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CMS School Board At-Large {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

The nine-member Board of Education is the governing body of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, with five primary responsibilities: 1. Employ the superintendent 2. Establish policy 3. Determine annual operating and capital budgets 4. Approve student assignment boundaries 5. Oversee the management of the school district’s major systems, including budget and finance, curriculum and instruction, personnel and auxiliary servicesThe CMS Board of Education includes six district representatives and three at-large representatives. District and at-large representatives are elected every two years on a rotating schedule. All members serve four-year terms.

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    Annette Albright

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    Elyse Dashew

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    Jennifer De La Jara

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    Gregory R. Denlea

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    Jenna Moorehead

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    Donna J. Parker-Tate

  • Jordan Pineda

  • Olivia Scott

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    Lenora Shipp

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    Stephanie M. Sneed

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    Duncan St. Clair

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    Queen Thompson

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    Monty Witherspoon

Biographical Information

Your experience, including your 3 most important political/civic accomplishments in the last 5 years.

What have you learned from observing children participating in the school system? What recommendations will you bring forward?

Are there any problems specific to your district that you want to address if elected? Please explain.

How should the public school system help in expanding PreK for children younger than four years old?

Our neighborhoods and schools are largely segregated by race and socioeconomic status. Do schools with high concentrations of poverty need additional programs to help students succeed? If so, can you suggest programs that have evidence of success?

English Language Learners (ESLs) are now a significant percentage of the school population and also a high percentage of the drop-outs. What programs would you recommend to support those students as they are enrolled and as they progress through the system?

What do you see as the pluses and minuses of charter schools?

What accountability and eligibility measures would you propose to qualify private schools to receive voucher money?

Position/philosophy statement Every student in the district deserves access to a high quality education.
Current occupation Registered Behavior Technincian
Age 53
Campaign Email votealbright@gmail.com
Campaign Phone (980) 322-9631
My experience for the position of BOE At-Large includes working in various roles while employed with CMS from 2013-2016. During my tenure with CMS my most important accomplishment was hosting and sponsoring, along with the Charlotte Chapter of the NAMI, a Mental Health Resource Fair at Harding High School. This was the first Mental Health Resource Fair held in the district. Another important accomplishment during the last 5 years was running for the D1 seat against incumbent Rhonda Cheek. Running was an amazing experience and I learned a lot. My third most important accomplishment was meeting with the Devos administration in reference to rescinding the Obama Era School Discipline Policy that tied suspension rates to federal funding. The policy was well intended however, implementation guidelines, additional funding nor training for alternatives to suspensions was offered to school districts which lead to an increase in violence withinin schools across the country
I have learned from observing children participating in the school system that we have some amazing, dedicated educators across the district and students who are eager to learn. However, our educators are overwhelmed by overcrowded classrooms, challenging behaviors and curriculums that are not designed to allow teacher creativity but instead teach to test students. Also, I have spoken to many teachers who often don't feel supported by their administrations. Lastly, I have observed students who don't have the parental support needed in order to be academically successful. The recommendations that I would bring forward are for BOE members to lobby at the state level to replace Common Core and I would work closely with the Superintendent to address overcrowding and how bond money is allocated to address those concerns. I would also collaborate with the Superintendent to ensure principals are cultivating inviting and safe school cultures for staff and parents.
The problem I would like to be addressed specific to my district is the rapid growth in the area and the need to relieve overcrowded classrooms by building new schools. The entire District 1 area is experiencing massive growth however; CMS is not keeping up with the growth trend. Huntersville is one of the most desired areas in Mecklenburg County. Also, I would build better working relationships with the community members and leaders in District 1.
Last academic school year there were over 100 slots available for PreK students throughout the district that were not being utilized. The district launched media ads to include radio, social media and television advertising the available slots. CMS must do more to educate the public on the advantages of early education.
Very complicated question. CMS recently completed a 50 million dollar 6 year project that failed to meet the mark. It was not due to lack of effort. The project offered students special programs, access to technology, and a year around school calendar however at the end of the project some school tested lower than they did at the beginning of the project. Strong collaboration between school staff, students and parents have to be established and maintained for student success.
During my tenure with CMS, I was concerned with the lack of ELA teachers who were not fluent in the language of the students they were teaching. This was a huge barrier. CMS needs to recruit more teachers who are fluent in foreign languages so bilingual instructional programs can be utilized.
Charter schools are an option I believe all parents should have access to. Charter schools can offer a lower teacher to student ratio which is beneficial to students. Charters schools need closer regulating by the state and often can't provide resources for students who are struggling.
Private schools should have a proven track record of improving academic outcomes of the students who are using vouchers and the school environment must be one of inclusion, cultural diversity and acceptance.
Position/philosophy statement Thankful for the privilege of serving the public school students and educators of Mecklenburg County
Current occupation School board representative, At Large
Age 49
Campaign Email elyse@elysedashew.com
Campaign Phone (704) 659-6994
Twitter @elysedashew
* School Board At-Large Representative, 4 years (Vice Chair, 3 years). * Led charge for successful $922 school bond package; Former co-chair, Citizen Bond Oversight Committee. * Executive Committee Member, NC Parents Advocating for School Health: We successfully advocated for a full-time school nurse in every CMS school.
I have been a CMS mom since my daughter started kindergarten in 2003. I have been a passionately committed advocate for public schools since at least 2009. I have served tirelessly on the school board as an at large representative since 2015. I have observed children all over this complicated county we live in. What I have learned is that our children hold tremendous promise and talent, no matter where they go to school. We need to remove barriers to opportunity so that each child can live up to his or her full potential. I have also observed that children throughout our community, in low-wealth schools and in high-wealth schools, are experiencing extreme stress. We need our schools, families, and community to work together on ways to better address the mental health and social-emotional needs of our young people. I have already demonstrated my ability to bring people together to make this happen, but there is much more work to do, and I feel called to continue the work.
My district is all of Mecklenburg County. My constituents are the students, families, and CMS employees of Charlotte, Davidson, Cornelius, Huntersville, Pineville, Matthews, Mint Hill, and the unincorporated areas.

We are making real strides in identifying the structural obstacles that keep too many of our children from accessing the opportunities they need to succeed – and figuring out ways to remove these obstacles. I am proud to have been a leader on the team doing this work for the past four years - and there is so much more work to do. We must keep working to: • Give all students access to advanced, stimulating, engaging coursework. • Make magnet programs more accessible to all students. • Address the injustice of discipline disparities in our schools. • Make our curriculum culturally relevant. • Bring social and emotional support back into our schools. • Prepare our students to connect to high-paying careers straight out of high school if they so choose.
I am glad that the Leading On Opportunity Council has identified increasing access to high-quality PreK as a community goal. We know from an abundance of longitudinal evidence that exposing young children to high-quality PreK has a powerful impact on the life of that child, and can help break the cycle of generational poverty. CMS currently serves around 4,000 four-year-olds in high-quality PreK. As PreK expands throughout the community, all providers, including CMS, need to be strong, collaborative partners. I have seen a tendency among some partners to fall into a sense of territorialism, competitiveness, and silo mentality; we must guard against that and do what is right by the children we all serve together. When we collaborate on behalf of our kids, we all reap the rewards as a community.
I believe in equity, which means all of our students must be provided with the tools and resources that they need to be successful - and yes, schools with high concentrations of poverty have greater needs. I and other board members worked to ensure this is a specific focus in the 2024 CMS Strategic Plan. Here are four ways the school board has directed the district to take action regarding equity in the Strategic Plan, which I hope to continue to implement if re-elected: • Ensure equitable access to high-quality teaching and academic experiences (CMS is updating the curriculum to accomplish this); • Increase access to advanced course work in the middle and high school grades; • Decrease chronic absenteeism (CMS is tackling this through an emphasis on social-emotional supports); • Reduce racial disproportionality in out-of-school suspensions (CMS is working on this with programs like restorative practices, trauma-informed social-emotional supports, and cultural competency training).
CMS has a bilingual social worker and two bilingual counselors who are tasked with working closely with schools to help with chronic absenteeism and dropout prevention amongst our English Learners. In addition, we partner with community organizations such as the Latin American Coalition and the UNCC Hispanic College Awareness Program to mentor our English Language Learners. I am grateful for these community partners and the impact they make in the lives of our students. I support building upon these mentoring partnerships.
Charter schools were pitched as a way to innovate ways of learning. I have friends with children who learn in very different ways, who have found a good match in a charter school – and many more who have found a good match in various traditional public schools, magnet or otherwise. The downside of charters is that they are lacking in accountability; they are often run by individuals who don’t know how to effectively operate a school, leading to financial and academic problems, including the chaos of all-too-frequent school closures; they drain funds from traditional public schools; they tend to counsel out students with greater learning needs that are seen as more expensive to serve; and they are proven to increase segregation in our state.
First, I will state that I do not support voucher programs for private schools. However, given that it is currently the law of the land in North Carolina, in order to receive tax payer dollars, private or parochial schools should be held to the same academic accountability standards as our public schools. In addition, private and parochial schools receiving taxpayer-funded vouchers should have the same requirements for hiring qualified teachers and staff. Thirdly, private and parochial schools receiving taxpayer-funded vouchers should be prohibited from discrimination based on religion, ethnicity, disability, gender, sexual orientation, etc.
Position/philosophy statement I believe every child deserves a quality education, and it's our job to make sure they receive it.
Current occupation Director of Education, International House
Age 45
Campaign Email jenniferforcms@gmail.com
Campaign Phone (704) 258-7699
Twitter @jenniferforcms
I am an Educator for Education. I started out as a K-5 ELL teacher when we moved to Charlotte in 2001, then I transitioned into Family Literacy as an Instructor for CPCC, but teaching on-site at various CMS schools across the County, engaging immigrant families from all over the world. I also am a former Director of Diversity & Inclusion. My life and my work are about bridging gaps and bringing people together. My three most significant accomplishes in the past five years include becoming a successful small business owner, becoming a strong advocate for immigration reform, and helping English Language Learner children not fall behind during the summer. This past summer I ran four summer literacy programs at Merry Oaks Elementary, Winterfield, Briarwood and Hidden Valley where 75% of our rising 1-3rd grade students not only didn’t fall behind, but improved their scores.
Our schools have different needs. Hundreds of languages are spoken and various levels of socio-economic statuses exist so our children need to be met where they are. Some children have special learning and behavioral needs. I am an active volunteer in the schools, and as I mentioned above, was able to observe a lot this summer while managing four summer school programs in partnership with CMS. The changes I would bring include making sure principals are empowered to do the job they are hired to do, and that includes supporting teachers and staff in a way that caters to the unique needs of our kids. This means that we must engage principals, teachers and staff in meaningful ways to hear what recommendations they are making for change and what they think is working really well so we can replicate that, as well.
My race is county-wide, and I do intend to serve the whole county. I have already been actively speaking with stakeholders, community leaders, principals and families in all six (6) towns that also make up Mecklenburg County. I want to be a voice that listens to all concerns and responds appropriately. The bulk of my support is in CLT where I have lived since 2001, but we recently moved to Davidson because of my husband's job so it has given me a new perspective on the need to unite the County. We need to address inequity at every level. I have pledged to work with Charlotte, Matthews, Mint Hill, Pineville, Huntersville, Cornelius and Davidson residents to make sure all voices are at the table.
I am a staunch advocate for Pre-K funding. Hands down there is no better return on our investment than with Pre-K. I had the privilege of working with Family Engagement at the Charlotte Bi-lingual Preschool for two years so I have seen first hand how impactful a preschool education can be. I would like to see more 4-year-olds being served before adding 3s. The County Commission is moving in the right direction, but we have so many 4s still in need. One fairly simple way to start addressing adding on 3-year-olds is with the expansion of the Montessori programs to include 3s as they were intended. That would be an efficient way to start, modeling an over 100-year-old methodology of mixing 3s, 4s, and 5s in the lower classes of the four (4) Montessori programs we already have. CMS needs to do expansive outreach to our lower SES communities to make sure those programs are equally accessible, including offering scholarships based on need.
Yes, additional programming is needed. There is actually evidence that some of the programs we use aren't very successful unfortunately. I would advocate for looking into the communities who know the students the best and explore options of expanding program that are led by local commuity members who are "boots on the ground" doing the work already. We need to think outside the box about college counseling resources for those students who are college bound. I would also encourage more Trades and Coding programs like West Meck has in partnership with Lowes and E2D has in partnership with several high schools.
Yes, there are over 44,000 children for whom English is not their first language and half of those children actively receive ELL services. The CLT Bi-lingual Preschool is a great option for the early years for our Spanish-speakers, then International House's Rising Readers program for 1-3 grade to help with literacy achievement for ELL students to prevent summer slide (any language/any background). At the middle & high school there are programs like Circle de Luz that can be duplicated. Again, we need to work with the different communities to develop programs that are culturally competent and centered around their needs. There also needs to be cultural competency training for our teachers and staff to work with these children and their families. Not all immigrant stories are the same and our CMS employees need to have a better understanding of the difference between our Congolese refugees, versus our Honduran aslyees versus a child of an ex-pat employee based here for a few years.
One plus is that some do have great success and we can learn from them. The minuses are that public dollars are taken from a pot that is needed for all of our kids. With the high failure rate, those are dollars that are never recovered and resources poorly spent. Some charters claim great diversity, but when you look at the numbers closer, they have some ethnic diversity, but not SES diversity. It's also troubling that legislators in Raleigh continue to push for money for the virtual charter schools even though they have a D rating. We need those resources to work for our public education system for all. I believe the public education system is a pillar of our democracy and we should fight to protect it.
I think they need to show their commitment to D&I and cultural competency. Adding racial & SES diversity is not just for show. They need a curriclum that is socially and emotionally competent for their voucher students while also training their fee students & staff on culturally competence, as well. In such turbulent times as we are living, I see our future leaders needing to learn to work together, and the largest burden of that responsibilty lies on the privileged folks to do the work and put forth the resources to come together to listen and learn from all communities.
Position/philosophy statement Improve college student preparedness by ensuring that all students are career and college ready
Current occupation Adjunct Faculty MEd - IB Program
Age 57
Campaign Email GDENLEA@YAHOO.COM
Campaign Phone (704) 713-3554
Twitter @DenleaGregory
I work for a company that provides sustainable retirement platforms for teachers and I teach in an international baccalaureate (IB) master’s in education (MEd) program. My educational background includes dual bachelor’s degrees, an MBA, a Masters in Science, and a doctorate in educational leadership. My 3 children attended CMS. My wife served as the PTA president while I was the webmaster at their school. Over the years I coached and assisted with many of their sports teams. We are active in the community both as volunteers and stewards. I teach faith formation classes to the youth at our church and I sing in the choir. I believe that the best way to teach our students to make positive contributions in our community is through service learning.
A few years ago I discovered that my father was a first generation college student. This means that he was the first person in his family to attend college. I taught for 15 years at a university with 60% first generation students. I witnessed first-hand how underprepared my students were for college math and English. I believe the best way to improve college student preparedness is by ensuring that the students complete their K-12 programs college and career ready. To make our students relevant in the 21st century they need the necessary infrastructure, technology, classes, programs, and soft skills for the global workplace.
●Stop Suburban Flight from our Schools ○ In August of 2018 the CMS Board approved a resolution (the MCA) that instructs the Superintendent to reject the prioritization of capital funding for schools in Huntersville, Matthews, Mint Hill, and Cornelius. I will demand that capital funding be provided for schools in Huntersville, Matthews, Mint Hill, and Cornelius. ○ In May of 2019 the Huntersville’s Educational Options Study Commission recommended that Northern Mecklenburg County separate from CMS. I will work tirelessly with Huntersville and all other municipalities to make CMS a superior partner in education.
I will demand that CMS provide equitable programs for students by: ■ Expanding pre-kindergarten program eligibility ■ Expanding Bright Beginnings program eligibility
I will demand that CMS increase student equity by: ■ Providing equitable location for schools in the community ■ Increasing student participation in advanced curricula ■ Reducing teacher absenteeism and staff turnover ■ Increasing expectations and graduation endorsements ■ Reducing out of school suspensions ■ Increasing school options (e.g. magnet programs)

I will demand that CMS provide equitable programs for our students by: ■ Enhancing mentoring programming ■ Supplementing after school programming

Charter schools are a part of CMS and one of the options available to parents. It is a disservice to the children who attend charter schools to label them or in any way treat them as if they are different than any other public school entity. There are numerous reasons why a child would attend a charter school and none of those reasons are bad. Charter school are governed under state law and are no different than any other public school in the CMS system. The mission and vision of CMS focus on all students and every student (see the CMS mission and vision statements in their entirety below). So to answer your question charter schools, support students, which aligns with the mission and vision of CMS.

Vision: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools provides all students the best education available anywhere, preparing every child to lead a rich and productive life.

Mission: The mission of CMS is to maximize academic achievement by every student in every school. ​​
Parents living in Mecklenburg County who send their children to private schools pay Mecklenburg County property taxes. 46% of our county property taxes are paid to CMS. The voucher money belongs to the children of those parents and should support the child's education. If the private school is able to make the children career and college ready then those schools are qualified to receive voucher money.
Position/philosophy statement EVERY opportunity for EVERY student
Age 48
I have a Master of Social Work and have spent most of my career in behavioral health services although I was also a school social worker. In the last five years, I served as past president of school board in another state, I provided leadership and oversight at a center that expanded school based mental health services and I was part of a successful merger of two community service agencies combatting violence and abuse while seated on a non-profit board.
My most significant recommendation at this time is that Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools make concerted and pointed effort to ensure that EVERY student has EVERY opportunity to learn and achieve.
I am not currently aware of specific issues or concerns.
The public school system could potentially help expansion by offering classroom or teaching space where available, for Head Start and other Early Intervention programs.
I strongly believe school with high incidence of poverty should offer evidence supported programs that increase student success. Some examples include: a comprehensive “child find” practice throughout the district to identify special learning needs of students; targeted family engagement activities to encourage active participation in a student’s education; free breakfast for all students with tutoring or other learning opportunity during that time; high school student mentors in elementary/middle schools; integrated health clinic in the school, available to student and family; school based mental health counselors in the building.
I support ESL programming in PreK and elementary schools with continued support and mentoring through middle and high schools. I also recommend ESL opportunities for adults to engage parents and families.
Charter school pluses include smaller class size and at times, specialized curriculum/instruction model and higher degree of parent involvement. However, in my observations, some charter programs have limited instructional oversight or become a place for students/families who become disillusioned and/or disenfranchised with the public school system.
I believe private schools should be accountable to identifying and serving students with gifted abilities or special education difficulties (GIEP or IEP) to be eligible for voucher money.
Position/philosophy statement A Future Of Endless Possibilities. Investing in children to compete in our global/diverse society
Current occupation Retired Educator
Age 68
Campaign Email dparkertate@gmail.com
Campaign Phone (704) 351-8656
I bring a background rich in education and educational leadership. My years in education include teaching at the primary, secondary and post-secondary levels, and serving in an administrative capacity as an assistant principal, a principal, and as a national consultant to principals across the country. Upon retiring, I continue to be a present active leader and volunteer in my community: Friendship Missionary Baptist Church Day School Educational Board, Levine Children’s Hospital, WIE (Women’s Inter-Cultural Exchange Member, and a program Advisor for the Garinger Mentoring Across Difference. As a member of the CMS Board, I pledge to actively participate, actively listen, and actively collaborate with my colleagues. I will take to heart the concerns of the greater community as we, the Board, drive and inform policies that will continue to improve our school district. Patchwork educational programs are not designed to meet today’s student population. We must review, redesign and refle
I have learned that by and large the CMS school district is comprised of wonderfully talented and gifted students who are eager to learn and succeed. The majority of schools still work effectively for the majority of students. Though not perfect, the CMS school district has a firm foundation upon which to build opportunities for the next generation of leaders, doers, thinkers and givers. Our teachers are certified and our schools are held accountable. There is certainly more work to be done and more benefits to distribute equally, but the foundation is solid
As an at-large candidate I seek to represent all of the constituents in the CMS district and not any particular school community. Therefore, I hope to create policies that lift underperforming schools- no matter where they are located - while ensuring that those efforts do not compromise the academic wellbeing of high performing schools. I firmly believe we can achieve and maintain academic success throughout the district.
The public school system should partner with knowledgeable state and non-profit entities to conduct a study analyzing the overall costs of expanding the Meck PreK program to three year olds in the county. According to the NC Division of Child Development and Early Education Pre- School programs reduce the number of children placed in special needs classrooms in the third grade by 39%. This data should be compared to the relative cost of launching effective evidence-based programs for three year olds [that are overseen by well-trained PreK teachers.]
The CMS Board of Education must select/apply evidenced based interventions to help struggling underperforming schools whose student populations suffer from high concentrations of poverty. Our students must have access to rigorous and enriching summer and after school programs that cultivate a culture of high expectation and self-appreciation. BellXcel™ (formerly Bell-Building Educated Leaders for Life) and CDF Freedom School® are two such nationally proven programs. School Districts have partnered with Bell to create “holistic learning programs that combine academics, enrichment, social and emotional learning, professional development, community and family engagement.” Similarly, Freedom School programs give children three resources they need to develop their potential and inspire a love of reading and learning: literacy skills, character strengths, and a community that believes in them. Charlotte area universities, faith groups, and non-profits currently partner with this organization
My experience as an educator and administrator in the public schools of Charlotte leads me to believe that students ESL student achieve and thrive when they experience an emersion in the general student population coupled with targeted supplemental English language instruction. We must develop inclusion programs that do not diminish the educational opportunities for both fluent and ESL students. Current budgetary constraints necessitate a thoughtful, hybrid approach.
Charter Schools can be a benefit or a detriment to the communities they serve, depending upon a variety of factors. Generally speaking, charter schools 1) pull public school education resources from the state budget; 2) often contain charters that permit the hiring and retention of non-certified teachers and administrators; and 3) can often create a segregated school community. By contrast, a charter school that 1) has a solid mix of public – private funding; 2) requires the certification of its teachers and administrators; and 3) is committed to educating a racially and economically diverse student body will more give parents of students matriculating in low performing schools a financially viable alternative to better academic programing.
Accountability and eligibility measures relating to vouchers are driven by state mandated policy and guidelines and thus are best addressed at the legislative level by state elected officials. Charter Schools can be a benefit or a detriment to the communities they serve, depending upon a variety of factors. Generally speaking, charter schools 1) pull public school education resources from the state budget; 2) often contain charters that permit the hiring and retention of non-certified teachers and administrators; and 3) can often create a segregated school community. By contrast, a charter school that 1) has a solid mix of public – private funding; 2) requires the certification of its teachers and administrators; and 3) is committed to educating a racially and economically diverse student body will more give parents of students matriculating in low performing schools a financially viable alternative to better academic programing.
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Position/philosophy statement I am committed to advancing academic excellence for all children. I believe in the power of teamwork
Current occupation Retired
Age 61
Campaign Email shippcampaign@gmail.com
Campaign Phone (704) 583-4026
Thirty-three years in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools serving in various positions: Teacher at the Elementary and Secondary level Professional Staff Development Trainer for the school district, Assistant Principal and 15 years Principal ( Strategic Principal for 5 years). After retirement, I continued to work supporting CMS as interim administrator, substitute, tutor and volunteer. Three most important civic accomplishments include: 1) Serving as Vice President of the Winget Pond HOA Board, 2) A member of the State Employee Credit Union Advisory Board (Steele Creek), served on the SECU Education Foundation – each year SECU Student Scholarship are awarded to deserving High School Senior. I have the honor of awarding the SECU scholarships. SECU Foundation committee has also worked along with the Monarch Group to open the First residential Youth Crisis Center in Charlotte (serving ages 6-17). 3) Chaperone and Advisor for Campus Connection College program,providing workshops for students.
I have observed that children need more support in the classroom to meet their achievement goals, social and emotional development. Children want to with feel, safe, a sense of belonging, free of bullying. Safety and Supervision is critical Recommendation: Hiring and retaining highly qualified, caring teachers, teacher assistants and additional support staff (social workers, Counselors, Behavioral Modification Technicians and Psychologist) Classroom management practices –school-wide , consistency and fairness of discipline –rules, procedures, consequences and rewards. Character development programs , continuous Cultural /Sensitivity Training and awareness.
Equity throughout the district is a major factor and must be addressed. District 2 has one of the largest population of at-risk students in CMS. There is a strong need to address equity and diversity in the schools, facilities. Increasing student achievement -raising the bar and closing the achievement gap. Accelerate as hard as we remediate; advance placements in middle and high school courses/options -AP, IB courses for students to be workforce, college or career ready and productive citizens in the community. Setting a path for student success.
It is extremely important. Pre-kindergarten gives our children an emotional, social and academic foundation for early learning advancement. The public school system should continue to look at funding to provide more Pre-K classrooms in schools throughout the district. The local government should play a vital role in funding to increase pre-kindergarten programs . It should be the duty of the local government to provide equal opportunities for all children to become productive citizens.
Yes, schools with high concentration of poverty need additional programs to succeed. Additional programs such: as Before and After school learning -based tutorial programs (remedial and enrichment) within the communities and neighborhood. Local Community and Business Partnership programs,Community in Schools, Big Brother, Big Sister mentor program, Volunteer Reading Buddies,tutors and ADVID Programs. Increase Magnet Programs for high poverty areas for extended and enriched learning. Provide yearly Summer Programs such as , Freedom Summer Programs, Y-Readers, 21st Century Grant Education Programs, Transitions Summer Programs focus on reading.
As our ESL students are enrolled in school provide: Early learning programs, Pre-Kindergarten, highly effective ESL Teacher working with students on language acquisition (vocabulary building, verbal cues) reading comprehension. Parent programs such as “Even Start Program” and ESL Café – second language parent workshops. As ESL student progress through school provide more support for Technical College prep programs, Community and Business partnership for internships and workforce development – such as Olympic High School Programs and CPCC Early College. Develop more consistency with the feeder school connection concept; Elementary, Middle and High schools working together to support all students. This promotes mentoring, leadership and interpersonal skills.
Pluses: The charter school has flexibility in their instructional program not governed by state standards. Smaller Teacher Student ratio The school was noted for working to meet the diverse needs of the individual child, especially those who were struggling in the public school. Parents felt positive about outcomes for student achievement where previously their needs had not been met. Minuses - Charter Schools and Public Schools were not held to the same State standards for curriculum and instruction and teaching requirements. Many charter schools had a history of low enrollment and not meeting performance goal which lead to closure. These closures had a direct impact on the public schools as in many cases there were challenges to prepare students for the end of year assessments and promotion.
The same goals that Charlotte -Mecklenburg School is expected to uphold. A quality sound education for all students and ensuring we meet the diverse needs of all our children (differentiated instruction, teaching to the whole child - social and emotional development). Meeting the needs of exceptional children. All children would have the opportunity to apply for admissions to the private schools.
Position/philosophy statement “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela
Current occupation Attorney
Age 44
Twitter @CMSNeedsSneed
I am a former trial attorney for child protective services, with experience advocating for the health, safety and welfare of our most vulnerable children. I also have prior experience working in the field of labor/employment law, becoming well versed in the policies and practices that make for a successful organization. I am actively engaged in the community education arena. I serve on the board of the Thomasboro Foundation; a member of the West Side Education Think Tank and currently establishing the East Side Education Think Tank. I am also an active CMS and Girl Scout volunteer; and CMS parent of two children. My greatest accomplishments include helping parents become advocates and engaged in their schools; creating a partnership with the private sector that resulted in providing CMS students’ a career immediately upon graduation (June 2019), earning a more than livable wage; and successfully gaining community participation in educational processes and policies.
It is apparent that the educational needs of all students are not being met. We are failing large groups of children, most of them children of color. I learned that there cannot be a cookie cutter approach to educating students and then expect all students to succeed to the same degree. Further, all students are not afforded the same opportunities and access to the same type of support, resources and classes, etc. Students must be met where they are and we have an obligation to lift up the bottom at the same time raising the ceiling for ALL students. Equity policies must be aggressively executed so that all students are provided a sound and quality education that prepares to be stewards of the community and global leaders.
I consider ALL challenges in the system to be of my concern regardless of district. A huge concern is the achievement gap is widening as opposed to narrowing, primarily to the detriment of students of color. An overwhelming amount of students are not reading at grade level, attend failing schools, and lack access to the same type of resources and courses needed to advance and/or succeed as compared to other groups. My goals (ACES) are to address: Access – Increase access and opportunities to mental health support resources for children that encountered adverse childhood experiences/trauma; College & Career Readiness – Foster public-private partnerships to ensure children are college or, with focus on career ready; Equity – Closing the achievement gap by ensuring ALL students receive a sound and quality education with support from parents and community partners; and Support – Ensure support to teachers and staff, including innovative incentives, proper staffing and equitable salaries.
The pre-kindergarten experience is an essential component for children to have a successful and rewarding academic career. It is without saying that the County should dedicate as many resources as permissible to expand to a truly universal Pre-K that permits each and every student in Mecklenburg County to attend. However, concerted efforts of the Board along with the County Commission must be put forth to put pressure on state legislators for Pre-K funding.
Yes, any school in which there are indications a large numbers of children are not succeeding must be provided support. Studies show successful outcomes, for students in impoverished communities, when they are provided access to resources such as after-school programs, mental health resources and career pathways. Programs that expose students to non-traditional teaching methods, particularly those that incorporate the social interest of the students, significantly motivate and engage student in academics. Additionally, cultural competence through regular and required training must be put into place to ensure that the teachers and staff that interact with students of various backgrounds are culturally sensitive. Lastly, the disparity in discipline among children of color must be addressed through measures of support including mental health resources and alternative diversionary disciplinary programs (i.e. art/music therapies, counseling, etc.) which have proven successful.
A combination of methods, based on proficiency and staffing, that include in and out of classroom proficiency instruction; structured English immersion; or transitional bilingual programs are necessary for success. Ultimately, a team approach to addressing the needs of our English Language Learners (ELL) is necessary for proven success. Ensuring there are adequate teaching assistants and afterschool ESL/ELL programs are essential to ensuring ELL students have access to support they often cannot receive at home and provides reinforcement of classroom instruction.
Many times we miss the big picture. Parents want what is best for their children and seek charter schools because of failing neighborhood schools, therefore it provides an alternative. However, we must focus on effectively and equitably improving the quality of education, so parents trust that positive outcomes will occur at CMS schools. All CMS schools must be exceptional institutions of learning.
CMS and the Board are charged with ensuring students receive an exceptional education, diverting funds undermines this effort. The diversion of state funds impacts students with socioeconomic challenges in that the limited monies are not available for programs that are often needed for these students and families, who, even with public funding cannot attend private school. In the past monies from these programs has gone unspent. Nevertheless, any institution that is receiving state and/or county money to educate students must be held accountable to equitably provide students a sound and quality education.
Position/philosophy statement Students, Teachers, and Parents #1
Current occupation Small business owner.
Age 42
Twitter @101reasons4cms
1. Frankly, the most important political/civic accomplishment any citizen can have is serving the people – and that is why I am a candidate for School Board 2. The simple act of knowing your constituents on a basic, every day level is critically important. Thankfully, I have decades of experience because I have been a Charlottean my entire life – and interacting with normal, every day folks on a personal level for my business gives me great insight into their problems and the solutions they want. 3. Having two children about to enter CMS, the last few years have bestowed lots to consider about CMS. The conversations and dialogue I hear from friends, relatives, neighbors, students, and teachers are mostly about redressing problems within our schools, and I want to put these dialogues into action.
School and education are all about preparing us for the future. I am fascinated by what I see and can’t believe what I am not seeing. Our schools must reflect dedication to our children’s future. We teach them how to improve our world and put education to use, but the system itself is sluggish, slow, and without a real plan about putting those same practices clearly into action. Bringing clean energy and efficiency in all sectors of the school system from busing to lighting to heating and cooling and waste management will be an absolute priority – and done in a way that saves money plus the planet's future. It is imperative that the conversation about the future we want for our children and planet become action instead of talk. As a School Board member, I will make plain that CMS understands IT WILL BE the leading example of how to make our schools reflect the clean energy future we must prioritize immediately.
I am an at-large candidate, and therefore, every district matters; however, I do note school boundaries appearing incredibly at odds with sound decision-making. Many examples from frustrated parents abound, but some of the more unusually confounding boundaries (e.g., a bus route that passes one school to a school further down the road) seem to promulgate absurd "explanations" ... considering alternative measures as solutions is both an imperative and prevailing prerogative. Every parent needs the confidence that school boundaries are in their favor. It must be a completely transparent, overwhelmingly pragmatic, and uniform approach to reason. I am certain that the School Board has done its best, but that doesn't mean that ideas within the community at-large aren't better. I had one of the longest bus rides in the school system. Yes, it got me a quality education, but it should never be the case that you have to send a child across town to be confident about their learning.
As a parent I know to the extent of the benefits expanding PreK can make on families and the impact it can have on their children’s future and every aspect of our world - period. In my vision, CMS engages with pre-schools as a partner while playing an absolutely integral role in PreK program expansion. Perhaps it is too much to suggest that universal PreK be an option for students (right now, you qualify by means of income), but to suggest that universal PreK is impossible is ridiculous. It should be an option for parents - not a requirement. Indeed, it is one area where vouchers for private PreK programs seems completely plausible. Anything contributing to the overall value and quality of education in our area and is a "can-do" should actually be a "must-do."
Magnet programs are a great success – and with greater access, they will be even more successful. One solution I propose is expanding the variety of magnet programs within schools themselves so that, for example, schools offer more than one magnet program. Instead of a magnet program specific to one school … schools area wide have several programs to choose from within each grade. This approach expands the most successful and popular programs everywhere - giving parents what they want for their children and students access to a taylored education. Additionally, we can develop new magnet programs that will help schools with high poverty. Devoting additional resources and attention to schools that are in need extends well beyond the forces of a "magnet" fix. School lunches need to be healthy and the first place to start with nutrition is in under performing areas, but we must expand and develop all the factors that have proven to be successful. It is our duty.
I recommend expanding current and developing additional opportunities for skilled trades among high school students. The possibility that you can learn about an occupation while also earning a diploma will benefit the community and workforce significantly. I also believe engaging students in more of the civics aspects of our community is important, but don’t necessarily believe this is for ESL students only. Incorporating more civics education into CMS curriculum is good for everyone. A good understanding of American Civics is an imperative for every member of society.
Charter schools are great solutions, with the unique ability to adopt and offer alternatives to traditional education approaches, as well as move far more swiftly to solve problems and develop programs.. The minus part of this equation is that the oversight and experience of a system the size of CMS simply does not exist within the charter schools, and so some of the problems and solutions these schools encounter as they administrate are more difficult and time consuming to resolve, making them less effective. I think working together with charter schools on many levels will only serve to benefit everyone – especially students, and that is what this will always be about.
I do not believe public money should be used for private schools, except in the case of PreK programs I mentioned earlier. We have in our midst a behemoth of a creature with CMS - and to suggest CMS simply cannot solve these problems seems outrageous, and yet I am a candidate for School Board because it seems to be completely apparent there is an overwhelmingly plausible public sentiment that is exactly the case ... CMS is failing; however, I do not believe that we should abandon our public schools, and I would not make any proposals for private schools to receive public money because I think the focus of any school board member should be making CMS better – first and foremost. If you want to elect someone who prioritizes "privatizing" our public schools, do not vote for me. Private schools are a great option for those who can afford it; however, I want to focus on improving our public schools and believe in public service, and that is why I am a candidate for CMS School Board.
Position/philosophy statement School failure hurts and destroy children, neighborhoods, and hinders economic growth.
Current occupation Public School and Equal Access to Justice Advocate
Age 70+
Campaign Phone (704) 661-6568
I am an advocate for free public education. My business and passion have been to sound the alarm as to the cost and consequences of education malpractice on this community. I have committed my resources in trying to sound the alarm that the resegregation of school by race and social class is a violation of public school law. Over the last 5 years, I have learned the fouls of politics and how elections are really determined. Each year I have been able to get my message to 27% to 47% of the voters. Each time I seek office, voters have supported my platform of a Quality Education for every child regardless of race, address, or income.
I have learned that 68-70% of our local schools, that are labeled “high poverty,” might be staffed with teachers and staff who are not skilled in child development and brain-based learning. Some of our classrooms are without a full time qualified teacher all year long. Private for-profit substitute teachers are in and out of the classrooms 3-5 times a week. Children are in classes that lack continuity of instructions, or persons who are not capable of teaching the subject matter suffering and ruin their potential as a student. My relatives and neighbors must pay taxes and rely on private schools to educate their children because CMS does not offer competitive thriving schools on my side of town. My recommendations are that CMS weigh the community’s cost of putting a large number of students in our community who are victims of “educational malpractice.” I believe CMS could be better served with a federal compliance audit to implement policies to benefit all children.
The schools in District 4 are all labeled failing schools. Parents in this area must pay higher than normal taxes and also have the expense of paying for a private school for their school-age children. The students in District 4 cannot get the same diploma as students in South Charlotte. Almost all of the “white children” have left the district. My relatives and neighbors have been forced to put their children in private schools in order for their children to receive competitive high school diplomas. Our property values have diminished because of busing and the resegregation in once internationally diverse community.
The Politics of Pre-K is political propaganda that is no longer supported by the reality of today’s society. I have been in human services for 50+ years. I worked for the Department of Social Services and we provided childcare for almost every child receiving public assistance, whether or not their parents worked or not and for parents worked outside of the home. In most of our low-income communities, children are picked up as early as 7:00 AM and kept in daycares all day long. Children are returned home late afternoon. Such children are fed breakfast, lunch and given an afternoon snack. After more than 50 years of Pre K services, politicians want you to believe that low-income children (black children) cannot learn to read and calculate. Today’s children almost all live in homes with electricity, televisions, cell phone and video games that provide intellectual simulations. Today’s children have learned to use a cell phone, play games and etc.
Education is the great equalizer. Education was meant for white male aristocrats. America’s founding fathers never meant for education to be people other than wealthy white males. There were laws prohibiting African American, Native American, Hispanics and Asians from learning how to read and write. School failure is organized and deliberate. Children in the high concentration of poverty need additional a sound basic education in accordance with the law that is delivered by documented educators. Programs that allow students to master skills at their own pace are the most effective. I worked in a mastery learning environment at Midwood High School and I have attended national conferences where mastery learning is advocated for high school students. Mastery learning allows students to continually learn concepts until they can successfully demonstrate their proficiency.

The CMS Board and each school must decide whether all students are wanted and embraced. The school community reflects the ideologies of the community. Some ESL students are bullied and pushed out of school, as some students are not wanted. I would encourage multi-lingual and cultural diversity within our schools. Most ESL students speak two or more languages, I would encourage more USA students to acquire more than one language skills. Within the schools there should be a more cultural exchange, festivals should be held so there is an on-going exchange of language, the arts, and culture.
I wrote the grant for Crossroads Charter High School. The plus of a charter school could offer smaller school settings catering to specialty skills for diverse learners, whose needs cannot be met in the traditional school. I am against small traditional charter schools mimicking (pretending to be a regular school) a traditional school. The minuses of charter schools are the duplication of programs and services. What traditional charter schools do is to make it harder to follow the money. Government dollars are duplicated and wasted.
I would support private school vouchers only if the private school offers something unique that a student needs and cannot receive within the regular traditional school. Example of such is a charter school to receive vouchers include military academies, schools for teenage mothers, schools for visual and professional arts, etc.
Age 39
Campaign Phone (770) 309-3778
Twitter @4studentsclt
As a pastor I advocate for students and assist parents and guardians in navigating the school system. I regularly assist with registering students, disciplinary issues, and academic challenges. My membership in various clergy organizations with educational initiatives will continue to have a profound influence on my work.

While in New York, I worked as a substitute teacher. I gained a rich classroom experience in an urban setting. I primarily served schools in South Bronx. Most notably, these schools were located in one of the poorest congressional districts in the United States.
I am concerned about the disproportionate number of African American student suspensions. I believe the root cause in the disproportionate number of African American student suspension is a combination of—but not limited to--cultural incompetence, insufficient student support (i.e. counselors, social workers, psychologists), and “discretionary suspensions”.

Sending students home for disciplinary purposes is not a resolution. In fact, the graduation and test scores are lower in schools with high rates out-of-school suspensions. Individual circumstances must be considered when determining disciplinary methods. I support personalized disciplinary methods and restorative pathways. With that said, I think teachers must dedicate their time to instruction. I would work to increase the number of social workers and psychologists that serve high poverty schools where suspensions are higher.

The achievement gap between Black students in high poverty schools and White students in low poverty schools. White students outperform Black and Hispanic students on EOG’s and EOC’s. I think this gap exist, in part, because of the lack of highly effective teachers who are willing to teach in high poverty schools. We should incentivize highly effective teachers who work in high poverty schools. CMS should expand support and training for teachers in high poverty schools.

Also, CMS must reduce the disproportionate number of Black student out-of-school suspensions. In short, we must pursue equity for all students.
Candidate has not yet responded.
The achievement gap between Black students in high poverty schools and White students in low poverty schools. White students outperform Black and Hispanic students on EOG’s and EOC’s. I think this gap exist, in part, because of the lack of highly effective teachers who are willing to teach in high poverty schools. We should incentivize highly effective teachers who work in high poverty schools. CMS should expand support and training for teachers in high poverty schools.
I would recommend implementing a viable district-wide formula for providing ESL services to ensure that decisions are not solely made by administrators who are already overworked and unlikely to be trained in the linguistic needs of the students (Mickelson, Smith, Nelson). We should also ensure that ESL services are equitably distributed throughout the district regardless of immigrant settlement patterns. I will work to ensure that every student receive the necessary language development support.

Additionally, I would advocate for the expansion of inclusive instruction for students and end all programming that further segregates ESL students. In conclusion, I would work to ensure equitable outcomes for ESL students.
Charter schools provide parents with options for their children needs are not being met. As a school board member I will work to make sure that schools provide every child with a quality-competitive education so that parents will not have to seek alternatives
I believe in well funded public education. Tax dollars should remain in public schools.