CMS ready to talk about race in the school district

Published: Feb. 5, 2013 at 9:59 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 7, 2013 at 10:03 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte - Mecklenburg Schools officials are about to tackle a very sensitive and controversial topic: Race in CMS.

Superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison says he has been told by several people in the community that some teachers in the district think since certain students are different from them - that means they are deficient.

"I want to be very clear," Morrison said. "What we are trying to do in Charlotte Mecklenburg schools is to create every classroom, in every school that is respectful. We have to find ways to address race and expectations. We have to find a way instructionally to reach every student and that's what we have to do."

Morrison says he is not moved by the criticism by some in the community over the person he may use to help CMS deal with cultural differences. Some are against CMS hiring Glenn Singleton as a consultant. Morrison has not decided on Singleton yet. While Morrison thinks about it, the group SPARK - a group that's pushing to split CMS into three districts- writes, "Not one dime should be spent on outside consultants with no proven track record of closing the achievement gap in large school districts of 140,000+ students."

Morrison's response:

"There's going to be a number of people who are going to raise concern," the superintendent said. "Because the topic is somewhat controversial. So is it Glenn Singleton is controversial or the topic?"

The Classroom Teacher Association is also coming out against Singleton. Association president Judy Kidd believes he will polarize the community and run away good teachers.

Mallard Creek High School principal Nancy Hicks-Brightwell claims this controversial talk will be beneficial and could help teachers in their profession.

"Helping us as educators," Hicks-Brightwell said. "To look at our practices and determine to what extent are we supporting diverse needs of our students, and where maybe unconsciously we put up some barriers or some limitations that limit our ability to be responsive as we should as educators."

Morrison said he has not come up with a plan yet. He says he will make a decision about a plan and hiring Singleton very soon.

"I want to do this well," Morrison said. "I want to do it right."

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