Violence, staff departures and low-performing schools on the minds of CMS teachers in 2021

Teachers want to change the narrative. They want people to do less criticizing and offer more support.
Published: Dec. 16, 2021 at 10:08 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 17, 2021 at 11:11 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The President of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Association of Educators (CMAE) Amanda Thompson-Rice is being candid about how Charlotte Mecklenburg teachers are feeling these days.

Teachers are dealing with violence in the schools, teacher departures, and showing up to close the achievement gap between Black and White students.

“Every teacher whether you are at the 42 low performing schools,” CMAE President Amanda Thompson-Rice said. “Or not low performing - everybody is working hard. Everybody is tired. Everybody is burned out. I can say that right now, but I can also tell you that these educators are rocking it out - persevering and giving our students their absolute best - even more than their best.”

Those 42 low-performing schools are located in minority neighborhoods and the achievement gap has been present for years. Despite the struggle, teachers claim there is progress.

“We have breakthroughs every day,” Thompson-Rice said. “And those connections are going to support our students to get through. I think we as a community always focus on that one day - that one test - and our kids are in school 179 other days. So how are we celebrating and recognizing that.”

Thompson-Rice says teachers are leaving CMS. She says about 900 teachers are leaving CMS within the first semester. She is concerned about who will fill those jobs. She is also concerned about the excessive criticism teachers receive because of low test scores.

“We should all be loving and supporting and hugging our schools,” she said. “But I see so much anger and hate, and it’s hard to come to a place every day where you know you never are going to get it right cause somebody is always going to find something wrong.”

The teachers’ solution is everybody needs to help in the assignment of closing the achievement gap. The president is grateful for what the community has done to support schools but she thinks more can be done.

“I did see partners show up,” Thompson-Rice said. “But you have to show up and be sustainable. So the question is will you be a reading buddy for the school. Are you opening up your church to do a tutoring program? What are you doing to help our students beyond the eight hours they are in school?”

The CMAE President realizes there have been several disturbances at schools. Interruption to learning includes guns found on school campuses, fights in hallways, and a shot fired at West Charlotte High School. The state gives West Charlotte HS a “D” for its academic performance. The teacher leader has words for West Charlotte HS teachers.

“The first thing I would tell the educators is Thank You,” she said. Thank You for showing up. Thank You for being dedicated. Thank you for being committed and I would also tell them they are not alone. I would also tell them to reach out to their community organizations. Tell us what you need because it will take collective responsibility to take care of our schools.”

Teachers want to change the narrative. They want people to do less criticizing and offer more support.

“Everywhere you go,” Thompson-Rice said. “Whether you are at any school, any job, any community, any church - wherever - there’s always going to be people who are not doing what needs to be done. That’s everywhere right and so I hate the fact that we always highlight the negative and not the positive.”

Thompson-Rice says she has reviewed CMS’ plan to close the achievement gap. She calls it ambitious and believes it will take more than eight hours the students are in school to achieve those goals. She wants the district to rethink the way it analyzes test scores.

“We have to really think differently how we look at data,” she said. “Data should be used to say how I want to see this child’s strengths. I want to see how this school is growing and how can I support them and continue to improve.”

There are 9,000 CMS teachers.

Making the Grade airs every Thursday on WBTV at 5:30 and at 7:30 PM on WBTV’s On Your Side Tonight with Jamie Boll.

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