What is OneMECK’s vision?
OneMECK imagines a Charlotte-Mecklenburg community where people of different means, jobs and races all live, work, and attend school together. OneMECK commits to advocating for practices and policies that will make this vision a reality.

How does OneMECK support this vision?
As a first step, we encourage the Board of Education to make socioeconomic balance a top priority in pupil assignment. We believe this will create greater opportunity for all, and increase the health of our community. We also ask the Board to employ a consultant as they make their decisions.  A consultant can study our city and surrounding towns and bring the most effective legal solutions to bear on the student assignment plan.  Any assignment plan should be grounded in the specifics of our community and benefit from the best practices employed in other communities and school districts. Finally, we call on our city, town, and county leaders to support this goal with housing policies that promote balanced neighborhoods.

Is it legal for CMS to make socioeconomic balance a priority of its assignment strategy?
Yes. Recent court decisions have barred most uses of racial priorities in school assignment around the country. But a number of districts use socioeconomic balance as a key component of assignment plans. Our area’s demographics also mean that creating greater socioeconomic balance will have the added benefit of increasing racial and cultural diversity.

Does OneMECK look for this change to happen immediately?
No. More economically and racially balanced schools and neighborhoods cannot happen overnight. However, our community’s rapid growth and demographic change, coupled with the Board of Education schedule for implementing a new pupil assignment plan in 2016-17, opens the door for reintegration. While the school assignment plan is not the only way to achieve balanced schools, it is a powerful tool if used effectively.

How does OneMECK define diversity?
OneMECK recognizes and values cultural, ethnic, religious, linguistic, and racial diversity in schools. However, the research clearly demonstrates that socioeconomic diversity has a profound impact on student achievement and educational opportunity. Therefore, when OneMECK considers diversity in pupil assignment it is referencing socioeconomic makeup of schools.

Why does OneMECK believe diverse schools are important?
Diverse schools meet the needs of all children while also building a strong future for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

Diverse schools offer a better social and academic education for all children.   Decades of studies have shown that offering low-income children access to a middle class learning environment is the best and most cost effective way to improve educational outcomes, and to lower the achievement gap. These studies also show the academic performance of better-off students does not drop in economically balanced schools. They reveal a strengthening of critical thinking skills for all students educated in diverse schools, as well as an increase in the cultural competency skills essential for success in our global workforce. In addition, social science research increasingly finds that wealthy children raised in economically isolated communities have higher incidents of drug use and social and emotional problems.

Economically and racially segregated schools harm our community. When children are not effectively educated, they cannot thrive in today’s society. A large pool of poorly educated residents holds a community back. Recent studies have placed Charlotte near the bottom of the nation in terms of social mobility, in part because of our large number of high-poverty schools.

“I’m happy with my child’s school. I don’t want a new pupil assignment plan.”
The Board of Education reviews and revises pupil assignment every six years. The Board has begun that revision. Current school assignments will change for many students no matter which guiding principle is given priority. We believe greater economic and racial integration will expand our students’ educational opportunities, while weaving our community into a strong whole.

Will more integrated schools mean my children will be on a school bus for even longer?
Not necessarily. Buses are now and will remain a vital part of the public education system. In fact, we currently bus children farther than we ever did during the height of CMS’s previous desegregation efforts. A wide variety of other tools are available, among them combined school attendance zones, paired schools, adjusted school boundaries, and full or partial magnets. Expert consultation can use such strategies to guide an effective new CMS pupil assignment plan.

Isn’t school quality really all about the teachers?
Excellent teaching is vital, yet not enough. Decades of research support the idea that the most important school-based factor in determining academic achievement is the economic makeup of the school the child attends. The peer group impact is greater than that of the teacher. In addition, schools with high concentrations of impoverished children overwhelm and burn out even the best teachers. Despite bonuses, commitment to children, and other forms of motivation, high poverty schools suffer from a constant “churn” of staff turnover.

Who funds OneMECK?
OneMECK is a volunteer, grassroots organization whose members cover incidental expenses.

What does it mean to be a member of OneMECK?
Individuals and organizations joining OneMECK support our mission and help us reach out to other groups and individuals. We encourage member organizations to decide for themselves how best to advocate for the mission.

Please join us.  Sign up as a supporter, like us on <a href=”http://www.facebook.com/onemeck” target=”_blank”>Facebook</a> and follow us on <a href=”https://mobile.twitter.com/one1meck” target=”_blank”>Twitter</a> to get updates and learn more.