Black ministers meet to discuss academic achievement of black CMS students

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - More than a dozen black ministers from various Charlotte churches met Tuesday at Little Rock A.M.E. Zion Church to discuss the academic achievement of black students in Charlotte-Mecklenburg School (CMS) District.

The ministers got information that recent End of Course test scores show only about 36% of black students are college and career ready in subjects English, Math, and Biology. Ministers wonder what the school district is doing about those numbers.

"The Leandro decision guarantees students in North Carolina receive a fair and basic education," Little Rock AME Zion Church Pastor Dr. Dwayne A. Walker said. "And to find out only one-third of African American students meet that criteria is just shocking."

Walker says CMS has seen the test scores of black students. He wonders why there's been little to no action.

"And to have access to the data that we have received, knowing that others who look at this all the time have access to it - wonders sometimes if this is not complicit," he said.

CMS agrees more can be done to help black students. The district has implemented programs geared to help students, but academic achievement is not happening fast enough for some in the community.

"Certainly there is enough blame to go around," Walker said, "but we want to do our part and to be sure others are doing theirs."

The Chair of the Black Political Caucus, Arthur Griffin, gave ministers the test scores. He thinks the churches should know how some of their parishioners are doing in school.

"The African American Church has been the bedrock for us," Griffin said. "And the African American church will continue to serve that role."

The clergy discussed a strategy to make things better for students. They want to meet soon with the CMS superintendent and school board members, and hold town halls in the community about helping black students succeed in CMS. Ministers also decided at the meeting to start educating parents in their congregations about what they can do immediately to help their kids thrive in CMS.

"The clergy is now saying 'I want to be part of the solution, not a part of the problem,'" Griffin said. "And this is the first step in being part of that solution."

The ministers have already been to a CMS school board meeting to talk about their concerns. They say they will continue to meet until progress is seen.

"We need to stop operating in these silos," Walker said, "and bring the best of what we all offer to bare to fix this issue."

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