CMS to soon tackle equity policy

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg School (CMS) board members and superintendent are ready to tackle equity, and parents are ready for a change.

Kewana Long says she witnessed how a lack of access and resources happened when her son changed schools from the Huntersville area to west Charlotte.

"It made me feel a certain area got a better treatment than another area," Long said.

The school board admits there is a lack of equity in its nearly 180 schools. They say they want to fix it. The board came up with a definition of equity at its recent board retreat and recently talked about how they could implement that definition throughout the school district.

Parents agree something should be done.

"No matter what side of town you live on - west Charlotte, north Charlotte, Myers Park - it should be all the same for all kids," Long said.

The Education Chair of the Black Political Caucus Dee Rankin says the lack of equity is disturbing.

"Equity does not mean equal," Rankin said. "So equity means there are some gaps you have to identify - that means you are going to have to bring certain individuals and certain groups and offer them more resources and more support and more opportunities."

Rankin is pleased the board is tackling equity and has come up with a definition but is still concerned about their next steps.

"They may have an idea of what equity is," Rankin said. "But I don't think everyone agrees on how to get to equity - that's the frustration."

CMS' equity policy hasn't been revised since 2010. The school board and superintendent will look at it and see what can be done to make the policy intentional and specific to help all students succeed.

"We are going to have to continue to develop new metrics," CMS Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox said. "New thoughts around what equity means to all of us."

The superintendent will soon release an equity report highlighting where CMS is missing. Staff will make recommendations on what should be changed.

"I think that it's going to change the experience that many of our young people have in the schools," Wilcox said. "I think it's going to allow principals and teachers to talk about expectations for student success in a different way, so I am hopeful that today was a great first step."

The superintendent and school board will soon meet to talk about revising the equity policy and figure what other policies need to change. The Black Political Caucus says it will keep reminding the school of its assignment to make sure all students have the same access to opportunity.

"We are going to continue to use our voice," Rankin said. "We are going to continue to use our influence. We are going to continue to use our knowledge and speak with individuals in the community, especially the black community, and allow their voice to be heard."

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