CMS reexamines diversity data

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District (CMS) released early results concerning diversity at magnet schools. This year the district included each student's socioeconomic status to attend a magnet school.

The goal was to make schools more diverse to help increase academic achievement.

"When you have a mixed and diverse group of students, expectations of the school change. Parent involvement change, teacher expectation change, student achievement change,"  Black Political Caucus Education Chair Dee Rankin said.

The district reports diversity increased by less than three percent in many cases. Some are not impressed by that number.

"Less than three percent is really no movement at all when it comes to diversity," Rankin said.

Hours after CMS released new diversity numbers, it sent another statement challenging its diversity numbers.

"Earlier today, CMS released SES (socioeconomic status) information related to the percentages of SES classifications within specific schools. The district is now re-evaluating the data for inconsistencies and will release updated SES data as soon as possible. CMS will review procedures for data collection and analysis to ensure accuracy as a top priority," the statement read.

While CMS reexamines the data, numbers show there was a significant shift at Park Road Montessori. The school now has 16 percent of students coming from low socioeconomic status (SES). Last year it was 10 percent. Students coming from medium socioeconomic backgrounds decreased to 29.5 percent from 31.2 percent. Students coming from high socioeconomic backgrounds declined to 54.3 percent from 58.5 percent.

"That's really not diverse when you have over half the school of high SES. That is really not a diverse school," Rankin said.

Teachers are embracing the diversity.

"That's what basically a public school is all about, and if you don't have that then you can't call it a public school," Park Road Montessori Teacher Priti Aery said.

Park Road Montessori principal Melanie Francis likes more diversity coming to her school.  She thinks this school will fulfill its purpose when more students from low socioeconomic backgrounds are learning at Park Road Montessori.

"It was not intended to be for affluent students and it has slowly evolved into that. Our teachers that believe in the Montessori method so strongly are really excited to see the students that Maria Montessori intended her method to work with," Francis said.

Francis believes diversity will continue to improve at her school as the years go on. She says what Park Road Montessori has to offer can be a game changer for students.

"To see those opportunities given to more low-income students could really benefit," Francis said.

Parents like the diversity at the Montessori school but want more.

"You want your kids to be able to interact in a world full of diverse people. You want to create empathy. You want to create understanding," parent Benita Staples said.

Parents also believe CMS should not stop boosting diversity numbers but continue to find ways to make it happen faster at all schools.

"I think there needs to be a real look at how we populate student bodies," Staples said.

CMS admits there were some errors in the numbers released Tuesday. The district has not said which numbers were wrong.

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