Diversity consultant talks about his plan to change CMS

Published: Feb. 15, 2013 at 11:33 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 17, 2013 at 11:03 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Diversity consultant Glenn Singleton is ready to get to work in Charlotte-Mecklenburg school (CMS) district. Superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison has worked with Singleton before and could work with him again.

Singleton believes before CMS can begin tackling the achievement gap between black and white students, the system must first have a candid conversation about race. He thinks that can be done without tempers flaring.

"What I believe is that we have actually created a protocol," Singleton said. "Where that we enable educators and other folks to have meaningful dialogue that does not end up in a combative situation, but rather in a healing situation and an enlightening piece."

Singleton believes if CMS wants to improve academic achievement for minority students, the district's Human Resources department must do a better job choosing teacher candidates. The consultant believes the conversation on hiring teachers should go like this.

"I can say that I want to hire teachers," Singleton said. "Who demonstrate effectiveness in meeting the needs of black males and really have the candidates come forward with a profile and evidence that they are ready to go to work in the system on the system's challenges."

And if teachers don't have a proven record with minority students, the consultant says hard questions must then be asked of the teacher candidates.

"Questions like talk to me about your philosophy around race," Singleton said. "And how do you see race impacting the experience of kids in schools and those answers can help us understand."

Singleton says about 80% of America's teachers are white and there are some white teachers who can get the job done. He also believes CMS needs to branch out more when it comes to recruiting teachers.

"Go to places in the country," Singleton said. "For recruitment where we can find a more diverse sampling of teachers."

Singleton knows he has many critics. He hopes if he gets the job in Charlotte, he can turn those critics into believers.

"Right now," Singleton said. "They're thousands of people in the United States, in Australia and Canada - places where we've worked, who are now having meaningful conversations that are transforming their beliefs about race."

CMS says it is looking at multiple consultants to help with this diversity dialogue and says if Singleton is hired, he would serve a small role in this conversation about race.