Presented to the Board of Education February 9, 2016
Good evening, My name is Kayla Romero. I come to this podium wearing multiple hats…I was a former CMS teacher at Ranson IB Middle School, I’m a member of several community organizations, I’m a millennial who is currently debating if Charlotte will remain home and where I start a family, and I work for an organization called Students for Education Reform, which supports and trains local high school and college students as community organizers for education justice. The common thread between all of these is my deep investment in our community and education system.
The testimony I share tonight has been shaped by my student’s voices, lived experiences, and suppressed desires.
First, I want to ask the School Board to be courageous in undertaking a new student assignment plan. Take this opportunity to bring greater equity and justice across Charlotte by reducing the concentration of high poverty schools. I not only want to challenge you as a board to do this, but your constituents because I realize you are elected by our community. I want this community to consider that it takes privilege and advantage to choose the neighborhood you live in and that privilege has been denied to our communities of color in Charlotte and beyond. I don’t think a new student assignment plan will single handily solve all of our problems (teacher turnover, low performance, the opportunity gap), but I think it is one of the strategies we must employ to make progress. The drafted goals are solid first steps.
In order to do this, I believe it is important to reach a conclusion about the Superintendent Search that does not further alienate any of our communities and divide us. Often, we immediately take an either/or approach, but I believe there are other alternatives, such as keeping Superintendent Ann Clark while starting the search process.
With this time I also want to address the need to support our undocumented students and families in CMS. With recent ICE raids and deportation proceedings we have to take a stand and be informed on what we CAN DO. I hope school leaders including those of you serving on the Board will make public commitments to helping these students and ensuring that our schools, including bus stops are safe. None of our kids deserve to live in fear.
Last, but not least I want to echo what some students have said this evening. Our students (of all ages, race, religion, and zipcode) have rich perspective and valuable opinions. It is my hope that as a community and education system we figure out how to support them as thought partners and leaders in improving CMS.