Educational researchers across this country stand in broad agreement about what currently constitutes best practice regarding pupil assignment and socioeconomically diverse schools. Here are 4 widely accepted points of understanding:
1) Low-income children have the best chance for success in school and life when educated alongside middle-class and wealthy peers. It’s about access and opportunity beyond the neighborhood.
2) Who a child goes to school with matters profoundly. Critical thinking, aspirations, and stereotypical beliefs are greatly influenced by the peer group norm that shapes the school’s academic and social culture.
3) High-poverty schools cannot be “fixed” while keeping low-income children separate and isolated. Staff in these schools are overwhelmed by the grossly disproportionate level of needs. The sad fact is no matter the enticements or incentives, the very best teachers – largely due to the stress – don’t stay in high-poverty schools. High-poverty schools are forced to operate like reactive emergency rooms rather than proactive wellness clinics. 4) Nationally and within Charlotte-Mecklenburg – with few unique exceptions – high-poverty schools – despite huge and multi-leveled interventions – have been (and remain) tragically unsuccessful in terms of getting kids to grade-level proficiency and ensuring all high school diplomas hold equal value.
Research and data might convince the mind, but often does little to sway the heart. The heartfelt concerns and feelings expressed by many parents in our community are just as real as our country’s most widely embraced research. So, how best to find common ground that respects both heart and mind?
1) Let’s stand united in the deep knowing that high-poverty schools cripple kids & our community.
2) Let’s stand united in the deep knowing that our community has no appetite for forced busing.
3) In our imperfect efforts to do what’s best for all CMS students, while saying “no” to high-poverty schools and “no” to forced busing, let’s passionately say YES to creative and long-term policies and other solutions that place the onus of responsibility and accountability on our entire community.