBTV she is the only black student. The senior says diversity matters. She says being in the class with other races makes her a better student.

"I like being pushed," she said. "So I can go hard in what I do. I don't want to be the one in the back that can't succeed like everyone else."

About 150 people attended MeckEd's Thursday's forum on student assignment. The group has planned more forums to continue the conversation around student assignment plan and process.  People who showed up say they need to get their questions answered. Cards were available for attendees to write down their questions. MeckEd says it will do all it can to help get those concerns addressed.

"We are going to take all of those cards," Danis said. "And we are going to take all of the notes staff members are taking around the room. We are going to synthesize them. We are going to push them via social media. We are going to share that information with CMS, with Ann Clark, board of education and then we are going to circle back to the people in the room, and let them know their voices were not heard just in this room, but that MeckEd sent them to people who can actually make a decision."

While educators figure out how to accomplish their goal, Lofton has a recommendation.

"Leave it to the parents," Lofton said. "The parents know what's best for their child."

The school board is scheduled to vote on the goals of student assignment at its February 23rd meeting. A new student assignment plan could go into effect for the 2017-18 school year.

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